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“When do the people become important?”

 Pastor, Lybrook Community Ministries

“The mission has been here since 1953… We got here almost 3.5 years ago and the place had almost shut down… My wife and I learned about the need for a director here, and a pastor for the church, and two weeks later we were here. We sold everything we had in Kansas, loaded up our family and moved here. Had no idea what we were going to do. It’s been perfect. It’s been great.”

“At that time there was uncertainty as to why we were here. [People] weren’t were sure what our motives were. So it took about two years, a little over two years for the local people to start feeling comfortable with us here and start asking questions.”

“We saw that the need varied everywhere from home repairs, to garden projects, to hauling water for people. Somebody would come into the mission and say, ‘Hey I need some firewood.’ So we’d see what we could do to help them get some firewood. We’re not financially in a position where we can help buy things for people, but we can help them be self-sustainable by getting things themselves and teaching them how to do that.”

“We’ve recently got into activism work, working with Kendra, trying to get the word out as to what is happening here. Trying to make the oil companies, the gas companies, accountable for what they’re doing. We’re not necessarily trying to be against oil and gas, but we feel as though it could be done in a way that is beneficial to the community and also protect the resources that are here.”

“My biggest question, I guess, is when do the people become important? You come out here and you see how much money is put into all this other stuff, and how little money is put into the people and into the community.”

“Two years ago the laundromat over the hill closed down and people have to go 50, 60 miles to do their laundry. People do not have reliable transportation, so they have to hitchhike or they have to carry the laundry, and so we decided at that time we would try to put in a laundromat. We did it in a way that people could come here, do their laundry and they could see their kids in the park.”

“There’s a lot of misconceptions about people in this area. Well, there’s a lot of misconceptions about indigenous people to begin with. They think they sit at home and collect a check every month and that’s not true. The government does not support the people out here the way that other people think that they do.”

“The oil and gas in the area, some people have allotments and they receive money from that. But it’s not enough money to even survive on, it’s a very, very minimal amount of money. And so, there has to be other avenues to go to help people be self-sustainable.”

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“There’s a lot of entities out here that make the people in the community dependent on things. [The mission is] one entity that wants to make them self-sustainable. We believe that they can survive in this area, and survive abundantly, with the right resources.”

“We also want to encourage culture items, such as the weavings, and passing that down to younger generations. Doing the hand spun wool, doing the natural dyes, doing the weavings themselves. Everything that the Dine people do, there’s a reason why they do it. And so we want the youth to learn that.”

“I’m really impressed with some of the meetings I’ve gone to lately, where I’ve seen some of the young Dine people come out, and they are expressing that traditional belief. They are expressing their cultural dress, their cultural ways. It’s good to see that, but it’s few and far between, there’s just not enough of it. For so many years they’ve been told that their way of life was wrong, and that was the biggest mistake anybody could have ever made. There are a lot of things that First Nation people and Dine people have to offer that we could learn from.”

“My wife and I agreed that we were going to come out here and we were going to learn just as much as they were going to learn from us. And it’s worked out very well that way.”

“We also do social interaction with people in the community. Living so far away from any movie theaters or anything like that, we try to do things where we invite people from the community, not just people from the church but people that don’t even go to church here. Mother’s day weekend we went camping for the night, we went fishing. I don’t know, 25 people.”

“We also do movie night, family movie night, we’ll show one of the latest movies and people will come and the movie is free but we sell concessions. So we sell chili dogs and stuff like that.

“[The mission is] one of the primary water sources for people in the community. There are people that do not have running water, and do not have electricity, and you know what, it’s perfectly fine, they’re very happy, we could learn a lot from that. But we have one of the purest aquifers in New Mexico.”

“People come here from all around to get water. And they pay for it, it’s on an honor system, they get their water and then they put their money in the little slot in the house over there. I never double check to make sure everybody pays, I have people that get paid at the beginning of the month so they’ll put money in there for the whole month.”

“I would rather people came and got water and left and not worry about paying if they can’t pay, I’d rather they have water.”

Will you add your voice?

Demand cancellation of the March 2018 oil and gas lease sale, and all future sales, in Greater Chaco until proper protections for the people, environment, and cultural resources are put in place.

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