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Dine Citizens Against Ruining our Environment (Dine CARE)

Abstract Dine Citizens Against Ruining our Environment (Dine CARE) is a grassroots environmental organization steeped in the Navajo tradition of honoring Mother Earth. Composed entirely of Navajos, Dine CARE is committed to maintaining harmonious ecological relations and empowering the Dine (Navajo for “the People”) to protect their communities, their way of life, and their lands. Basing their advocacy work on Dine ancestral wisdom and the philosophy of the Beauty Way, the members of Dine CARE seek to demonstrate the relevance of traditional Navajo beliefs and practices for addressing current social, economic, and environmental concerns. Using this specifically indigenous approach, Dine CARE has helped other local and Native communities organize around environmental and public health concerns and devise alternative strategies for development. Although the organization opposes injustice and discrimination against traditional people on many fronts, it has been especially active in addressing deforestation, toxic waste, and radiation exposure. In the early 1990s, Dine CARE successfully challenged the Navajo Nation’s environmentally-destructive logging policies in the forests of the Chuska Mountains and Defiance Plateau and it continues to monitor the Navajo Nation’s forestry department, which may resume logging even though critical habitat within the forests has yet to be restored. Seeking to protect this area from further damage, Dine CARE is working to involve local people in the forest management plan. Another area of primary concern for Dine CARE relates to the social and environmental effects of uranium radiation. Due to uranium mining and nuclear bomb testing within or near the Navajo Nation, the Dine have been subject to high levels of radiation exposure. To address this problem, Dine CARE has worked to obtain relief and compensation for victims and to prevent future uranium mining on Navajo land. At present, Dine CARE is involved in a health survey for radiation contamination from uranium. The data from this survey will be stored on a Global Imaging Satellite (GIS) map, available for future analysis and use in advocacy work. It is also working with the White Mesa Utes to fight the White Mesa Mill in Blanding, Utah, an active uranium mill and nuclear waste dump that affects Navajo and White Mesa Utes.
Religion Indigenous Tradition
Geographic Location United States of America
Duration of Project 1988–Present

Dine CARE was founded in 1988 to resist the construction of a toxic waste site in the southwest corner of the Navajo Nation. This first campaign was a success: through community organizing, education, and protest, Dine CARE warded off the proposed site. A similar victory was attained in 1991, when the organization prevented the construction of an asbestos dump on Navajo land in New Mexico. In 1990, Dine CARE helped to form the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), an alliance of grassroots indigenous peoples whose mission is to protect the sacredness of Mother Earth from contamination and exploitation by strengthening, maintaining, and respecting traditional teachings and natural laws. In 1994, after four years of pressure from Dine CARE, the Bureau of Indian Affairs Forestry Department and the Forestry Department of the Navajo Nation agreed to halt their 80 year-old destructive logging practices. Since 1994, Dine CARE has been working to address the devastating social and environmental effects of uranium radiation on the Navajo Nation. In 1996, the organization launched a GIS forest mapping project to gather data for the reforestation of the Sanostee region of the Chuska Mountains. In 1999, it spearheaded the campaign to amend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act and joined with other groups to form the Western States RECA Reform Coalition. Although the reforms were enacted in 2000, Dine CARE continues to press for the just and timely delivery of compensation to victims of radiation exposure and for the prevention of future uranium mining on Navajo land. It also works with other native groups to fight uranium mining and storage on native land outside of the Navajo Nation. In July of 2003, Dine CARE formally filed a protest against proposed oil and gas drilling in Old Dinetah (ancestral Navajo land) in northern New Mexico, where active wells have already severely damaged the environment, contaminated drinking water, and adversely affected the health of close to 100,000 Navajos living in New Mexico.

Mission Statement Dine CARE is an all-Navajo environmental organization, based within the Navajo homeland. We strive to educate and advocate for our traditional teachings as we protect and provide a voice for all life in the Four Sacred Mountains. We promote alternative uses of natural resources that are consistent with the Dine philosophy of Beauty Way. Our main goal is to empower local and traditional people to organize, speak out, and determine their own destinies.
Partner Organizations Indigenous Environmental Network
Long-Term Goals None Listed
Bibliography None Listed
Additional Research Resources None Listed
Contact Information Dine CARE
10A Town Plaza, Suite 138
Durango, CO 81301
Ph:       970.259.0199
Email:  .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)