About Us


Black Mesa Water Coalition was formed in 2001 by a group of young inter-tribal, inter-ethnic people dedicated to addressing issues of water depletion, natural resource exploitation, and public health within Navajo and Hopi communities. Since then BMWC has grown up in many ways, transforming from a small, unfunded, primarily reactionary student group to a well-established non-profit organization that utilizes proactive strategies such as green economic development. Today, we are a leader in energy justice issues in the Southwest and around the country. True to our roots, our work is focused on the Black Mesa region. However, because of the region’s role as a linchpin for the energy infrastructure of the southwest, the potential impacts of our work span across the Navajo Nation, the southwest, and the country.

Mission, Vision & Central GoalsRoberto and Lillian

BMWC is dedicated to preserving and protecting Mother Earth and the integrity of Indigenous Peoples’ cultures, with the vision of building sustainable and healthy communities.

We strive to empower young people and spark collaboration with surrounding communities and organizations to address the problems we collectively face.

Our central goals are:

  1. To heal and redefine our world by reaffirming our power – rooted in our Indigenous teaching of Hozhó – to ensure respectful, self-engaged communities that will achieve long term self-sufficiency absent all forms of oppression.
  2. To restore and maintain our relationship with Mother Earth as a sacred being, ensuring our communities make and implement decisions that protect her regenerative ability to provide for the well-being of all creation.
  3. To transition away from an extractive economy to a culturally based, ecologically restorative economy that is determined, controlled, and managed by local communities and which ensures all families are healthy and vibrant.

Key Accomplishments

  • In partnership with others, shutting down the slurry pipeline that brought coal from the Black Mesa Mine to the Mojave Generating Station in December 2005. This along with a lawsuit that won stricter emission controls for the Mojave Generating Station subsequently shut down the power plant itself and the Black Mesa Mine.
  • The establishment of the Navajo Green Economy Fund and Commission within the structure of the Navajo Nation tribal government in July 2009. This is the first green economy legislation passed by any tribal government.
  • The revocation of Peabody’s life of mine permit for the Black Mesa Mine in January 2010.
  • The establishment of the Southwest Indigenous Leadership Institute, which directs Indigenous youth on a leadership development path that values and reflects sustainability. Today we offer many ways for young people to learn from and be involved in our work, and we support them in their own efforts.
  • The facilitation of Navajo and Hopi communities and organizations, which was extremely uncommon fifteen years ago. These independent communities and organizations are working together and developing into an influential block combating environmental injustice across the Navajo Nation. This was integral to the success of the Diné Water Rights Committee in stopping the Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Settlement Agreement and Act of 2012.
  • In partnership with others we unveiled the Water is Life mural (photo above) in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. The mural was accomplished as part of the “Water Writes Project” led by the Estria Foundation. BMWC incorporated imagery designed to inspire and educate—on the way in which water is delivered into Phoenix, the impacts of wasteful water policies, and sustainable energy alternatives. You can view the mural in person on the south-facing wall of the Valley Youth Theater located at 525 North 1st Street in downtown Phoenix.
  • The development and security of a revolving fund, voted on by the California Public Utilities Commission in February 2013, which uses revenues from the sale of sulfur dioxide allowances from the shut-down of Mohave Generating Station to pay development deposits for renewable projects that benefit the Hopi Tribe and Navajo Nation. A leadership role in national movement building efforts for climate and environmental justice. In June of 2013 we hosted From the Mesa to the Mountain Top: Climate Justice in Coal Country, the first of a series of camps done in partnership with the Climate Justice Alliance (CJA). It brought together ~85 front-line community leaders and allies in five full days of activity to coordinate community-led action strategies, led with a vision of just transition out of coal and into community-based solutions, and culminated with a non-violent direct action in Scottsdale, AZ.
  • The establishment of groundbreaking projects that exemplify opportunities for just transition and a restorative economy. These include the Black Mesa Solar Project, Food Sovereignty Project, and Navajo Wool Market Improvement Project. Read about these projects more under the Our Work tab.