Song for Big Mountain

Our grandparents were born here
Their ancestors lived on this earth
The land is the people and the people are the land
And this is the land of our birth
But now you want to move us off this mesa
As if you can take a body from a soul
You want to take from us our paradise on earth
And trade it for a mountain of coal

What if they were coming for your grandma
What if they were coming for your child
What if they were tearing up the land beneath your feet
Even taking the rivers that were once running wild
What would you do
If they were coming for you?

The coal is the liver of our Mother
And it must remain in the ground
The trees are her lungs and the rivers are her blood
And they should all be left as they were found
But now you slurry coal across these pastures
And your trees all go to feed your hungry mill
You would have us live in rows of shacks without our sheep
On your Church Rock uranium spill


Like some cancer spreading ever westward
Coming to knock down our hogan’s door
And we will say to anyone who’ll listen
Relocation, nevermore
So won’t you come to Big Mountain
Bring everything you can, but come today
This is the land where we belong
And this is the land where we will stay


Sheet music for this song may be found in Songbook Vol I (1997-2004).

“Song for Big Mountain” appears on the 2000 CD, Live at Club Passim.

I wrote this song while I was spending time at Big Mountain, also known as Black Mesa, among the Dineh/Navajo people and many supporters from around the world in early 2000.  Part of the very long struggle of the people of Black Mesa to fight their people’s relocation from their traditional lands to lands poisoned in a radioactive waste spill called Church Rock.  The purpose of the mass relocation?  To make room for a massive coal mine to get even more massive.  A coal mine that was at the time using millions of gallons of water per day from a desert aquifer to slurry coal hundreds of miles from there to a power station outside of Las Vegas, Nevada.