By Rebecca Wildbear

Two Bureau of Land Management officers came to visit. It was snowing and the wind was blowing hard.

“Are you guys having fun yet?” one asked.

“The weather’s always like this when we come,” the other said.

Two cops showed up a week later. It was warm and sunny.

“Listen,” one said. “We’re on your side.”

“We hunt here. We don’t want this mine,” the other said. “Here’s our card, call us.”

They were friendly. Then one asked, “What are your plans anyway?”

“We’ll have to see.”

Those planning to get rich by destroying Peehee mu’huh are at home with their families. The law is on their side. Most protestors would rather be doing something else than having to defend the land, but they feel obligated. Protecting the land is a natural expression of their love.

What will it take to stop this? Those at Peehee mu’huh live this question, apprenticing to how we may protect the last wild places. I wish they taught this in school. Should the protestors put their bodies in front of the earth-destroying machines? Or the explosives? Perhaps they will be arrested, serve jail time, or be released on the condition they never protest again. No one knows how to stop a mine, but we try. Probably we won’t stop it without the help of more people.

Being out there is hard. The Earth gave me a strength beyond what I knew I had. After a couple weeks, I needed to leave to return to work. Construction could begin anytime. I said good-bye to the sagebrush and the meadowlark. Will I see them again? Will they be alive next week or next month?

Or are these the last moments of life for this 16-million-year-old mountainside?

Photo by Max Wilbert