Melissa Tso is a New Mexico activist.
The Red Deal
Activist Cheyenne Antonio lists the toxic legacies left by resource extraction and industry on Navajo lands: Superfund sites, coal mines, uranium contamination. But fracking, she says, “is a beast times ten that we cannot contain.”
Antonio, 25, has seen the impacts in her home Torreon, a small Navajo community surrounded by oil and gas development in northwest New Mexico.
Antonio is a lead organizer with the coalition The Red Nation, whose mission calls for “the liberation of Native peoples from capitalism and colonialism” and to “center Native political agendas and struggles through direct action, advocacy, mobilization, and education.” The group is calling for a Red Deal, a new movement with a broad platform that includes treaty rights, land restoration, restoration of watersheds and waterways, and a moratorium on oil and gas extraction.
Last week she joined other activists from the Red Nation to protest the latest round of oil and gas leases auctioned by the BLM. Barred from accessing the BLM’s offices in Albuquerque, a couple dozen activists protested on a street nearby, chanting, “You can’t drink oil, keep it in the soil!” and “We won’t drink your fracking water!”
At the BLM protest, organizer Nick Estes told protesters, “Everything is up for sale: our water is up for sale, our land is up for sale, our future is up for sale,” adding: “Nobody except for us is protesting today.”
In fact, several tribal entities did file formal protests against the June 20th sales, including the All Pueblo Council of Governors and the Ojo Encino and Torreon/Starlake Chapter Governments of the Navajo Nation. They cited concerns about increasing carbon emissions as well as pollutants from oil and gas development. In its protest, the All Pueblo Council said the BLM “failed to provide adequate and meaningful tribal consultation” and violated the National Historic Preservation Act as well as the National Environmental Policy Act.
“We understand the movement to protect water and the movement to have a thriving future for everyone on the planet is what’s at stake,” she says.
“We’re trying to develop a movement that is confronting climate change head on,” she says. The Red Deal is not just fighting resource extraction, Yazzie emphasizes, but “reclaiming a relationship with our ancestral land, and treating the land and the water as a relative.”
Melissa Tso is an activist and social worker originally from Chinle, Arizona, who notes that when The Red Nation hosts educational events “people get inspired and want to take action right away,” and calls the BLM protest a way to “propel people into an action to save the earth.”
At a workshop to introduce the Red Deal held in Albuquerque near the University of New Mexico the day before the protest, activist Antonio addressed a full room of 75 Native and non-Native participants, ranging from students and educators to longtime community activists.
“We’ve been in this fight for 500 years and we’ve made multiple deals,” she said, “but this is the one where we actually get shit done.” Estes, another organizer, emphasized that “the best forms of environmental policy and protection comes not from the top down but from the bottom up.”
After a prayer and a hearty meal of bison stew, participants broke into groups to work on drafting solutions. Estes called for creating “clusters of action,” that he said could translate to different contexts, including governments at the city, state, or tribal level.
Red Nation comrdes
Nick Estes October 10, 2017 ·
The Red Nation connection
The Red Nation September 5, 2018 ·
One of our favorite authors and a dear friend! Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz is essential to The Red Nation political literature, and yesterday we got to hear her perspective on the history of immigration. Reminder: We have a study group on Thursday, where we’ll be discussing some of her work. Feel free to reach out if you’re interested in joining. — with Nick Estes, Elena Yen Suffling, Kiley Guy, Jennifer Marley, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Melissa Tso. The Red Nation November 27, 2017 ·
The Red Nation family with ally Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz ❤ — attending Matriarch Monday: Open Discussion with Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz with Majerle Lister, Michael Butler, Melissa Tso and Kodee Artis at K'É Infoshop.
"No Thanks, No Giving"
Nick Estes November 25, 2018 ·
The first year of "No Thanks, No Giving" in Albuquerque went really well. More than a hundred stopped by for the teach-in, and we had about the same crowd for Red Friday's #NoDeadNative donation drive. What we are into is solidarity not charity, kinship not capitalism.
There are many powerful things to share (which will make it into the newsletter), but here's what stuck out to me:
As Ahjani Yepa and I were hauling supplies... See More — with Anntoohneohh L Shye, Jennifer Marley, Hope Alvarado, Joshua Heckman, H-erman Mtz, Melissa Tso, Nicolas Cruz, Jeremy Yazzie, Mary Ann, Nova LP, Majerle Lister, Oliver Baker, Melanie Yazzie, Benjamin H. Abbott and Andrea Graciela Calderon.
- FuckColonialism with Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz ✊ — with Jennifer Marley, Melissa Tso, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Melanie Yazzie and Nick Estes.
The Red Nation in PALESTINE! 🇵🇸
Our empire slayer, Melissa Tso, is currently in Palestine teaching Palestinian higher-education students on Water, Land and Justice: From Standing Rock to Palestine. Contact us for more information on her presentation tomorrow in Nablus, Palestine! #FREEPALESTINE
- therednation #b4p #black4palestine — with Anntoohneohh L. Shye, Kristian Davis Bailey, Melissa Tso and Nick Estes.
Happy Indigenous Peoples' Day!
Party for Socialism and Liberation - Albuquerque, July 31, 2015.Running WithArrows, Janna Nelson, Paige Murphy, Sam Gardipe.