Kendra Pinto is our first featured interview. Ms. Pinto is a Native American living in the Navajo Eastern Agency, and is witness, storyteller, and educator illuminating the fossil fuel industry’s impacts on lives, communities, and the environment. She recently participated in the 2016 Save Our Public Lands Tour., which traveled to Philadelphia PA for the Clean Energy Revolution March and Summit. She has also been involved in appealing directly to the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C. to halt fracking infrastructure on Native Lands, and has traveled to Standing Rock to participate in solidarity actions. Kendra’s first-hand account of the July 2016 explosion and fire of 36 oil tanks in Nageezi, NM, was published in The Huffington Post. To learn more about actions you can take to support Kendra’s fight, please visit Frack Off Greater Chaco for detailed suggestions of ways you can help.
Art by: Asha Canalos
NMSP: You were born in Shiprock, New Mexico, and your family (your parents and two sisters) moved to Nageezi, NM when you were a kid. Then, for a while, you lived in Chicago?
KP: For about 10 years I went up to Illinois during the summers to visit my aunt. It was fun, it was different. I grew up out here in the middle of nowhere, so the urban area was a big change. You hear that a lot from the kids out here, they want to get out, they want something else. When I was younger, I felt that way. Chicago was fun, but I needed to be home for family. And when I saw what was happening out here [more wells and more fracking] I knew I needed to be here. This is serious stuff, this is life. My family asks me if I’ll move away again, but I love this land. Some people would rather not see this place ever again, but I’m not one of those people.
NMSP: But then you went to school at Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO?
KP: I started there last year. I thought maybe I should continue (to get my bachelor’s). I love the school, but I had to take this year off because, right now, this is priority. Getting this fracking out of here is priority. The classes will always be there. So I have to look at this first, and it takes a lot of time to drive back and forth, 3 hours a day, that’s a lot. Last semester I stayed in my truck, Monday through Saturday, I slept in my truck until it started getting cold. That’s something that people need to know about living out here, the majority of schools and jobs are over an hour away. When I go to events and tell people I live in the middle of nowhere, they don’t really get it. The urban people don’t understand that we often don’t even have cell phone service. Continue reading “This is serious stuff, this is life…”