FARMINGTON — Dooda Desert Rock plans its second annual spiritual retreat to honor the earth and allow its members time to rejuvenate themselves and continue fighting the proposed Desert Rock power plant.

Dooda means "No" in the Navajo language.

The group is one of several that oppose the construction by Sithe Global, LLC of the 1,500 megawatt, pulverized coal-burning Desert Rock Power Plant near Burnham on the Navajo Reservation.

It plans to meet Nov. 8-11, the same dates as the meeting last year, when the gathering followed a face-off in December 2006 that began after elders who lived nearby noticed preliminary work at the site. Protesters set up a blockade because they thought the work was illegal. They said they would not leave until they saw the paperwork that permitted it.

Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr. talked with the group for about an hour. He heard protesters' concerns that the land and coal were worth more than the economic benefits, such as the $50 million in fees, leases and royalties the plant would bring the tribe annually.

Work at the site stopped while Sithe Global and the Diné Power Authority, which will run the plant after it is built, considered how to approach the situation. At the time, Sithe officials said the preliminary work was needed to complete environmental requirements.

Desert Rock would be the third coal-burning power plant near Farmington if it is built.


It received its air permit from the federal Environmental Protection Agency on July 31, but appeals to federal agencies threaten to stop it.

"We will be blessing Mother Earth and lifting our spirits up to continue fighting against Desert Rock," said Dooda Desert Rock President Elouise Brown.

The group extended invitations to tribes, and people of all races and faiths to join it in unity with the Dooda Desert Rock's "determined effort to resist further attacks on our lands and peoples." Tribes from as far away as Canada say they will be part of the Shundiin's Mission 2008 Spiritual Gathering at Dooda Desert Rock Camp in Chaco Rio.

Dooda Desert Rock equates the proposed plant with the "environmental destruction" of its homeland.

The Navajo Nation's government supports Desert Rock, but other groups including Diné Citizens Against Ruining our Environment dispute tribal government's claims of widespread support.

Cornelia de Bruin: