Class Year

2015

Access Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department or Program

Economics Department

First Advisor

Joseph Nevins

Abstract

Page, Arizona is home to the Navajo Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant that provides the power for the Central Arizona Project (CAP) and other consumers of electricity in the Southwest. Though the plant is not owned by the Navajo (Diné) tribe, the Navajo “subsidize” the plant with reservation coal, water, and labor, externalizing the costs of the generating station’s production processes onto Navajo lands and bodies. This thesis attempts to trace the historical-geographic genesis of the plant, situating it within broader contexts of power dynamics in Northern Arizona that govern the spatialities of the coal industry via the production of nature, the construction of wilderness, and the colonization of the Diné. According to one Diné activist, the coal industry has made the Diné economically dependent on their own cultural destruction (Rowe 2013). I point to the role of United States Federal policy and resource management sectors such as the Bureau of Reclamation and the National Park Service in the creation of this condition of resource dependency, the siting of the NGS on Navajo lands just a few miles outside of Page, and ultimately the internal colonization of the Diné. How did Page, Arizona (writ- large) come to be the site of the state’s largest and dirtiest coal-fired plant, the Navajo Generating Station, and what does this illustrate about the relationship between nature, space, and colonialism?

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