It’s oh so very convenient that, just when Valley Meat’s efforts to legalize horse slaughter hit full tilt, an Indian nation shows up to offer than 20,000–30,000 horses on a platter. What will the Navajo get for delivering these animals to Roswell? Needless to say, they’re not saying.
The debate over Valley Meat Co. continues. Valley Meat, located in Roswell, New Mexico, wants to be the first meat-processing plant to start slaughtering horses since the federal government withdrew funding for the inspection of horse slaughterhouses in 2007.
I’ve discussed the dirty politics and misinformation campaigns surrounding this debate elsewhere, but suffice it to say that the machinations of Valley Meat have been egregious enough to warrant pointed public opposition from that state’s Republican governor, Susana Martinez, it’s former governor Bill Richardson, State Land Commissioner Ray Powell, the actor and activist Robert Redford, and an injunction filed by HSUS.
Last week a “suspicious” fire broke out at Valley Meat, and many are suggesting foul play by animal activists. A lawyer for Valley Meat called it “an act of domestic terrorism.” So, literally, this issue is on fire.
The latest cohort to step into the heat is the Navajo Nation. Erny Zah, a spokesperson for the Navajo, has said that upwards of 20,000 to 30,000 feral horses roam the 27,000 square miles owned by the Navajo (the land covers sections of Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico). Zah’s only substantive remark to the press about the Navaho position was, alas, contradictory. On the one hand, he said, “We also have a kinship with our land. There’s a delicate balance there. Everything is related, everything is intertwined. When one is out of balance, we have to take care of that delicate balance.” And on the other, “They’re sacred animals.
I’m dubious of this sudden Navaho support for a couple of reasons. First, provided the feral horse problem is even as serious as they say, there’s no effort by Navajo leaders (who, recall, consider the wild horse sacred) to explore more respectful forms of population control, including gelding stallions, injecting contraceptives, and,only when necessary, euthanizing. Costs for the former two procedures are around $200 a horse and falling. Second, it’s oh so very convenient that, just when Valley Meat’s efforts to legalize horse slaughter hit full tilt, an Indian nation shows up to offer than 20,000–30,000 horses on a platter. What will the Navajo get for delivering these animals to Roswell? Needless to say, they’re not saying.
Talk about suspicious.