The Life of a Radical

Rodney Adam Coronado was born on July 3, 1966, into what Rodney made a family of five, Cynthia being the only girl; Ray the older brother. His parents are Ray and Sunday. He is a Pascua Yaqui Indian; a Native American tribe in Arizona. Rod and his family lived in Morgan Hill, in San Jose, California. The family made it a routine to go camping almost every weekend, and this is how Rod’s connection to animals and the wilderness began. He was inspired to protect nature. This is how Rod grew and nurtured his beliefs in the philosophy of deep ecology. As said in Dean Kuiper’s book Operation Bite Back, “…deep ecology is a belief that all living things have equal value and, by extension, share equal rights as part of a living whole. In this worldview, the entire planet is treasured as a system, rather than only specific forms of life (21).” And so, as either the cause or the effect, Rod contacted various environmental organizations (Sea Shepherd was the only organization that responded).

One of the first concerns Rod had as a child was saving the whales. Before he joined with the commission that would label his career as a radical environmentalist, Rodney grew up in a working-class family with a nurturing mother. At the age of 12, he saw a documentary of harp seal slaughter, on the Canadian Shore. Many sealers use ice-picks and hammers to smash harp seals. It is just a sick way to stimulate animal cruelty. Rod comments, “Never could I have imagined there existed such barbarity in the world.”

The video was made to show inspiration. Paul Watson, the president of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, interfered with the killing in the video. He had used direct action to stop the sealers. Evidence would be seen in the video. Viewers would have opinions on the illegal way sealers treated animals. Being exposed at a young age, Rod Coronado became inspired. “It's a very Eurocentric perspective to deny spirituality to the environmental movement,” comments Rod. Because of his ancestors being indigenous to the land, he feels more passionate to protect the earth.

After some experience in animal conservation, Rod spent time with his tribal mates. He learned sacred knowledge, not ideological thoughts. The sacred knowledge is related to deep ecology; the interdependent value of human and non-human life. He states that it was a spiritual bond; although it may be hard to make connections with the earth, spirituality is possible. Geronimo, a Native American leader and medicine man of the Apache, was referred in one of Rodney’s speeches. One reason one cannot connect with the earth and her beauty is because she is scarred. The Industrial Revolution was a period when the Earth was raided from her resources. The world was built with fire-forged steel and metals that continue to dig into the ground.

When Rod was questioned about his economic sabotages as violent transgressions, he replied that it is a struggle to fight for his belief. “Long before contemporary environmentalism and animal rights, there were human resistance movements fighting for the same things we're fighting for today.” 10 years later, the government and others who opposed Rod Coronado use techniques similar to “propaganda,” where his acts and deeds on behalf of the animals were shamed. An internet source says, “He considers fire is a cleansing agent and if people get hurt that it is the same as people hurting animals.” We were born from the earth, just as animals were. What makes our race so domesticated is the technology we use, such as weapons and boilers to slowly kill the chickens, ducks, and cows for meat. The fur from foxes, minks, chinchillas, and bobcats is hunted and their meat is discarded.

When Rod was at the age of 22, he was involved with Earth First!, a radical environmental group. In the early years, between the 1980’s and 1990’s, Earth First! was an organization that mostly focused on the environment. They interfered with forests, dams, and wildlife habitat disruptions. The “tree-sitting” method was popular amongst the activists. Soon, EF! would use deep-ecology and direct action to confront other problems with the environment. Rod Coronado says, “There are so many folks out there from other walks of life that are ready to fight. We need to reach those people who are outside of college towns and activist circles.” Rod became a spokesman and journalist for the Earth First! journal. He would use the journal to encourage people to take action.

After a couple of years, members of EF! and other animal cruelty prevention organizations would be considered as eco-terrorists. The direct actions and sabotages from the environmentalists would evolve. The actions, such as arsons, raiding, and protests, would intimidate others from damaging the environment and the animals. A couple of years later, Rodney Coronado would be living underground in the 1990’s, hiding from federal agents seizing warrants. He protected the earth while he was young, but his experience has gone too far. Though he may have regretted some of his actions, as a previous quote states, Rod Coronado says: “I’ve felt like Don Quixote, I’ve been banned from going to meetings. I’ve given 20 years of my life. I’m intimidated. I’m scared. I’ll quit. I’m probably going to move to the Midwest and just focus on raising a family. They’ve won.”