By Bahe (Kat) Katenay Keediniihii, Sheep Dog Nation Media
February 1, 2010 Big Mountain, Black Mesa – There is nearly three feet of semi-packed snow that blankets the juniper and pinon woodlands, a country where a few and scattered hardcore Dineh (Navajo) resisters live. It is their ancestral lands and it has been their choice to maintain residency as an only option to resist U.S. government laws to vacate. Out here, there are no electrical lines nor do waterlines something which 99 percent of Americans would not believe exist. You, as an American living most of your daily life with the modern conveniences, probably do not know what to do if your water or electricity suddenly goes off. Try to image also what if your old grandparents lived in a remote place where climate become extreme and there is no phone, no electricity or running water, and finally, would you worry about them as they age year by year and all agency services are denied of them?
Maybe America does not care, or why should they care? These 20 plus home sites, each with traditional elders who maintain culture with the intention of preserving some long-outdated tradition, would be of no importance in comparison to the millions of Americans that subsist on petroleum products. Most caring Americans only look up when thousands of people are impacted elsewhere by disaster, but the undying story of a few hundred souls on Big Mountain on the Navajo-Hopi Indian reservation does not touch hearts deep enough.
Modern society’s desire for petroleum-carbon products like handy-tech-gadgets, food and drink containers, entertainment supplies, and the necessities of transportation far outweighs this Big Mountain human crisis. Furthermore, the official mass media assures the world that ‘government backed Hopis trying to kick out a few dozen lawless Navajos is insignificant.’ Even the corporate controlled Indian newspaper and major television networks have their standard approaches by refuting and downplaying any claims made by these Dineh resisters about how Peabody Energy has a major role in this real estate scheme and relocation law of the 1974.
Everyone is aware that all the so-called, Native Americans, have pickup trucks, carry around cell phones and watch plasma screen TVs at home. That being observed can instantly make the conclusion that, there is no threat of extinction of the indigenous cultural-spirituality. Fortunately, there are still some intelligence human thoughts out there that know that this has always been the American attitude.
Lets invade their country because they are a danger to us and dangerous to themselves. This must be the course and it is all in the name of peace and democracy! They need to be assimilated and be pacified. And when the smoke from the total destruction of their lands and villages has settled, they will be far better off as civilized people, and we will help them to rebuild their economy and make them independent, again…”
These familiar words that were only spoken through military rifles, just a little over a hundred years ago in 1977, still ring in the memories of Dineh elder resisters at Big Mountain. That is why they have chosen to return to the battle and defy the United States Indian Policies of human removal and natural resource exploration. In 2010, these few matriarch and patriarchs try their best, mentality, to rely on the limited physical capabilities to: walk their ancestral land, smell the wood burning from their stove, smell the distance sheep corrals, breathe the little fresh air that earth can still offer, look up at the clouds move across, watch the trees move in the breeze, and to look about their country to only imagine that thriving culture and spirituality of the past.
Extinction is a word commonly associated with vegetation or certain species of animal, but the homosapien equation is always not a factor in this scenario of thinking. With all the intellect of western science, culture can never defined nor can spirituality ever be properly interpreted. America cannot even formulate a list of what ‘their culture is or could be.’ At Big Mountain, the Dineh knew many ways of starting a fire like how fine do you make the juniper bark, or where can you find dry fire starters on a rainy or snowy day? What does one do when the glare of the snow starts to blind them? What wild plant that is in your immediate vicinity is edible, medicinal or is a cure for thirst? How many kinds of foods can be derived from corn –in the Indian way, not in the industrialized American-food-processing way? What kind of clouds tells you if it will snow and when? Which snowfall is unhealthy to ingest? Why are the little blades of water crystals that cover the top of snow in the mornings sacred to the Dineh? Why was it prohibited for the Dineh to say the name of the bear, the sun, the thunder, or the buffalo? What do you do when you see tracks of a snake, when you kill a grasshopper or lizard?
What can happen if humans do wrong? How should the human repent and make restitution in order to keep the harmony and their relationship with nature?
There is world at Big Mountain that wants to survive, but not with the temporary comforts of technology which are also derivatives of the mineral and water exploitation or ‘the rape of mother earth.’ This has to be seen as our problem and that we can be the solution. This cannot be changed through your votes or your advocacy for Constitutional Rights because these few Dineh elders have lost all rights when that relocation law was passed in 1974. Public Law 93-531 was passed by the U.S. Congress and signed by the President of the United States, and that is known as an Executive Order just like a declaration of war.
An effective solution is to volunteer your time and commit yourself to a challenging environment by assisting these matriarch and patriarch, and work with them to manage the many aspects of human culture in sustainable practices. Natural harmony and balance may only be revived through something similar to volunteer enforcement of a humanistic controlled democracy. It is well understood that contrary to this corporate controlled democracy is only sustained through fear and in the name of maximized profits.
The peoples of Big Mountain have fought long and hard. They have symbolized that natural human pride but which is now diminishing by their old age and confinement to constant hospitalization. This is causing them to abandon those sheep herds, the unfinished weaving looms, the home sites, cornfields, and the living histories of antiquity and ancestry. Help them. Help us. A cultural and spiritual place must not be vacated to allow fossil fuel extraction which will be followed by commercial beef industries.
Our destinies are so inter-related whether we ignore it or not, but seeing beyond the synthetic technical upgrades of our human moment, are we so certain that the information and digital age will be suitable for our great grandchildren?
* * * To find out more about how you can get involved, email:
firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a detailed voice message at (928) 773-8086 * * * * Or write to:
Black Mesa Indigenous Support
P.O. Box 23501
Flagstaff, AZ 86002
© Sheep Dog Nation Media, 2010