Monday, November 7, 2011
Dineh Resistance Since 1978
Written by Nephew Jake, October 2011
During the last month I have followed “Occupy Together” and its extended family from reading newspapers and internet sources. I understand this is not the best way to be informed about a popular social movement, which would be more informative if i was on the ground, inside the multiple encampments growing all over the United States.
However i am not as naïve as I sound. For the past several years I have been a seasonal sheepherder on Big Mountain. I worked and lived with Dineh elders and their relatives, who have maintained an occupation of their own for last 33 years in defiance of the genocide policies of relocation and mining expansion. The people of Big Mountain, Black Mesa, AZ continue to occupy their ancestral homelands with a diversity of tactics and a strategy that is deeply rooted in their cultural and spiritual heritage. Alike the “Occupy Together” they too are fighting multinational corporations and corrupt governments. Yet, the Dineh resistance on Big Mountain adds the vital rights to the water, clean air, land, and animals. Therefore the welfare of the Mother Earth is never separated from their struggle. This part is tragically missing from the occupy movement.
So far I have gathered “Occupy Together” has strong grievances against corporate greed, governmental collusion in corporate profiteering, neo-liberalism, and economic warfare on the non-owner, working class. i wholeheartedly support their choice to camp out in parks and streets; visible to financial districts in which to express these grievances, and create an evolving public forum. May their resolve continue and grow to disrupt commercial progress.
Although I am not directly connected to an occupied urban area I feel the messages the I have received represent dominant voices and do not challenge racist colonial patriarchy enough. Some evidence I have received say people from marginalized communities are being silenced by organizers and facilitators who are mostly white or male. For every white, straight male that takes control or positions himself in the center, distances women, people of color, First Nations, and LGBTQ folks from the movement. This is not about creating divisions with identity politics; it is about acknowledging privilege, and widening the circle to hear the views of those who are most often held silent.
I realize this is not happening everywhere. I am encouraged by a letter of solidarity with the people on hunger strike inside Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit by “Occupy Oakland:”
“Your daily struggle, as victims of the prison-industrial complex, is a critical component of our ongoing occupation of public space.”
I was impressed when “Occupy Boston” passed a resolution on Indigenous Peoples day recognizing their occupation stood on Massachuset land. The group also acknowledged the continuous resistance of indigenous people to “violent oppression and exploitation of the colonizers” and invited First Nations peoples to join the movement. I also support “Un-Occupy Albuquerque” who recently changed their name after persistent native input to decolonize the uprising there.
My strongest critique of the popular occupy movement is the absence of will to protect the earth. In an age when it’s cool to be green and be an “environmentalist” one would think environmental concerns would be well founded within the principles of “Occupy Together.” However I find half measures like:
“As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality, that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth.”
This does not realize extraction of fossil fuels, uranium, gold, copper, etc needs to stop. It does not realize the burning of fossil fuels is causing climate change and threatens life on this planet. It does not realize the need to protect potable water sources for all life not just humans. Even if corporations and governments came together accepted their guilt in extortion, corruption, and forgave all the debts they would still be able to rape the Earth. If the message is to stop corporate greed but save the middle class and somehow promote social justice, how would the treatment of the Earth change? Think About It.
Resistance on Big Mountain, Black Mesa is an example of on-going occupation with a vast horizon towards economic rights, human rights, religious freedom, AND the rights of Mother Earth. The Dineh leadership there has shown me what hardships one must hurdle to live as a human being on planet Earth. These hardships and hurdles I carry with me on a daily basis that keeps my heart strong so that I can continue to walk for freedom. So when deep snows fill your camps and the heavy rains fall remember the Dineh on Black Mesa, who are hauling water, chopping wood, living without electricity, and face police harassment and fear genocide on a daily basis.
Dineh elders have always stated, all are welcome to herd sheep, chop wood, and haul water and gain some perspective on Big Mountain, Black Mesa.
Any additional questions can be addressed directly to: Nephew Jake, firstname.lastname@example.org
For More Info checkout, http://blackmesais.org/or contact Black Mesa Indigenous Support:
Black Mesa Indigenous Support, P.O. Box 23501, Flagstaff, Arizona 86002
Letter to the Occupy Together Movement
RESOLUTION: Memorandum of Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples http://www.occupyboston.org/general-assembly/passed-resolutions/
Declaration of the Occupation of New York City http://www.nycga.net/resources/declaration/
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
GRAND FATHER MARTIN (HOPI), JULY 2011
There is no dignity in Hopi because of many things that changed the life:
I am not a Chief or a Kykmongi. Actually there are no more Chiefs among the Hopis because (they) are not honored or held in high regards as wise leaders. There are certain selected men who have been recognized as to have religious and village authority, but they are not perceived in that sense by the Hopis. Now, the federal and state governments are recognized as to have all the authorities and they even have authorities over the Hopi tribal government.
There are no more teachings among the Hopi families. Only a few families try to teach their children, but the children are not interested because there are many things out there that the children want to learn, like the TV. Some maybe learning about the dances but I am not sure about that either.
There are no more dances and yes, there are dances in the Villages but it is not the pure ways like in the past.
The importance of corn to the Hopi way is no longer practiced. No one wants to grow corn. Some but mostly older folks try to grow corn or have fields and they only grow a little bit. Me, I am too old to plant corn and take care of it.
I do not think Hopis have pride anymore. I mean pride in terms of being Hopi people. Maybe in some places people might try to show pride but they only show-it-off for a short time.
The dignity that I think Hopis should remember is about how we survived under these small trees and bushes right here on this site. Everyone only had small blankets to keep themselves warm, women and children. There was not enough water for everybody and they had to wait overnight for the jugs to get full. That amount of water was then used to drink and cook with so it was very hard for those that had to live here. Men got together to dig at the spring below here so that the water can form into a bigger pond.
The army tried to kill only the Chief but he never was killed. He told the people that is was better to just settle here, Hotevilla (Place of Upward Line of Junipers). So the village was established. Today we still have the sacred Stone Tablets from back then. We still wait for the fulfillment of the missing pieces to be returned. Then the prophecy can be interpreted and we, all of humanity, will know what to do when the “End” come.
Times of hope and pride:
In the old times, one would be chosen to be responsible for the preparations of seasonal rituals. I use to walk down to the extra pond down at the spring in the early mornings when there was very little light. I would then break the ice and make a hole big enough for myself to get inside. I take my clothes off and get into the pond and squat down with just my head sticking out. It was meditation. I would get out when there was a little more light. I would stand in the freezing cold air for just a little while as my body is completely covered with rising steam. After I dried myself and got dressed, I would start singing the Songs of the People and this, I would sing until I have completely walked around the entire village. Then men would gather at the Kiva.
I had to do this again one time when I had gotten older but life had changed in the village that, some people were saying that I was singing “evil” songs. So, I just decided to skip that part of singing around the village. I still dipped myself in the pond, however.
I do not exactly know what is going to happen to Hopi. I just know what the prophecy say and now, we are all at a point where our roots do not reach into the earth. You see like the Mayan hieroglyphs? (Spread opens colored copies taped together.) It is the same as Hopi. See all the different signs or events that already took place (reading right to left) and you see how our roots are getting shorter? Hopi have tried to explain and tell the world for many years. We are now here and we have no roots or if we do have it, it is above the ground. On the Sacred Stone Tablets (unwraps three square pieces of incised ceramics), we are here, too, where this symbol matches the eye over the pyramid insignia on the one dollar bill. This, on the Stone Tablet, means we will be under its control as its eye has been watching us. (He informs that the squares are only replicas of the actual village tablets.) We are now bounded and without roots as the “Sargent of Arms,” right here, is ready to cut-off our heads. That will be the “End” and from then on, they will own our heads.
Then it will be up to the Star People, but they will have to also decide if it is better to “save us” or maybe not “save” us.
Question: ‘Grandfather Martin, who are the Star People?”
I do not know. I have never met one of them nor am I one of them. (Laughs.)
© Transcribed and slightly edited by Bahe Y. Katenay, 2011.
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FROM: “Techqua Ikachi” ☼ – Guardians of Land and Life
(An old village publication by the Hotevilla Independent Hopi and editor, the late James Koots.)
Following are excerpts from messages by Hopi Elder Dan Katchongva, Sun Clan, (1865-1972).Grandfather Katchongva is widely and fondly remembered as one of the wisest traditional elders.He was the son of Yukioma, the leader of the Traditionals who were forced out of the village of Oraibi by the “Progressives” in 1906. As Kikmongi (traditional religious leader) of Hotevilla, Grandfather Katchongva was an important leader of the few remaining fully, traditional Hopi.
In 1970, Dan told the story of the People of Peace (Hopi), from the dawn of time to the attacks which led to the founding of Hotevilla in 1906, the school, money, and police systems which threaten to end the Hopi Way within this generation; and the consequences for America and the world. In addition to the prophecies fulfilled during his lifetime, Dan was told by his father that he would live to see the beginning of the final event of this era, the Great Day of Purification. Dan Katchongva died in 1972.
THE FAITHFUL HOPI EVICTED FROM ORAIBI
This was when Lololma’s successor, Tawaquaptewa, became chief of Oraibi. It was under his leadership that the sad event, the eviction of the faithful Hopi from Oraibi, was touched off. Since we ‘Hostiles,’ as we were called by the missionaries and Government workers, refused to follow his wishes and accept the White man’s way of life, he decided to evict us bodily. He figured that without our interference he would be able to take advantage of the good things offered by Bahanna (white man).
On September 7, 1906, his followers, commanded by Chief Tewaquaptewa himself, entered the house where we were discussing prophecies and threw us out. We did not resist until rifles and other weapons were shown and they began beating us. Then we resisted only to the extent of defending ourselves from injury. I was “killed,” and bleeding, my blood flowed into Mother Earth, a prophetic sign that the Purifier was coming in seven days and that we should move out of Oraibi. When I came back to life, all my people were gathered to go. My father, Yukioma, was selected to be the leader. The women and children, with a few belongings on their backs, a little food, and no shoes, were prepared to leave. Some tried to go back to their houses to get their valuables and some extra food, but they were turned back. (In ‘Book of the Hopi’ it is said we were allowed to go back and get some belongings, but this is not true. That book is not accurate.) After we had left we learned that our houses had been looted and that horses had been turned loose in our fields and had eaten our crops, which were just ready for harvest.
Thus we had to migrate once again to find a new home, leaving behind a corrupt world of confusion. We sought to start a new life, carry on our ceremonial cycles, and preserve our way of life without interference, but now we know that this was a dead dream, for the interference has continued right up to the present day.
THE FOUNDING OF HOTEVILLA VILLAGE
The village of Hotevilla was settled for one purpose, to stand firmly on the Great Spirit’s instructions and fulfill the prophecies to the end. It was established by good people, one-hearted people who were actually living these instructions. Water was plentiful, and so was wood, from which we built temporary shelters in which we were to survive the cold winter with very few blankets. Food was scarce, but we managed to live from the land by hunting game and picking greens. We were united into oneness, but it would again be split into two due to extreme pressure from the outside.
Hardly had our footprints faded away in Oraibi, when early one morning we found ourselves surrounded by Government troops. All the people, including the children, were ordered to march six miles to a place below Oraibi. From there all the men were marched over forty miles to the U.S. Government agency at Keams Canyon, where they were imprisoned for about a year and one half for not accepting the generous offer of education for our children, among other things.
DISRUPTION BY AMERICAN COLONIZATION MAY HAVE NOW ALTERED THE HOPI
At the present time we face the danger that we might lose our land entirely. Through the influence of the
United States government, some people of Hopi ancestry have organized what they call the Hopi Tribal Council, patterned according to a plan devised by the government, for the purpose of negotiating directly with the government and with private businesses. They claim to act in the interests of the Hopi people, despite the fact that they ignore the existing traditional leaders, and represent only a small minority of the People of Hopi blood. Large areas of our land have been leased, and this group is now accepting compensation from the Indian Claims Commission for the use of 44,000,000 acres of Hopi land. We have protested all these moves, but to no avail.
Now this Tribal Council was formed illegally, even according to white man’s laws. We traditional leaders have disapproved and protested form the start. In spite of this they have been organized and recognized by the United States government for the purpose of disguising its wrong-doings to the outside world. We do not have representatives in this organization, nor are we legally subject to their regulations and programs. We Hopi are an independent sovereign nation, by the law of the Great Spirit, but the United States government does not want to recognize the aboriginal leaders of this land. Instead, he recognizes only what he himself has created out of today’s children in order to carry out his scheme to claim all of our land.
Because of this, we now face the great threat of all, the actual loss of our cornfields and gardens, our animals and wild game, and our natural water supply, which would put an end to the Hopi way of life. At the urging of the Department of the Interior of the United States, the Tribal Council has signed several leases with an outside private enterprise, the Peabody Coal Company, allowing them to explore our land for coal deposits, and to strip-mine the sacred mesas, selling the coal to several large power plants. This is part of a project intended to bring heavy industry into our area against our wishes. We know that this will pollute the fields and grazing lands and drive out the wildlife. Great quantities of water will be pumped from beneath our desert land and used to push coal through a pipe to a power plant in another state (Nevada). The loss of this water will affect our farms as well as the grazing areas of the animals. It also threatens our sacred spring&, our only natural source of water, which we have depended upon for centuries.
We Hopi knew all this would come about, because this is the Universal Plan. It was planned by the Great Spirit and the Creator that when the white man came he would offer us many things. If we were to accept those offers from his government, that would be the doom of the Hopi nation. Hopi is the bloodline of this continent, as others are the bloodline of other continents. So if Hopi is doomed, the whole world will be destroyed. This we know, because this same thing happened in the other world. So if we want to survive, we should go back to the way we lived in the beginning, the peaceful way, and accept everything the Creator has provided for us to follow. White man’s laws are many, but mine is one.
White man’s laws are all stacked up. So many people have made the rules, and many of them are made every day. But my law is only the Creator’s, just one. And no man-made law must I follow, because it is ever-changing, and will doom my people.
We know that when the time comes, the Hopi will be reduced to maybe one person, two person, and three persons. If he can withstand the pressure from the people who are against the tradition, the world might survive from destruction We are at the stage where I must stand alone, free from impure elements. I must continue to lead my people on the road the Great Spirit made for us to travel. I do not disregard anyone. All who are faithful and confident in the Great Spirit’s way are at liberty to follow the same road. We will meet many obstacles along the way. The peaceful way of life can be accomplished only by people with strong courage, and by the purification of all living things.
©1991 “Techqua Ikachi” ☼ – Guardians of Land and Life
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Translation by Bahe Y. Katenay
July 2011, Cactus Valley – Big Mountain, Arizona – Mary Lou and Clarence did this interview at their sheep camp near Little Spring of One With Blackhorse. The interviewer was Christophe Cousin from the France TV CanalPlus’s The New Explorer show. These programs are series of short discovery documentary about “off-the-mainstream, beaten paths” where people’s culture is based on pastoral or farming livestyles and whose cultural ways may now face the challenges of change and modernism.]
Mary Lou: Where I was born was right across this canyon (pointing westward) near where Red Willow Spring Canyon empties into Blue Canyon. It was said that I was born in a traditional shade shelter and so it was in the late summer time when I was born. The families stayed together and they moved about in this particular area and sometime they moved over on the eastside of the Upper Big Mountain range. Growing up then, I remember life seemed pure because you really never heard of different diseases or devastating sicknesses. I think my mother utilized a lot of the medicinal plants to cure our minor ailments and most of our foods came from these lands as well. Sheep was always a part of life and so were the crop fields, too.
How life has changed since then? I would have to say the forcible taking of my children. My children are not on the lands with me, and this is contrary to me growing into adulthood around my mother and the extended family. This change I feel has been the greatest pain and hardship that Washington (U.S. government) has inflicted upon me. As dedicated mothers especially in Dineh (Navajo) society, we begin to think about our new born of how we would raise them and the expectations for their future on these ancestral lands, and just as I was raised.
Well, the most memorable joyful moments that I remember in my younger days began when I hid from my mother so that, she will end up herding the sheep herself. I had a couple of colts corralled and I lasso one. I fought with it a bit and then when it settled down, I tried to put the saddle on. This I tried for a couple of days, but finally I secured the saddle and cautiously climbed into the saddle, and it kicked and bucked for a little bit but it began to be tamed.
(Inset photo by Demitra Tsioulos) Mary Lou with weaving & rough ridin' days according to Her story.
Life was all about having our hogans and moving around with our herds during the summer time. There were plenty of sheep and goats, some cattle and then horses. I eventually acquired my own herds and horses. There was much happiness or exuberance that came with herding and caring for the sheep, cattle and horses. Then there were the crop fields where we planted and harvested. Certainly, all these are hard work but in the end, the results were what was rewarding and living this way led to loving your country very deeply.
For these reasons and when the Washington came to me years back, I told them that I will not accept their relocation laws. I told them, “I reject your offers and I shall remain among these lands and home sites. This place is where I conduct my daily business for Life and for my Life!” So, this is the only culture, language and ways of subsistence I know and I know no other. (They) took some of us on a field trip to the New Lands where we would be relocated if we accepted the offer. It is true that those lands had beautiful settings, but I looked at the ground and I did not recognized the vegetation. I begin to wonder “how could (they) expect me to train myself to learn about that strange vegetation?” (They) even told us that they will allow us plenty of animals more than what we have on our original lands. I took that as a lie immediately.
My children have already accepted that urban life styles. They all have gone into that so deeply that if I ever was given back the authority to decide the future of these lands and ways of life, the children will care less about making their homes around here. I truly feel that I am near the end of it all, I am not as agile as I once was, my eyes cannot see the weavings that I work on, and now I am someone that does not cook for herself anymore. I cannot provide a room or space for my children to sleep or live while they visit us. The government tells them “No!” They are not allowed to build anything. A few have accepted the relocation offer and they live elsewhere these days.
The country is now empty. Only the BIA tribal authority and police drive about occasionally to “monitor” us but I do not speak English so I do not know why they keep checking on us. I just have a guess that they probably are keeping vigil for that time when we have exhausted all our existence and soon after we would be gone. Then they probably will take upon themselves to do whatever they had wished to do with these lands. I have declared to my family that “when that time comes when ‘something’ takes me away that, everyone makes sure that I am cremated and my ashes be scattered among these lands, here.” At least, my ashes will give little smudges of colour throughout.
(Photos by Demitra Tsioulos, 2008) clockwise: Well near Cottonwood Springs, Blackrock's herds in rock shelter corral, outside summer cooking stove when non-Native supporters helped at sheep camp.
Clarence: The BIA cops and rangers had tore down this hogan and they had stacked all the logs out there near that road. My children, the men, decided to rebuild it because our sheep camp is still here. The federal tribal authorities also tore down other structures around here like the one on the slope of this north mesa point. Those hogans and corrals were situated nicely and they dismantled it and you can only see stacked logs there now.
Our histories [1860-1868], here, about the wars with the U. S. and the escape by some from capture of its Army should be very important to us and to the next generations, as well. Unfortunately, it seems that the new generation does not care about these histories. This history is part of the foundation that defines our resistance to relocation here at Cactus Valley, Red Willow Springs, Thin Rock Mesa, and Big Mountain. Even some of these sheep herds are descendants from those that were issued during the release from Fort Sumner and from those that escaped the Army’s slaughtering.
It does not matter if we lived on the so-called “Hopi Partitioned Lands,” the Navajo Nation still expects us to participate in the electoral processes. But we do not see the results of our Votes which were to be “change.” Mary Lou and I live in a house that is falling apart. All we hear about is corruption and that leadership in Window Rock has taken bribes or stole out of certain funds. It definitely seems like the root of these behaviors comes from Washington because the same stories are heard about the leadership at the federal level.
How should it be? I do not know. Our own community should restart its grassroots councils.
© Sheep Dog Nation Media, 2011
For more on this genocide and the struggles for survival, and how you can help: http://blackmesais.org/take_action/
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
By Bahe Y. Katenay, SheepDogNation Media
Big Mountain Dineh bi' Keyah, Black Mesa - June 2011 It all began in 1906 when U.S. Geological Survey reported coal seams within these 125 to 30 million year old sandstone and clay formations of Black Mesa. Black Mesa coal field as it became known as covers about 60 miles by 80 miles and is ancestral homelands to both the Dineh (Navajos) and Hopis.
Like it was a "gold" discovery, utility companies in the 1950s began their desperate effort to stake out claims once they realized cities like Phoenix, Las Vegas and Los Angeles will eventually grow tremendously. These prospectors ran into a brick wall which was that, this "largest chuck of coal" was all Indian reservation, and only some slick, top-notch corporate lawyers might be able to establish "legal" access. The other roadblock for the prospectors was that the Hopis did not have a "U.S. Federally-recognized" tribal authority. The Hopis were still a sovereign nation in that they still had Village Chief authority nor did they ever signed a treaty with the U.S. of A.
Sleazy attorneys also specialized in corporate law converged on this isolated, forgotten world of the Navajos and the Hopis. It took a Salt Lake City attorney, John S. Boyden, to utilize the Indian Land Claims Commission's proceedings to coerced a small group of Hopis to call themselves The Hopi Tribal Council. The traditional Village Chiefs protested these colonial underminings. By 1962, the Hopi council was legal and immediately Peabody Coal Company was awarded the nearly 70,000 acres to start mining.
Today, those scarred lands have been "reclaimed" by the coal company with alien scrubs and grass. Thousand of acres of ancient juniper and pinon pine forests will probably never come back due to today's climate changed weather. But Peabody still want their new leases approved so that they can expand into the Dineh's sacred regions of Big Mountain. In 1974, the U.S. Congress also "settled" the rest of this real estate distribution by passing legislation to displace and relocate nearly 22,000 Dineh and about 600 Hopis. Peabody in 1964 stated, "this mining of Black Mesa will go beyond 100 years and this mining operations will facilitate the removal of the local human population."
Futhermore, this very complex Executive mandate and its false interpretations of reasoning have severely impacted this particular human culture and their environment which they interacted with sustainably. The Dineh especially those that associated their home areas and cultural areas with the Big Mountain summits have withstood over 30 years of harassment, threats, arrests, and trial by court, but unfortunately their human rights are continued to be violated. American popular media also are an accessory to these injustices by reiterating that 'false reasonings' and headlining it as the "Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute" to contradict the obvious corporate mineral interests.
The future of a once pristine and unique traditions of the Dineh of Big Mountain is uncertain, the numbers of homesites have decreased, the ritual cultural world has been silenced, most younger generation lack any connections to their ancestry, and threat of fossil-fuel addicted America still looms over these Dineh traditionals. A handful of Non-Native supporters try to continue in providing physical and network support on behalf of elder resisters and their families. However, there is still a great chance for the hope of survival that can still be justified and be saved but it will take much greater awareness and acceptance to maintaining sacred sites by helping to create them as living (sacred) communities.
Truth can no longer be feared but instead each individuals must promote and advocate for awareness about truth in order to secure the futures politically, economically and socially. There is also a lot that can be learnt from Dineh way of life at Big Mountain even though it may not be considerated as great influencial statespersons or political figures, but in actuality the Elder resisters are just that.
Here is an extra resource about networking: http://blackmesais.org/take_action/