[Letter Addressing the Hopi Tribal Council]
It is with great concern that we write to you today, January 31 year 2012.
It has been brought to our attention, that Hopi rangers impounded animals belonging to Dineh families who live on Hopi Partition Land, (HPL) on January 25 and January 27. These animals were rounded up by Hopi rangers using quads, on grazing districts 257 and 259.
According to acting chief Hopi ranger, Ronald Honyumptewa, the order to carry out these impoundments came directly from the Hopi tribal council chairman.
Mr. Honyumptewa stated that they have the right to confiscate these animals under ordinance 43 in the Accommodation Agreement (Public Law 104-301), and said further that the Hopi authorities are not obligated to hold on to impounded animals for owners to claim.
We are also very concerned to learn that a buyer to some of these animals were already identified directly after the impoundments had taken place, and that the buyer was Sun Valley slaughterhouse.
As we have understood it, the owners of these now impounded animals, were never given notice in advance to sell or arrange for said unbranded animals, nor told in advance that these impoundments were going to take place. We have learned now, after the incidents, that notices were put up in the Rocky Ridge store, five days before the impoundments took place. This can hardly qualify as giving personal notice, sufficient time in advance, to the affected owners of these animals. We must also take into consideration that some elderly Dineh persons cannot read English and/or speak English and do not frequent the Rocky Ridge store and Chapter Houses, due to lack of transportation and funds. Direct personal communication with an aim to reach mutual understanding must always be encouraged in attempts to reach agreements and solve problems.
1977 Federally re-partitioned lands of Black Mesa that now encompass coal fields, prime real estate and high frequency precipitation areas. Prior to 1977, Dineh and Hopi had a commonly and traditionally shared lands and co-existence.
Through centuries of war and colonial government policies, the integrity of Indigenous communities and traditional lifeways have been completely degraded. Actions such as these can easily be seen as an acts of aggression. Furthermore, the act of selling the impounded livestock without engaging due process that would allow for the retrieval of said livestock can easily be considered a gross violation of Human Rights and specific violations of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as is protected by the UN Declaration for Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
It is stated in the UN Declaration for Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, that was adopted by the UN General Assembly on September 13th 2007, that:
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and develop their political,
economic and social systems or institutions, to be secure in the enjoyment of their
own means of subsistence and development, and to engage freely in all their
traditional and other economic activities.
2. Indigenous peoples deprived of their means of subsistence and
development are entitled to just and fair redress
1. Particular attention shall be paid to the rights and special needs of
indigenous elders, women, youth, children and persons with disabilities in the
implementation of this Declaration.
2. States shall take measures, in conjunction with indigenous peoples, to
ensure that indigenous women and children enjoy the full protection and guarantees against all forms of violence and discrimination
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to their traditional medicines and to
maintain their health practices, including the conservation of their vital medicinal
plants, animals and minerals. Indigenous individuals also have the right to access,
without any discrimination, to all social and health services.
2. Indigenous individuals have an equal right to the enjoyment of the
highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. States shall take the
necessary steps with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of this
Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinctive
spiritual relationship with their traditionally owned or otherwise occupied and used
lands, territories, waters and coastal seas and other resources and to uphold their
responsibilities to future generations in this regard.
1. Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right not to be subjected to
forced assimilation or destruction of their culture.
Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their lands or
territories. No relocation shall take place without the free, prior and informed
consent of the indigenous peoples concerned and after agreement on just and fair
compensation and, where possible, with the option of return.
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to manifest, practice, develop and
teach their spiritual and religious traditions, customs and ceremonies; the right to
maintain, protect, and have access in privacy to their religious and cultural sites; the
right to the use and control of their ceremonial objects; and the right to the repatriation of their human remains
The traditional Dineh and Hopi communities have peacefully resisted US relocation policies and massive coal mining operations on their ancestral homelands for a long time. They have repeatedly told us that their endurance is founded in their understanding of Indigenous Peoples’ roles as stewards of their ancestral lands on Mother Earth.
Considering the above, we the undersigned, demand:
1. An immediate return of the livestock confiscated on the aforementioned dates to the appropriate families.
2. As per all articles of the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and Fundamental Freedoms cited above, and immediate revocation of Public Laws 93-531 and 104-301 and an immediate end to the forced relocation and harassment of residents of the Hopi Partition Land.
3. That all future impoundments are preceded by notices in Dineh and English delivered in a personal manner at least three weeks prior to the beginning of the impoundments to the affected parties with clear proof that said party understands and consents.
4. As per articles 20 (1, 2); 22 (1); and 24 (1) specifically of the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and Fundamental Freedoms cited above, an immediate end to limitation of livestock herd sizes for residents of the Hopi Partition Land.
5. An immediate end of the use of all-terrain vehicles for livestock roundups on the environmentally sensitive Hopi Partition Land.
6. An immediate assessment by the Hopi Tribal Council of the Hopi Rangers’ capacity for dealing with the problem of wild horse herds on the Hopi Partition Land.
We thank you for your time and consideration and look forward to hearing a response within the next two weeks.
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In these times of economic hardship in this country, you can imagine how difficult it has been for traditional Dineh resisters and their non-Native supporters at Big Mountain on Black Mesa. Or maybe you can't imagine it.
First, the resisters have no cash resources and the only means for them to survive is of course their Natural Bank Accounts which have been the sheep, cattle and some horses. But just this pass week the U.S. government and their Indian Agents, the BIA Law Enforcement Agency and the BIA Hopi Office of Land Management, have practically stolen livestocks owned by traditional Dineh. This was not a matter of legal-enforcement of grazing regulations, but it was just like how the U.S. law enforcement attitude has been lately, "make up your own laws and enforce them," these Indian Agents have done the same.
Surviving on these remote lands and resisting the U.S. law of genocide, that has become much harder for these few Dineh resisters:
Over a decade of drought due to Climate Change, scarce water resources due to Peabody Energy's aquifer extraction and BIA Hopi Agency's capping or destruction of wells, lack of vegetation, lack of communication due to traditional elders only knowing the Dineh language, and extreme economic hardship within family homesteads.
To learn more details and how you can help visit:
We are currently coordinating ways to make the BIA Hopi Agency release the animals, but they are refusing to negotiate or make any considerations. They want immediate verification of ownership or else these animals are considerate SOLD. Government or tribal government are scheming to gain some income and revenue by illegally stealing the Dineh's hard earned assets.
Number of animals stolen and being withheld, and the Approximate current Audition Rate in Arizona:
30 horses (if all are untamed) = approx. $16,500 - $20,000
25 Yearlings, Hereford/Angus Breed Cows/Steers = approx. $25,000
What this all comes down to, also, is the severe violations of Universal Human Rights, 'denial of secured right to foods, economic opportunity, health, live in peace, and religious practices.'
Thanks for your time.