From the Hogan 3
Notes from Big Mountain
204 days till "the final solution"
again it's been a very busy month on the land. A new set of notices have
gone out to the residents telling them their "excess" animals
will be taken from them. Basically the people are being reminded that at
some undefined point in the future their livliehood will be threatened.
As one supporter noted "Grandmothers are never quite sure when to
be prepared to defend their homesite and livestock." This is just a
part of the continued attempt by the BIA/HTC/US Govt to harass these
people into leaving this coal-rich land. By making sure that their
flocks are too small to be able to support a family, the families need
to find other sources of livliehood, which usually means going off the
Rez to find wage work. Eventually this causes the break up of the
family, or the family will tire of this harassment and decide to
"voluntarily" relocate. Not only is this economic terrorism,
it is also psychological terrorism. Part of the impoundment notice reads
"in order to achieve full compliance with all the grazing permits
the agency range staff will begin conducting random unnnaounced
inventories throughout the year. We are addressing you of this
possibility so that you are not alarmed or surprised by our presence on
a weekend or at irregular hours." Imagine getting a letter that
tells you that at some point in the next year someone will enter your
home and rape a member of your family! To those of you that do not know
these traditional people, this may sound like a gross over-exaggeration,
but the truth is that in ways we can little understand, the land is a
part of these people, the presence of an armed threat travelling on
their land violates these people just the same as if their hogans were
being entered. The sheep are not "economic units", any
observer of the Navajo will tell you that the closest term we have in
the white-mans language to define the sheep is "relatives". By
threatening the sheep, and constantly "patrolling" the land a
climate of fear is established.
Hopi Tribal Council continues with its inept and amateurish media
campaign on the situation here. This week in the local paper is an
"article" on Kee Shays situation that is little more than a
reprint of a HTC press release. Kee Shays family live alongside the
fence that seperates the so-called HPL from the So-called NPL. When the
fence was constructed, it cut right through his families customary use
area, leaving the winter camp on one side of the fence, the summer camp
on the other. Because of this the family have not been involved in the
"accomodation" process, and has continued to make use of their
land, The Hopi Tribal Council considers his family trespassers.
"according to the tribe, Shays actions are considered harmful to
both Navajo and Hopi families." "When outside individuals
illegally trespass and allow their animals to graze on lands that
already suffer from diminished capacity, we hurt both Navajo and Hopi
families living on HPL." "Shays actions in arguing his case
through the media is clearly an effort to disrupt and use for his own
benefit the ongoing peaceful process of accomodation" "The
media needs to be more responsible in not agitating situations that
could hurt the interests of Hopi and Navajo families on the HPL."
What on earth are they talking about?!!! The Shays' have always been
members of the Big Mountain community, to classify them as outsiders is
absurd. And how is he threatening the Hopi Tribe? The nearest Navajo
resident on HPL is over 10 miles away, and the nearest Hopi resident
well over 20 miles away. So whose grass is he "stealing". As
for the media "agitating" the situation, all I can say is I
sure hope the media is not "agitating" the situation in Kosovo
by reporting on what is happening.
interpretation of this "article" is that the HTC is setting
the stage to implement their "Exclusion Law" in preparation to
remove all support the resisters here have. With this insidious law the
HTC will be able to define who is an "outsider", and they will
be able to define what constitutes a threat to the tribe. If they are
allowed to get away with it the people here will be living under virtual
martial law. They (the HTC) certainly don't want the media to report on
later)Well, it seems that my prediction that the Hopi Tribal Council
(and their masters, Peabody and the U.S. Govt.) are escalating their
moves against the peoples supporters turns out to be unfortunately true.
June 16th. At 5 this evening , Hopi Rangers arrived at the Witness Camp
to escort Arlene Hamilton (the co-ordinator of the camp) off the
"Hopi Reservation". Yesterday she had been served a
"proposed exclusion notice" and given 15 days to answer in
writing why she should not be "excluded. 2 days ago she was still
being told on a daily basis that the permit she had being asking for was
me describe the Witness Camp to you. The first thing you notice is the 2
white tepees jutting above the trees. There is a kitchen structure and
area, a sweat lodge, an outhouse, and scattered through the Pinyon and
Junipers are the tents of the visiting students. Every day there is a
constant stream of Dineh visitors to the camp, some travelling long
distances (one 101 year old lady started to hitch hike the 20 miles to a
relative to come to the camp). They come to teach classes. They come
just to visit. They come to eat. They come to ask for help with chores.
They come to bring food to the camp. The atmosphere and all interactions
are of the utmost respect. Every day armed Hopi Rangers or monitors
arrive to nose around. They are treated with respect, and in most cases
have behaved respectfully.
Ranger had it explained to him by one of the respected Grandmas that she
felt really unsafe with him bringing his gun into camp, so he took it
off and locked it in his vehicle before coming in to camp. Word is he
got into trouble for daring to behave like a human being!! He should be
promoted. There is a palpable feeling of community at the camp. I
listened as A Dineh Community Health Nurse spoke to the students. Her
job is to travel around and visit the elders in their isolated homesites
and check on their health. She spoke of how whenever impoundment
notices, armed Rangers prowling about, eviction notices, low level
overflights, etc occur the health of the elders suffers dramatically and
noticably. She spoke of her own sense of fear as she had to travel
around alone, sometimes followed by armed rangers, and in an emotional
voice she told how the first time she drove by the witness camp and saw
the tepees her heart lifted that the resisters were getting visitors,
help and support. Every student I spoke with had nothing but positive
things to say about the people here , their way of life, and the respect
everybody has for each other. The harassment of the people became
something real for them. How is it possible for the HTC to claim the
camp as a threat? The people here HAVE EVERY RIGHT to have visitors,
they have every right to have support in the chores of their daily life,
and they have every right to try and reclaim their sense of community
that the governement and HTC have done everything they can for 25 years
It seems that the morning after the Rangers came to the camp to
"escort" Arlene off the rez, many, many people phoned the Hopi
Tribal Offices to complain. Later that day the Chief of Hopi Rangers
came to the camp and said "it had been a mistake". Gosh....
could it be that some people taking a few minutes of their time to make
a phone call could actually have an impact?
has been my experience that once people find out what is really going on
here, they feel impelled to do something about it. Before he himself
became a tyrant, Josef Stalin wrote "Nothing could be more
dangerous to tyrannical authority than the peoplesí curiosity."
Unfortunately the mainstream media rarely report on what is happening
here, and when they do it is just to repeat the government propoganda
that this is just a dispute between two tribes, rather than the truth
which is that this is the continuation of 500 plus years of genocide
against the caretakers of this Turtle Island. I would ask that you
forward this E-mail to everyone you know. If, out of every hundred
people who read this, just one person takes some action, then the scales
tip in the right direction. "we are each an army of one" as
Leonard Peltier says. Many people are concerned with Human Rights,
Native Rights, Religious Freedom, Environmental destruction, Corporate
Power, and Governmental abuse. What is happening here involves all these
issues, and I believe (in fact I stake my life on it) that if enough
people choose to pay attention to what is happening, this travesty can
be prevented. Please pass this on. It is not "spam". If anyone
has any questions about how the situation here has come about, I would
be only to happy to explain what I know.
Hum! More low altitude overflights. On the afternoon of June 19th a
couple of helicopters flew low and directly over the homesite. The first
was one of the unmarked gunships that flew over recently. The second was
a USAF, silver painted, model. My first response as they fly over is
outrage and a sense of violation, followed by a disbelief at how much
taxpayers money is being spent to harass these elders. I have no idea
just how much it costs to put on of those things into the air for an
hour. A damn sight more than I spend in a year thats for sure.
2nd. Low level overflight by small fighter aircraft at 3:30 and again at
6:30. The zig-zag flight path took them directly over the homesites.
hear of continued harassment of families that signed the agreement.
People have been told not to drive around on the land. "You are
being accomodated so long as you stay within your area."
Hopi Tribal Councils propoganda machine is busy this month. A letter to
the editor titled "So called Activists use Hopi Tribe" an
employee of the Tribe attacks the support the people here are getting.
According to this so-called Hopi, activist and human rights workers are
just using the Navajo and Hopi to further their own agenda and stir up
trouble. She goes so far as to claim that 99.9% of the information on
the internet about this situation is lies! Coming from an organization
whose whole existence is based on a lie this is pure bullshit. She also
states that "activists will be removed". Of course, being just
a sheepherder and not an activist myself I can feel quite safe, right?
All the propoganda being put out by the HTC continues to try and claim
that any attack or criticism of the HTC is an attack on the Hopi people,
whereas everything I read put out by the resisters and their supporters
makes it quite clear that it is understood that the HTC is an illegally
imposed colonial governement that is oppressing its own people as well
as the Dine, no-one is suggesting that these actions come from the Hopi
people themselves. I personally have heard Hopis refer to their rez as a
Police State. All in all, this months offering from the HTC's public
relations operation is rather pathetic and transparent. I guess that the
cost of expanding and arming the para-military Hopi Rangers leaves the
HTC no funds to hire a proffesional Public Relations Firm.
there are a few people who raise money and in other ways use these
people and this issue to further their own agenda. For instance, right
now there is an individual operating out of Montana who is claiming that
his words are coming from Roberta Blackgoat. If that were not bad
enough, he has gone so far as to forge her signature. Roberta has asked
me to tell you that she and her relatives are extremely upset by the
actions of this individual. If you come across anything purporting to
come from "Independent Dine Nation" ( no such entity exists)
please know it does not originate from here.
you are in the process of, or thinking of, offering money or some other
form of support to the people here, I would have you ask yourself the
following questions. Do you KNOW that the support will reach the people
here?, and if so, do you KNOW that it is in a form that the people want?
Obviously the only way to be sure is to actually come here yourselves,
but that is not always possible, but the next best thing is to
COMMUNICATE WITH THE ELDERS DIRECTLY.
annual Sun Dance at Camp Anne Mae has been denied a permit. Though the
people here find it deeply offensive (and who wouldn't) that they must
get a permit for a religious ceremony, they went ahead anyway and
applied for one. Over 4 months ago! The HTC waited till 2 weeks before
the SunDance to deny them "permission". The Sun Dance will go
ahead anyway, many hundreds of people are committed to it. Will The HTC
use this as an opportunity to provoke confrontation and continue with
their attempt to impose martial law? We'll see.
in the real world the weather continues to be strange here. The day
after we finished planting the cornfield it rained all day, with thunder
and lightning. These male rains are at least a month early. A few days
later we had record lows with temperatures 20 - 25 degrees below normal.
Now we're back to normal, windy and hot. The flock goes out before
sunrise and come back in for the middle of the day, then go out again in
the evening. During the heat of the day all sensible creatures hole up
in the shade. The corn waits patiently for the rain.
other evening I was driving around with one of the Grandma's, The sky
was filled with dark, moisture -heavy clouds, but only a few drops were
reaching the ground. "I guess the clouds are waiting for a permit
from the Hopis before they drop their rain." she quipped.
sure seems like now would be a good time to phone the Hopi Tribal
Chairman and let him know what you think about the harassment of elders
and their supporters, the religious persecution, military overflights
etc. Let him know you are paying attention to what is going on here.
Wayne Taylor can be reached on the following numbers: (520) 734 3000,
& (520) 734 2441.
are still trying to "rub-out" Indians. This is not History.
This is not happening in some obscure other part of the globe. Surely
it's time to stop this?
then, what the hell do I know,.... I'm just a sheepherder.
without action is the ruin of the soul"
prayers, support, and correspondence are invited
all my relations