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On the 14th April, 1999, Roberta Blackgoat made the following statement that she wishes to be distributed.
Roberta is an 82 year old Navajo Elder and is one of the resisters at Black Mesa under threat of imminent eviction.
My name is Roberta Blackgoat, I am speaking to you from Thin Rock Mesa, the place where I live, the place where I’ve been born, and raised, and been taught how to live in this area.
For twenty five years I’ve been dealing with the government trying to move me off my ancestral lands. My great, great ancestors have been born here, and they’ve been buried in this area,…. around here there is a lot of my ancestors graveyard sites. My grandfather had taught me how to care for life on the land in the sacred ways, with the sacred prayers and the sacred songs, and he told me how in the very beginning the world was created and how the Great Spirit has surveyed it for the Dine people in this area, between the Sacred Mountains, Mount Blanca in Colorado, Mount Taylor in New Mexico, San Francisco peaks in Arizona, and Mount Hesperus in Colorado.
Between these four Sacred Mountains is a room for the Dine people, where it has been made like a church, and way out on the west side, by the San Francisco Peaks, inside the room is our altar. And this is the main point,… that we are being told to move off the land.
This is our altar that we can’t give up. We can’t sell it, we can’t buy it, we just have to take care of it and have people live in this area. And now we’re being told to move off from our altar.
This is why I really need it to be understood,…. That the government….. what they want this land for is what the Mother earth is living on. She is supposed to have a liver, and lungs, and a heart, and all these things are what we are sitting on. Just like our bodies, the Mother Earth has internal organs,….. these are the precious and valuable minerals that she needs, and so, all the equipment and things they make, all our food, even ourselves is made out of the Mother Earth,… and even money is a part of her body that has been turned into money. And now the greed is always working against our Mother Earth, and Mother Earth is suffering.
We’ve been hearing a lot about tornadoes,… and earthquakes,….. a lot of these warnings have been going on,…. That’s Her breath, because She is suffering and her breath is giving us warnings. These are the main things that we need to have understood…. That the people need to be allowed to live in the way that they have been all their lives.
PLEASE.. I am wanting to have this understood…..by writing letters to the Congressional leaders, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and all these people to know we have a pain feeling for our Mother Earth. She’s getting more surgery, and no patch to it. It’s just when a human being has surgery, and something is patched, but I don’t believe Mother earth has any patches, they just keep on killing her more and more. I believe more understanding is needed in this way. I am just needing for this to be heard. I am not begging for money or anything, but I’m really hanging on to the world for my Dine people and every living thing.
There is a great loss on the mountains,… the wildlife people are living there, and the people that fly, they live on the trees, and they all are losing their homes and, and the food of the wildlife four-legged people,…. And even the water,… the people that live in the water are struggling with all the pollution, and the sickness in the spirit of the water, and also all the human beings,…. us indians,… all the different tribes,… they are all facing the same struggles with their land and their food,… they are suffering also, not just the Navajos are suffering, it’s all indians living in this Indian Country are suffering.
I do hope to be having a great help from all you people who are aware, by having you write to President Clinton, and Also Senator McLain, and Bruce Babbitt. Please let them have their hearts to be touched.
I have heard of the Whitemans story,… how the Creator made the first man,… and He saw that he was lonely and so He created a woman for him,… and He told them that all the things they could see were for them, BUT they must not eat the apple on the tree,… so it is for us Dine people,.. the Creator has told us we MUST look after the land in between the four sacred mountains, so write to the politicians and tell them that if they want us Dine people to move off our sacred land they should SUE THE CREATOR.
I think this will be all. Thank you.
After a short break Roberta decided to speak some more:
This is Roberta Blackgoat, and I've been travelling for my people for all these years, over twenty years now.
Now is my time to give you some of my presentation to be sent out to those people who are aware of my struggling on this land where I was born and been raised.
We are being told that we have to move off, but we are struggling for over twenty years now,and I'm tired of it, travelling and talking and all these things make me so that sometimes I get sick and I get angry and all that. And so then I am making a comparison with the old stories, that how we are walking now is similar to to the Long Walk of last century.
My own Grandparents used to tell me about the Long Walk. The Long Walk was made in 1864 and all those people had been gathered and herded over to New Mexico, this Fort Sumner. Among the walk I had only one of my Great Great Grandmothers, and she had seen what went on, and this is what I have been told. Along the walk a lot of these people,... a lot of the ladies were pregnant, and some were disabled, and still they had to walk, and some got tired and they just fell to their knees on the ground, and then they were beaten or bayoneted to death,... a lot of these people were beaten to death along the walk to Fort Sumner.
And when they were in Fort Sumner, the concentration camp, a lot of them have also died there, with the Flu and other kinds of sickness, and some of them died of hunger, and some tried to escape and then were shot to death, so a lot of people were killed in different ways. The relatives of the prisoners in Fort Sumner, the people who hid out and didn't get taken, conducted many ceremonies, and the people in the concentration camp too, they conducted ceremonies also, and eventually the hearts of the people in Washington were touched, and they said they could return to their homes.
So after four years the people left Fort Sumner, but much fewer than went there, and yet my Great Great Grandmother returned with a lot of scars on her face from the measles or something that caused all those scars, and she returned to this place where I live,... the prayers were still there when she returned. And this is what her story is.
And now for over twenty years we've been struggling with this Relocation Act that has been forcing my people to leave,.... and along these years since the Long Walk was made, it seems like we're walking in the same way. A lot of people,... Elders,... even the young ones, a lot of them have been relocated and moved out to a place they are calling New Lands, but this is a place I call a concentration camp,... that's where they are now, and a lot of them lose their lives there,... under alcoholism,... and a lot of them have worries,... lonliness,... this causes them to lose their lives, because they are not used to that land. And this is why I compare the Long Walk to the struggling we are having now.
I want to have PL93-531 (the Relocation Act) repealed, like it happened in 1868,... and this is what I'm trying to have the Congressional leader to think of all of this.... the Treaty was signed after the Long Walk..... we miss all the treaties that have been promised,... and now I need to have my people return to their birth place, and then live the way they've been living, with their sacred prayers and sacred songs on the altar again.
I do hope that a lot of you people are aware from my speaking and presentations everywhere I go,... and please do help us any way you can,... writing letters, calling to the Congressional leaders, Senator McCain, Bruce Babbitt. I really have a heart to face them and talk to them,.... they won't allow me to visit them. If the Congressional leaders and all these officials,.... If they don't do anything..... keep on warning us and sueing us and all this evicting us, then I really need them to sue the Great Spirit who has set us here and surveyed it for us at this place. And I really need to have them Sue The Creator so they can do whatever it is they wish to do with us. This is one main important idea that I have. They can put this idea into their hearts and think on what they're doing.
They are wanting to take our sheep away from us,.... and then we'll stay here and have nothing to eat..... thats the way they want us...... to starve us,... this is what I do think. They are taking our animals,... our transportation is the horse, and they are wanting to get rid of them,.... and sit here and freeze to death,.... hungry to death. This is what I've been looking on to and saying,.... what in the world are they going to do with us?
In another word,... if I end up dying here, they come around saying the bodies not going to be buried here,... you have to go somewhere way out. This is something I can't believe. Why? This is our altar, we can't step off and be away from it.
This is the main thing that I can't set my mind on,.... I want to have this understood what our religious act is,... to take care of this land because when we have a Medicine Man, we need to have him to do an offering,... we offer to a tree, or even to a tree that's been struck by lightning, or a rock, or a spring, or a mountain,..... all these things, it's not only to one place. We offer to a certain place for the rain or either for a Beauty Way,.... and all these things, thats what has been given us by the Holy People and the Great Spirit....we are strong enough to hold this room which he has surveyed for us, ... and our Home Song, and this Mountain Song,... and now this is not being respected at all. I need to have this be known, and have all these wildlife people to get back to where they belong,... even people living in the water,.... they can change everything,.... in clearing the water,.... people that live in the water,... He's the only one that can do all these things,... and if anything comes in any better way again,... they understand,... if they keep on being greedy for money I don't believe it will never ever change,.. BUT the only one person thats going to change everything,... is what is coming close,... is what I would say,... it's more important that our ways of being, having a prayer still going,.... and its still sacred for us,.... the way.....
I had a dream, .... I dreamed that I was talking to these people, the wildlife people, Tigers and Bears and Lion,.... they were listening to me, lying down, and they were looking at me and I was talking to them in my prayer, .... I was still talking when I woke up,... and so I think it's still a way of our sacred ways, so I do need to warn , or teach, our leaders,... so the policemen wouldn't handle us here,.... having us, ... throwing us around, ... dragging us, out here on our own ancestral land.
This is mighty hard, .... spoiling our sacred ways,... especially our sacred bundles. We have sacred bundles that shouldn't be bounced, ... they should be taken care of real easy, ... have a song for it, ... a prayer for it, ... with the animals, ... it holds the animals, and it holds the humans, in this, the whole indian country. It's more important, but now it's not being respected, ... we have them here, ... I have two, ... and I mean its really important to me, and I'm holding on, ... I won't give up.
I pray for the animals and every human being.
There's a lot of meaning in the songs, ... and the prayers. This is what I think, ... to get back into the safe way again, ... it's half destroyed already, the way I figure because the mine is going, ... uranium mine, ... coal mine, ... and oil drilling, and other mining has been going on in our room, between the four sacred mountains,... so thats what I always used to say, ... the mice are digging in the room, ... and here and there there are lots of mice making holes in the room, ... I need to have a better room again, that's what I do think, ... and have a peace fire, ... have our sacred medicines, ... the sacred Sage burning, ... I need to have ecerything to be sacred again, .. this is what I do pray for.
Not only for myself, ... for all my people in this whole country here, .. no matter what tribe they are, ... they are brothers and sisters all over the whole universe, ... no matter how painful she is, I do pray for him or her to be healed, ... with the medicine that grows in the universe, ... and their food needs to be enough for them, ... and the people that fly, ... they're homeless, ... I'm wanting them to be enjoying their home again, ... like our four Sacred Mountains, on the west side the San Francisco Peaks has a big scar on its back, ... they call it "Snow Bowl", ... we need to have our Sacred Mountains sit the way she is normally with her prayer, ... she's praying sitting to the east, ... that's the way its been set We all pray for all these sacred mountains according to the songs and the prayers.