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Roberta Blackgoat, Sovereign Dineh Nation


I am the Chairperson of Sovereign Dineh Nation, the organization formed to protect our homes. I bring to you today greetings and statements from the Dineh residents living on Black Mesa, who today, as for the last 22 years, are resisting the efforts of the United States government to evict us from our ancestral land. 10,000 people have been forcibly relocated to clear the land for coal mining. Only a few hundred families remain, living in the shadows of North America's largest coal field, which has been carved into the heart of our sacred land. We who continue to resist are political and religious prisoners, divided by miles of barbed wire fence on our ancestral land.

In 1864, the US Government forcibly removed nearly 10,000 Dineh to the world's first concentration camp at Fort Sumner, New Mexico. As a result of this ethnic cleansing, thousands perished from illnesses brought on by physical and spiritual diseases and malnourishment. Only when the survivors were allowed to return home to Dinetah and rejoin those who avoided removal, was health restored to our Nation. 110 years later Congress again brought ""war" against our people through the evil known as Relocation Act. Again, nearly 10,000 Dineh were intimidated into leaving their Church and Altar. Many who left have since met with premature deaths. Many more have been devastated by physical and spiritual illnesses.

We who are unalterably opposed to relocation gain our strength by maintaining our traditional religion. We wish harm to no one and don't understand why we've been made to suffer so much for so long. We remember our honored friend and Traditional Hopi Elder, Grandfather David Monongye. He often told why many Traditional Hopi knew it was the Creator's idea for Dineh to live here. He was taught the Dineh were brought to surround the Mesa by the Holy Ones so as to provide a protective buffer from the forces of greed and destruction. If, and when, the Traditional Dineh were removed from these lands, his people would fall in turn, and the Earth would be destroyed. He knew from ancient teachings that Dineh and Hopi were physically and spiritually bound together. He realized, as do the current Resisters to relocation, that if the Dineh Church and Altar can be destroyed, so could everyone else's.

The Hopi and Dineh peope do not have a quarrel, but 22 years ago, a group of mining and power companies deceived the US government into thinking there was a range war between us. These mining companies convinced the US government that the solution wwas to evict everyone who lived in the areas which they wished to mine

." The US Congress should be working on ways to return our People and help heal the wounds it has caused. Instead the US Congress just passed legislation that will seal the fate of the few families remaining on the land. This bill, Senate #1973, is opposed by all the people remaining on the land. This bill tells us we pay rent to live on the land where our families have lived for hundreds of years, that we must pay grazing fees for the livestock herds with which we survive. It says we must submit to a foreign government who only wishes to remove us by any means necessary so that they can sell our land to the mining companies. The US Congress passed this law on October 11, 1996, without ever allowing any of our people to appear before it or testify about what it means.

The rights which we request are only the minimum granted to all people under the United Nations's Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We request your support and the support of the United Nations in protecting our right to continue in our tradition way of life.


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