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Statement to The Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs House of Representatives
Hello, my name is Roberta Blackgoat. I am a member of the Hard Rock Chapter House.
Since the implementation of Public Law 93-531 we have been receiving many documents from various agencies which claim they have the authority to exercise jurisdiction over our land. However, we feel that we have jurisdiction over this area because it was put there for us by our God.
As a result, there are many religious and sacred places on our land. There are sacred springs and mountains on which sunlight hits in the morning. we walk these areas with sanctity, and we feel and know that our religion is being tremendously affected through the Public Law. There are also religious mountains around our reservation, and even in our own tradition, when we make hogans we bless that hogan in accordance with the mountains. Also, there are prayers that are offered and blessed before we even move into a hogan. That's when we start to live in an area. This is how we make our livliehood. This is how a family begins. This is how we plan for our family.
As a result, relocation not only affects where we live, but our religious sanctuaries as well. Now we are being asked to move from the land, and how can we go on living if we move. How shall we tend to our children. How can we teach them the same religious values if we are moved from our land. How shall we tend for the elderly?
Relocation is affecting us already because some children and elderly people have relocated and are experiencing problems. Relocation has caused a splitting of the families. Since 1972 in our Chapter House there has been 58 people who have expired because of depression and other illnesses caused by Public Law 93-531.
Currently, many or all of the fencing and other projects being carried out by the Bureau of Indian Affairs is being implemented in the field by our young people. This makes some of our young people turn against us -- our very own young people whom we had a hard time raising. It is because of the same law and the activities carried out by the BIA that this thing is happening.
Finally, I wish to bring to your attention that the land restoration project that is going on hurts my people. In your eyes, the sage brush is not worth a thing, but in ours -- in our culture and in our religion, it has great meaning. We use it in various ways with our ceremonial activities and it's also used as a medication against colds. It is the same plant that is being consumed by our animals to maintain their health.
I wish to bring these additional comments to your attention, and I thank you.