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"We're staying for the children"
Big Mountain News July 1986
What the government is doing for us, we don't understand, and it's most important. All these letters come, these Elders getting warning letters, which they don't know how to read and they don't know how to answer back. We don't know which step we could make, left or right.
What we mean is, on our right hand we have our own ways to use, to support ourselves. Maybe if you are left-handed it would be good, but I'm not good at left-handed, in White ways. I can't follow being a missionary. I'm used to using my right hand all the time. In that way I know my own prayer, and my own song. And we have our own home songs, that has to be carried on, they can't be broken up. Then its the same way with us, we can't break our population, we have to know our population.
We don't know how many centuries its been carried on, we still say "I'm Edgewater, I'm Bitterwater, I'm Salt Clan. Always we've been known by our clans, and its the same way with our life, our livliehood, we know our animals, and we know the food of what we have, and all these things are being carried on in our traditional way.
But all these papers come in, and then us who are uneducated are carried to another home. The papers, we can't follow them. The Elders say "I was told to only have 5 sheep, and a horse". But if there's a big family, maybe ten children, and twenty grandchildren, then only three can survive. All these animals are carried in our sacred prayers, all have their own names, and now we're told these animals are taken away from us, but we live on our animals. This has been carried on for centuries.
And this land, we've been using it for centuries, and now we're being told 'you've got to move, its not yours.' Where are we going to move where the land would be ours. In another two or three years, maybe we'll be told you've got to move, there's something youre sitting on, it has to be dug up. Maybe we'll have only a house, and no other sand to step on.
The more laws has been coming, really pushing us, and scaring us. It's really really sad to say. I've been going around and visiting our elders, I go around and they start crying. I do myself. Its really hard to say, does the government have a heart? The government says you've got to do this, you've got to do this, so now he's clearing our table.
So I've been walking around, asking, help us, to live on this land, to live the way we've been living all these years, all these centuries. I need your help. What's going to happen to us, are they just going to push us off? Are they just going to make a hole, and then they're going to push us in?
They say its going to be nice to live in a nice home, with electricity and running water, have everything in the house, and just sit there like this. I think we're all spoiling, having the roads fixed right in front of your yard. Everything's sitting there like a dumb stuffed animal, or a toy.
We're staying for the children, for the grandchildren, and on down the future. That's what we're doing, not only for ourselves. We don't want to lose our land, because we're independent. Where I stand for my children and my grandchildren. The whole Executive Order area is what I'm fighting for. It's a whole big tree, and the trunk is the public law 93-531, and all these limbs that are growing are pushing against the trunk, that's just what its doing to my Nation. I want to repeal this Public Law, I need it to be cut clear down under the roots, and let it fall, and it wouldn't grow again, that's what I really want.
I've been hearing about the lands being given back to the Navajo. But I've seen the highway right in front of the Chapter House. If it was our own land, it wouldn't be a highway there. Its for the mine, the coal mine. Its coming to the Chapter House.
Poor Mother, she's in pain, her liver is being torn out there. All to make it warm in the house, that's what I learned on my travelling, all these things, electricity. The more "improvement is going on" the more mining is going to go, that's how it is. The more in pain the Mother's going to be, all the guts is being awarded. In another 2 or 3 years she will be in pain, just like a sick human..... can't lie down can't sit down, so you'll be turning, rolling, maybe this might happen if she's really in pain, of all the heartbreak we've been hearing about, there's a tornado.
I wanted to have it clear, that's what I always wanted, and I don't want my people to move, that's where they belong.
We always depend on our Creator, He's the only one knows where he's going to put us, and where he's going to relocate us.