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letter to the editor 1997

As an Elder who has lived all her life on the so-called "Hopi Partition Lands" I am asking for youe help. We who resist relocation oppose the tyranny of living under Hopi governmental jurisdiction. I have exhausted all remedies in the U.S. judicial system and am requesting emergency intervention by the United Nations. I urge you as people of conscience, the Navajo Nation Council, the Dine people, the Hopi people and the U.S. public to support our resistance and right to remain on our ancestral homeland.

We faced a March 32, 1997 deadline to either accept a 75-year lease with a loss of our civil, constitutional and religious rights or face forced eviction by Hopi Rangers and U.S. marshalls. There is no respect for us as Native Americans in the U.S., even though we are citizens of this country. That is the reason we are requesting intervention at this time.

During the last week of February, I arranged a meeting with the Hopi Tribal Chairman to find out their plans for us on April 1st, and while I did not meet with the Hopi Chairman, I did meet with two Hopi Rangers and one white person. Thet told me to sign the proposed Accommodation Agreement. I said "I won't sign because I don't know the law and how to follow it"

I can't read and I have my own laws, my traditional ways. I'm hanging on to it. I can't change to strange laws. That's why I can't sign the agreement law. The only choice I have, my only way is to stay on my land. I am looking for the younger generation to have land to use and make a life for themselves. We can't say we'll leave our sacred land. We will lose our power.

I was born here. My great-grandparents were born here and buried here. They have turned back to the earth. That is how we are tied to our land. The Hopi Rangers said we must stand for the law. I said,"you aren't using traditional ways, you are using white law, white tongue and white paper." We need to talk to the Hopi people that are still using the traditional ways. They said the law, the law, the law. That has no worth to me.

Please help us to remain on our ancestral land in peace and security, free from the tyranny of Hopi governmental jurisdiction, free from livestock impoundments, wood and woodcutting-tool impoundments, free from destruction and desecration of our homes, ceremonial hogans and sacred shrines.

History has shown us what the Hopi tribe has in mind for us as landlords, denying us any housing construction and housing improvement for the past 22 years, fencing off, capping off and dismantling our water wells. This causes us great hardship, forcing us to travel up to 20 miles each way to haul water for our use and our livestock on ungraded and unmaintained dirt roads. When it rains or snows, our roads become impassable for weeks at a time. Travel destroys our vehicles, often leaving us with no way to get water, wood, or food.

We who have been denied any services, including access to water are not offered any services under this 75-year lease agreement. How can we accept this temporary solution when it robs our children and grandchildren of their future rights to live on our ancestral land?

Dineh have intermarried with Hopi to the extent most families can count members of their clan who are part onr or the other. What the Hopi government is doing against us they are doing against their own people. I have always had Hopi friends among the Traditional people and they never mentioned to us that we should leave our homes. Only when the U.S. government created Tribal Councils in order to easily exploit the minerals under our lands did the current dispute arise.

Anglo lawyers working for the prospect of enormous sums of money to be had from lawsuits have driven an artificial wedge between Dineh and Hopi who peacefully co-existed before U.S. governement intervention. We are suffering in the name of corporate greed. We who resist relocation live in the shadow of America's largest coal strip mine and our presence here prevents the mine's expansion. What is the cost in human terms for the energy generated for consumption by privileged white people?

If the Dinehs church and altar can be destroyed, so could everyone else's. I urge all people of conscience to support our resistance. I urge you as people of conscience to support our resistance and right to remain on our ancestral land. It is only when we all stand together that we will be free.

Roberta Blackgoat Chairwoman, Sovereign Dineh Nation


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