Letter to the Hopi Tribal Council regarding recent impoundments on Black Mesa and Call Out for Human Rights Observers
Below is the letter of concern we sent to the Hopi Tribal Chairman this morning, January 31, 2012. In light of the impoundments that took place last week and those that could happen this week and beyond, we are putting out a call of support to all persons interested in doing Human Rights Observation and support for the elders on Black Mesa during the harsh winter months.
As in the past, cameras, video cameras, voice recorders, and journalism skills are needed to help monitor and document the activities of the Hopi Rangers on the “Hopi Partitioned Lands” of Black Mesa. Please contact us at email@example.com if you are interested in participating.
We also ask for people to call the Hopi Tribal Chairman’s office letting them know that you are in support of the letter we sent and that you want the impoundments to stop. Ask for Chairman Shingoitewa (928) 734-3102
Thank you for all your support! May the indigenous communities of Black Mesa be remembered and supported, now and always!
Hopi Tribal Council
P.O. Box 123, Kykotsmovi, AZ 86039
Dear Honorable Chairman Shingoitewa,
It is with great concern that we write to you today, January 31 year 2012.
The undersigned are members of a group called Black Mesa Indigenous Support (BMIS) that exists to promote respect and support for the elders of Black Mesa/Big Mountain, specifically those living traditionally on the Hopi Partitioned Land (HPL). We write with support and encouragement from that community. As you know, many of these individuals are related to those of you directly. BMIS has worked with you at Hopi in the past on many issues, and have recently been honored to support your work and the work of others in protecting the sacred San Fransisco Peaks by stopping Snowbowl.
It has been brought to our attention that on January 25 and 27, Hopi rangers impounded animals belonging to Dineh families who live on HPL. These animals were rounded up by Hopi rangers using quads, on grazing districts 257 and 259.
According to acting chief Hopi ranger, Ronald Honyumptewa, the order to carry out these impoundments came directly from the Hopi tribal council chairman.
Mr. Honyumptewa stated that they have the right to confiscate these animals under ordinance 43 in the Accommodation Agreement (Public Law 104-301), and said further that the Hopi authorities are not obligated to hold on to impounded animals for owners to claim.
We are also very concerned to learn that a buyer of some of the animals was already identified directly before the impoundments had taken place, and that the animals were transported to Sun Valley for the purchase.
We understand that PL 104-301 authorizes such impoundments by Hopi rangers, however we are troubled at the manner in which they were carried out.
As we have understood it, the owners of these now impounded animals, were never given personal notice to sell or arrange for said unbranded animals, nor told in advance that these impoundments were going to take place. We have learned now, after the incidents, that notices were put up in the Rocky Ridge store and some local Chapter Houses five days before the impoundments took place. The residents report that being notified in such a manner is insufficient, considering that many of the elders cannot read English and/or speak English and do not frequent the Rocky Ridge store and Chapter Houses due to lack of transportation and funds. In the future, we, on behalf of the elders, urge you to employ direct, respectful, and personal communication with an aim to reach mutual understanding and solve livestock problems.
Again, our purpose in writing this letter is to encourage mutual respect, kindness, and moral responses to the issues that arise on the Hopi Partitioned Land. We received reports of Hopi rangers whipping livestock and speeding on all-terrain vehicles in sensitive environments in front of Dineh elders while rounding up livestock, and then laughing at the elders who expressed dismay at the abuse of their land and animals. As you well know, life on the Hopi Partition Land has its myriad difficulties, and we believe, as we know you do, that all people deserve respect and have the right to live their lives in dignity. We value your commitment to stewardship of the earth and respect your efforts at stewardship in various venues; it is our heartfelt hope that that commitment extends to the HPL.
The aforementioned act of selling the impounded livestock without due process that would allow for the retrieval of said livestock is viewed as disrespectful by the affected community and can be considered a violation of Human Rights and a specific violation of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as articulated by the UN Declaration for Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
As you know, in that Declaration, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on September 13th 2007, it is stated that:
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and develop their political, economic and social systems or institutions, to be secure in the enjoyment of their own means of subsistence and development, and to engage freely in all their traditional and other economic activities. 2. Indigenous peoples deprived of their means of subsistence and development are entitled to just and fair redress
1. Particular attention shall be paid to the rights and special needs of indigenous elders, women, youth, children and persons with disabilities in the implementation of this Declaration. 2. States shall take measures, in conjunction with indigenous peoples, to ensure that indigenous women and children enjoy the full protection and guarantees against all forms of violence and discrimination
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to their traditional medicines and to maintain their health practices, including the conservation of their vital medicinal plants, animals and minerals. Indigenous individuals also have the right to access, without any discrimination, to all social and health services. 2. Indigenous individuals have an equal right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. States shall take the necessary steps with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of this right.
Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinctive spiritual relationship with their traditionally owned or otherwise occupied and used lands, territories, waters and coastal seas and other resources and to uphold their responsibilities to future generations in this regard.
1. Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right not to be subjected to forced assimilation or destruction of their culture.
Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their lands or territories. No relocation shall take place without the free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous peoples concerned and after agreement on just and fair compensation and, where possible, with the option of return.
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to manifest, practice, develop and teach their spiritual and religious traditions, customs and ceremonies; the right to maintain, protect, and have access in privacy to their religious and cultural sites; the right to the use and control of their ceremonial objects; and the right to the repatriation of their human remains.
In light of the information above, we the undersigned, urge you, the Hopi Tribal Council to consider:
1. An immediate return of the livestock confiscated on the aforementioned dates to the appropriate families.
2.As per all articles of the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and Fundamental Freedoms cited above, an immediate revocation of Public Laws 93-531 and 104-301, and an immediate end to the forced relocation and harassment of residents of the Hopi Partitioned Land.
3. That all future impoundments are preceded by notices in Dineh and English and are delivered in a personal manner at least three weeks prior to the beginning of the impoundments to the affected parties with clear proof that said parties understand and consent.
4. As per articles 20 (1, 2); 22 (1); and 24 (1) specifically of the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and Fundamental Freedoms cited above, an immediate end to limitation of livestock herd sizes for residents of the Hopi Partitioned Land.
5. An immediate end of the use of all-terrain vehicles for livestock roundups on the environmentally sensitive Hopi Partitioned Land. 6. An immediate assessment by the Hopi Tribal Council of the Hopi Rangers’ capacity for dealing with the problem of wild horse herds on the Hopi Partitioned Land before any further impoundments of livestock belonging to individuals are considered.
We thank you for your time and consideration and look forward to hearing a response within the next two weeks. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Black Mesa Indigenous Support Collective:
Derek Minno Bloom, Liza Minno Bloom, Hallie Boas, Berkley Carnine, Theresa Gigante, and Owen Johnson