Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Is Forced Native American Relocation Imminent….???

February 7, 2000 by  
Filed under Voices from the Land

This article appears in the Earth First Journal ( Jan / Feb 2000)


This is a NONVIOLENT effort! No weapons, alcohol, drugs, or aggression toward ANYONE!

The New Year began with the first major snowstorm of the season. No precipitation had fallen for over 100 days, and everyone welcomed the moisture that the snow brought, crucial to the health and vitality of the People’s flocks of sheep and goats, particularly during the winter and spring lambing season. The roads were nonetheless difficult to drive on, and subzero windchills humbled all. Whilst the passing of “Y2K” proved relatively calm and nothing like the apocalypse many expected, the People of Black Mesa are facing “the final” threatening forced-relocation deadline. February 1, 2000 is the date when all Dineh (Navajo) living on the so-called “Hopi Partition Land” (HPL) who didn’t sign the Accommodation Agreement are subject to unconditional removal from ancestral homelands at the hands of federal and tribal agents.

On January 5, 2000 a public announcement issued by Navajo Nation president Kelsey Begaye, Hopi Tribal Council (HTC) chairman Wayne Taylor, Jr., US Attorney for Arizona Jose deJesus Rivera, and Christopher Bavasi, mayor of Flagstaff, director of Office of Navajo and Hopi Indian Relocation, stated that no forced evictions would take place on Feb.1; that-while the HTC could legally evict the Dineh as of Feb.1 they have pledged to allow the case to run through federal courts. Of course, since Resisters have already been subjected to periodic harassment by HTC and BIA officials for many years, Feb.1 could very easily usher in a new phase of intensified pressure against them that may persist for months or years. These policies are by their very nature genocidal, and must be thwarted. We’re not deterring anybody from coming but it’s important to understand that forced evictions are unlikely to take place on February 1st. Black Mesa Indigenous Support (BMIS) and Resisters consulted agree that it would be good to utilize incoming supporters to apply pressure in nearby cities, do networking, and to undertake on-land work projects, helping families prepare for long-term resistance and cultural survival.

Regardless of the untrustworthiness of the rhetoric of bureaucrats, families facing relocation refuse to leave their ancestral homeland. Feb.1 will not change their beliefs; it is simply another tactic initiated by the government to erode the strength and morale of Resisters. The following are direct statements from resisting Dineh Elders given to BMIS volunteers during a fact-finding expedition to the Traditionals’ homes in early January, 2000. Sincere apologies to those families we did not get to; everyone’s views are valued. Post-storm conditions combined with many prior commitments forced us off the Reservation after visiting only 9 families. A number of Elders worked hard to present a range of diverse viewpoints, yet in no way do the following individuals pretend to express all perspectives. Among the Dineh, nobody speaks for anyone else.

KEE WATCHMAN: “For those coming it may be expected that the BIA, Hopi Tribe, and State police will put up road blockades , as they have done in the past (during the annual Spring Gatherings and Sun Dances).

Bring video equipment please. People here are expecting a good SNOW! Go through the (BMIS) support group before coming”

ROBERTA BLACKGOAT: “We have no choice. Everything is out of our pockets. Emptying ourselves. Digging our Mother Earth, killing, making weapons. Money is also part of Mother’s precious body and now turning around and trying to kill her. Now children are not respectful.

(They) wanted to get rid of all these human beings; to take (Mother Earth’s) hearts, intestines, which (we’re) supposed to be living on.

This is how it’s been set by Indians’ prayers; taken care of by Indians’ Holy Songs and this is not being respected. Visitors not respecting this. This has to be stopped! We need our children to respect the earth. Write to congressional leaders in Washington & call them too. Their hearts have to be touched. I hear McCain is running for president. Not good! To be stopped! Also, Hopi say they will do nothing but people do not believe it.

The Creator has sent us here to take care of the land. If they want us to leave then SUE THE CREATOR FIRST!

PAULINE WHITESINGER: “I have no formal education to move to the city to pay bills. Here is simple life, I need no money to live here….”

We borrow this land from Mother Earth. Nobody on Earth can say it’s their land. Father Sky is looking at us saying we shouldn’t be saying ‘this is our land.’

They have no right impounding (livestock) because I told them not to come over to my house or to even come to the top of the hill to look at my house or even to write to me.”

“What do they want? We just borrow (the Land) and live here.”

GLENNA BEGAY: “We the Navajos have been living here for generations and generations and the bad things that are going on are really going on! What’s the real reason we are being threatened? My ancestors lived here. I was born and raised here…peace and quiet! The land was beautiful at that time.

We (once) had rain and snow. Now, we don’t have snow.

Everything we live in belongs to us. House…animals. Why do the Hopi and BIA impound? We are not doing anything. They are the ones doing things.

It’s been 21 years the land disputes been going on. That’s too long. And that 75-year lease they added on-I ask ‘Why?’ Are they going to be threatening people that long? We live here! The table is here; we eat here. They come here taking our food away from us. They take the animals. I want the whole thing to end so we can live a happy life. So we can live the way we used to when I was very young.

It’s good to apply pressure on McCain and all the others; the UN, too.

RENA BABBITT-LANE: “There’s alot of pollution from Peabody Coal Mine and alot of the people are sick from it.

It’s our land on this Mesa-they don’t need to bother us. They cannot impound anymore. What they are doing to us is making us sick. There has been destruction of grave sites. They’re crushing cement foundations of people’s homes that have been abandoned because of relocation. They are taking. It shows you how they are greedy. They’re erasing all evidence of genocide. Two burials of our family were destroyed. They were torn down and taken away somewhere.

Let them all come! Whoever can come, come! Supporters can put tents up at the roads for lookout.”

LOUISE BENALLY: “It’s (the use of direct action) up to the people who have to live with it every day and some Navajo are scared. Apply public pressure at all levels, churches, students, an uprising in the universities.

Nov. 30th: In a vision there were possibly 1,000 teepees in the clouds in the East. Later that day the sun had horns, like buffaloes, meaning ‘war.’ It shows that the universe knows there’s an imbalance.

It’s a global matter. Burning fossil fuel is depleting not only our culture but the planet too. People who went to Seattle we give high honors too because they stood up to…the beast. We felt we were there in spirit too. They (WTO) are disregarding the planet. This is a global issue; WTO is a big contributor (to the problem).”

We can’t guarantee shelter for everyone. Know when coming here you are taking a risk in regards to shelter.”

LETA O’DANIEL: ” I know supporters have their own lives and they put that aside to help with us here and I wanted to show my appreciation. Sitting down with me and even just talking helps a lot. Supporters are always welcome into my home. Civil disobedience is good. It shows the world that our ancestral lands are being taken away. I believe if there are supporters they’re (BIA) going to hold back and wait for them to leave. They don’t want to be on the news, in the media because they don’t want to be exposed like that. I really appreciate their support…”If it wasn’t for supporters, we’d be thrown out a long time ago”…as my mother Maryrose Bedoni has said. The BIA is supposed to be taking care of us but instead they’re working against us. We borrow this land from Mother Earth.”

Support Needed & Wanted WHEN PREPARED

The struggle will continue long after this “deadline”. Just as the Battle of Seattle opened the eyes of the world to the fact that ‘the people’ can effect change, so the world will realize people can prevent the extermination of indigenous peoples, cultures, and ecosystems.

Act under the guidance of families! Self sufficiency a must! BMIS has supporter packets including cultural sensitivity & outfitting/preparation info (get it from this web page); you must have this packet before we guide you to the Rez and/or place you with a family. Communications/scanning equipment a priority.

There is concern throughout ‘the Land’ that if everyone shows only for January-February, ‘the authorities’ will move in once support has waned, a strategy utilized in the past. It’s suggested that support stagger in during the coming months. Remember, lambing season’s busiest months are March through May.

Demonstrations are being planned around the February deadline in Flagstaff, Phoenix and Tucson. Demonstrations are encouraged in all other cities where relevant offices exist. Please consult our web page for more information as it becomes available.

On-land support: sheepherding/firewood/household help; homesteading work/repairs (carpentry/roofing skills greatly appreciated); auto repair/maintenance; farming and permaculture projects; fence-building/repair; eco-restoration/recovery projects; livestock monitoring/human rights-copwatch work; transportation/shuttling of supporters and resisters; medical, video, and communications/media support.

Off-land support: demonstrations/direct action at key offices (see below); office/media/computer assistance (our office currently is 2 organizers’ small bedroom, to be vacated, funnily enough, by Feb1!); outreach/fundraising ; letters/phone calls to key officials. Office and regrouping space is desperately needed at this time! We are spread very thinly and need help with action/demo organizing as well as needs assessments and resource procurement. We are looking for office space to extend our support network as well as residential space to accommodate visiting supporters.

Prospective supporters are requested to contact BMIS first. Rides to and from the Land are available. Gas money ($40) and supporter packets are mandatory. No housing accommodations are available in Flagstaff, although there is a hostel and several very low-budget motels in town. During the winter and early spring, nights are ALWAYS well below freezing. While some days are sunny and relatively mild, many are windy and cold, and can be cloudy and wet as well. It DOES snow in northern Arizona, sometimes quite copiously, so be prepared! Stay posted for updates, historical info, etc. We have all the necessary contact info for informing the appropriate public officials both at the end of this update and on our web page. We will tell them as well as show them that we are stopping these genocidal policies. THE WHOLE WORLD IS WATCHING!!!

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