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January 14, 2001 by  
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Big Mtn. Update, January 2001

Dear Friends, Supporters and Relations,

This is a brief and long update. I have included some information about the traditional Hopi positions and a brief background. As a Dineh from Big Mtn., I feel I can speak about our relatives who are also in struggle and are affected by the same harsh policies. Some of my great teachers in the movement have been Hopi elders, and they have tremendously inspired me to continue the fight to save Black Mesa and to stand up for Indian communities that are in resistance against the capitalist aggression of the U.S.

At home in Big Mountain, winter is still trying to reclaim the season despite the altered global climate. The BIA Range Technicians with their BIA Police on guard in the distance have been notifying the elder livestock owners about the new regulations for the year 2001. Most resistors do have far too many animals, and a few are trying to keep their animals safe from the Range Techs. Though things seem quiet, the BIA-Hopi authorities continue to monitor: supporters, wood hauling, repair work done to corralsor homes, any evidences of ceremonial gathers, and occasional aerial surveys of grazing activities.

The Office of the U.S. Attorney has just, late this past year, opened a newoffice in Flagstaff. They aren’t disclosing much but that they only stated they are there to deal with issues on the reservations and national parks.

As some of you might know, they are to be responsible of the finallyeviction proceedings of the last, remaining Dineh resistors. Despite this new development, the elders are still determined to stay on their ancestral lands and their birthplaces. Also, Peabody Western Coal Company is planning on opening a new mine on the “HPL” which will ultimately be infringing upon the sacred Big Mountain geography. This means that Peabody’s lease will expand into most of Cactus Valley and the northern perimeter of Big Mountain, and that some of the current resistors are still holding residency in this area. Editors Note: See Evidence about Mineral development plans

I. State of Dineh-Hopi Alliance to Resist Cultural Determination

There had been much important concerns raised, among indigenous and non-Indian supporters, about support from the traditional Hopis for the Dineh resistance against relocation. Stories and information have surfaced, recently, in relations to this question, but these information seem to have slightly touched upon what the overall atmosphere is with the Hopi traditionals who are opposed to the coal mining and the current relocation activities.

Though, I’m from Big Mountain and have had close association with the late traditional Hopi leaderships, I still cannot get a better glimpse of how certain traditionally-minded Hopis feel towards the injustices inflicted upon their Dineh neighbors. First let me apologize for the lack of a clear understanding on traditional Hopi position. However, I like to make you aware of how events of Dineh and Hopi alliance have, perhaps, shaped thepresent statuses and will shape the struggle in the future against the termination of their culture in northern Arizona.

These information which have come about points to the fact that there is a state repression occurring within the Hopi villages. Witness reports have stated that certain Hopi traditionals who wish to maintain alliance with the Dineh, relocation resistors are living under a state of fear. These Hopi traditional voices, that still question Peabody Coal Company’s involvement of the 70s in the creation of the “land-dispute” legislation, are being silenced by the progressive Hopi tribal council. The few Dineh resistors who have attempted to make direct contact with Hopi support have been confronted with little response or actions due to this sort of official, BIA-Hopi ‘gagged order.’ Some successful contacts made with the traditional Hopi support were in a controlled setting and were conducted briefly and in secrecy. Those Hopi activists in the village have confirmed a sense of fear of potential repercussion if they openly demonstrate such alliances within the well, divided village communities.

How could this be possible? The Relocation Law from 1974 is supposed to cater, unconditional, to all Hopi rights related to their needs or concerns. This law and its proponents had sought to revive Hopi culture since much of the ‘lands’ have been lost to “Dineh squatters.” The 1974 Law, supposedly, provides freedom for Hopis to decide how to utilize the 900,000 acres “awarded” to them by the U.S. Congress. Thus, this repression against the traditional village members only confirms that there arecertain hidden clauses in the 1974 Act designed to eliminate the ancient and the untainted Hopi sovereign authority. Thereby, the new Hopi government is given responsible to enforce the undermining of traditional Hopi activism, and the efforts to maintain ancient practices for the Hopi Way of Peaceful Living. One example is a couple of editorials from the past year written by Hopis which all basically states concerns about how new regulations tends to dictate how preparation for seasonal dances will be conducted, and how they can be performed. The editorials strongly mentions that the original way of doing the ceremonies is much endangered, and it is rapidly transforming into nothing but a festival or a social entertainmentinstead of being a highly sacred form of worship.

The 1974 Law (“Navajo-Hopi Land Settlement Act”) has helped to strengthen the modern, progressive Hopi tribal council by adapting various, anti-indigenous ordinances which regulates the lives of Dineh within the ‘partitioned areas.’ Likewise, these same ordinances apply to the few Hopi traditionals who still honor old covenants with Great Spirit. This Law has also allowed the federal government to forced payment onto the Hopis for lands claims….a payment which the traditional Hopis have long opposed. So basically, the Hopis having no treaty status with the U.S. have no lands,now. All of northeastern Arizona that once encompassed Hopi religious and migrations sites, including the present village areas and the 1977 partitioned areas has been officially SOLD. Along with millions of dollars in federal government rewards (i.e. after the success with the Accommodation Agreement) plus the 55 million dollars for the land claims, the new, progressive Hopi government can be the most efficient and effective council to pose much threat towards their own Hopi Way of Peace. The new way of peace is the systemically-improved BIA-Hopi police force. This particular law enforcement agency is to serve and protect the State and its energy companies by exterminating the lives of the Dineh and traditional Hopi resistors.

This law has mainly served and catered to Indian interest by strengthening the colonial emphasis for tribal governments through such ‘tribal ordinances and constitutions.’ The ultimate results is to severe all traditional and ancestral ties to the Mother Earth. With the new bursting, economic budget of tribal councils and the rural, isolated region of Dineh-Hopi nations, the vicious Public Laws of the U.S. continues to dictate the removal of Hopi ancient practices and the physical removal of Dineh residents. This is, only, some of the reasons why the approaches in confronting this corporate greed must be initiated from the indigenous point of view meaning that, it must involve an honor for any indigenous input. This is what it means to Honor Indian Treaties, Honor Native Resistance and working at the international level. At this time in point, WE as Dineh or Hopi and non-Indians supporters should have learned that, when we deal in domestic laws and judicial systems we further deplete the little aboriginal rights and identity that native resistance still defends. Yes, the Indians are to continually be reminded and be assisted in rebuilding its acknowledgement towards its responsibility in making this happen. Yes, it must be recognized what aspect of Indian activism are responsible in making this happen, and what aspects are there to seek’hand-outs’…..those remnants of the “hang-around-fort Indians.”

As the high tech-world anticipate a new and efficient era of leisure and convenience, traditional indigenous societies are vanishing and certainly, the poisoning of the environment increases. Similarly, it is happening on Black Mesa, and WE must educate ourselves about the history of the Big Mountain and traditional Hopi resistance, thoroughly, and stop making assumption about what localized legal maneuvers might help Dineh elder resistors. Lets try to understand that, one example is that WE must physically work alongside elder resistors in securing their livelihood and establish a promise/trust that, the Peoples’ new time of activism will be there for them. According to the state of indigenous resistance of Black Mesa, someday, Dineh activism might have to help in the liberation of the traditional fulfillment of the Hopi Way of Peace.

II. Legacy of the Navajo-Hopi Unity Committee

There is another untold story which supports the claims that, there is mining company interest or involvement and that, there is no actual land-dispute in existence. For about 40 years, there has been traditional Hopi opposition to the modern, Hopi tribal council –a council, originally, formed for the purpose of leasing lands for mineral explorations.

These traditional Hopi resistance to the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ educational system and tribal government constitution have confronted various attempts to eliminate their village sovereignty. Since 1944, the traditional Hopis begin rejecting the U.S. Military draft that caused many of them to be imprisoned on Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay. They continued their refusal to American rule and began outlining their ancient prophecy to the General Assembly of the United Nations. Their message to the world was about the foretelling of the atomic bombs, future world disorder that can engulf America and future losses of land to corporate greed.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, they maintained strong opposition against the formulation of a permanent tribal government. They organized non-violent demonstrations to stop water and electrical lines from entering their traditional communities, and the new minority, tribal council’s modernization efforts failed. When Peabody Western Coal Company got its first mining lease in 1962, traditional Hopis joined the traditional Dineh in opposing Peabody’s establishment of the mines. These humbly but intelligently alert, traditional Hopis have traveled to the headquarters of Los Angeles Water and Power and Southern California Edison to protest these utility companies’ involvement with Peabody. Armed with their non-treaty status, their credible prophecy and sovereign powers, they also traveled to Washington D.C. and, numerous times, to the United Nations to call for Peace, and a stop to the mining of Black Mesa.

They turned their attention to the Hopi tribal council’s role in the so-called, “land-dispute,” around 1971. The traditional spokes people like Mina Lansa, Earl Pela, David Monongya, and interpreter, Thomas Banyacaya,warned Navajos in the Joint-Use Area about the Relocation and Land Partition Bill being introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives. The traditionals from both sides formed the Navajo-Hopi Unity Committee to work vigorously against this Relocation Bill and against the actions of the progressive members of the Hopi tribal council. Despite the powerful forces of the Unity Committee, the federal government and its BIA-backed tribal governments succeeded in having the Bill become an Executive Order. In the decades following and until their deaths, these outspoken, traditional Hopis continued their reassurance to the Dineh relocation resistors that, the ancient Way of Hopi Life supports a continued and homogenous Dineh-Hopi cultural existence on Black Mesa and Big Mountain.

“I just want to say,” Hotevilla Hopi elder, David Monongya, reiterated, “that We never want you, Navajos, to ever give up in protecting this land! Stay on your land! If (they) move you off this land, (they) will destroy Mother Earth, and there will be nothing but great famine.” (Katenay, notes from Dineh Nation Resistance Conference, November 1977)

Thomas Banyacaya, traditional interpreter, also, reminded the Dineh resistors, ” We, the traditional Hopis, are NOT the ones who wishes for you all to relocate or that, We are NOT the ones who want the Land. It is the Hopi tribal council and their white lawyers who are helping the coal company so that, these lands can be mined after you all have been relocated. All the coal and water resources that (they) take out is NOT forus, Indians, but it is to make electricity for cities like Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Phoenix.” (Hard Rock Chapter Meeting, Summer 1974)

III. Support is Still Important and most Urgently

Finally, there is a long ancient and historical integration among Dineh and Puebloan societies that have been obliterated by modern anthropologic thoughts and assimilation. Even in Big Mountain and elsewhere throughout Black Mesa, there are unique old stories of Dineh-Hopi interactions and cooperation. Furthermore, there are endless amount disclosures of contemporary native resistance and movements that has influenced the original foundations of the Dineh-Hopi alliance to save Black Mesa and the Four Corners region. On the other hand, there is also the mechanism of the colonial establishment and its Indian policies that has instituted tribal governments and constitutions. Dineh elder resistors of today is only ‘the tip of the iceberg’ so, we all need to see deeper if we wish to help strengthen our commitments to indigenous rights or to universal endeavors of grassroots movements, environmental activism and reinstating appropriate justice and equality for all of humanity. Helps us, through your strong will for understanding and curiosity for human wisdom, and we need to, as difficult as it is, demonstrate solidarity with the actual sounds of Prayer. Live what we say: Solidarity, Honor, Respect, and Prayers for the Elders!

I will suggest several things you all can do to help and protect these resistors’ culture and human rights. Also, you will have to make other contacts with other resources to further see what additional ideas there are. You can forward this info to others or have Alternative Media outlets reprint this. Put this type of info about Big Mountain on community radio stations. Set up call in radio shows or taped interviews. If you are a student or have access to colleges or university, introduce this information to student organization and suggest inviting speakers. Groups and organization can also try to invite speakers to benefit events or other related events like environmental conferences or indigenous gatherings. You or your friends might have time to visit Arizona, and they may have extra time to help the elders or people on the land so, try to arrange for a visit and a stay on the land, but find out more about the conditions in helping and staying. On-Land Support for the elders is always requested. At the moment, some of the resistors are requesting for help, and long-term help is most helpful. Please take notice that, the Big Mountain region is very remote and is located far from any towns or cities with airports or other necessary conveniences.

We shall speak, again. Thank you for your time and your continued thoughts for the Dineh elders resistors and for the Hopi relations.

In the Spirit of Chief Barboncito,

Bahe Y. Katenay

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