Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Arrests of Dine During Sundance Ceremony at Camp Anna Mae July 2001

July 18, 2001 by  
Filed under Voices from the Land

Though Joe Washington, attorney, is moving for dismissal of charges, the presiding Judge at Hopi Tribal Court entered a plea of Not Guilty and set a pretrial date for September 18th at 9 a.m. At that time there will be a “pretrial”conference which could result in dropped charges. The defendants can still challenge the jurisdiction of the court.

Hopi Tribal Council Court
Highway 264 Milepost 398.6
Keams Canyon, AZ
(520) 738-2233

Audio Statements

Joseph Chasing Horse, Anna Mae Sundance Leader, speaks about his experiences. Real Audio

Including the road blockades by Hopi tribal police, excluding water, food and medicine needed by the people. He also talks about the history of the Sundance at Big Mountain. This was recorded by Agnes Patak.

Statements by Elders, Dine and witnesses to the arrests and events at Big Mountain Sundance July 2001, recorded by LeeAnn Lebar, on Wed. July 18th and orginally posted on Thursday July 19th

The elders & the people on the program: include ; Agnes Patak, Louise Benally, Leonard Benally, Roberta Blackgoat, Ruth Benally, Elvira Horseherder and Bonnie Whitesinger.

Mp3 files need to be downloaded, saved & then played. Need a mp3 player?
Real audio files will start playing with out downloading. Need a real player?

Entire Program 45 min mp3 30 MB Real audio
Opening Narration mp3 2 MB
Real audio
Agnes Patak mp3 6.2 MB Real audio
Louise Benally mp3 6.3MB
Real audio
Roberta Blackgoat mp3 0.8MB
Real audio
Interpretation Roberta Blackgoat mp3
3MB Real audio

(part) Ruth Benally mp3 0.4MB Real audio
Interpretation Ruth Benally mp3
1.6MB Real audio
(part) Elvira Horseherder mp3
0.6MB Real audio
Interpretation Elvira Horseherder mp3
2.1MB Real audio
Leonard Benally mp3 6.2MB
Real audio
Ending Narration mp3 1.3MB
Real audio

Police trying to block the tree from entering the sundance grounds

Due to the flood of phone calls coming in to Gale Norton’s office at the Department of the Interior, they contacted Leonard Benally directly asking “what do you want us to do?”There was a formal request made that she visit the land and meet with families on Big Mountain before October 12th.

It would be a good idea to KEEP IT UP! Perhaps with the addendum that she meet that request.

Gale Norton
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C. Street N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20240

(202) 208-3100


Amy Goodman of Democracy Now radio interview ‘Traditional Elders At Big Mountain Arrested For Holding Religious Ceremony

Statements of Support

Chief Arvol Looking Horse

Chief Leonard Crowdog

Corbin Harney Western Shoshone Sptritual leader

Friend of Nanish Shontie, Holland

Christ Unity Churches

Navajo Nation Press Release

Conversation with Hopi Tribal Council Member about arrests

President Begay on Arrest of 5 Navajos

1999 Hopi Tribal Report on the Sundance

Supporters Reports

Michael Gerell

Antoinette Claypoole Author of Who Would Unbraid Her HairPaul Bloom’s Sundance Report July 18, 2001

Paul Bloom’s Sundance Report July 21, 1999

August 17th

Navajo resisters, Hopi officials to file more court motions

Monday July 30th

Big Mountain, a coming home experience for Navajo Indian Country Today

Monday July 25th

Big Mountain Sun Dance proceeds following arrests Indian Country Today

Thursday Morning July 19th

Big Mountain Under Siege

Hopi officials, Navajo resisters’ views of sun dance incident clash

Audio statements by Elders, Dine and witnesses to the arrests and events at Big Mountain Sundance 7/2001: These are mp3 files, recorded by LeeAnn Lebar, on Wed. and orginally posted on Thurs.

Open letter to Chaiman Wayne Taylor, Jr. from Prof. Harald Ihmig Hamburg Germany

Wednesday Afternoon

Protest held in downtown MinnesotaReport of Protest held in downtown Minnesota with old time AIM members, The Twin Cities Dine’ Defense Alliance, traditional dancers and others.


The Hopi and Navajo “official” points of view are expressed in these two Navajo-Hopi Observer articles: Hopi Position: / Navajo Position:

Wednesday Morning July 18th

This is a message from Elvira Horseherder from Big Mountain.
We would like to say thank you for your support, to each and everyone of you. What I am telling you is true, yes, absolutely true, our grandmothers were pushed around by Hopi police man, not Hopi Rangers. I want to tell everyone that supports Big Mountain, we need your help and ask that you pray for us.

We are happy to have support, from Big Mountain support groups, people with computers, people that pray for us. We thank you. We are sorry we could not speak to you directly during the Sun dance because at that time they won’t let us talk on the phone because our roads were blocked off everywhere around Big Mountain, so we just stayed there. It was not until Monday afternoon that the roads were cleared. From there, I wanted to make phone calls to get in touch with people. That is the reason why we were out of touch. We tried to conduct interviews but no one was allowed in the ceremony, press, everyone was denied entry. We have no electricity, no phones, no water, we could not even get water.

Please make phone calls and help us keep the pressure up.

Elvira Horseherder

Elvira Horseherder’s Letter to the Editor

Tuesday Afternoon July 17th

Sundance ceremony leaves Hopi and Navajo communities bitter

Citations were given out to non-indians at Camp Anna Mae. The arraignment for them is in state court

Monday Evening July 16th

President Begay on Arrest of 5 Navajos


Big Mountain Sundance concludesIndian Country

Traditional dance further frays relationship between Navajos, Hopis –Arizona Republic

Sunday Afternoon

Leonard Benally Letter to Editor Navajo Hopi Observer

Sunday Morning July 15th

Hopi’s arrest 5 Navajos for trespassing – GallupIndependent

Letter to the Editor from Vernon Masayesva Navajo Hopi Observer

Saturday Morning July 14th

Ceremony on Hopi land raises fear of conflict with Navajo resisters

Navajo Nation Press Release on Anna Mae Sundance

Freedom of Religion is supposed to be guaranteed to everyone, regardless of race, color or creed. It is a basic fundamental right, not something that should require a permit to conduct.

Contact list of appropriate public officials


Friday Night

This is what was reported to us this evening: Confrontation by police

Water wells have been cut off for two days

Anna Mae Camp is surrounded on four sides, by Keams Canyon Police, Navajo Nation Police, Hopi Rangers and BIA Police. There are said to be at least 10-20 officers per blocked area

They are forbidding children to go into the Sundance grounds to pray with their families. If they cross the roadblocks they are being charged a minimum of $500 and some have been threatened with jail time.

The ladies were transported in Hopi vehicles to Hopi Tribal HQ where Eugene Kay had them arrested upon their arrival for tresspassing. They spent the night in Hopi jail

Two more days of Sundance to go

Supporters are still being requested. Do not be afraid of the road blocks, and not give into the threats on the part of the police just pass through them lawfully and respectfully. They are reminding us that the camp is non-violent and there is no alcohol allowed. Come self-sufficient

They are being especially hard on the locals and its said that elders can not go back and forth to their homesites. Some have medication at their homes that they can not get to

Friday Evening

I recieved another phone message from Big Mountain today, folks who had snuck out of the dance to get supplies. This is their latest update: The Sundance began as scheduled with the Tree of Life planted in the arbor, Thursday morning about 6:30 a.m. The five ladies were detained while on their way to meet with Wayne Taylor(Hopi Tribal Council Chairman). Apparently they are all doing fine.

I was told that a certain resident of Big Mountain is being targeted for being vocal and the tribal police is asking for them by name. People are not being allowed to leave and return to the Sundance grounds. Those who leave and choose to return face fines of $500 and up depending on how many times they leave and re-enter. But they wanted us to know that everyone is praying, and the Sundance is on.

Sharon Lungo
Action Resource Center

The Hopi tribal police are handing out this notice to everyone seeking to enter Big Mountain, the Dine’ that live there and their supporters:


Be advised all areas of Hopi Indian Reservation including the location of Camp Ana Mae are closed areas and access to this area is restricted to the Hopi Indian Tribe and those persons authorized to be upon the Hopi Indian reservation.

In accordance with Hopi and federal laws and regulations any individual who is not a member of the Hopi Tribe and who is not authorized under the provisions of Hopi law to be present within the reservation is in violation of the tribal law and may be subject to civil fines of $500.00 for the first day of violation said amount, doubling for each subsequent day of the violation.

If you are present within the Hopi Indian reservation without a valid permit then you are advised to immediately leave the reservation.

Permits will not be issued under any circumstances.

Any individuals who are participating or who intend to participate in the Sun dance sponsored by Ruth Benally are further advised that the site of Camp Ana Mae is within the boundary of Hopi Indian reservation and your presence here is in violation of the laws of the Hopi Tribe and you may be subject to prosecution by the Tribe.

date July 9, 1999
Wayne Taylor
Chairman, the Hopi Tribe


This is the same notice that was give out in 1999 . Read Paul Bloom’s 1999 Sundance Report

Local residents say the road is blockaded and police are giving copies of the NOTICE to everyone.
Friday Morning July 13, th 6:30 am Democracy Now has done an interview Traditional Elders At Big Mountain Arrested For Holding ReligiousCeremony listen to it now.

Thursday 11:15 AM PST

Five Elders arrested at the Anna Mae Sundance have been released on their Own Recognizance.

After spending the night in Hopi jail.

Freedom of Religion is supposed to be guaranteed to everyone, regardless of race, color or creed. It is a basic fundamental right, not something that should require a permit to conduct.

See the Contact list of appropriate public officials to call.

Arrest of Elder Navajo Women By Hopi Police At Sundance Ceremony Near Big Mountain Brings Quick Response From Lakota Medicine Man

Ruth Benally (85 yrs. old) and a medicine woman

Pauline Whitesinger (in her 8o’s)

Elvira Horsehearder (62)

Louise Benally

Joella Ashkie

Elder resistors, Pauline Whitesinger and Roberta Blackgoat confront BIA-Hopi tribal rangers while Dineh security looks on.

June 1999 Big Mountain
Elder resistors, Pauline Whitesinger and Roberta Blackgoat confront BIA-Hopi tribal rangers while Dineh security looks on.

BMIS received this message Thursday morning, July 12th

Dear Supporters of the Dine at Big Mountain,

My name is Eve Schaeffer.

I am writing to let you know about an emergency situation going on right now (7/12) at Anna Mae Camp at Big Mountain

Yesterday the Hopi Tribal Police confronted several hundred unarmed men,women and children who are taking part in an intertribal Sundance hosted by Dine elder Ruth Benally and led by Joe Chasing Horse. Five grandmothers were arrested and the Hopi police threatened to arrest everyone else if the Sundance were to proceed.

Two hours before dawn this morning, the tree was raised to start the Sundance (in violation of the police directive). My father was at the Sundance and just left this morning to help spread the word from Flagstaff.

Eve Schaeffer

Thursday AM Robert Dorman received a phone call from Grace Smith.

Five Dineh elders have been
arrested at the sundance. I have five of their names
Ruth Benally (85 yrs. old) and a medicine woman
Pauline Whitesinger (in her 8o’s)
Elvira Horsehearder (62)
Louise Benally
Joella Ashkie
This info came to Grace from Louise Benally’s sister, Sally Tsosie
Grace Smith is very upset that elders sent to jail.

This won’t solve the problem, she says. These people must be released.


Statements Of Support

Statement from Chief Arvol Looking Horse:

I, Chief Arvol Looking Horse of the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota Nation would like to offer a statement concerning the violation against the Sacred Sundance Ceremony at Big Mountain, Arizona.

The Sacred White Buffalo Calf Bundle that I care for consists of the Seven Sacred Rights and one of them is the Sundance. Because of this responsibility, my work is toward World Peace and Global Healing, as our ceremonies are connected to the Sacred Mother, including her well being preserved for generations to come. The Sacred Tree represents all life upon Mother Earth. A very important protocol in putting up the Sacred Tree with it’s offerings of prayers for all life including health for our relatives, is that the ceremony and energy must not be broken or stopped. This ceremony has been with Sacred Bundle for nineteen generations. We have shared this ceremony for health and well being with other Indigenous Nations to bring spiritual awareness and strength back to Nations.

When I heard of the Hopi Nation’s attitude and violations to a spiritual ceremony, I had to realize that it was not the Hopi Nation, but rather a group of people who have been affected by the “disease of the mind”. This disease that has spread throughout Turtle Island to many Honorable Nations that have made decisions affecting relationships toward their own “brothers and sisters” of Indigenous Nations, including the violation toward our Mother Earth.

In my Peace works I was honored to sit with many Hopi Traditional Elders, including the late Thomas Banyanca, who had the most deepest respect for all ceremonies, as we shared the Sacred C’anupa together. We understood that our work and message was the same. His concern for his people violating their own culture and traditions was the same as mine. There are many other “Traditional Hopi” who understand the proper protocol to ceremonies and would not think and do anything toward violating one another in interrupting a Sacred Right.

So this brings my thoughts to those who do not understand who they are as a Hopi, a person that holds a bloodline to their Ancestors that walked in honor and in harmony. Many Nations, have these kinds of people that are not aware of the blood that carry in their veins and responsibility to bring honor to their people by making wise decisions based on compassion, understanding and respect. This makes me realize that the people making these decisions have another motive based on the material world, which brings unbalance to our Mother the Earth. They only need to understand that these prayers made at all ceremonies are for their children’s health as well. Prayers need to be offered to “our people” that have become lost in their spirit and identity as an Indigenous Nation of this Turtle Island. Our prayers are strong and to react the same as them will not resolve anything, but bring more division and confusion. My prayer is for this issue to be resolved in a most Peaceful way and
honor to all Nations represented will heal and communicate for Peace and Harmony.
In a Sacred Hoop of Life, where there is no ending and beginning!

Mitakuye Oyasin (all my relations),
Chief Arvol Looking Horse,
19th Generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe


Statement from Crowdog

July 12, 2001 Thursday PM

I, Chief Leonard Crowdog representing 262 tribes received a message a moment ago- we ask for the release of the elders. We don’t want that Hopi jail to be historically marked in the eyes of the world. if it is marked we shall look into the violation of the 1934 reorganization act – how weare come to be citizens of the united states.

By the human rights of the world great law- we are sick and tired of thatkind of treatment.

We have the right to stand on our tribal relations federation enterprise.immediately we want them to release the elders! We are 3000 people heredemanding the release. Arrestees Ruth Benally, Pauline Whitesinger, Elivira Horseherder, Louise Benally, and Joella Ashki.

Express concern to the Hopi government. 520 738-2233


Statement from Corbin Harney, Western Shoshone Elder & Spiritual Leader: (07/13)

I would say that I’m making a statement against what the tribal government, the Bureau of Indian Affairs have done to the Indian people. This is something that we have done for thousands of years before you people have made a law. This is something in our tradition, this is the way that we, the people survived for probably a million years on this earth of ours because that’s working with the nature. The nature is providing us with all kinds of healing from different kinds of sickness.

Then you people have come along and interrupted our traditional way of life.This is what we are going to have to do from now on and before you people would really understand you should be understanding our ways because the law came upon this part of the continent not too many years ago and you took it upon yourself to interrupt our way of life.

Our way of life is very important, just like your life but I wish you people would never interfere in our ceremonies, our spiritual ceremonies because this is the way we have healed each other and we are going to have to continue. This is the way our forefathers have taught us, this is what the nature have taught them, not only as a human but all the living things that provide us with all the nature way of life. I hope you understand that you are doing the wrong thing by interfering in our ways. We, the nature people have never interfered with your religion, never have and never will cause that’s your way of life, so leave the people alone.

This is a sad thing that you people have been doing since 1492. You have put this against us and this is something that we don’t want to deal with. We have never harassed your people in your way of life, that’s your religious way of life so I would say this is the way it’s going to have to be. I hope you understand what you’re doing and what I’m trying to say to you.


Friend of Nanish Shontie, Holland (07/13)

We are not indigenous to the United States of America, we are from Holland and we agree with the statement Corbin Harney , of the Western Shoshone has made above. We totally disagree with the actions you have ‘followed on your laws. We feel that the native peoples as much as the white peoples are one and have as much right to act on their religion as us. It’s as important to them as is our religion to us. Religion is a way of life and you cannot take away or harass a way of life. We ask to put a stop to this constant harassment of the Dineh peoples day to day life and their attempts to stay on their homeland. We cannot understand why you prohibit the native people to have a sundance which is a religious act, on their own land.In Holland we have the freedom of the religion act. We were under the
assumption that people in the United States of America had the same freedom. This should apply to the native peoples as well also according to the Native American Freedom Of Religions Act.


Christ Unity Churches and their followers

It is with much sadness and heartache that we have read the statement from Chief Leonard Crowdog, regarding what has taken place at the Sundanceceremony.

We fully support the rights of all peoples to practice their religious andspiritual beliefs.As human beings we are nothing if we are not whole in mind, body, and soul.

To deny the indigenous people of this country the rignt to heal themselves and Mother
Earth, through their ancient and sacred rites and ceremonies is to further court disaster.

As a unified group allowed to follow and pracice our religious and spiritual beliefs, we strongly urge the indigenous people of this country also be allowed the freedom to follow and practice their spiritual rights as they have done for centuries and should have been allowed to do so uninterupted.

Dr. Migel J. Santana
National President of
Unity Science Association, Inc.
Christ Unity Churches and their followers.


THE NAVAJO NATION Office of the President and Vice President
(Window Rock, Navajo Nation, Arizona)
For Immediate Release
July 16, 2001

Contact: Merle Pete
(520) 871-6352


Window Rock, Navajo Nation (Arizona)

As the media has reported, Hopi Rangers recently arrested five Navajo citizens, charging them with trespass on the Hopi-Partitioned Land (HPL). The Navajos are Louise Benally, Ruth Benally, Elvira Horseherder, Joella Ashkie, and Pauline Whitesinger.

The arrests were precipitated by the intent of these five individuals to conduct a religious ceremony without a Hopi permit. I understand that they had asked for permission to conduct the ceremony from the Hopi Tribe, but permission was denied.

The type of ceremony in question has been performed for a number of years on the HPL at the request of Navajo families living there. Although it is not a traditional Navajo ceremony, no one should obstruct the freedom of religion of these families to practice their spirituality as they wish.

While I understand Hopi claims to jurisdiction over this matter, I find it much harder to understand why the Hopis would choose to deny these Navajo families the opportunity to organize and participate in religious ceremonies of their own choosing. Having the authority to stop the ceremony, as the Hopis claim, is a very different matter from choosing to stop it.

The spiritual issues at stake are very important. Our two peoples are going to continue to be neighbors until the end of time. We must look for opportunities where we can support each other. I would ask that the Hopis reconsider their approach to matters of Navajo religious practice on the HPL. A spirit of generosity towards the religious beliefs of these Navajo families will help foster a spirit of generosity between our two peoples on other matters.

My Administration will continue to support the right of HPL Navajo families to practice their spirituality as they choose. We will closely follow the judicial process for these five Navajos, as well as examine the legal and political options available to the Navajo Nation.

For the past two years, the Hopi Chairman and I have been meeting regarding issues related to the dispute and other issues common to both tribes. Situations such as this require a diplomatic approach with minimal interference from outsiders who only cause increased confusion and escalated emotions.



Office of the President and Vice President (Window Rock, Navajo Nation, Arizona)
For Immediate Release July 13, 2001
Contact: Merle Pete (520) 871-6352 merlepete@visto.com
Window Rock, Navajo Nation (Arizona)–

President Begaye has been briefed on the incident that recently occurred in the Big Mountain area.

To our knowledge, the five individuals who had been detained have been released on their own recognizance. We understand the incident may be a result of enforcement of requirements noted in Accommodation Agreements signed by individual Navajo families.

The Accommodation Agreements require Navajo families to secure approval by the Hopi Tribe to conduct certain ceremonial practices. From our understanding, the Sundance ceremonial performances (the incident in question) have been taking place in the Big Mountain region for quite some time–for more than 10 years now–and were not always part of the ceremonial practices requiring Hopi approval.

However, in more recent years, the Hopi Tribe has required approval for the Sundance ceremony to occur. Since the incident did occur, it is now the responsibility of the President of the Navajo Nation to discuss such matters with the Hopi Tribal Chairman.

President Begaye and Chairman Taylor discussed the incident, though not in great detail, at their regular monthly meeting, which took place in Flagstaff, Arizona, today.

We must note that under the specifications of the Accommodation Agreements, there is a judicial process that now has to be followed. We have to allow that process to take its course. This incident is now under review by the Office of the President and Vice President, and we will report further as comprehensive information becomes available.


Prof. Harald Ihmig
Beim Rauhen Hause 30
22111 Hamburg

Tel.: (040) 6518393
Fax: (040) 65901168
Email: harald@cyberworx.de

FIAN-Gruppe Hamburg
Prof. Harald Ihmig o Beim Rauhen Hause 30 o 22111 Hamburg

Hamburg, October 20, 2001

Open letter to Chaiman Wayne Taylor, Jr.

Alarming news about the use of force against inoffensive Dineh people and the severe infringement of their free exercise of religion prompt us
to write you this open letter.

As a human rights group, for years we have been following the impact of the division of a former joint use area on people living for generations on Black Mesa. Members of our group know the situation by our own evidence and by personal contacts with Dineh and Hopi persons. We are shocked by recent eye-witness accounts and newspaper reports of severe obstruction of the sundance ceremony – which has been practised for years at Big Mountain – by Hopi police. We are also shocked by the harassment of shutting off water and even arresting and maltreating Dineh women Pauline Whitesinger, Ruth and Louise Benally, Elvira Horseherder and Joella Askie . We include here Elvira Horseherder`s report on these acts of violence.

Governmental measures against participation of guests from outside treating them as intruders though they are invited and welcomed, demonstrate a strategy of isolation against Dineh people put under foreign jurisdiction. How can the Accommodation Agreement be appreciated as a step to mitigate the evil human consequences of the Relocation Act, if Hopi jurisdiction is exercised in this oppressive way, violating international law? Free exercise of religion is guaranteed by Article 18 of the General Declaration of Human Rights as well as by Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and by the American Constitution.

We urge you and the Hopi Tribal Council to stop all encroachments on religious and personal freedom of Dineh people in HPL und to give free access to whomsoever they want to receive as their guests. In an age of global communication, wrong cannot be locally hidden. The worldwide good reputation of Hopi tradition is put at risk by actual governmental oppression of their native sisters and brothers.

Prof. H. Ihmig
FIAN Group Hamburg

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