Monday, October 18, 2021

Sun Dance Tree of Life & Arbor Destruction Report 2001

August 17, 2001 by  
Filed under Voices from the Land

John Benally’s Sun Dance Tree of Life & Arbor Destruction Report

Please help us get out this press release


I want to communicate with you on behalf of myself and the Sundancers who exercise their beliefs here in Big Mountain. I want to tell you what is happening to us in the millennium years.


By now you must have heard about the desecration and destruction of the Sundance tree here in Big Mountain. It is the destruction of the belief of my people. The Hopi Range Management cut up the Sundance arbor, tree and sweat lodge, they took a chain saw and cut up the Sundance tree.  They cut the Sundance tree in sections, the tree of life. The Hopi tribal police, rangers and BIA rangers acted as their security. They did this without notifying the people in a formal manner as their  believe and laws require. They just came in without a court order and invaded the privacy of our homes and our Sundance ground. I think this is an illegal act. When people were still asleep they invaded, waking us up with the sound of stock trailers rattling early in the morning and a back hoe and chain saws.


My nephew Eric Crittendon told me what was happening at the Sundance camp. When we got there we saw 3 police blocking the entrance of Camp Ana Mae and more than 15 vehicles of Hopi tribal police, Hopi and BIA Rangers. They said they did not want me to take my vehicle into the Camp. They asked me to park it and I cooperated with them. I said I have no reverse so I have to make a circle to come back out of here. They said they called the tow truck. I asked them why are you towing my truck? I told them I am moving out of the way. They would not tell me anything so I took my shovel out of my truck and left it there to see what was happening. My truck is a 1967 Chevy 1/2 ton. They never gave me any papers to seize my truck and no cause. I want my vehicle back.  While I was talking to the BIA police Eric and I separated. He was arrested by the Hopi police and they would not even tell me what his  charges were. When we called the Hopi jail and were ! told Eric was charged with criminal trespassing we got Eric a lawyer and raised the bond money to get him out of jail.


What the police are doing is intimidation and harassment of people. It is happening to my people and it is happening right here in our own home. How can they do this treatment to my people? We are no different than the Hopi. Where is the equal protection? Who protects us? The only way to solve the problem is to give the land base back to the Dine’.

This is the only way. P.L. 93-531 and all the other relocation laws are discriminatory, prejudiced and racist laws. What kind of people can come in and destroy what is so sacred?


We are afraid that if we do not stop them now by filing an injunction in federal court the Hopi Range Management with their security will post no trespassing signs on all resisters homes and bulldoze them. We believe this could happen since nothing is sacred to them and the police are enforcing the law not the Hopi court.


We want to know who pays for these operations? The Hopi Range Management, Hopi police, rangers and BIA are using funds to destroy our arbor with heavy equipment. Are they paid special to do what they did today? How can the BIA provide security actions when Big Mountain boulevard caved in and has not been fixed for over a week. This is a public road and a school bus route. They only graded the detour so they could bring in their stock trailers and heavy equipment. What departments and agencies are helping to fund the destruction and desecration? How can these police officers laugh at us, making fun of us and our beliefs as Dine’. We are still living here at Big Mountain. That’s all. We are not raiding and terrorizing the Hopi villages.


President Kelsey Begay, the Navajo Nation calls it religious persecution so we want you to support our request to Roman Bitsuie ((28) 871-6446  that the Navajo Nation tribal council pass a resolution stating that no Hopi or BIA official can cross any portion of Navajo Partition Land (NPL) for the purpose of hurting the Dine’. We want them to give us funds to go to federal court and support our defining our sovereign territory. There is a lot of hate inside of the Hopi governmental officials. Hopi jurisdiction is already messed up. The destruction and desecration of the Sundance grounds demonstrates it. Please help us get protection for this group of human beings living here, the Dine’ of Black Mesa.


If you can travel to Big Mountain these are the directions from Flagstaff:

From Flagstaff head towards Tuba City. Take 160 East towards Kayenta. Exit right at Black Mesa Trading Post. Go on that highway, up the hill, heading east. Continue on the paved road past where it turns to a dirt road by the Black Mesa Pipeline Company. Then continue on the dirt road all the way, following detour signs towards Pinon. When you come to turnoff where highway starts on the left going to Pinon, do not take that road. Take the dirt road to the right. You will come to a little wash and curve, continue bearing right, then straight about 11 miles to Big Mountain. You can also call the cellular phone numbers listed on the press release and arrange for an escort.


Thank you for your support.

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