Tuesday, July 23, 2024


April 29, 2003 by  
Filed under Voices from the Land

Dine’ elder, ta’baa hnii dine’e’ B. F ashiih

Translated by Kee Watchman, Transcribed by Owen Johnson 4/29/03

When I was young, just beginning to sit down, I began to get these teachings from my grandparents. My grandmother was with me a lot. Grandpa only saw me the once, the night before he entered the spirit world. But I learned these from them both. Growing up I heard this story about this female mountain range that we are living on here, Black Mesa. It’s got a male one too, that has a special clay and they say the sheep comes from there. And here on Big Mountain is the high point on the female, where there is a shrine and a home there for the holy people, a place to give offerings. And my grandma would tell me, ‘someday in the future somebody might be coming along and tell then it belongs to them ~ maybe Hopi.’ But Big Mountain and Black Mesa is for Dine’ only. I don’t even know how old I was then. Today I still don’t know how old I am.

When I was grown up a little more I remembered seeing the old grandmothers in the different families, they were telling us about the woman’s mountain; at the time of the deep snow it would melt, in the spring, this mother mountain would be nourished, and the white clay and the red clay would come up. Those clays have been drained along with the water by the mine. When a woman was on her moon, came of age, this is part of it, the spring time was that process, the clay coming forth.

At this time we would travel to have the sheep washed at a place called Sage Brush Springs, near where the pipeline is now. A lot of grandmas were there, coming in with their horses and wagons, almost on to the Spirit world. They’d reach up into the hundreds at that time before traveling back. They were telling about the female mountain. It has a guts, a liver, a lung. At that time, they already warned about the liver and the lung being dug up. ‘When they go and destroy all these, nobody knows what will happen on account of it.’ From the time that Peabody arrived, that ‘s when the females started having problems with their kidneys, they don’t reach into old age, they go into dialysis. I go in and see these people in the beds and get upset about it . I think about our female mountain.

Peabody causes the air pollution. Like when I was planting the corn, it’s about to grow up and then smoke comes from the mine and kills the clouds. Down in the Blue Canyon wash, sown where I took the sheep to water sometimes, there was such a pollution I could smell it, I could feel my lungs burning. I would cough all the way home. When I get back up there at a higher elevation, it’s okay. That pollution is coming around again.

Not too long ago, somebody was speaking on the radio, from near Peabody Coal Mine. He’s concerned about the mine shutting down. ‘If this mine were to shut down, how will our relatives get a new job?’ They get a lot of money and buy a nice vehicle, so if it shuts down, where will they go? So I listened to this and I was thinking ‘Who is he?’ ‘Where is he from?’ I remembered that Sage Brush Springs is near the pipeline, when we took the sheep to be washed, there’s a lot of healthy folks on horses and lots of sheep there between each herd. The valley there was covered with sheep and the people are rolling in the covered wagon. He must be the grandson of one of these elders I saw. He should have listened to those elders.

And the tribal councils are really standing behind the mine, they don’t want to hear us and listen to our concerns. A good example of this is this talk about piping water from the Colorado River. The Colorado River is a male river. The Little Colorado is a female. They meet twisting together in the Grand Canyon. My father used to go down there where they meet twisting together in the Grand Canyon. He noticed where the rainbow goes over at the juncture, and that’s where he would collect the salt. And they are talking about piping it to the mine and to Hopi! These rivers were set there with the prayer… It’s not a good way to be moving it around like that. Somehow the Creator is going to turn around and flood us for messing around with it. The Hopi now needs the water? Well they got all this land now, why not use the waters on it?

I myself am having pains corresponding to the pains of our mother. The female Black Mesa. Other traditional People here are suffering in the same way. The governments don’t understand, event the tribal council. I don’t know how they can get together to discuss the issue, and open the meeting with a prayer, but they do not make a plan to honor creation, just to destroy it. This is where I don’t understand it and I don’t like it. From where I stand now I want the mine to shut down totally, forever.

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