Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Press Release: Big Mountain Spring Survival Gathering 2004

May 18, 2004 by  
Filed under Voices from the Land


In 1974 the United States government passed Public Law 93-531 which has resulted in the ongoing forced relocation of and moratoriums for Dineh (Navajo) people living in the former Joint Use Area (JUA) off of what is now “Hopi land.” Supposedly a humane approach to settling a “century old land dispute” between the Dineh and Hopi tribes, it seems more likely, given the long proven history of alliance between the two tribes, that the law had more to do with coal than Indian interests. Peabody Western Coal steadily encroaches onto the former JUA relentlessly strip mining day and night. They contribute monetarily to both tribal governments and have a long history of involvement in the area ever since mining interest evolved in the 1950s. Including, but not limited to, the imposition of tribal governments (a “western” concept completely foreign and adverse to traditional Dineh-Hopi sovereignty), large scale bribery and the destruction of community (familial and tribal), and the fabrication of the “range war” between the two neighboring tribes through a media campaign so successful that Congress enacted the relocation programs.

Both Dineh and Hopi elders refute and deny the governments’ version of their history, citing strong historical alliances and mutual aid through famine and colonialism. Traditionals still live on the land but face many threats from all directions. Elders face harassment from BIA-Hopi Agency police suffering countless indignities at their hands. Their water supply is depleted from massive pumping of an ancient aquifer used in a slurry transport of coal to the Mohave power station in Nevada. And their families suffer divide and conquer tactics which leave traditional elders isolated and vulnerable.

Statement from the Sponsors of the Gathering:

Today, we are extremely desperate for our future and the future of our environment. We have all suffered long enough under the inhumane implementations of the genocidal laws of the “Navajo-Hopi Land Settlement Act” of 1974. We once again wish to make our stand against the U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior’s policies which accommodate the corporate greed of Peabody Coal and the western states energy consortia while denying us our rightful indigenous-existence. We call this genocide because we, as a traditional society that share a common outlook and culture, are targeted specifically for extermination through false litigations and tribal misrepresentations. This is genocide because we have lost several thousand valuable traditional teachers due to them being forcibly removed from their ancestral lands. And it is genocide because there are only a few of us left to preserve the little history, language, culture and land based religions that we still hold, and our efforts to do so are continuously hindered by the authorities of the state.

We will continue however long Great Spirit will permit us to defy the American Executive Orders which prefer us to give up being Earth’s people. We shall gather and hold our sovereign assemblies within our ancestral homelands and we will not adhere to the federal mandates that these lands are areas forbidden to us to live in a way our ancestors had wanted us to. WE will rightfully assemble this spring on these so called “forbidden-partition-lands” and honor our fallen and true, indigenous warriors who have fought for our ancient religions, sovereignty and cultural freedoms. WE ask for all peoples of the Earth to join us in solidarity. We, also, extend a special invitation to the (federal) tribal leaders to sit among us in council and rethink what has happened to our history and what can happen for better or worse. This gathering will commence on May 6th through 9th, 2004 in the heart of the resistance territories of Big Mountain, Black Mesa.

Besides honoring all our Elder Warriors who have passed on, we will especially honor one of the last great Dineh, leader and matriarch, Roberta Blackgoat. She had wanted us to stop the butchering of our Altar: Black Mesa — our Female Mountain God. She had wanted us to stop the exploitation of Earth Mother’s liver, the mineral coal, and to stop the shaking and sinking of our lands from strip mining. She had wanted us to return to the Dineh Sacred Mountain Soil Bundle Way of Sovereignty and spread the words to save indigenous cultures throughout the regions encompassed by the Dineh’s Six Sacred Mountains. So, join us to lay out the foundations for a future of peace and harmony where the future generations will journey and thrive.

K’oh’daanii nii’ dzin goh’aat’e.

These are our wishes as stated.

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