Tuesday, August 3, 2021

“Meaning” of Original Dineh Resistance of 1977

September 21, 2004 by  
Filed under Voices from the Land

In October of 1977, Pauline Whitesinger encountered a government fencing crew that was building a range-unit fence. She asked them why they were fencing. They all laughed at her and told her, “Well, this is to fence you in so you won’t wonder freely.” She picked up a big stick and hit the crew foreman over his hardhat. The foreman ran to his truck to call for the BIA Police, and the traditional elder sheepherder hit the side-mirror of the government truck causing the mirror to crack. The fencing crew left very quickly but no police came.

A Big Mountain resident happened to be driving by after the incident and Pauline told of what just happened. The resident was asked to ‘spread the word.’ That evening as the sun was setting many of the residents showed up in pickup trucks with tools and flashlights. The 2 miles of the new, government fence was taken down and hauled away into the mountains.

Concerned residents began to have meetings and the Big Mountain Committee Against the Fence was born. The elder ladies agreed that Pauline had just restarted the flames of Dineh resistance –flames from the times of the Long Walk (1860s). In November of 1979, the Dineh of Big Mountain drafted and signed their Declaration of Independence and over 300 local residents signed it. Based on this proclaimed sovereignty and other indigenous struggles, the resistance camp known as the Big Mountain Survival Camp (1981-91) began patrolling the area to stop government activity and this patrol called itself, the SDN (Sovereign Dineh Nation) Patrol.

These are the roots of the Original Dineh resistance of 1977.

[© Bahe Y. Katenay, UAP September 2004]

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