Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Kii Shey 1920? – 2005

May 18, 2005 by  
Filed under Voices from the Land

Kii Shee’ (Kee Shay)

? 1920 – 2005

Kii Shee’, a Dineh elder resistance spokesman and leader passed away on May 11, 2005 on his land where his family’s livestock ranged and also, where he grew up. He was more than just another Dineh elder resistor to the U.S. government’s forced relocation policies. Many indigenous and non-Indian supporters that have known him as a leader and an orator of the Dineh resistance probably met Kee between the late 1970s and early 1990s. During the early stages of intense resistance at Big Mountain and when (mainly) elder women were key spokespeople, Kee Shay came forth as a traditional man to direct conferences and meetings, and to finalize draft statements and resolutions.

He possessed a natural skill of an orator and a moderator for all endeavors of carrying out the resistance strategy and spiritual guidance. Furthermore, he was humble in a sense that he never wanted to be the key-figure or be the elder chief, however, for many of the indigenous youth from that time saw him as a Chief. The elder women designated him President for the Big Mountain Committee Against the Fence in 1977. For the first couple of years, the Big Mountain traditional resistance functioned without a network system to outside activist and environmental groups and despite this, Kee Shay kept the Big Mountain committee alive while he was also a member of the Navajo-Hopi Unity Committee.

Outside awareness about the Big Mountain traditional Dineh resistance started to take shape after outreach was accomplished through the Longest Walk of 1978. This spiritual walk composed of various, grassroots indigenous communities/nations from throughout Canada and the U.S. This spiritual walk was to bring attention to 11 anti-Indian legislations being introduced in Washington D.C. and that these laws could mimic “force relocation in-the-name of natural resources.” With Kee Shay and Roberta Blackgoat’s directions, the Big Mountain resistance kept vigil and raised a small amount of funds to aid the young Dineh walkers with the outreach coordination.

Kee chose to remain on his rangeland and birthplace rather than accepting many opportunities to travel domestically and abroad to spread the message of Dineh resistance and peace. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Survival Camp, a resistance outpost (1981-1991), and the first Lakota Sun Dance (1983) in Dineh country. Though, he traveled on the first Elders Tour in May 1980 as being the only elder and was the first Dineh elder to go to the United Nation’s Human Rights Sessions the late 1980s, his brief period of leadership and representation for the Big Mountain traditional resistance established a unique and profound destiny -a destiny that outlined aboriginal land status and the essentiality of how ancient laws must govern such destinies.

He was not only a statesman but a wise man that practiced the knowledge of the Enemy Way Chants which included the Great Gathering Way Dance and the Sub-Ritual of Enemy Way Healings. His clan was Taa’ba’haa’h (Near the Water People) but of a peculiar clan of Big Mountain, a group descendants of those who were displaced for nearly four centuries as result of the Spanish and American conquests. A few members of this clan still try to maintain the stories of their historical plight. Kee Shay’s passing was also preceded by the deaths of his late grandmother, Ats’aa Dzil’ni ts’aa, and late mother, Ashiike’ Bi ts’i , both who were assigned to practice the Chant Way for Great Mountain Deities (Big Mountain Shrine Rituals). With Kee Shay’s passing, it is another great loss in the legacy of modern indigenous efforts for sovereignty and cultural/religious survival.

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