Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Elder Katherine Smith To The US Government

March 13, 2006 by  
Filed under Voices from the Land

Big Mountain Elder Katherine Smith Sends A Letter To The US Government

To The United States Government:

My name is Katherine Smith, a citizen of the Navajo Nation and a resident of land known as the Hopi Partitioned Lands (HPL) since 1977–because of Public Law 93-531. According to our oral historical traditions, from the beginning of the Fifth World, the Holy People- placed us “the Dineh” with Natural Laws-here within the six sacred Mountains, between the Male and Female Rivers. This defines our sacred boundaries of “Dinetah”. Our sacred Mountain Bundles represent this Home, and our Laws.

My main purpose for making this statement is that many people have suffered and died from stress caused by U.S. Indian relocation policies enforced by PL 93-531. Conflict was created between the Navajo/Dineh and Hopi People over land by distorting the truth of history and making the Navajos and Hopis enemies from time immemorial. This is not the case. As a result of the so-called Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute, thousands of Navajos have been relocated from their traditional lands and the remaining families live under Hopi laws, which severely restrict their access to their ancestral lands.

Over 40 years, we Dineh have endured harassment from the US Federal and Hopi Governments. The BIA Hopi police impound our livestock, arrest Navajo residents without cause, and caused injuries in doing so. Because of discrimination like this, many families have relocated and left their homeland. How they are living today? Many are homeless, countless have died from stress, and promises made to them are not being fulfilled.

At this point in history, we, Navajos have no sovereignty left. We do not have power over our own lives or stewardship over our natural resources. For the Dineh who live on HPL under the 1996 Accommodation Agreement (AA), we are without proper political representation. Furthermore, HPL residents are left with no resources for funding basic human services; no infrastructures-including community buildings, housing, decent roads, electricity, and running water, residents drive long distances to access health services, schools, jobs, haul drinking water, pick-up mail, gas, and groceries.

We call attention to this tragedy of the US Government in the name of the Hopi Tribe for the relocation of hundreds of families from their homelands, and leaving those who still remain without essential infrastructures and services. We have endured these traumas and will continue to endure them for many generations to come unless the federal government assists in re-establishing our community resources.

In making this statement, then, we appeal to the federal and tribal governments for compensation to the Hopi Partitioned Lands Dineh residents, in the form of a land base, infrastructures, and services. *

These resources will provide a place where residents can come together as a community, and where they can access essential services. In aiding our journey forward, we can begin healing our pain and try to put the relocation law behind us. All we ask for in asking for these basic needs to be fulfilled is simple justice.


Katherine A. Smith, Elderly resident of Big Mountain, Arizona (Fall 2005)

*During the recent official testimonies between John McCain and both the Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribal Council regarding the Navajo Hopi Land Settlement Act Amendment, Senate Bill 1003, Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley does mentione a “community building for HPL residents’. Now Katherine Smith and other residents are wanting support to back up their wishes.

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