Sunday, August 1, 2021

Dineh Resistance For Global Survival!

December 13, 2006 by  
Filed under Voices from the Land

Be Conquered Or Never, Dineh Resistance In Order For Global Survival!

By Bahe (Kat) Katenay, Big Mountain Dine’h
Month of the Big Wind (December), 2006

26 years ago while the wars were going in El Salvador and Guatamala about 25
walkers begin a short but long walk to protest a new coal mine at Burnham, New
Mexico. The walk started near the Chaco Canyon area on a quiet dirt road that ran
north towards Farmington and Shiprock. The walkers were mainly indigenous people
but mostly Dineh, and the walk took about three days for it to arrive at the
Burnham coal mine site.

The resistance camp which was already established and it was less than a quarter
of a mile from where the mine site was. The walkers were greeted by local Dineh
organizers and their families at a small makeshift camp. The traditional elders
were supervising the kitchen activities and making sure that that typical Dineh
hospitality was being practiced: a warm bowl or plate of food and some hot fresh
fried bread and coffee.

During those years, the Dineh were up against the usual corporate backlashes and
their manipulation of the ‘puppet’ tribal government, as well as the Reagan era
that declared the Four Corners to be the National Sacrifice Area to meet the
U.S.’s energy needs. The Navajo Tribal Police were protecting the mine site and
patroling a small area for “trespassers.” Across the dry ravine were Dineh, youth
security outposts that also kept vigil on the mine. Due to the “threat” by the
protest encampment, the strip mining operations were at a stand still.

Support for this 1980 Dineh resistance camp at Burnham started to generate support
especially from Big Mountain, Black Mesa. Big Mountain resistance to relocation
and Peabody brought support and solidarity to Burnham from: T’ohono O’odham Nation
of Arizona, Alburquerque, the Dakotas, and the Bay Area of California. Some
Buddhist monks and nuns even gave support with daily prayer-chants at the fence
barrier of the mine site. This type of solidarity was obvisiously unacceptable by
Navajo tribal authorities and the mine officials.

Tension began to grow and there were no possibility of negotiations or formal
dialogue with the mine company nor the Navajo government. The Navajo police kept
their harassment and the Dineh security returned the favor at night by entering
the mine site, lighting tumbleweed bushes, and police trucks tried to chase
“intruders” who were on foot. Eventually, the only option left for the local Dineh
and their supporters was direct-action, occupy the mine site. 15 Dineh and other
indigenous comrades took over the mine site and the Navajo police and other law
agencies swarmed into the area in “riot or potential hostage mode.”

Shots were fired but no one was injured except for a few of the comrades who after
being captured were beatened by the cops. All 15 warriors were arrested and
charged with numerous federal offenses. The Dineh resistance of Burnham and
Shiprock now had trials to attend to. The only person that was found quilty was
the local organizer and a resident of Burnham. The other 14 warriors were
acquitted but were soon after threatened by unknown individuals.

The local Dineh organizer spent time in the Navajo jail and he eventually was
released but became severely ill and died. Within about four years after the
Burnham mine takeover, three more of the comrades were dead and their causes of
death were said to be “alcohol related.” The rest of us we returned back to other
battle grounds for liberation and global survival like at Big Mountain and the
Gila River Rez. However, as we were there then, in spirit we are still there,
today, at Burnham: Long Live the Dineh Resistance!

To the U.S. Capitalists and to the Navajo Nation Council for Greed: “Wake up and
realize. You all thought you had killed us and killed our movements, but we had
told you ‘We’ll be back!'”

In the Spirit of Chief Barboncito.

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