Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ancient Ways Abandoned to Fend for Themselves at Big Mountain

(Left Photo by Akilla Kojima. Inset photo is Dineh elder, Pauline Whitesinger's traditional earth lodge and still under construction that the BIA tribal authorities say is illegal because Pauline has never signed any kind of agreements with the Feds in regards to the 1974 relocation law.)

Early 21st Century: The Last Days of Traditional Indigenous Life (Was) at Big Mountain
[Author’s Note: “Free & Easy” is not your typical fashion magazine where it exploits flashy or plastic glossy and saturated colored clothing that imitates the latest Paris, or that U.S. gangster look. Instead, it is like an alternative look and presentation of fashion that remains as a traditional look, which might have survived because of its utilitarian and comfortable wear, but can still be withheld as a fashion trend. “Free & Easy,” a Japanese magazine also does featured stories not related to developing trends, but stories about cultural entities that is not of popular interest and should be reported for the benefit of addressing the human searches for reassurance and understandings.
America’s Freedom of Speech and Press has long denied stories that come out of indigenous resistance communities at Big Mountain. Then, we have a magazine that is published in the Japanese language and thousands of miles away that decided to come out to Dineh elder, Pauline Whitesinger’s home in remote Big Mountain country to hear her story about “the once upon a time (to be),” The Indian Way to Live as Human Being.]
F & E: According to your traditional way, what is Life like in a day?
Pauline: Plans and schedules were important and are made in advance. However, such disruption that we had earlier are unexpected and those kinds of events take away the time delegated for priorities and goals. But here, at Big Mountain, we live with a lot of threats from the police and guns of the United States. And unfortunately, we just saw that this morning and you yourself have seen it personally.
In the old days, a day would start when you leave your dwelling place and as you make your first step outside your doorway, your day begins. What lies ahead is not clearly predictable because you may ‘tripped.’ You need a family or community to be part of your day and within that, there is a culture. Others would be there to share with you or support you in case you ‘stumble and fall.’ It was taught to me when I was young that we should limit the use of the word, ‘no!’ We were to always be there for someone in need and have empathy because ‘you’ may need that help someday.
Today, you may ask for help like borrowing tools to mend your clothes or repair something. The method of borrowing is a test of the human ability to be considerate, and it is an expression of attitude. How you achieve in that test will ultimately determine your mental balance, if you have empathy and humbleness, and it basically determines where your ‘heart’ is at: love and kinship. Certainly, these things were expected of every new born back in the old days. For instance, the new born will give to the community or if he is a boy, he will cultivate the fields or become builder of dwellings. This is probably how my father was raised because he was always there to help build a lodge or help maintain the values of the community.
I don’t think I can define Life. It has to be how much the human mind can take. Utilizing faith is key so, that you can pray when it is difficult and never give up on that faith no matter how painful. The modern-day, human mind seem less durable and it resorts to degrading others, or alcoholism. Modern way of life has separated our children from us and they have become ‘uncivilized.’ The family units of the Indian are gone. The reliance on horses and sheep herding is the past and the automobile is now the future.
My childhood times required us to haul water by hand and I remember making the climb out of this canyon, Sweet Water. I helped with carry bundles of firewood and sometimes when we moved, I helped carry the grinding stones. A day’s job did not involve going to the grocery store to get soda pop, a dangerous form of drink which we didn’t realized, and other unknown American products.
Our time as traditional elders is a time where we are no longer honored by the youths. What has happened to their brain and hearts, I wonder? The white society is becoming unstable, too, and one example is like hearing about an eight year old shooting and killing his father. At eight years old, you are just starting to learn about your responsibility! A very joyful time! I learned about life not through punishment like the whip. When I whined as a young girl, my mom said to me, ‘your complaint cannot be accepted now because it has expired.’ My father was much kinder. You were told to listen and you did. I know about abuse and dishonor, and I knew of love and respect.
That has been the way I tried to based my Life all these years.
F & E: Tell me about the Dineh (Navajo) concept of Life after death.
Pauline: The old ways, which I still live according to, prohibited the Dineh to talk about such matters. It was prohibited when a state of Life is happy because it is not in a state of mourning. This moment we have now is in a state of enjoying each other’s company and (that) other subject matter must not be discussed.
F & E: I hate to use the word ‘myth,’ but does the Dineh have a myth about the creation of the humans?
Pauline: Big Mountain communities use to have all the descendents of the original core clans that were created in the beginning of the humans. The Dineh (The People) were created right before White Shell Woman left to live in the Pacific Ocean. She is said to have rubbed off her skin little rolls of dead skin material, oil and dust from the four different parts of her body. In a ritual manner and aided by super natural forces, the four rolls of skin material, body oil and dust became living human forms. So, my Taa’ba’ha’ clan was a group that broke off from those people who use their feet to make water seep out of a wet stream bed and gathered water but eventually were cover in mud as well. The Taa’ba’ha’ then separated into two other bands when they settled in the mountainous country and so today, there are the Hal’t’soh Dine’eh (Meadow People) and the T’sin’ii’ahaa’ (Standing Tree People) of the Taa’ba’ha’.
Nowadays, these living human branches are being altered by human manipulations and that is why there is much imbalance and aggression. The Hopi way is abused, too, because we have Hopis in uniforms and carrying guns who are telling us we need ‘permission by them’ to exist. The great ways of the deities are no longer valued and that is why, I am under attack because it has been decided that my ceremonial lodge is illegal. Where does the root of aggression come from?
F & E: I am sure your parents have taught you so many things about traditional Life, but can you tell us about one or two of which you think were the most impressive?
Pauline: Oh, like I have lived it all correctly or accordingly? (Laughs) Well, my father was a Medicine Man and my mother was a herbalist. If they were both here, today, they would noticed that Life at Big Mountain is not in accordance to the ancient ways.
Three days prior to my father’s passing he began to tell me about a vision or predictions which sounded strange to me at that time. He said that life is well then with all the goats, horses and cattle, but that era is coming to an end. ‘Someday,’ he said, ‘the Hopis will bring a police force.’
He said for us to, ‘hold on to the tails of all the animals, hold on to their legs and do not ever let go! Despite all the threats about going to jail or with their all their weapons, grab onto the roots of the trees and the longer you maintain you grips, you shall prevail!’
Do not be afraid. Here is your mother, Great Mountain. Hold on to the fringes of her dress. You and your clan relatives are the greatest of peoples. Try to make sure that your peoples, Mountain Meadow People of the Near the Water Peoples, conduct themselves according to the spiritual laws of life and ritual procedures.’
F & E: Do you ever think about ‘relocation?’
Pauline: I have no plans about that nor do I prepare for that. If such time does come upon me, (they) will have to tie me up and carry me off to where ever they want. But when I do seriously think about the relocation law, I think of its real purpose and that is to extract all the valuable minerals out of the earth. I wonder about a time when the sky will no longer be blue and when mega-machines will dominate these lands. Then somewhere far away from here the corporations responsible for the explorations will be indulging on the profits and in the meantime, the indigenous life is no more except for a small remnant of poor, disabled, and sick Indians.
F & E: If you were to ask of the U.S. government any strong desires you have, what would that be?
Pauline: The U.S. government has never made any kind considerations for the indigenous desire to live and be as Great Spirit wanted the Indians to be. Even when we told the government that, mother earth is sacred, they never listened. Now, there are only prophecies that we, the few and the last, traditional ones have to try and interpret. It has been told that ‘when the Dineh language is gone, the communication among society will be lost, too. A great fire will be ignited at the middle of the continent and which will spread outward. All Five-Fingered Race (human beings) will try to scramble away but they will either burn or drown.’
F & E: How many people were here before the relocation laws were enforced by the government?
Pauline: I cannot provide you any numbers or amounts but I can tell you that the Dineh cultural life covered all these lands around us. It was like blankets that cover the lands with daily Dineh cultural ways that include: herds of livestock and horses, cornfields, people out gathering seeds or herbs, travelers on horseback and wagons, and their seasonal homesites. However, all these are are now empty except for a few, very old ones who are still determined to live out their lives on their ancestral lands.
F & E: My final question today is, can you give me some examples about the meaning of indigenous, traditional way of life? What does ‘traditional’ mean?
Pauline: Growing your own food by having fields of crops. Having the traditional, earth lodge dwellings. There should be a Male and a Female earth lodge. One’s time of birth shall take place in one of those lodges and thus, the roots of one’s life will always be connected to that lodge. Acquiring your water from the natural springs. No visits to western doctors at the hospitals but you make attempts to heal yourself through your knowledge about herbs and the proper prayer chants, or utilizing a traditional medicine man. Utilizing your livestock for milk, meat and to carry your cargo. Use of the ‘modern’ wagon. A weaver’s loom in her home and as families still sit and sleep on sheepskins.
F & E: Thank you very much, Pauline-san, for your time and patience.
Pauline: You’re welcome. And thank you also for wanting to hear my stories. I am much honored because none of my own people, who live closer than Japan, choose to hear about the old ways.
[Translated by NBKKeediniihii, Dineh, Dzil ni’st’aa’]
©Sheep Dog Nation Rocks 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Non-Registered Voter States: Does It Matter?

Minority, Non-privileged, Poverty-Stricken, & Left-to-Vanish, But Still Standing

October 29, 2008 Big Mountain, Black Mesa - It is that season again for societies to commences to its every fourth-year ritual of being caught up in the politics of the ruling class and eventually, after being caught up into this false mindset, they will go out to cast their votes for the best, assumed candidate. Yours truly, Chief Loner, has unfortunately never partaken of this ritual of engaging in the political realm of thought nor have I ever casted a ballot or been a registered voter. Perhaps, I have no “right” to speak about the privilege of being an “American citizen” or having the right to vote. I am an indigenous person from the country of Big Mountain Dineh Nation, and I was raised by my Dineh communities that truly believed that they were never conquered by the U.S. military or its government.

Do my traditional elders know about the U.S. politics? They certainly do, and when one is being oppressed by a foreign government, they will know more about the oppressor’s politics because that targeted society or community would have experienced the brunt of harsh policies. Currently, the Big Mountain matriarchs made up of traditional Dineh (Navajo) elders are still defying relocation and land-partitioning policies that were passed by the U.S. Congress in 1974. This executive order, Public Law 93-531 and which has been amended several times since, has reduced the indigenous population from 20,000 to about 400 within an area of 900,000 acres. The only reason behind this 1974 Act and that which has been proven also was for the purpose of coal and profit. There were no evidences found to support the U.S. government and Peabody Coal Company’s claim that there was a “range war” taking place between the Dineh and the Hopi tribes.

In 2006, presidential candidate Senator John McCain introduced a bill that was to be the ultimate Indian relocation program and which was to be immediately enforced at Big Mountain and other areas where small families were still resisting the relocation law of 1974. McCain mainly felt that not only was the government spending too much money on a small group of Indians that refused to move, but that the U.S. appetite for fossil-fuel consumption was being tested internationally. The elimination or limiting the dependency on foreign oil and the need for a national shift towards increase coal production within the U.S. became the trends in crafting legislation in Washington, D.C.

McCain also wishes to have the potential to rise as another legend from Arizona a state which is the most fascist and right-wing, and is a state with the most native American population. Most of the coal that the U.S. can depend on was in Arizona on Black Mesa where a handful of stubborn Indians are in the way of Peabody’s long and overdue, coal mining expansion. Senator McCain has to have his name in history like all his predecessors: Barry Goldwater, Paul Fanin, Sam Steiger, Morris Udall, and Kit Carson --all whom were haters of Indians and were Indian fighters as well.

But are we not all in this mess together even as some of us are “caught up” in these politics of our era? We can have color to our skin or that we maybe poor whites, but we may just fit into those above categories of the title of this article: minority, non-privileged, in poverty and/or forgotten. The most saddening thing about all this is that the giant, corporate votes that have all the monies will win in this election, and so it does not really matter if it is Obama or McCain. People need to seriously think of what they will be breathing, drinking and digesting in their future, and the power of the people needs to think beyond their pocket book or beyond the rights that they think they should have. 400 indigenous lives in a remote place in northeastern Arizona may be nothing compared to other larger populations at risk, but take into account these: genuine cultures of antiquity that are still intact among the Hopis and the Dineh, pristine territories still inhabited by indigenous life-ways, and the threat of massive coal mining into 2040 without a guarantee that coal will be a clean energy resource.

Some Fossil-Fuel of Thoughts in Regards to Obama:

Peabody Energy (Peabody Coal Company’s new brand name) has contributed largely and secretly to Senator Obama’s campaign. It is a race and so bets are placed for “whatever the outcome.” Obama and Peabody both share the idea and the phrase, “clean coal technologies.” What they refer to is a method of capturing greenhouse gases while burning coal but it is a method still in the beginning stage of research. Then when research is brought up in government where the corporations definitely has a stake they will decide whether such a research, that will obviously be paid by tax-payers, will maintain and enhance the market economy or will it endanger it. Furthermore, Obama supports something that will implement “pollution rights” for those countries that are the highest emitters of green house gas. This could be a new international market based on the carbon-trade and it might require other countries to purchase rights for countries like the U.S. and China to have rights to pollute. 'Spread the revenues evenly,’ huh?

Senator Obama has been active in co-sponsoring numerous coal Acts and he is no stranger to dependency on domestic coal and the profit gains from it all. He has recently supported an old idea of liquefaction of coal or coal-to-liquid (CTL) but he is also aware that this requires great demand on the environment like water, extra chemicals and electrical power to transform CTL. Finally and amongst other developing information, Senator Obama supports a public-private partnership firm called, FutureGen. It is a firm seeking to build on an illusion of a power plant that will be “coal-based” but with “near-zero-emissions.” FutureGen calls itself a ‘nonprofit’ organization that represents the world’s largest coal companies and electric companies which includes Peabody Energy.

In conclusion and if you end up voting for the Great Black Father To Be, Senator Obama as your next President of your United States, do not come crawling to Big Mountain, Black Mesa and tell the traditional Dineh resisters, “I truly didn’t realize that he would allow this! I’m so sorry!”

© Sheep Dog Nation 2008

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Peabody Coal Pushes to Expand Occupation of Indigenous Lands

DESPITE GLOBAL WARMING: Peabody Coal Pushes to Expand Occupation of Dineh & Hopi Ancestral Lands

Big Mountain, Arizona April 2008 – This news is all too familiar in that, it is that American mentality at its finest where it follows that archaic Roman notion of ‘pillage for the spoils and destroy the barbaric, indigenous inhabitants.’ Peabody Coal Company has the “illegal” and corporate upper-hand in these renewed plans where the Office of Surface Mining is intending to approve the expansion of the mine lease areas on Black Mesa in northeast Arizona. In some local communities like within the Big Mountain region, there are still traditional Dineh (Navajo) elders making attempts to instruct their younger community members to fight this new surge for coal mine expansions that will eventually intrude into the Big Mountain lands. Big Mountain peoples have also resisted federal laws of forcible relocation since the late 1970s.

Peabody’s new aggressive push to expand its occupation not only poses a genocidal threat on the regional indigenous nations, but it simply shows that the U.S. government continues to ignore all credible scientific evidence and studies that global warming is actually taking place. The traditional elders of Hopi and Dineh have endured decades of harsh U.S. Indian policies that are directed at the ancient ways of subsistence, ceremonial practices, cultural education, aboriginal land rights, and language. Now, four decades has past where federal relocation programs that are combined with Peabody exploitation of the natural resources have spent millions of tax-payers dollars to terminate the last remnants of cultural and language identity. Peabody and the federal courts have always denied the conspiracy theory that corporate interest in mineral and water resouces was the driving force behind the Indian removal Act of 1974.

What will it take for the majority of the American society to began realizing that their cultural ideas of freedom and liberty does not mean destroying other human life in order to have jobs and electricity? How can the most educated society in the world, the United States, ever accept that children of future may live in a more uncomfortable and poisonous environment due to the escalating, greenhouse gas emissions of today?

The traditional elders of Hopi and Dineh have tried to state that all the profit gains that global industries have secured for their future inheritances will be worthless when human religion and environment are completely altered or destroyed.

“When foods have become scarce, will those rich and elites begin to eat their stockpiles of cash?”

Furthermore, concerned nation and societies of the world are looking towards the U.S. to limit its burning of fossil fuel. Perhaps, American people can really bring real and true peace to the world environment by massive recalls of their dependency on unsustainable energies. Meantime, the indigenous elders of Black Mesa will continue to maintain their spiritual roles on their ancestral lands while rejecting Peabody’s alarming move to destroy the atmosphere. Conscientious organization and individuals that believe in proper and green Earth Living must began to build stronger unity and stand with the original peoples whose lands are being transform into “emissions of mass destruction.”

©Sheep Dog Nation Rocks 2008

For more information or to find out how you can help to Stop Peabody visit:

Friday, March 21, 2008

A Tribute to Laura Ann Villegas, 1953 - 1992:

[Left image is from a 1978 Talking Leaf newspaper clipping & right image shows Laura in 1984 on one of her non-stop Solidarity Building efforts for Big Mountain Dineh Resistance.]

A Tribute to Laura Ann Villegas, 1953 - 1992:
“The Xicano Warrior Woman, Mother / Walker of LW78, & Sister to the Black Mesa Struggle”

Laura was born in 1953 in East Los Angeles at a time the Chicano communities were struggling to be accepted within the white dominant societies of LA’s suburbs. Her family was one of those that got caught up in abandoning their Xicano roots and assimilating into the mainstream Hispanic world. Eventually, Laura’s parents were impacted intensely from the conflicts of identity as her father, Ernesto, felt he was still an Indigena from Mexico’s province of Vera Cruz. Her mom, Carmen, came from a familia that moved to LA from the U.S. state of Tejas, and Carmen also tried to battle the American forces to change identity. In Laura’s own words in 1980, “My parents became separated because of this assimilation process of Hispanization. To be more accepted as ‘Caucasians,’ it was ideal for Xicanos back then to move to South Pasadena, and my father couldn’t accept that and he wanted to stay in the los barrios of east LA.”

Laura was attending Garfield High School in east LA when the Chicano Moratorium was taking place which was a nationwide protest to the U.S. racist and slavery policies implemented on the United Farm Workers and all others of Mexican descend. She chose at this time to believe in what is right and that was to stand with la lucha de pueblos. She became an organizer for human rights when there were “walk outs” organized in protest, being a youth volunteer and being present when Robert Kennedy was assassinated, collaborating with the Brown Berets, and eventually building solidarity between the Xicano struggle and the American Indian Movement. Laura once recalled, “Everyone that I knew in this city wanted to leave the city and live in the country, and if some of us were lucky, we would end up living with nature the way the traditional natives do like on Black Mesa. I, too, had committed myself to leave this city back then.”

A small group organized to work with and support the issues of traditional, indigenous peoples was run by Felix and Stella Montoya during the 1970s. Laura coordinated fund raising and sponsorship of mainly Hopi elders to come to testify at the Los Angeles Water & Power headquarters. Traditional Hopis were very concerned for the fate of Black Mesa’s natural pristine environment because of what their prophecy outlined and because Peabody coal company had contracted to solve southern California’s energy needs. Laura and the Montoyas finally visited Hopi country and New Mexico. These travel experiences reinforced Laura’s commitment that she must get out of the city. Her unexpected way of leaving the city came in 1979 when she helped a Big Mountain elder’s visit to LA and when she met the father-to-be of her daughter, her third and last child.

Big Mountain’s traditional Dineh (Navajo) needed a more affective coordinator and organizer, and Laura took up this major task. With in two years and with Laura’s great peaceful energy, Big Mountain elders were networking with the world and forming stronger alliances with other Indian nations. Non-Indian support groups grew and the first Lakota Sun Dance in Dineh country took place by 1983. Laura was that bright problem-solver that came among Big Mountain’s traditional matriarch society and nearly began to build a nation. Her city life beginnings became the past as she meditated and sat in the ceremonial circles of the Indigenous world. Unfortunately, the human toll still existed even far away from the city as her personal life encountered much hardship.

By 1992, she wanted to continue what she always loved to do and that was to help in organizing a spiritual Walk across the country in celebration for the 500 years of Indigenous survival to European colonialism. She was again happy and felt rejuvenated but at the same time she expressed to her former companion, “I know that Great Spirit will call on me someday. Remember that whenever that happens; don’t let (them) take me back to the city. I want You to make sure that I am laid to rest out here on these lands.” Then she began to wear sunglasses all the time saying, “This is my mask. I don’t want my face seen too much.” One afternoon while working as an organizer for the spiritual walk, her driver fell asleep as she was napping from fatigue and their car crashed head on, and Laura’s duty as a warrior, in this world, ended.

- © Sheep Dog Nations Rocks on behalf of Laura’s daughter, 2008

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Dineh Matriarch Honored for Her 30 Years of Serve to the Way of the Warrior

October 2007, Big Mountain – Honors are usually done in a very formal manner like being conducted before a room full of people as the Honoree receives their reward along with the proper handshake and applauses. At Big Mountain where a (unpopular) peoples resistance has been taken place for more than 30years, a elder woman warrior was honored with not a huge audience, but was properly done with valuable words and blessing from the cedar smoke. So, why is this resistance movement unpopular? Because these traditional Indians do not consider themselves as being a part of the United States, they believe they are not conquered, and they still believe they are a sovereign nation based on their treaty statuses and based on their ancient religious obligations. Also, because the rest of America and American Indians believe what the mass media has told them, which was that, “Big Mountain is involved in a ‘land-dispute’ with the Hopi tribe.” Such “land-dispute” or “tribal range war” theories have never been proven.

This warrior elder has stood for the ancient ways of the Dineh for 30 years. She has been harassed over and over, and local tribal officials have tried again and again to force her to sign away her aboriginal rights and relocate. Government officials really believe that this traditional Dineh elder does not understand “America” and its “great” laws of the land! This elder warrior knows all about the schemes of Peabody Western Coal and certain U.S. Congressmen, and how (they) pushed a relocation law through the U.S. Executive Branch in 1974. This great warrior woman was educated by her neighbors, the traditional Hopi elders, about the B.I.A. tribal lawyers and Peabody’s creation of a ‘false’ Hopi tribal council back in 1962. Oh yes, the rightfully Honored Elder Warrior knows about the “American Laws.” That is why she stood in defiance on behalf her peoples, the future generations and their ancestral territories.

-Sheep Dog Nation Rocks, 2008