Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Winter On-Land Supporter: "Resistance not Isolated & Continues at Varied Degrees"

A Literature Piece on Big Mountain, Black Mesa by Nephew Jake


I recently left the land, in which i had spent the winter with elder Pauline Whitesinger. This experience inspired me to write a short essay that i wish to distribute hand to hand and through magazines or websites that may wish to publish my writing. To be accountable to you and the resistance on black mesa I am sending a copy for your comments. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Hagoshiin (Until Next Time), Haastiin Yazhie' (/s/nephew jake)

This winter I lived with a Dineh (Navajo) elder on the west side of Big Mountain. She was born there and continues to walk about the same land as she did when she was a child, more than 80 years ago. While at her homesite I primarily herded sheep through the rough, high desert terrain. I followed this grandma's wisdom, knowing her directions were ways of survival in the face of determined removal by the U.S Government and American Corporations. She taught me skillz in animal husbandry, wood cutting, and hogan care. It was an honor to live under her guidance and training.

I am a young person of mixed european decent. My late mother was an artist and student, my father is a vegetable farmer and a long time War Tax Resister (has widtheld all income tax from the US Govt since 1980). I am a child of activists yet I found the Dineh resistance on Black Mesa from my own journey. I first began to sort the debt I have as a white living on indian land when i came out to Black Mesa the first time a few years ago through Black Mesa Indigenous Support. But enough about me, lets get to the issue that remains; Dineh resistance to American imperialism.

Since 1978 Dineh communities n Black Mesa have resisted US relocation laws and Bureau of Indian Affairs policing strategies to remove them and their way of life. Washington has supported 'relocation' as a solution to their self-created, make-believe navajo-hopi land dispute. A closer reality seems to be American energy corporations partnered with Washington to manufacture a cultural divide that is used to sustain corporate land grabbing on Dineh sovereign territory.

The latest example of imperial landscaping was in December 2008. Despite protest from Navajo, Hopi, native, and non-native people; the Office of Surface Mining approved a Life-of-Mine permit for the Black Mesa Complex operated by Peabody Energy. This permits Peabody to continue strip mine Black Mesa coal and water. In addition Peabody has the opportunity to seize 19,000 acres of sacred land beyond the 67,000 acres already in Peabody's grasp.

I gathered from this decision that mining and burning coal, which threatens catastrophic climate change, is not a real concern to Washington. Their attitude remains war mongering towards the earth and indigenous people, which are both considered collateral damage in the wake of National Security. It appears that neither the OSM or the tribal governments intended to stop Peabody and support traditional Dineh sovereignty on Black Mesa.

Certainly the few sheep camps that are left since relocation and mining began could not be a serious threat to national security? However, in my short time on Black Mesa, grandma and myself came into contact with BIA deputized rangers on several occasions. We were confronted about the activities going on around her home. This type of harassment is not isolated and has happened over the coarse of 30 years. But resistance is also not isolated and continues each day in varied degrees. All acts on Black Mesa under traditional Dineh authorization for survival are direct actions of resistance to American imperialism. The bottom argument I wish to make is relocation = imperialism. The sheep, horses, cattle, deer, birds, elders, youth, and sheepherders all stand in the way of Mr. Peabody's coal train and American progress.

Nephew Jake

For more information to become a live-in supporter/sheepherder on Black Mesa please visit: or contact: vm 928-773-8086

Big Mtn: Sustained Resistance & Ritual Hope for Resiliency

Big Mountain Spring 2009: Sustained Resistance and Ritual Hope for Resiliency
Written by Bahe Katenay, Sheep Dog Nation Media
May 5, 2009
You may live in an urban setting where the night sky is obliterated by city lights and air traffic. You may live in a rural area but you hardly ventured out into a wilderness even though it is in your back yard. Perhaps, your crazy personal life allows you sometime to walk in a park or you take a brief nature hike. Imagine a real wilderness.

I’ve never been in a jungle or in the arctic tundra. I have visited and camped in some tundra zones in the mountains of the U.S. southwest. The only wilderness that I have spent so much time in is the Big Mountain range in the heart of Black Mesa. If you have been to Big Mountain, you may have been shown the summits of Big Mountain and you might have thought, “Oh, those little hills?”

I’d tell you to, “go take a hike.”

Dzil Ntsaa (misinterpreted as Big Mountain) means Great Mountain. It is a very rugged region, two summits marked its sacred areas, series of deep canyons radiate outward from these ‘little’ summits, narrow ridge lines and saddles connect isolated plateaus, the juniper and pinon forest is thick with under brushes that includes sharp spiny yucca and cactus, most of its slopes are steep and rocky, and everywhere you look there is beauty and you can feel the embrace of the sacredness.

There are no Anasazi ruins nor is there any evidence of past human habitation. However, there are thriving communities of civilized life (not ‘wild life’) like cougars, lynx, white tail deer, elks, wolves, porcupines, reptiles, hawks, many flocks of birds, owls, woodpeckers, falcons, occasional eagles, and our most ancient relatives the insect kingdom. But this experience can be disrupted when you find pieces of metallic or rubber balloons or plastic shopping bags that might have all blown in from the far distance areas of wild life (not ‘civilization’) sanctuaries of urban-dwelling.

I wondered, as I do my pilgrimage in this special and gifted place, does anyone that knows about the forced-relocation programs that is happening at Big Mountain ever think about how much the sacred is endangered? At night being on one of the summits, you see the ‘street-less,’ street lights scattered along as they outline, exactly, the boundaries of the so-called, Hopi Partitioned Lands. The bright lights from the Peabody coal mines glow into the dusty atmosphere like there is a smoggy city beyond the northern Big Mountain point. Every 15 to 25 minutes commercial airlines roar high above as their wing lights flash and you can almost feel the presence of hundreds of passengers passing through between the mega-cities of California and of the Midwest or New England.

I am alone up there but I also am lucky, too, because my two intelligent sons are with me, and we all wonder: ‘does anyone care that Peabody Western Coal Company is getting closer to this sacred and pristine place? Does the world care about the Big Mountain elders who are resisting relocation and the expanding coal mines? Do people care at all about the natural way of actually doing things like making your own bow and arrows, cooking with the campfire, collecting water from a spring, and just trying very hard to learn from nature.’

As we complete the pilgrimage, we cannot ignore the strange dusting of red color on every square-centimeter of surfaces. We are in awe as we talked about how the climate, the human beings, and earth is changing, and how an intense wind storm from April 4, 2009 can transport thousands of tons of dust and even created the pink snowfall in Colorado.

I am still not sure how I will ever fulfill even a small degree of cultural and spiritual obligations that is expected of me / us at Big Mountain by the (last) traditional elders of the Dineh. I wish the great divine forces to pity me…

My elder relatives of Big Mountain grew up in a pristine world of strong leadership and wisdom and like my late mother, these elders had hope we grow up in the same way as they have despite the rest of us being forced into the government schooling. Now, those few elders that are left still maintain defiance against the colonialist of the USA. Today, the Bureau of Indian Affairs agency police continue their patrols, intimidations and livestock-count regulations. Also today, Mr. Peabody continues to maximize its profits as it is nearing completion of mining the original lease area of 1964, and they are prepared to christen new lease areas that will include the actual Big Mountain topography.

© Sheep Dog Nation Rocks, 2009