Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Dineh Resisters & BIA-Hopi Policing: "The Gradual Tightening of the Noose..."

By Nabahii Bahe Katenay Keediniihii
September 29, 2013 – Big Mountain Dineh Bi’Keyah, Black Mesa, Arizona. The isolated and nearly forgotten traditionally-based, Dineh (Navajos) resisters of Big Mountain are still alive and well. However, there is still a sad and disturbing scenario that they are being subjected to daily. Unlike the earlier times when their resistance to the multi-faceted relocation policies and their ability to initiate sovereign controls over their ancestral territories, the current times of reinforced patriotism America is conducting subtle forms of threat and psychological torture upon these indigenous livelihood. This gain of colonial upper hand is a result of a long drawn out program implemented by the U.S. government since 1977 and the loss of native pride among Indian country. Also since the 1980s, the US-BIA backed, progressive Hopi authority had been aggressively enforcing land-use policies based on foreign scientific methods of range management. The primary cause of this result is a proven U.S. conspiracy known as the “Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute”or the “Navajo-Hopi Land Settlement Act of 1974,” and one of key player and a major contributor to the passage of such inhumane Law is never mentioned, and that is Peabody Coal Company.

There are still occasional blurb about the relocation of the Dineh at Big Mountain or other events associated with the Dineh in northern Arizona facing this American-made Indian vs. Indian conflict, but only a handful of white America still try to assist these Dineh. A very few volunteers still come out to bring food, well-being massage therapy, fire wood hauling, and sheepherding in the winter time. Small collectives also try to inform the world and America about this human rights violations taking place within the U.S., and also to maintain awareness and interest so that support can keep flowing. However, these Dineh are not only advocating for their indigenous sovereign rights but they continue to reaffirm that their refusal to be force off the lands is also to stop global warming, dirty coal, and support green energy initiatives. It is unpredictable how far these old Dineh elders’proclamations will continue since most of Navajo country has been conquered and turned colonial.

In 1977, when these few remaining traditional elders were impacted by federal land partitioning, there were nearly 22,000 Dineh affected. That same year, the Big Mountain Dineh mobilized independently for the onslaught of range fencing, stepped up policing, capture and reduction of livestock, home repair restrictions, closures of water sources, and coercion of their fellow Dineh to relocate. There were almost 600 traditional residents that aligned with the Big Mountain uprising, and 360 signed on to a Declaration of Sovereignty in late 1979. Today, out of the 600 original resisters, only 20– 30 elders are left. Others have either been overcome by death due to the prolonged stress and fear, and while others have decided to buy into their children’s convincing that surrendering was the only option. Currently, this legacy of human hope and survival has to be explain repeatedly even in the era of growing ignorance in Indian country and in the midst of the escalating trends of confinement to the digital world, a misinformed global society.

If world history were to be redefined: justified evilness in the name of control and silencing.

Americans and Native Americans consciousness continue to be fixated on the notion that the demise of this Big Mountain Dineh culture is an example of American equality based on fair judgement. “Navajos deserve this ‘self-inflicted’ atrocity because they squatted on Hopi lands as Hopis are the ‘real’ descendants of the Anasazis,” and this would be the typical dominating western belief. This very thought is not truly held as an authentic conclusion by modern day and federally motivated Hopi policing, but rather it is an adopted legal means to justify and express an attitude. One can see it in these Indian police’s eyes, even though they wear sunglasses, that Peabody’s mega-million profit scheme has awarded them regions to facilitate further coal mining and produce red gold, the American beef. These lands, known today as the “Hopi Partitioned Lands” or HPL, was ‘legally’ granted but not for the purpose of Hopi tribal cultural expansion. Hopis have been renowned for their Peaceful Way of Life which translates to its name, Hopi. So the lands upon where some elder Dineh still live are to the BIA-Hopis only prime real estate for that government controlled gains of the lowest profit known as US-BIA Trust Revenues. 

Dan Katchongva, son of sovereign and traditional resister Youkima. Dan was from Hotevilla and he organized many Non-violent resistance against BIA modernization.

The once great history of Dineh-Hopi coexistence and mutual cooperation of survival throughout famine and colonial invasions are irrelevant to the, now, high tech and sophisticated BIA Indian and Hopi police force. To them, the old Dineh elders and their small families, the non-Native volunteers, and a couple of Dineh on-land organizers are all considered as lawless humans and trespassers. Peabody’s Laws of conspiracy for the US’s energy needs and multinational corporate greed, however, must be administered with intensity but under much secrecy to intimidate and demoralize these indigenous belief systems including the original Hopi tradition. Human rights have no place out here, in this little corner of the world, among the still quietness and pristine ancestral lands of both peoples. The sellout Indians must maintain this war of genocide on behalf of the corporate world empires. To most people that may come out to briefly witness or visit these elders, they may go away with the notion that all is peaceful and there is no Gaza Strip type siege. One needs to understand a deeper aspect of North America’s indigenous history and existence. Evilness seems to be the foundation of world order and that can be read in the original Bible stories of the Old Testament. Blood soaked lands and sea, deceit and assassination, plunder and control of the spoils, slavery and torture, rape and dehumanization, and massive militarization. War against the Indians, affairs of subjugation of the Indians, instituting puppet Indian councils, and override their treaties to desecrate their being and steal their lands of the natural riches.
“They are basically tightening the noose around all of us.”
One of the last few families still holding strong to their former ways of livelihood and trying to continue some sort of coexistence with the new Hopi authoritarian presence are now feeling the full force of isolated injustices. Haastin Niiz Begay and his family are one of those original inhabitants of Black Mesa, a people having a unique and common feature and which was once documented by the European explorers of the late 1880s. His peoples also recount many legends and stories of great ancestors that experienced the Spanish and European invasions. They still try to survive as they have long before the relocation law was ever announced. His home is surrounded by absolute wild terrain of canyons and narrow wooded plateaus. An amazing place if one is keen to the beauty of earth, its skies, the climate, and its wilderness. Haastin is in his mid90s but he still can hear well and his eyes are not as good anymore but his memory helps him see clearly. You shake his hand and he will hold your hand for a while but that is just old tradition of Dineh gentle greetings. He does not ride the horse nor herd sheep anymore like he did a few years back. He once stated “I’ve probably walked every piece of this country and even places that no one else would expect another to wonder.” 
Mazzie (right), Haastin Niiz's wife, pictured in 1998 bringing food to non-Native supporters who were working on numerous project. Mazzie is now in a nursing home.

The family is trying to finally get a septic system install and they are working quite rapidly even with the little equipment they have and with no electricity. One of his sons said they have to get the septic tank covered before “the Hopis” return and to avoid being cited for violations. The men also needed to haul water for mixing the concrete and they were pleased with all the summer monsoons because they did not have to travel some 30 miles of rough dirt roads in order to get water on this day. As they have in the past, they hired a tractor to dig out water catchments but eventually, the BIA-Hopi police noticed their water catchment sites. The police told them that that “was unauthorized” and that the Land Office will bring bull-dozers to level the little earthen dam. The new world order is also now alive and well in these isolated territories of Big Mountain. There will be no need for indigenous living or any attempts of a privileged sustainable life unless the great American law authorizes it. It does not matter if this family has struggled for 15 years to cope with the drought, giving up farming, reducing their livestock numbers. It seems so true now when one of the last true traditional Hopi elder said, “United States says that Great Spirit’s Laws is no more, I have the badge and the guns and you will do as I say!"
Federally deputized Hopi cop attempts to stop supporters and Dineh elders from gathering in Big Mountain, 1998.

This Land Office also reintroduced wolves but not any other game like the antelope or the big horn sheep. Now the wolves have become more aggressive as explained by Haastin Niiz’s family, “they killed three little sheep dog puppies right in front of our home, and they even ate them.” BIA-Hopi prohibits the hunting of the wolves as it almost seems like the purpose of the wolves is to kill Dineh’s sheep and goats. Another recent suspicion is the strange high tech monitoring systems that have been discovered by these Dineh in resistance. Small cameras or some sort of sensors are now mounted on pinon pine trees and they run on very small solar charging system. Another of Haastin Niiz’s son mentioned, “We don’t want to touch them. They are set low on the tree trunk and looks like a metallic plate with wires running to the top of the tree as if they were transmitters. I met some of these police out there one day hiking around and they said they lost the location of the installed ‘gadgets’ on the tree.”
A self-contained, remote monitoring device (left) similar to what these Dineh resisters seem to be describing. Once device detects audio, it sends a call like a little Cellphone robot to the command center where the sound can be analyzed. 
But it has never been explained what these ‘gadgets’ are but it is a remote monitoring systems that are now there to detect sounds of chainsaws, gun shots or even a tractor making an earthen dam. One of the main sons said, “I don’t know what we are all coming to with this intense situation of land issue and relocation, but all we know now is that the ‘Hopis’ are basically tightening the noose around all of us.”
© SheepDogNation Media, 2013   

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Big Mountain Survival Camp Sun Dance, 1983 - 1996

The Big Mountain Survival Camp Sun Dance: A Way Borrowed from the Lakota Nation by the Dineh in Resistance
By Bahe (Naabahii) Y. Katenay (Keediniihii), May 29, 2013
This Plains Indian ritual was brought to Dineh country in August 1983 after four years of negotiation with Lakota Sun Dance Chiefs and Spiritual Leaders from the Cheyenne River, Rosebud and Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. This Dance at Big Mountain Survival Camp was banished in 1996 despite the opposition from the original, traditional Dineh Elder resisters to the federal government’s inhumane laws of relocation and land divisions.
Those Dineh who feared the continuous pressures from the federal Indian police decided to “move” the sacred Tree Pole to outside the federally-restricted zone known as the “HPL.” The following year this “new” Big Mountain Sun Dance began with a different unknown purpose, but what became so obvious was that it no longer associated itself with the former traditional resistance movement. That “issue” of relocation and Dineh sovereign radicalism was left to its own demise inside the restricted zone. This “new” voluntarily relocated Big Mountain Sun Dance continues today. 
Original Purposes for the 1983 Dance of Defiance and Rejuvenation:
Prior to 1983, prophecy of two nations was exchanged between th traditional Dineh of Big Mountain and Lakotas, and this particular prophecy became the basis and were only spoken of during the spiritual council times of 1979-82. But the purpose was very clear because only the host, Dineh resisters, were participants in these four year dialogues.
Dineh resister experiences were about facing policies of genocide which were being enforced by the U.S. government. Sun Dance conducted at the Big Mountain Survival Camp was to bring healing and re-strengthen Dineh so that they can eventually revitalize their old ritual traditions. Gradually, the Dineh living under U.S. threat of losing their ancestral lands would gain stronger aboriginal rights to the lands and the country would be restored. Also and besides the Dancers’ personal vow to enter the sacred hoop, they would fulfill that virtue and honor of being a Sun Dancer by offering prayers for those in resistance against force relocation, coal mining expansions and other means of genocide under U.S. colonialism. The Sun Dance Tree and its ceremonial grounds would remain on the lands that are under attack until that certain borrowing period is over.
Federal Agents, Local Dissensions, & the Desecration of the Red Road
The 1983 agreement between Chiefs from the northern nations and Dineh resisters was that the Dance will be conducted for four years and its fourth season would fall on the federal government’s deadline for forced removal of Dineh, July 1986. In 1987, Dineh re-negotiated for another four years and by 1994, four more seasons was approved again by both the Dineh resisters and some Lakota leaders. Then in 1996 and at two more years to ago for that negotiated period, a mysterious event occurred. Some local Dineh youth were turned back at the entrance of the Sun Dance camp area because they were drunk. They were told they will be invited after they sober up. However, the intoxicated individuals began a fight at the security gate but they eventually left only to stop a short distance away and fired shots with an automatic rifle. It was a strange incident because the BIA Hopi Police were monitoring the Sun Dance but they were not presence when the shots were fired. Dineh security for the Sun Dance immediately went into a high level mode by securing the area within which the BIA Police were also patrolling. There was another encounter with the intoxicated youths a few hours after and more shots were fired. A day followed as the Dance commenced and there was a larger police presence in the area. There was only one Dineh arrested because he fought back when he was attack at the Sun Dance security gate the day before. This investigation is still open and federal prosecutions may still be pending even after 17 years.
The U.S. Department of the Justice have always been distrustful and have carried out much surveillance on the Lakota Sun Dances especially during the 1970s’ Oglala Sioux civil rights movement which invited AIM to provide protection. The U.S. Marshals and the FBI also monitored the Survival Camp Sun Dance very closely especially around 1986 when they suspected the Dineh and other Indian security volunteers were potentially accumulating weapons and conducting training for the “final showdown” in the resistance to relocation. The federally backed Navajo Nation and Hopi tribal officials also jumped to those conclusions that the Survival Camp could be a militant training camp, and they also were influenced by the federal agents that the Sun Dance was a means to recruit and was a ritual preparation for arm resistance. In early 1986, one FBI agent in Flagstaff made comments to certain tribal officials that, “if there is a Big Mountain showdown and you compare that to Wounded Knee 1973, Wounded Knee would be nothing but peanuts.
This should be nothing new if you are a conscious person and are aware about policies of limited or unguaranteed rights and freedom. We know about these types of infiltrations and counter intelligence activities of instigating internalized disruptions that affect most movement organizations. But today and if you live that “merry savage life” or choosing to be that satisfied American Indian then, you must truly wake up because this war is still taking place at Big Mountain, the birth place of your ancestors.       
Today and in contrast, the new (Big Mountain) Sun Dance has drastically changed from the original purpose of being a resistance ritual and a nation revitalization ritual to a now, more general and contemporary ceremonial gathering. This new Sun Dance occasionally allows speeches that promote the recognition of American patriotism like military services and other tribal governmental influences of progress. Sometimes there are speeches intended to inform about environmental issues but they fall short of relating that to the local cultural state or to community futures. There are no more mentioning of that Dineh resistance to relocation and coal mining, or to the great elders that once lead a traditional uprising and who were the original host of the first Sun Dance on Dineh lands. 
Could it be just Colonization and the new identity known as, Native American?
There are only a handful of Dineh at Big Mountain in this second decade of the 21st Century who still associates themselves with those old traditions of being in balance and in peace with nature and its eco-systems. But that could also be a Sun Dancer’s role in life among his or her nation, community. Unfortunately, it is not that way. The Indian world has changed and we have embraced almost every aspect of American culture even though we lead our own individual family circles and direct our prayers accordingly. However, it seems like that old teachings of the Sun Dance Way or the Way of being a Barrier of the Sacred Pipe are as forgotten as those Big Mountain elders whose Sun Dance was taken. Many Dancers and Barriers of the Pipe at this new Sun Dance will not have any clue about how such Sun Dance originated in Dineh country, and if they do know about the forgotten elders, they will simply shrug off the relocation resisters and consider them as remaining hostiles.

The original nations of the Sun Dance taught the seriousness of that way of carrying the sacred pipe and to practice that discipline in wearing the marks of your vow to offer your flesh to the Great Spirit. You were also the brave one who shall protect the old, the small children and your homelands. The pipe will always be carried on behalf of your family and secondly, your community or band group. One would live that Sun Dancer life because you would not shy away from aggression that may invade your lands or that exist within your village. Instead, you would take your Canupa (sacred pipe) and make prayers for those that pose ill feelings and attempt to commit harm to others or to you. There were many orders of virtues and morality that a so-called Sun Dancer must have. None of what use to be ingrained in Dancers’ mind in the past, as it was done in South Dakota when I first entered the Sun Dance circle, is taught in these new Dineh forms of worship.

What today’s Dineh Sun Dance families and participants do in terms of claiming for themselves as caring and considerate are merely acted out behaviors. Today’s ritual theme, “Walk in Beauty,” is only an expression just like pierced eye brows and lips. Elders are made to stand for an hour or more under the hot sun while waiting in the circle. At feast time, elders and children are ignored instead of being next in line after the Dancers. A few or a couple of natives might dress up traditional for the occasion of partaking of the Dance or that was just normal for being an Indian, but they would obviously be looked-down upon. Hip and gangsta clothing are the proper dress code. Dineh Sun Dance community does not care about trying to live in balance and in peace with their environment, and instead they ram their automobiles through vegetation, ant hills and destroy open undisturbed soils. They bring with them large amounts of American trash like Styro-foam and endless amounts of plastics. To most, recycling is not a means of respecting mother earth. There are no efforts in promoting healthy lifestyles but rather, there is a tremendous proportion of Americanization. Certain modern day ritual figure, the Sun Dancer or Dineh ritual practitioner, is much like his or her own community: Christian holidays are honored, federal colonial celebrations are never missed, giant corporations are worshipped like Walmart or Starbucks, and culture is that grand way of life, militarism.
It is definitely the macrocosm of the rest of the world, the causes of industrialization and the run away greed and global warming. And there are the wars and global poisoning of this mother planet to top it off. Who cares? A few of us do it seems. Ancient ritual ways, who cares about that? We know nothing about the ancient except something called dinosaurs or the ice age creatures. We are today but why should we care that we have endangered ourselves? All we need is now that which is a temporary satisfaction of false tastes of indulging, and we are blessed! “Healed!”
End Note:
The Big Mountain Survival Camp Sun Dance is no longer in existence. As one Sun Dancer of today asked, “The dust has finally settled, right, with the Elders who were trying to resist relocation?” I wondered who taught him that?! The traditional Dineh struggle to maintain that life of harmony and live in accordance to Great Spirits’ kingdom and that, which inspired them to resist colonization and genocide, are all but reduced and silenced. Standing with these Elders in resistance, since I was about 14, gives me some hope. I hope that in some hidden, ignored and lone corner of the Big Mountain lands, perhaps, there will be a continuation of the original chants of Earth and Universe.
© SheepDogMedia 2013, NBK   

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Global Wars & A Broken Sacred Hoop at Big Mtn.

Global Wars and the Broken Sacred Hoop at Big Mountain
By Bahe “Kat” Katenay, May 1, 2013

Today, we all live in a world that is in turmoil and in constant war. But unfortunately, this world or “our world” is not new to this kind of atmosphere of instability. World history and religious accounts like the Bible have shown examples of such chaotic and brutal human existence. All the news about today’s wars are quite new to us citizens on Turtle Island (so-called America) because ‘normally’ wars were fought elsewhere. The many aspects of “U.S. sponsored interventions” in the last half-a-century with economic and military aggressions have only brought wars to the streets of Turtle Island. Network media has influenced majority of society to ignore any other probable facts about these secret international affairs.

Secondly, there is that state of the world that has institutionalized destruction of the environment and indigenous cultures, and this is taking place at an alarming rate and all because of the growing demands for industrial consumption. That is a war on planet earth’s eco-systems and on the few remaining land-based human cultures and religion. It is a war because riot police and counter intelligent agencies are implementing a state of seize on something that was known as “guaranteed constitutional and civil rights.” Citizens try to mobilize to bring attention to the injustices and the industrial threats, but their “freedom” to do so are overridden by corporate justices of tear gases, silencing of the message, marginalization, and even brutality of imprisonment and mental tortures.
Finally, the third stage of wars is within us. We have each become so individualistic that we reject the old human practices of collectivity and following the foundations of faith. We may think that this is not as dangerous or as destructive as militarily-executed wars, but they are. I am absolutely not talking about so-called terrorist or those mental disorder induced rage, but I am talking about our inner self, our soul perhaps, are altered by pop culture, mass media, materialistic comforts, and institutionalized racism. It is probably not appropriate to use the so-called Native Americans as an example, since they are less than one percent of the U.S. population, but these indigenous communities’ integrity and natural pride has all been conquered within a span of a half century. These former red nations of Turtle Island have adapted to the American identity and on a daily basis, they celebrate this (foreign) military culture and consume America’s artificial illusions. Individualistic based wars within these small grouped communities promote progressive tribal members to invoke subtle forms of prejudice on those who try to advocate for the purity of traditional culture and ritual practices.

Another extension of this individuality based war are those based on faith of a superior race and which is not new at all either. However, as far as America is concern, I would have to say that (they) do have a legitimate claim about what “America” should be. The U.S. constitution and its Bill of Rights were designed primarily for the white colonies and for its big white government. “We the People” did not mean Africans or the Indians (colored people) and so the U.S. declaration of independence established barriers of segregation so that, colored people can be considered as and treated accordingly as the inferior races. This particular conflict or war is intensifying because of the unfortunate (fortunately maybe to many) circumstances that the U.S. government has been faltering on its superior race obligations. On this continent, the intensification of this uprising has a hidden effect, and it ‘maybe’ played out in certain and current political activities like the legislations for gun control and immigration.

Obviously, much discussion and debate can be elaborated on but this Blog has been dedicated to the point of view from, perhaps one lone aboriginal habitant of Turtle Island, or from a larger representation of indigenous existence. And back to northeastern Arizona at a place called Big Mountain, where there are at least 100 - 300 of us who still proclaim our intimate and ancient bond to the natural forces of earth, sky and air. We still remain after thousands of our fellow Dineh have been relocated or killed off by the US’s psychological warfare policies. We still walk upon earth’s enduring natural beauty and tending to the little culture and rituals that has been spared by America’s war and industrial machines. There are also about 40 non-Natives supporters that come here on a yearly-seasonal base to help the old Dineh who cling on to what the U.S. government considers as illegal like having livestock, dry farming and residing on lands of their birth. And 40 years before, Big Mountain had prospered with a total population of nearly 5,000. Now the ancient cultural and ritual ways, the language, the family teachings of honor, and a few down-to-earth, Dineh Christians are rapidly disappearing.
The struggle at Big Mountain is now so minute compared to other indigenous culture-based and land-based resistance like Chiapas and South America’s indigenous movements. However, my home, Big Mountain, now holds a self-destructive element, which does not have to do with American patriotism, but it has to do with narrow mindedness toward false luxuries. This self-destructive element creates a struggle within a larger struggle that is already weakening. It is like a body struggling against a disease but then there is a certain organ inside the body that is infected and it struggles to maintain a function. The U.S. Public Law 93-531partitioned these Dineh and Hopi lands, here, and it only has one sole purpose, which is to extract coal for America’s addiction to electricity. And this is the implanted virus. Dineh who falsely feel they have escaped the forced relocation policies are ignorantly chosen to forget about their own elders’ struggle a few miles away. These Dineh, despite claiming themselves as religiously committed by chanting “To All My Relations,” they now reject vigorously the calls and reasoning from those in resistance. I, as a longtime spokesman and ethnographer for the traditional resistance, have only become the enemy among my own peoples. My voice of sovereignty and survival are like venom to them just because they fear the laws of the U.S. war machines. War brings complex decisions between primary and instant objectives and how to execute them, but still we are all on the same donkey, neither a camel nor boat.
What hope is there now? We have held such hopes for the last 40 plus years, but we asked why? Our most recent histories was that the imperial Europeans came with their weapons of mass destruction against our weapons of little or no damage. I have stood with my traditional Dineh and my traditional Hopi neighbors, and we have survived somewhat. Now the war has come to me personally, it comes against my disciplines of Dineh tradition, against my family and against my hopes. I am sure some of you may share this same experience of the threats, the misunderstanding and the ignorance from your own kind, and especially when you think that you have sacrificed enough for the healing. One can only stand strong and maintain humble thoughts before the Creator, and try as hard as possible to not be overcome by the colonized minds. Though, it is the End either in Biblical term or in terms of indigenous prophecy we have to accept those terms. We cannot resort to some temporary relief from techno-drugs or indulge in certain desires and there will be no escape. However, there is still that hope to collectively and in faith stand up to the war policies against the earth and to the greed of progressive tribal puppet governments. Relatives, the alternative path to peace and balance may still await.

© sheepdognationMedia, byk, 2013       

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Forgotten "1973 Wake-Up Call" as Modern Dineh ("Navajos") Prefer Colonized Dreams

The same time that the Wounded Knee 1973 battle, between the indigenous Red Nations of the Western Hemisphere and the U. S. Corporate Military, was taking place in South Dakota. Larry and his brother decided "enough is enough!" and they declared war on the City of Gallup's corporate racism. Please, read for yourself the forgotten stories of Indian Pride below, articles from the "Navajo Times."