Wednesday, October 2, 2013
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