Monday, October 27, 2014

Big Mountain: Aggressive Confiscation of Dineh Resisters' Herds

**Update: Oct. 28, 2014**
This morning, Oct. 28th – 0620 hrs., Gaah’ Hopi Police & BIA Police, with guns drawn, the Begay resident in Red Willow Springs was surrounded. Main dirt road entrances were guarded by heavily armed police as well. Two teens who were niece and nephew of Etta Begay went out near the sheep corral to take pictures but cops put guns to their heads, and were handcuffed and released at the end of confiscation of the sheep and goats. Etta and her brothers were forced back into their house and police surrounded that house. Nearly 100 sheep and goats were taken but it has been assumed that the police did not have enough room for the 40 more sheep and they were left behind. The situation between non-Native supporters (only ones who acknowledged this resistance against corporate America’s genocide), Dineh elders and the BIA ordered invasion is getting more intense and may get volatile.
A few non-Natives and Native youths will be monitoring the potential for the next "attack." Intense Justice Department and B.I.A. supported-surveillance activity, that include daily and nightly drone fly-overs and a possible commando foot patrols, has been at the forefront of these recent operations. Big Mountain is mostly a wilderness and still occupied by few Dineh elder holdouts, and also this area is very isolated which allows American corporate terror to do as they please and go unnoticed.
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In the last couple of years, Dineh resisters to the relocation policies have suddenly decided not to reduce their sheep herds. BIA Hopi Indian Agency has been using gestapo-styled enforcement of livestock reduction in the last 25 years. This year, elder matriarchs have ceased their compliance to the annual notifications to reduce by selling their sheep rather than getting them confiscated. Also many of these matriarchs and their small family have asked for volunteer sheepherders, and mostly non-Indian herders have answered this call. This kind of support and learning relationship has further developed into a strategy of resistance and solidarity, between first nations and non-Native activism. The success of this strategy, though occurring in an isolated region and barely heard about, is aligned with previous matriarchs’ call to resist the relocation law, a 1974 legislation that was instigated by energy company conglomerates. Thus in recent years, non-Native herders and Dineh resisters have utilized that traditional elder resisters’ call:

“Occupy the ancestral lands by herding sheep and eventually massive coal mining and the reversible climate change can be stopped.”  

Dineh resident and resister to BIA Hopi range management operations: “I will be staying with my elder sister and she has been the only herder at the moment. She does not know how to use her cell phone nor check messages. So I wanted to be out here because of the current threats of police, taking everyone’s sheep. I will be the contact and I will make calls in case we get invaded by the police and rangers…”

Cactus Valley Elder couple in their late 80s: “We both are not strong. We are weak and we have difficulty walking. Our [ _ _ ]  wants to herd the sheep and hide out with the herd every day in the rugged wild canyons. ‘We’ll see what they might do to me when they catch me and our sheep,’[ _ _ ]  tells us. The other family members tell [ _ _ ]  to ‘not worry about it, let it go, let them confiscate them.’ I and my [ _ _ ]  are the only two who choose the idea of hiding with the herd as long as possible.”

“It is unbelievable how a man-made law can call one a ‘trespasser.’ It not matter to them, those who enforce such laws and those who will lay judgment according to such laws. It not matter to them if we (Dineh), here, say we were born here, our ancestors were born here, our ancestors fought the Spaniards and the Americans in order for us to survive on these lands. It not matter to them if we say that we were created on these very lands by divine laws of creation. I and my husband have entered old-age-hood, we cannot stand upright no more, and (they) will count us as a ‘trespasser,’ take all our sheep and take us to stand trial? What has happened? Our Dineh have become individualistic and if the kinship system were alive, we would have sought one another to come together for a council.”    

Oct 24, 2014 Big Mountain Sovereign Dineh Nation – In the last few days, traditional Dineh (Navajos) elders who have maintained a 40 year resistance to federal relocation policies came under attack by the U.S. Justice of Department supported, Hopi tribal law agencies. Law enforcement personnel composing of federally-deputized Bureau of Indian Affairs and Hopi tribal police, who also assisted armed Hopi tribal rangers, confiscated an approximate total of 200 sheep and goats. Rangers and police personnel arrived directly in front of the sheep corral gates and pushed the complete herd into several stock trailers. The Dineh owners and herders were not allowed to interfere or question and so far, one Dineh man has been arrested.

40 years of resistance and conflict has taken a horrible psychological toll on traditional Dineh cultural lifestyle especially by having sheep and other livestock. Sheep are an intimate part of Dineh livelihood as well as religion, and it is not mythological like that popular western theory about Spaniards’ “introduction” of sheep. Wild mountain sheep and goats have been utilized by prehistoric and historic indigenous inhabitants long before European invasion. Sheep are like the buffalos or domesticated reindeer that a culturally-intact society relies on and thus, for the traditional Dineh, it is a part of their being.

These recent events of forcible confiscation of sheep and goat herds is an attack because in is more than a range management effort dictated by the relocation program, but it is psychological retaliation against the Dineh’s long-standing defiance and intended to rip out a large piece of their hearts. Most of the owners of the sheep herds in the resistance communities are elderly, non-English speaking and have been traumatized from years of witnessing cultural deterioration due to policies of U.S. government and it coal mining conglomerates.

This story of Dineh plight can no longer be shrugged off as a controversial, “Indian vs. Indian” scenario. As obvious as American citizens have witnessed the processes of U.S. energy policies of mass fossil fuel extraction and their unsafe transport, as well as, the destructive encroachment upon aboriginal peoples’ lands, Peabody Energy have been pushing the federal government to facilitate their “long-over-due” expansion. As far as indigenous Hopi interest for these pristine territories that the U.S. Congress in 1974 designated as Hopi reservation, there had been no proven facts that justified any kind of historical Dineh invasion. The 1974 law of land partition, if looked into deeply, will only show that coal and aquifer extraction potentials were behind the push to create this inhumane corporate policy.

Now it is the time to see how that romanticized notion of the name, Hopi, to mean People of Peace can only be seen, from this day on, that Hopi law enforcement are perpetrators of colonial aggression in order to further promote fossil fuel extraction and global climate change.

Citizens of the world need to demand that the U.S. and its colonial Indian tribal agencies to withdraw its aggressive campaigns from the Big Mountain region and release the Dineh livelihood, their very essences of being, the confiscated sheep and goats herds.     

NaBahe Katenay Keedihiihii

Interpreter for the Big Mountain Traditional Dineh Resistance, since 1977.   

(above photos by Indigenous Action Media, below photo by Tohani & Lane family)   

Take Action, call or write to these agents responsible:

Hopi Chairman Herman G. Honanie
Phone: (928) 734-3102

Navajo-Hopi Land Commission Office: (928) 871-6441

Office of Range Management(928) 734-3702

BIA Superintendent Wendell Honanie
Phone: 928-738-2228

Hopi Tribal Council
Phone: 928.734.3134

Hopi Tribal Council via Neva Poneoma, legislative secretary
Phone: 928-734-3133

Director, Natural Resources Clayton Honyumptewa

Saturday, October 4, 2014

More to Come from Chief Loner and SDN Media…

I have not posted any writings for a while or since after my trip to Japan in March 2014. I have had a couple of attempts to give Facebook a try to basically network and spread the word from the Lands and Peoples of the Big Mountain resistance to coal mining and relocation policies. Now, I wish to remain with Blogging and do updates with emails. Finally, I want to make note that I have been a bit silenced due the passing of key Dineh elder resisters who have inspired me all the times that I stood with them in resistance. Now, I am beginning to see reality of colonization and the defeat of my Elders’ ancient wisdoms about upholding the laws of ecology and humanity. Today, every place and within every Dineh households, they have well adapted to the identity of being “Navajo” and “American” citizens. This has crammed me into a dark corner where I feel I am no part of American society or the Native American world.

This relocation and land-partitioning laws at Big Mountain has critically impacted and devastated the state of our well-being and the inter-clanship systems of reinforcing the futures. Many of my relatives have accepted the relocation laws and have moved away in the early stages of our resistance. Furthermore, some of them even tried to alter our movement on the lands, and they also aligned themselves with the colonial tribal puppets to undermine our sovereign stands. This has impacted me greatly since I was at the forefront of the resistance in organizing and initiating actions at the frontlines. Today, I have  little or no heart for some of my own relatives mainly because they have never gave us any words of support and now, my Chiefs are gone! This is War. But teachings and some understandings must still be taught and shared in regards to original humanity and spiritual obligation. I shall hope to continue in that capacity even though it is very painful that the culture is vanishing as the lands or earth and sky are left to themselves.

More soon from SheepDogNation Media, and Thanks for your patience. ß byk