Native American history has been re-written for the purpose of patriotism toward capitalist-aggression. The former, indigenous America, already had the intellect, scholarship and self-governing. Egalitarian along with spirituality was supreme. This Blog hopes to present thoughts and discussion based on such awarenesses.
(Here is a letter that the "Navajo Times" rejected for publishing so, I share it along with videos of some great elders with whom, I had an immeasurable honor to have heard about and met.)
Yaa'at'eeh Sh'K'éé dóh' Sh'Díńe'eh'.
I was raised in Big Mountain by loving and caring traditional parents
who both did not speak English. Perhaps many of you may see and hopefully
relate to how I grew up helping with herding sheep, dirt floor hogans, and growing
vegetables in the fields. My childhood and teen age times were
way different than how youths are, today. More and more, I have come
to realize now that those times of the past are to be considered
forgotten, and that it was a mistake to be Indian and to
live off the land. And that living America is the right thing
because of many reasons like it gives us pride in military
services and having conveniences.
However, Americanization is not all
that right for example, listening to its standard news about the Dineh at
Big Mountain is always distorted. The first paragraph of a news
report will say "the Navajo and Hopi land dispute is a century
old" when finally the U.S. government made
laws "of equal divisions." For the Navajos or Dineh, a
narrow mindedness like that degrades our culture because it says, we
simply do not know how to co-exist with other humans. Furthermore,
this also supports that we Dineh stumbled into this region in
the 1500s and that all other tribes in "North America" were
already settled when we "late comers" were
unwelcome squatters. This western, American history paints an infant
history of us as stupid and disorganized group of wanderers who copied
rituals from the Pueblos, learned (or stole) agricultural and textile
skills from others. Then if we, Dineh, did not get enough of what we
were greedy for, we had fits so we raided and plundered. Thus, the
1974 law made for the "land dispute" paints that same
picture about the Dineh in my country as "intruders
into Big Mountain area.
The ill-informed citizens of
the Navajo Nation now only see this issue through the Euro-American court
settlements. "It's been settled, and why should it be my problem. Big
Mountain Navajos are nothing but militants anyway." What I have witnessed
throughout my volunteer work for Big Mountain is a true
traditionally-based movement to protect their endangered language and
culture. So then, there were non-English speaking herders and weavers
who organized with merit and validity as their voices had relevance
to cultural and ecological survival, and this winter marks
the 40th year of their resistance to relocation. Today's news blurb
might be about sheep being impounded in the name of range management and
certain elders being charge as trespassers in the name of America's law of
the land, but sheep culture goes deeper than just it being food.
What is being forgotten is that
livestock are part of the rituals, sheep corral sites are sacred
places, sitting and sleeping on a sheep skin once represented
identity, rubbing mutton grease on your legs in prayer, and the wool for fiber
works. Growing up, I have noticed how families and herders managed the
lands, the movement of herds based on weekly or seasonal pastures and even
constant use of trails were avoided. Now civilized laws dictate
another way and along with that pastoral culture is
disappearing, our existence are force to sedentary lifestyles, and in
the future and if we Indians still own a space, it will be nothing
but lots. We Dineh or Navajos should be paying close attention to this
last stand at Big Mountain, and what happens there might happen to your
community unless you already chose to embrace Americana.
No, there was never any 'land
dispute' among Hopi and the Dineh. We never had governments or
Indian corporate politicians who had the magic of lobbying to
influence the U.S. Congress to make an Executive Order called, the Navajo-Hopi
Land Settlement Act. I know my Hopi neighbors and they are like
us, they have nothing to give to Uncle Sam or to some
big shot, corporate attorneys. Our votes do not even count, nationally or state
wide. In the end, we will both be victims of this land
partitioning law. We will never have control over the so-called natural
resources in question and that is the underlying issue here, coal to fuel
the growing cities and industries. It is common sense knowledge. Do you
as natives truly believe that the government makes laws on the Indian
Have you been out to Big Mountain or
other impacted areas recently designated as Hopi lands? There are no single new
Hopi settlements and there are only cattle but the wildlife is still the same.
The only grand plan pending in Washington and St. Louis is coal mining
expansion which will mean immediate building of coal-transport infrastructures,
boom-towns and lots of short term jobs. Big Mountain Dineh will
be history and forgotten just like that genuine,
indigenous Dineh spirit of belonging to earth and the environment.
What do I recommend? Well, I'm not a
registered voter but honor Big Mountain resisters and all other elder
resisters from other impacted areas. And let us not forget our citizenship
to: a nation that can still think of and care for one another, a nation
that withstood European invasions and signed treaties, a
nation full of prehistoric beginnings, and that the Dineh
nation played equal roles, among tribal nations, of co-existence in the
Once upon a time when a few of my Hopi elders were still around, they showed me some these footages (8mm films), and they inspired me along with many of their Hopi-Dineh stories as well as, when I was little my parents took me to dances at Hotevilla. Now, some of those footage are available!
About half way through the film it shows Dan Katchongva, Youkima's (1906-11 resistance leader and Village Chief) son, and you can see how the village of Hotevilla resisted the Hopi tribal gov't trying to force electricity, water and BIA-Hopi authority into the village. You see Dan overseeing the dismantling of the pipes and power poles. A peaceful confrontation with the BIA and Hopi "officials."
There is also one old Hotevilla Chief and Head Priest, Titus, singing the song about the Prophecy as elder James Koots (producer and director of photography) listens. This film is a message about Prophecy and signs that will tell of human cultures end or the way to avoid that end.
I hope you try to understand visually and listen with your hearts, and try to see those few