Date: Mon, 13 Mar 2000 02:37:23 EST
Subject: viewfromthehogan #11
The View From The Hogan #11 "The sound little eagles make" month ( March 2000)
Notes from Big Mountain
Things are starting to quieten down round here now,
so I have had the
chance to read the local papers from the past month or so, and am somewhat
disturbed by some of the propoganda being churned out by the Hopi Tribal
Council. Most of it is simply transparent, but there are two related themes
that I find disturbing. The first is that the HTC are speaking for the Hopi
people. Now I don't know any government that speaks for the people they
purport to represent, and the history of the Hopi people this century makes
it quite clear that in the case of the imposed HTC this is very much the
case. As with most (if not all) governments, the HTC speaks and acts for a
small elite who benefit by their policies. The second point, related to the
first is that the Hopi people are being told by the HTC that they (the
people) are being blamed for the actions of the HTC, that they are being
demonized, and that supporters of the resisting Dineh are somehow threatening
them. I even heard that on the day of the deadline (feb 1st) one Hopi village
"closed" itself to outsiders. This is absurd,... there were no supporters
anywhere near the Hopi villages, and I have never heard anyone make any
threats against the Hopi people. A government creates terror in its own
people with imaginary enemies. Does this sound familiar? So, I would like to
state categorically that I have never, and will never, blame the Hopi people
for what their Tribal Council is doing, and I hope the Hopi people know that
the supporters of the resisting Dineh are in no way a threat to them. Divide
and conquer is a well tried formula.
On a related theme, in a couple of days is the first
"exclusion" trial in
Hopi Court. As I've stated before, this is an insidious piece of legislation,
that if acted upon gives the HTC the power to exclude anyone at all from Hopi
land who they consider a threat to the Hopi Tribe. This first trial is for
Arlene Hamilton, and her "crime" is that for 6 weeks she co-ordinated last
summers Education/Witness camp. How this is a threat to Hopi people is beyond
my powers of imagination. The students who came to the camp to learn
trditional Dineh skills were invited by the residents of the land. They
caused no trouble, left no mess, where is the threat to people who live 30
miles away? The simple fact is that the Witness Camp was a help to the Dineh
residents. This is what the HTC wishes to discourage. If they get away with
this exclusion, then the way is open for the HTC to banish any supporters of
the Dineh, and ultimately will give them the power to evict the residents
As of today, I have not heard of any eviction notices
being sent out yet.
Things are quiet. Maybe they are waiting till all the visitors leave and
interest wanes. Maybe they are waiting to see what the outcome of the
Manybeads case is. Maybe they just really don't know what the hell they are
doing. I didn't go the Manybeads hearings myself, but I've had a couple of
reports. Seems like the judge will make his decision in a matter of weeks or
months. Personally, I don't think there is a snowball in hells chance that
the case will be won. Of course, if there was any justice then the people
would win the case, as most blatantly and obviously their constitutional
rights are being trampled on, but I think the US Govt cannot allow the case
to be won. Then the floodgates would be opened for any other "Land-based"
religions to make claims for the return of their land. I can't see the
military/nuclear complex giving back Nevada to the indians, so I suspect we
will see some semantic gymnastics proving that the peoples case has no merit.
When the Prayer Walk came through here I was wearing
a totally cool T
shirt, and many people asked if they could buy one. Unfortunately I didn't
know where to get them at the time, but have since tracked down the supplier.
The design is a black line drawing of Roberta Blackgoat with the following
words. "BIG MOUNTAIN...... Roberta Blackgoat the Warrior..... They are taking
away all I have, my life, my culture, my homeland.... All I have left are my
dreams and footprints to show you that I was here. This they cannot take away
from me and I will fight forever..... My children, pick up my feathers and
follow in my footsteps..... this is our home and I will not go away...". If
you want to see the T shirts design, go to www.lisn.net, then link to the
page of Robertas statement (is anyone listening?). The email address for the
shirts is email@example.com. Be the envy of everyone in your
neighbourhood and order one today.
On February 17th the European Parliament passed a
the forced relocation of the Dineh, and the continuing mining operation, and
calling for both activities to cease. Of course, having more guns and bombs
than anyone else means that the U.S. Govt. doesn't really care what anyone
else in the world thinks, but I think the american people should know that
their Govt is being watched, and their claim to be guardian of human rights
in the world is a hypocritical stance.
The Big Mountain benefit in Prescott AZ is coming
up on the 16th.
Scheduled to appear are Burning Spear (who I am reliably informed are a
political Hip-Hop band), Company of Porphets (a spoken word group), and Art
and Revolution (a group using puppets and theatre) As well there will be
other presentations, and a rug show. All proceeds will go to the purchase of
supplies and food for the residents of Big Mountain. Doors open at 6, and
tickets are $12 in adavance and $15 on the night.
The Feb 17th-23rd issue of Boulder Weekly has an
excellent article on Big
Mountain, with some beautiful photos. The article is titled "The New Long
Walk" and is by Ben Corbett. Boulder Weeklys web address is
WWW.boulderweekly.com, and their email is: firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm
sure they can make the article available.
Last month , I made the observation that many of
the people who come here
to help and witness are creative people of various kinds. As I look around
the hogan, there are paintings, drawings, poems, photos, leatherwork,
jewellry, ceramic objects,..... all kinds of beautiful things that have been
made by these visitors while they were here, and I realize one characteristic
of creative people is that wherever they go, they leave something behind. The
converse is also true, when they leave they take something of Big Mountain
with them. An exchange takes place. This is a subject that has come to
fascinate me. I think what has been happening at Big Mountain for the past 25
years or so is a unique cross-cultural laboratory. On the one hand you have
the largest community of traditional indigenous people left in the US. Most
of the elders do not speak english, and continue to live in the ways of their
ancestors. On the other hand, over the years there have been many thousands
of visitors from other cultures who have spent time here. Many of these
people have been powerfully affected and changed by what they have
experienced here, and this is what fascinates me. I believe that in the
stories these visitors have to tell is information that is vital to be heard.
I believe true cross-cultural exchange has taken place, and if the cultural
diversity of the planet is to be saved, then these stories are relevant.
So, my request is this, if you have spent time here at Big Mountain, and
have been changed by this experience, I would like to hear your stories. I'm
not interested in names, dates, places, rather the experiences that triggered
internal changes. I have already heard from many ex-sheepherders, and already
there are commonalities in their stories. Anything you share with me will of
course be confidential.
All land is sacred. All life is sacred, and life
is fed by the land.
Thats not complicated to figure out. But there are places that are more
sacred than others. Big Mountain for instance. Over the past weeks I have
listened as visitors try to put into words just what the power is that they
experience here. Whatever that power is, it must be connected to the people
who live in a sacred way upon sacred land. When those people are removed, the
land will suffer.
Down south of here, in Apache country, there is another sacred Mountain
being abused. Known as Mount Graham to the dominant society, the mountain,
which is very important to the traditional Apache is being desecrated by the
construction of Observatories. The main culprit seems to be the University of
Arizona, though the german Max Planck Institut is a partner, as is the
Vatican..... seems like they are looking for aliens to convert (honestly).
Anyway, some years ago a coalition of Traditional Apaches and
environmentalist were successful in a law suit againt the U of A. They were
breaking Indian religious Freedom law and environmental law. No problem
though, as a local congressman added a "rider" to a bill that exempted the U
of A from these laws. The point of this ramble is that each summer a Sacred
Run is held, running across the rez and up the mountain. Those of you who
enjoyed the Prayer Walk might like to take part. Drop me a line and I'll have
more info for you.
Back in the real world, spring is arriving, which
basically means some
days its winter, some days its summer. The days are noticeably longer, which
by coincidence means there are more chores to fill the day. Out with the
sheep I have come across the first "wild carrots" popping up. Good
sheepherder munchies, though they taste more like radishes than carrots. Also
wild onions are appearing. Every now and then I come across the trail that
the Prayer Walk took across the land, and the footprints are still visible. I
get goosebumps still. The garden is being prepared, and the Angora goats are
stating to moult already, so shearing cannot be far away.
I'd like to introduce you to the number one spectator
sport round here
right now. I call it Kindergarten Cop. The deal is this. You have a corrall,
and in the corrall a flock of sheep and goats with their recent offspring.
The object is to seperate the the babies from the rest of the flock. The
reason is that the little ones are just not strong enough to keep up with
their mommas. I've seen sheep in other parts of the country, and they are
just let out into a field full of thick grass and just lie around all day.
Thats not how it works here. This is high-desert, and life is hard for the 4
legged as well as the 2 legged. To get enough to eat, the flock must cover a
lot of ground, and when its cold they tend to move fast. Its no walk in the
park either, rather scrambling up and down canyons, over ridges etc, so the
little ones need to stay behind until they are strong enough..
Until the little ones are 3 or 4 days old, they just stand there and let
you pick them up, but after 4 days they have figured out the game and will do
whatever they can to avoid being caught. Beginner sheepherders usual try the
straight forward lunge,..... but I have to tell you that over a short
distance, a week old lamb can out sprint a 2 legged and also, like a rabbit
or a good running back a lamb can radically change direction instantaneously.
This usually leads to the sheepherder sprawling into the ground. (Much to the
amusement of the audience that usually gathers to watch) One prefered method
of catching the little ones is with a lariat. Unfortunately my rope-throwing
skills are not adequate, so I prefer the use of a walking stick with a curved
handle. This in effect give me a 5 foot arm. Even so, the little ones usually
catch on and make sure they stay out of reach, so I resort to trickery. I
approach obliquely, at a tangent to the one I want to snag, and I point,
look, and talk in the opposite direction, then at the last moment a quick
swipe with the stick and I've got'em. Hand the prisoner over to my assistant
outside the corral who then puts it in the kindergarten pen, then I go for
the next. It can take a good while to catch them all. I'm thinking of trying
to get it entered as an Olympic event,.... sure is a lot more interesting
than synchronised swimming.
It may appear that there is not much "news" from
here right now. In fact
thats the best news. Life goes on as it should.
At the end of this letter is an even more recent
statement by Roberta
Blackgoat. Over the years she has been very prolific in the output of her
statements, and I am in the process of transcribing them to disk. So far I
have 15 completed, with about 20 more to go. Many of you out there are
putting Robertas statements on Web Pages, so if any of you would like to put
up an archive of all her words, please let me know and I can send them to
you, and send more as I finish transcribing them.
And finally, there is another strain of thought that
is being put out by
the mainstream media and the various clowns (Washington, Window Rock,
Kykotsmovi), and that is that it's "all over" here. That the forced removal
of these Elders is inevitable.
But then, what the hell do I know, I'm just a sheepherder
Thank you for giving me your time by reading this
Your prayers, support, & correspondence are invited
"Those who can make you believe
absurdities can make you commit
For all my relations
(reachable via email@example.com)
P.S. To all those who have written to me, please be aware that my highest
priorities are the flock, the firewood, and the Grandmas, email is not,
therefore it may take as long as a half moon between when you write, and
when you hear back from me. Around here the information superhighway is
sometimes no faster than the Pony Express. Please be patient, you will hear
If you have received this update as a forward, but want to sure of getting
them in the future, please let me know and I will add you to the list. Also
if there are any "back issues" you don't have, again, let me know.
Please feel free to distribute (unedited) this email.
STATEMENT BY ROBERTA BLACKGOAT. Feb 2000
My name is Roberta Blackgoat. I am of the Bitterwater
Clan, born for Salt
Clan. I was born October 1917, thus I am 83 years old.
I am still living on the land that I was born on
and the land that my
ancestors passed on to me. Oral history tells that this land was given to us
by the Holy People; boundaries drawn with prayers and ceremonies between thye
sacred mountains with instructions to take care of the land. The four sacred
mountains encompass a hogan. The area we are on, Big Mountain, is the altar
in the hogan. Dzil leezh (Mountain Bundles) were made to bind us to the
earth. The bundles have hooghan biyiin (hogan song) and dzil biyiin (Mountain
song) that have been handed down, unchanged through the generations. That is
the road to life. Today's colonialist educational system has disturbed these
Our bundle is not respected by the relocation law
(PL 93-531) nor by the
non-indian society. Our religion is disregarded, discounted and invalidated
by laws devoid of understanding of the spiritual ties to land and life.
The U.S. government enlists our Native Americans
to serve for this
country's ideals. They are using them to protect liberty and justice for
their elite few. Our Dine language was even used in World War II to help turn
the tide of the war in the South Pacific.
The exploitation of Mother Earth's natural resources is destruction of
sacred land and genocide of Indigenous/Dine people. We further grieve the
loss of land by Presidential decrees to establish National Monuments.
Instead, these lands should be given back to the rightful owners/guardians,
the Native Americans.
Many of my relatives have been relocated to land
radioactive waste. The Navajo Hopi Indian Relocation Commission is still
actively pressuring Dine facing relocation to move there. Residents have to
buy and transport potable water. Many of the relocatees have died of suicide,
homicide, loneliness and health reasons. My relatives are in concentration
camps similar to Fort Sumner and Auschwitz. The present action of the U.S.
government is a historical repeat of the Long Walk of 1864-1868, when eight
thousand Dine people perished.
I am appealing to the American public and citizens
of the world to
protest our demise and eventually repeal Public Law 93-531 (Navajo-Hopi
Indian resettlement Act of 1974) and any subsequent genocidal laws. Your hard
earned tax dollars fund these atrocities as well as expanding the police
state in America. This fleecing of America is happening unbeknownst to you
and your elected leaders. However, a few are even architects of these
policies of destruction.
All I want is public support to assist our valiant
struggle to maintain
our sovereign sustainable lifestyle; free to carry on with our lives, culture
and traditions. I want our youth to utilize the land and carry on Dine
instructions and our religious traditions. Join me and my Dine people in our
quest for freedom and human rights.
I choose to remain on my ancestral lands. If they want to relocate me,
they have to "SUE THE CREATOR!" first, because the Creator is the one that
put us here.
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