Watch Out!

Watch out! Your grandmothers have just been arrested! Are you in shock? What were they doing? One was attending Sunday Mass, another was at Church services, and still another was at Synagogue. Wait, is this not enough? The grandmother at Sunday Mass speaks only Spanish, the one at Church only Russian, and the other at Synagogue only Hebrew. But what language did the police speak when they forced them to change into prison clothes? English, of course. Did these grandmothers understand what they were told? No! Were they frightened? Oh, yes! What was their crime? Praying. Oh, and then there is something about trespassing since this isn't their neighborhood. Would this have made the mainstream news? Of course! First Amendment rights violations are afoot here not to mention human rights violations. But let some Dine' Grandmothers attend Sun dance, have their sacred ceremony disrupted by Hopi and BIA police with guns, be arrested, and the news is sketchy if it all.

The Dine' asked the Lakota again to bring the Sun dance to Big Mountain for healing of the land and its people. So much has gone on here over the last quarter of a century, especially with the passage of two laws, PL 93-531 and PL 104-301. But that's a story for another time. What's important here now is what happened at Sun dance. Five Dine' women were arrested, four of them grandmothers, but for what? What happened to them? On July 11, 2001, they were praying at Sun dance. Hopi and BIA police brandishing weapons surrounded Camp Anna Mae, stopping the entrance of the Sun dance tree. When some of the Dine' questioned why they were there disrupting the ceremony, and why they were stopping the entry of the tree, these same women were taken on the pretense that they would be seeing the Hopi Tribal Chairman to get the "needed permit" to gather and pray, one which has never been granted in the past. Yet they never saw the Chairman, instead found themselves arrested. Did they know this was going to happen? Maybe. Were they treated with the respect they deserved? Not a chance. Why were they targeted? Is it related to the fact that each in the past had refused to sign the Accommodation Agreement? Of course it is.

We're talking elders here, mostly women in their sixties to eighties, one of them a medicine woman, who had to spend the night in a Hopi jail. Even if they were younger folks, still this is an unconscionable act to be forced upon anyone. Never mind that they were told that they would be speaking with the Hopi Tribal Chairman about these "permits" needed to pray, something that never happened. They never saw him. Instead the indignity of a jail cell, being jailed for criminal trespass, was what they experienced. Never mind that they lived on the land that they are accused of trespassing on. Never mind that the ceremony they were a part of is sacred. Even though they were released Thursday morning after a brief arraignment, they still had to face the indignities of walking into the courtroom in prison clothes, and listening to the Hopi prosecutors lie, saying there was violence, saying that they can't be let go without a $500 bond on each. Of course, only those who spoke English had some kind of understanding. One was said to have a police record but she was protecting what are hers, her sheep, her family and her land. Is this a crime? No. Now they face the Hopi Tribal Court in Keams Canyon on July 30th.

Whatever happened to the 1978 Religious Rights Act? Is it just words on a piece of paper? I have listened again and again to the words of those who were arrested as well as those who were there at Sun dance over the past few days, and still I sit here dumbfounded about how something like this can happen. Something like this in the 21st century is beyond reason, beyond understanding. Just imagine, needing a permit to pray? What a joke. This is nothing more than the old time tradition of Manifest Destiny. Yes, Manifest Destiny is alive and well in the United States in the 21st century.

Those who covet the land know what they're doing, those in big business like Peabody Coal. It's called divide and conquer. Turn them against their own, and these companies will get what they want. Never mind what this does to the people who live there or the land itself. This started a long time ago with the formation of the Hopi Tribal Council. What do these companies want? The coal that lies just beneath the surface of Big Mountain. Why do they want the Dine' to be relocated? Because they protect this land, their land, land that they have lived on for hundreds of years, land with many sacred sites, land they are connected to. How can any white man's law draw lines, then tell them that they have no right to this land? It can't. There is no land dispute though this is what the companies and Government would like you to think. This is something prefabricated so those mentioned here can get what they want, the coal. They don't care at who's expense, just as long as they get what they want. These means the relocation of 12,000 Dine', because they fight to protect what is theirs, what is sacred, the land at Big Mountain. Remember, relocation is genocide!

Meanwhile, five Dine' women await their trial on July 30, 2001, only a few days away. What will be the outcome? One can only guess, based on all that has happened over the last few weeks. What can you do? Write letters, make phone calls, or if nothing else, pray for the people of Big Mountain. Want to know what happened at Sun dance, visit Black Mesa Indigenous Support. Listen to the same words I have. Remember, if this had been the scenario described in the first paragraph, everyone would be up in arms about the mistreatment, and the first amendment and human rights violations apparent here. But this is the Government's best kept secret. We all know what drives the Government, money. We also know that it refuses to acknowledge that there are any human rights violations going on at home. Never will they admit anything like that goes on here. Those kinds of things occur always in those "foreign" places, never at home. Yeah, right. We do know better. The truth will come out. One of these days everyone will listen to us who know. Only then there will be true outrage. Only then can a stop be put to this madness. Only then can peace, harmony and balance return to Big Mountain.


the wolf is my messenger

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copyright © July 27, 2001, by louve14
revised July 28, 2001
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