Thoughts About Big Mountain



After recently returning from the Big Mountain Spring Survival Gathering 2004 that was held the beginning of May this year meant to honor the memory of Roberta Blackgoat, her legacy, as well as to renew support for those who continue to live at Big Mountain, thoughts arose that many who have never been there might not have an understanding of the lasting effect that continues even after leaving. At first it's difficult to put a finger on it, to understand what is happening until one talks with others who have also been there, who understand what is happening. A person is changed, never to be quite the same again. The change that comes is a longing never to leave, a feeling of being far away from home, a feeling of being lost, everything bordering on the surreal, and every day life seems frivolous and others seem to have no direction. While this may sound strange or foreign to most, all anyone has to do is go there, spend some time, respect the land and its People, do this all in a good way, and this will be understood.

It's not clear why this happens. It just does. The connection to the land, to the Diné People there lingers. How to begin to describe these feelings is a monumental task in itself.

It could be the graciousness of the Grandmothers, their quiet ways, their gentleness, listening to them speak, even in Diné, at times no translation being necessary. It could be the look in their eyes or the tears that flowed remembering Roberta Blackgoat. It could be the concern on their faces, or a soft handshake. Then again it could be the closeness felt, the common respect for one another, and taking the time to listen. This is but a beginning.

Watching the sun rise over the mountains at a sunrise ceremony -- the aroma of sweetgrass purifying thoughts and prayers offered, many joining together, some singing songs, some silent in prayer, leaving an offering of cedar tobacco once finished -- begins each day. Thoughts continue after this is done, one knowing that this is the right way to do this.

Walking on the land -- one filled with sage, scrubby juniper, cacti, other fauna unknown or forgotten, pottery shards, canyons, dry river washes, uneven, rocky roads that weave throughout the land -- provides yet another experience, one that remains in the consciousness. All seems to stretch on forever. While this is a place where it may be easy to get lost if it is not known, there is no anxiety should this happen. Peace exudes from everywhere, even in the remains of a lone hogan left behind, or a corral for livestock still intact. The simple music of the bells around some necks of the goats fills the air as they are herded with the sheep. Then those blue skies filled with white, billowing clouds, all free from the dirty smog of the cities, add to the serenity felt here. There is the silence, and true meaning is given the phrase "thundering silence" for it is here.

The night skies filled with billions of stars provide the only light save a campfire. Winds blow. Here there is no electricity, no modern conveniences like running water or a bathroom, yet these are not necessary. All is indescribable. Both the darkness of night and the light of day bring comfort.

A feeling of wholeness, of connectedness, of belonging, of the sacredness, that is what being at Big Mountain brings. This is the Altar. It cannot be destroyed, not for greed, not for someone else's gain, yet this is what they try to do, thinking this will break the spirit, will destroy the solidarity, so they can continue their rape of Mother Earth, having no care what it does to the land, what it does to the Diné People, while it threatens their very existence.

It's the government that does this, something that it began long ago with the passage of PL 93-531 (Big Mountain Relocation Act) in 1974, and then again with PL 104-301 (the Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute Settlement Act, also known as S1973) in 1996, the latter sponsored by one who claims no culpability but he, Senator John McCain, is, that and the government's puppets, like the BIA, the HTC, the NTC, Peabody Energy. All filters down through them.

The daily harassment that was experienced as a result of this gathering is nothing new. It is continual, even after the last have left the gathering. It takes many forms, in livestock impoundments, in notices, in falsified arrests, in lies, in threats that have no witnesses, scaring the residents, both signers and non-signers of the Accommodation Agreement, those residing on the HPL (Hopi Partitioned Lands), lands their families have lived on for generations. The traditional Hopi empathize with their struggle. As one Diné grandmother put it, "This land, the Hopi do not want it. I've been conversing with a Hopi who says we don't want this land here. It was taken for no reason.... They're sorry we are going through some hard times."

Those who came to honor Roberta Blackgoat's memory experienced a renewal of their commitment of support for the struggle that continues. So when her home is threatened with destruction along with her sacred hogan, the dishonor that would result is not acceptable. No matter how they try to break the resistance, this support must continue, by those who have long been in the background as well as those who are new. There is good reason for support until the day comes where there is no need. But until it does, the struggle continues, for the Altar, for the Diné People, not because it is what outsiders want, which the HTC (Hopi Tribal Council) would like all to believe. It is the Diné People who ask for this support. It is for the Grandmothers, for their children, for their grandchildren, for the generations yet to come.

Join with us in this support. All that happens at the Altar affects all of us. Please see Roberta Blackgoat: Her Life and Legacy, and perhaps this will also deepen your understanding about why this support is so critical. Also, please see the press release to see what you can do to help.




the wolf is my messenger


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copyright © 21 May 2004, by louve14