The Pox Spread by Those in Power
Power — possession of control, authority, or influence over others; a controlling group
"The native concept
of power is how much you can empower people around you,'' Horn-Miller
said. "You bring them up to your level, you make them feel good,
you make them feel strong, you make them feel confident, whereas the non-native
concept of power is how many people you can control."
The US Constitution's Preamble —"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America" — no longer mean anything. The words of Abraham Lincoln said once long ago on a battlefield promised, "a government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from this earth" which is not the case now. This is our present government.
It began in the blankets they gave them, many perishing as a result. Now another pox covers this land today, one that continues to spread, its ultimate goal, destroying all who disagree, all who are bold enough to stand up for what is right, all who do this without fear, all who know that what continues to go on is wrong. The powers that be make it seem like this is what is wanted, their cover-ups, their abuse, their misguided decisions, their lust for money and power. They do this in the guise of "homeland security" with the passage of the Patriot Act. They do this in the guise of town councils. They do this in the guise of public laws passed and signed, laws that continue to blacken the books, laws they say benefit the people, but in reality who do these laws benefit? These people in power, drunk with this ugliness, who continue to usurp what is not theirs. Those who profit from these usurpations are those big corporations, those who covet this sacred land, who want to develop it for profit, who want to strip it of its minerals, who want to make more money. No concern is expressed for what the people living in these places or people who have ancestors buried in these places know is right. It's all about that green those in power see to be made.
How long ago did this begin? Maybe it was with the trinkets traded for the island of Manhattan, misunderstanding evident here since these trinkets weren't accepted for land ownership like those who offered them believed. Their worldview was different. They did not understand that the land was not something owned but rather something shared for survival. But then they tried to force their worldview on others, these newcomers to the land, those who began the usurpations. Most of the societies they encountered were matriarchal, but since theirs was patriarchal, they tried to force this on the Indigenous here as well. They did this in the name of Manifest Destiny after all. They felt they had the obligation and the right to take over all that was not theirs — those already living here were nothing but "savages," they knew nothing, they didn't count. This is what they said, and continue to say. Laws passed in the 20th and 21st centuries are testament to this fact.
More recently, in the 20th century, they began with the Indian Reorganization Act to create puppet governments, forcing those concerned to create constitutions much like that one that means nothing anymore. Those who came into power did the U.S. Government's biddings, because they contracted this disease of power and money just like the "big guys." Sovereign Nations, only words, words that meant nothing, because the will of the people affected carried no weight, meant nothing. This continues to this day.
In the late 20th century the passage of PL 93-531 in 1974, sponsored by a man, Representative Owens, who went to work for Peabody Energy soon after, presupposed a "land dispute," one that never existed, but the U.S. Government wanted this, Peabody Energy wanted this, John Boyden wanted this, the Hopi Tribal Council wanted this, and it came to pass. It was supposed to be a result of Healing versus Jones, a lawsuit tried in the Arizona District Court, a lawsuit that revolved around a non-existent land dispute, the Navajo-Hopi land dispute, one perpetuated by the Federal Government, by John Boyden. The People on the land had no idea what this law was about, no one took the time to explain it to them, and it slipped on through while everyone else was focused on Watergate. But this wasn't enough. More had to be done even though as a result over 12,000 Diné were relocated to "new lands," forced to live a lifestyle diametrically opposed to what they knew. These "new lands" had hidden problems as well. Some were exposed in the 1985 documentary, Broken Rainbow– most of the reasons going back further in history, those affecting Diné and traditional Hopi, those who continue to face many obstacles as a result. Some of the fallout from this law were related in a Time Magazine article, “Bury My Heart At Big Mountain,” published in 1986. It is clear that it is history, affecting Diné and traditional Hopi, those who continue to face many obstacles as a result — the struggle continues. It's not about the People on this sacred land at Black Mesa. Its beginnings can be seen in John Redhouse's Geopolitics of the "Navajo-Hopi 'Land Dispute.'" Even with a cursory reading the deceit by the players involved in this law as well as why stands out clearly.
John Redhouse’s article relates the history of Black Mesa leading up to PL 93-531 where it is seen that the problems present today have their roots in actions beginning in 1882 with the Executive Order Reservation. It is evident that no matter what problems arise for the Diné People on Black Mesa, always they relate either to the lust for the rich mineral deposits present, or to the actions of outsiders. The first outsider was BIA Agent J. H. Fleming when he demanded gaining legal authority over the Hopi. Later the actions of two lawyers, John Boyden (who initially approached the Navajo Nation to represent them but was rejected) and Norman Littell (who did represent the Navajo Nation) entered the scene. Also, the long, tangled history of Black Mesa and its major players included, in later years, Peabody Energy (then called Peabody Coal), former DOI Secretary Stewart Udall (called “The Great White Ultimate Trustee” in a Supreme Court decision on January 9, 1967, thus negating the power of Normal Littell for the Navajo Nation), and Washington politicians, i.e., Representative Sam Steiger (R-AZ), U.S. Senators Paul Fannin (R-AZ), Barry Goldwater (R-AZ), and Representative Wayne Owens (D-UT). The complicated water rights issues with allocations to different sources, the least being the Navajo Nation, are addressed in this article as well.
Then a little over twenty years later after the passage of PL 93-531, another law passed, this one sponsored by Senator John McCain, PL 104-301, also known as S 1973, billed as the "Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute Settlement Act," the one that contained the Accommodation Agreement, many Diné signing, but what did this mean? It meant those who have signed have given up their rights to the land, are no more than tenants, having no say in what happens, in this 75-year lease. Ask Senator John McCain about this, and he will say there is nothing he can do, that it is out of his hands, that the Hopi Tribal Council should be contacted. This has been his response to letters written, those that receive responses, those written to students nothing more than a canned response, denying culpability; still one can be viewed — McCain's response to students — the same one sent to all who had written to him. Just like a politician. Yet he says he represents the interests of the people of Arizona. His interests are better described as representing those of Peabody Energy, one of his campaign contributors, and their lust for the low sulfur coal at Black Mesa at whatever the cost to obtain it. Many other letters have been written but have fallen on deaf ears, those of government officials, but this is no surprise.
Even though the deadline has passed, February 2000, still there exist consequences because of these laws that affect not only the peaceful existence of Diné People and also the constants that happen as a result — the harassment of Diné, eviction notices tacked to the doors of hogans, livestock impoundment, personal property impoundment, arrests, flyovers, destruction of sacred places, ultimatums, the Bennett Freeze, traditional Hopi threatened, the list is endless. The reason? Drive these People from their land. But the resistance continues.
On July 24, 2002, the Farmington Daily Times reported that the Senate panel had suggested yet another study be done in regard to the impact of relocation on the Diné People. This is nothing more than an exercise in futility. Why has the Senate panel decided that Interior Secretary Gale Norton be the one to choose the “independent” group to do this study, one who cannot seem to do things right as is evident in the Indian Trust debacle? It should be Congress itself appointing this “independent” group since it was Congress, without the aid of the DOI, that approved PL 93-531 in the first place. Therefore, Congress bears the obligation to redeem itself by leading a long sought for review of these public laws, and bring justice and respect for both traditional Peoples of Black Mesa. But they won’t. They (the politicians) like to say it is out of their hands. This is the easy way out.
How many studies and international reports by the UN and European Parliament, rather postponements, must these people endure before all will admit to the fact that Diné human rights have been violated since day one, and continue to be violated now? As early as the 1980s one study was done, then presented as a documentary, Broken Rainbow (1985), being awarded the Academy Award for the best documentary feature, a Cine Golden Eagle Award, the American Indian Film Festival Award for Best Documentary, and the Grand Prize Winner in the World Television Festival in Tokyo, Japan. In 1987, this film was also translated into German by ZDF TV station in Koln, Germany, and was viewed in Europe. This documentary not only shows the devastating effects of this relocation at that time but also the effect of the strip mining and livestock reduction visited upon the Diné People. The study has already been done. Viewing the film demonstrates this. Any other studies would produce the same results, but perhaps now on a larger scale.
For those who remained on their homelands, stubbornly refusing to give up their birthright (and rightly so) Peabody was at work, had been for a while, destroying the plant life indigenous to the area used for both medicines and food in their attempt to drive the people from the land so that they could strip mine that low sulfur coal, use the N-Aquifer to slurry it 273 miles to the Mohave Generating Station, all without any resistance to this rape of the land. To this day, even in recent negotiations to extend their lease, they still deny that they have done any harm to the N-Aquifer. Yet there is evidence contrary to this, the sinkholes, the low water levels in wells because the water is not recharging as it once did.
What about these new negotiations with Peabody Energy? They have tried to make it sound like just this once something will happen that will honor Diné culture and survival. But this is a ruse as it has always been. Peabody Energy plans to acquire an extension on their lease, one for another 20 years. While still claiming their coal slurry has done nothing to harm the Navajo-Aquifer, they have agreed begrudgingly to another study. Peabody is also claiming to be reintroducing plants indigenous to the area of Black Mesa, yet it was them who destroyed them in the first place. Of course, denial comes from their offices, and with the public willing to accept whatever they hear, they will see only that Peabody is attempting to do good for Black Mesa, for the Diné and traditional Hopi. Another ruse like all the others. Peabody is also claiming to be reintroducing plants indigenous to the area of Black Mesa, yet it was they who destroyed them in the first place. In the meantime, Peabody continues to do whatever it can to ensure that it can continue its rape of Black Mesa, looking to the future, looking to increase their water consumption for the coal slurry, increasing it to 6,000 acre feet, this time not only utilizing the pristine N-Aquifer but also the C-Aquifer. There have been meetings behind closed doors with both the Hopi Tribal Council and the Navajo Tribal Council. Never was there any possibility that this company would stop the strip mining. This lease they look to extend will probably be granted in spite of the comments made to the OSM, comments that will fall on deaf ears as they always do. They (the HTC and the NTC) say that the negotiations continue to protect the jobs. It is interesting that the uranium mining that occurred on Indigenous land was manned by Native labor, many dying and/or developing cancer later because they were never told of the dangers for what they did. The intentions of those involved in these negotiations remains the same as always, the money to be made. Even with the closing of the Mohave Generating Station so that it can install scrubbers to avoid paying the Environmental Protection Agency heavy fines, the effects are only temporary. Nowhere is there any mention about how this all affects the People on the land. Word has it that they want to combine the Black Mesa and Kayenta mines.
Any resolutions supporting the Diné People and the traditional Hopi People in their long struggle come from somewhere else, from global organizations, not the United States Government. One example is the European Parliament. It adopted an Urgency Resolution on February 17, 2000, responding to both human rights violations and religious intolerance that are rampant at Black Mesa. The Urgency Resolution addresses the economic, social, and cultural well-being of the Diné People. It includes the threat to the Diné People’s survival through the reductions in livestock, which threatens them both culturally and socio-economically, the firewood confiscation that causes severe hardship, especially during the winter, and “the withdrawal of water rights, hunting and medicinal gatherings.” Although this was addressed back in 2000, it continues to this very day, some drawing harsher consequences. This Urgency Resolution asked the United States Government then to end “all harassment of Diné families resisting relocation,” “to respect their land rights” as found in “the provisions for indigenous peoples of the Vienna Declaration.” It also asked for help from the United States Government for those Diné families who have already been relocated, and asked for “its own delegation for relations with the United States to discuss, at its next meeting, the Diné (the Navajo) and Hopi people’s human rights, development, cultural and religious rights and their treatment in the United States.” Last, it called on the United States to forward this resolution “to the Council, the Commission, the U.S. Government, the U.S. Congress, the Navajo and Hopi Tribal Councils and the Governor of the State of Arizona.”
Also, the 1978 American Indian Religious Freedom Act became nothing more than a piece of paper. That is evident in the total lack of respect for the religious rights of the Diné People who live at Black Mesa. In early July 2002, fences were erected, gateless fences, around Camp Anna Mae — the reason, done to prevent a Sun Dance from taking place at Camp Anna Mae that year, this after the total desecration — putting the tree of life through a wood chipper, tearing down sweat lodges, prayer flags, trampling them in the dirt. The Hopi Rangers interrupted a ceremony at Ruby Bikadee’s sacred Sweat lodge ground not far from the home of a Diné elder, Katherine Smith, who is also a medicine woman, to make the women put out their sacred fire that was heating the sweat rocks, but they have not yet fenced off that area. Who is to say what will happen in the future there? Both are in direct violation of the Diné People’s religious rights. The Diné People’s human rights are also being challenged by the constant guard of armed Hopi Rangers near Camp Anna Mae. It is like a police state at Black Mesa with no one being allowed to live according to the way they always have without the surveillance, and the harassment of those who try to pray there in spite of the fences erected.
What needs to be understood here is that the Hopi Tribal Council does not represent the Hopi people. The traditional Hopi people stand along side the Diné People in support. Most of the people involved here are elders, elders who deserve total respect. They have said that they are sorry for the troubles that their Diné neighbors face.
In 2004, news began trickling out about an end to the Bennett Freeze — a freeze that was imposed to halt construction and development on the land, to stop either tribe from strengthening their hold on the land in question. It stretched on for much longer than anticipated until now. In the past, there had been bills introduced into committee in the House of Representatives, most recently HR 104 a couple years ago, but these bills never made it out of committee. They disappeared. Those affected by the present changes are those who live closest to the towns like Tuba City. Whether this will spread to other areas in the Bennett Freeze area are yet to be seen.
People say this is a thing of the past, that there are no current human rights violations of Indigenous People, yet notices are still served on those Diné who are non-signers, property impounded, ultimatums are given. It's the same old story, just a different day, rights disrespected, pressures still placed on the People on the land.
No one has the right to force a people to begin living a way of life that is totally foreign to the life they know. Most involved are elders, who speak no English, and who have lived a life that is self-sustaining, that in no way resembles the capitalist lifestyle of the mainstream in America. Forcing their relocation is also reminiscent of the assimilationist policies in the 1800s, something that was meant to destroy indigenous cultures. The Diné People and the Traditional Hopi People have the right to this land, the right to live peaceably, without harassment, the same basic human rights guaranteed to everyone in the United States by that thing called the US Constitution. There is that clause in the preamble promising “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Is this now nothing more than a cliché?
The Government must accept responsibility for all the effects suffered by the Diné People who live on Black Mesa as a result of these two laws, PL 93-531 and PL 104-301. What has been allowed to continue is nothing more than a subtle form of terrorism, the kind that doesn’t make the mainstream news, the kind the US Government refuses to acknowledge even now. Prejudice still is rampant against Indigenous Americans in a country that prides itself with so many diverse cultures, yet the rights of those living on the HPL are ignored. If nothing else, action must be taken out of respect for Roberta Blackgoat, the Diné Grandmother who fought so long and hard for her right and that of the others to remain at Black Mesa, to not only make her dreams a reality but to do what is the right thing and always has been, to stop the harassment, the threats, the hardships that daily face the Diné People living on the HPL. Should this be happening anywhere else in the United States, or in the world, for that matter, there would be loud condemnation. The United States is the first to condemn any human rights violations and terrorism happening on some other part of this globe, but here at home, in regard to what happens in this little corner of Northeastern Arizona, it remains silent.
Yet the US Government continues its conquest of Native lands. It does so for the same reason as always. Currently a bill was passed and signed by the President, one that they want everyone to believe it is what the Western Shoshone want. The bill, Public Law 108-270, formerly S 618 and HR 884, is supposed to pay the Western Shoshone for their lands, about 15 cents an acre. In reality this bill is about a precious mineral on their land, gold, which can now be exploited by the companies who covet it. Though the US Government would like everyone to believe that the Western Shoshone supported this bill, they didn't. They fought it but lost. All of this can be seen at Western Shoshone Defense Project.
It can be seen in burial ground desecrations that continue in California, all because these companies think they have the right to do whatever they want with the land no matter how sacred it is to others. This is evident with the development of the Ballona Wetlands by Playa Vista, removing over 400 bodies at last count along with the funerary objects found with them. Now the Los Angeles City Planning Commission has okayed Phase 2 in spite of the outcry to stop this desecration yet those who live in the area don't want this development to continue. There is also the current threat to Putiidhem in San Juan Capistrano, where JSERRA, a Catholic high school, wants to build a sports complex. In their infinite wisdom, the San Juan Capistrano City Council voted to allow this building to take place, all four of them. A referendum is in the works to try to block this, yet the other side is using unscrupulous tactics to cement this "deal." The Native American Heritage Commission carries no weight other than to tell those who are developing these areas to stop. They have no power to do anything else. There is this new sacred lands bill that was signed recently by the current governor of California, a watered down version of the original that was vetoed by then Governor Gray Davis. Though it's still early, its effect is yet to be seen. The question also arises will other states follow suit?
What spurred all this to be written? Many things that have happened over the years. But the catalyst is "Tribal Sovereignty? It Doesn't Exist." The primary concern — the destruction of Native lands, the total disregard for the rights of those affected. The purpose — to honor the human and religious rights of the Diné People — of all Indigenous Peoples, to honor the memory of Grandmother Roberta Blackgoat, to honor all those who still continue in this struggle.
The word is harassment has stepped up on the land, scaring grandmothers and their grandchildren. Visit Resisters Threatened to see what you can do to help.
wolf is my messenger
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"We will be known by the tracks copyright © 7 october 2004, by louve14
we leave behind."
revised 12 december 2004
copyright © 7 october 2004, by louve14