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View from the Hogan

Ya'a'tee (December 2000)

As usual, I am behind schedule getting the next VFH out to you, so in the meantime I thought I would pass on some more words from the resistors. The first is a letter sent to the Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs in 1991. Many of the Elders in the Big Mountain area sent letters, that is to say they spoke in Dineh, and was then translated into english and written down. The one I include here is by Kee Shay. What is striking about all these letters is the simple, powerful clarity that the elders express. Not only have the words been translated from Dineh into english, but must also be translated from an oral tradition into the dominant societies literary tradition. For this reason I would suggest that if it is possible, you print this out and read it later. In some quiet time, when you can read it slowly and carefully. Which is the way it was composed. The second statement is a short one from Leoranard Benally which follows on from the one you read last month. Many of you are always asking for concrete ways to do something about what is going on here. Leornard offers you one way.

Kee Shay (1991)

Today I'll be writing about what I remember and the way I see it in my mind and the way I actually have seen things with my own eyes. Today I'll be talking about that. Right now this evening I will be saying from here in the Big Mountain region what I have witnessed. Here there were our ancestors, there are our children, even the babies. In this world our way of life has continued through generation after generation, we can't count how many. So it is and so it will continue into the future. So we need to consider the future of this land for the children. As the Creator made it, it has always been and so it will be for the future generations.

The Creator made this land for us and then we were put right here within the four sacred mountains. They are the San Francisco Peaks, Sierra Blanca Peak, Mt. Taylor and Big Sheep Mountain. That is the creation story that came through our grandparents. The mountains all have spiritual names. There are a lot of other mountains. Every one of them has prayers and songs. The Creator put them down for us when the Dineh came into being. The Navajo wedding basket was given to us. The four sacred mountain bundles were given to us. These bundles came from the sacred mountains and became medicine for us. They have been with our ancestors always and were passed down. To this day, the prayers, the songs and all other natural elements that are part of this earth gives us the connection to the spiritual world and they look upon us to this day. Even though the old people went on, the Creator still expects us to care for what we were given. That is this Black Mesa. We know these are sacred mountains and we have two here, Black Mesa which is the female and Lukachukai which is the male. We live on these mountains and are the grandchildren of them. We are the only ones who now these ways. I don't think you in Washington can understand them. I don't think anyone will ever give us a good life except the Creator. Right now our prayers are through and within the Mother Earth. Also through the universe which is the sky our father that we pray to. The holy water we pray to, into the darkness, we pray, into the dawn we pray, then into the sunset we also pray. Every day we have sunrise and at night the moon. To these we have our prayers and songs. In the prayers we ask for humbleness. It seems like the U.S. government will never recognize us. It seems like the white man does not see us. At the time of your discovery of the Dineh, you already knew they were the Dineh. But to this day you hide from that knowledge. You have never recognized us as the human beings we are.

From the white man there has never been acknowledgement of what has been done to the Dineh. You hide from your own truth. You hide from the elders and the youth. That is the forced march to Fort Sumner. You made the people suffer. Along the walk you murdered them. You killed the women who were having babies. You killed the old ones, the hungry ones. That murdering and suffering went on for 4 years, 1864 to 1868. You did this to people you didn't even know, you didn't know how humble they were. When will you acknowledge what has been done to our people? When will it stop? From the days of white man's of North and South America you still in 500 years have not acknowledged the natives who lived here. There was only your own self interest. Immediately you started to destroy our cultures. You came here for religious freedom, yet you classify us as low, low beings. You created poverty, hunger, helplessness, and didease among us. When the land was given to us all things were in balance: the animals and the plants were given to us for food and medicine. The buffalo, the deer and the antelope. It was the Beauty Way.

Then came the Europeans, dividing up the lands into states and counties, killing all the buffalo. Refusing to recognize the cultures that were here first. Now you are strip-mining for coal which you are trying to sell overseas. You are taking the uranium out of the ground which was put there for the balance of the Mother Earth. You got wealthy on it. You got rich on it. At one time there was high quality water in Black Mesa. Many natural springs that ran free. They were put there by the Creator for the people and the animals to use. Then the U.S. puppet Tribal government built walls and dams so now we cannot use the water, the animals can not run free anymore. We used to have a lot of wood here, but because of the clearcutting on Black Mesa the wood is scarce. When we pray it is not just for one small area but for all over. To this day it is so sad to us that our ways are disappearing before our very eyes because white man refuses to really see us.

The Creator still looks upon us. He knows it is not our fault these things are happening to us. There are a lot of materialistic things that have been brought into our world which are hard for us to resist. The things that can destroy us are open to us in every white man's city. Alcohol, we don't know how to use it. We abuse it sometimes. Here all our leaders talk about how we are going to have a good world, a good life. They tell our children they'll have good opportunities in the schools. They take them when they are barely 5 years old. Nobody in the schools tries to preserve our good ways of life, our medicine ways. Not the Tribal government and not the U.S. government. I never heard of a Tribal Chairman work to preserve his own culture. They tell us we are going to live in a good way in this nation, but it is not as they. Nowadays we can't go to our sacred places because of government policy. I think this world is heading for purification of Mother Earth because we have messed up the environment from fossil fuels and the production of energy in our Four Corners area. It is destroying our culture, our ways of life. A lot of people have become refugees, they are confused. A lot of times there is no free speech or free press. You only recognize one government and you only listen to one side of the story. The one you think might benefit your government. They tell the Hopi that the land belongs to them now, but I don't think they will ever benefit by being out here. They will also get fooled by the U.S government. The strip mining and the so-called economic development will not help the Hopi people. The government is just using the Hopi Tribal Government as a puppet. Just as the Navajo have been helpless in the face of the bureaucrats so it will be for the Hopi. I plead for you to understand what I am saying. To all of you, the U.S. government, and the governments of the Navajo and Hopi; not until the day you all understand will there be healing for the people and the Mother Earth.

It is the abuse of the industrialized nations that has created the hole in the ozone. This they will not heal. Not any government will heal this hole in the universe. The only way is we have to pray from the heart, that we shed tears, maybe this is the only way to fix it. Only if the Creator has compassion for us. Maybe from that we will have a balanced world. This goes for everybody on the face of the earth including all of you. Maybe we will have a better world that way. The Creator might give us another chance. Forgive us for all our destruction. I can see we can still be blessed here on Black Mesa. There is still some balance here. The abuse of Black Mesa water and the Colorado river. All these waters are going to the rich people on the West Coast. You should respect the first americans. You came here as foreigners and now you are stomping on everybody and taking away all their rights. I'm sure the Creator does not like this. You are abusing the children, neglecting and destroying them. All you white men the nature warns you, the floods, hurricanes and big storms. If we can not bring balance back to nature, most of us might have to pay with our lives. When you first came to the so-called New World, why did you come? For what purpose are you here? Were you helpless when you came? Over here you develop all kinds of weapons. Nuclear bombs. Now you threaten all of creation. You take your weapon to the land where the basis of christianity was created. I'm sure there are humble people there. I'm sure they all suffer. I'm sure they want to live in a peaceful way. Now you are threatening them. You are having war with them. A lot of our young people are there with weapons in their hands. We Navajos served in both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Panama and now in the MIddle East. In return you don't think about us. You are destroying our ways. Yet we have helped you in your ways. We worry about our young people. It seems like we have no say over our own children. You just take them away. You do that with all the children, red, white and black. I'm sure all the parents are concerned for their children.

It seems like the U.S. government has no mercy for the human race. The U.S. government should think humbly, he should think in a good way. Whats wrong with living in a peaceful way with harmony among all people? We should all think in a good way between all the races. This way we will all have a better world. We are all special in different ways. We only can have a beautiful world without the wars. When our forefathers went to Fort Sumner, they laid down their weapons. They signed a treaty that we would no longer pick up weapons. Now the Navajo people are holding weapons in their hands to protect your oil interests. It seems like you force them to do this. I'm sure they are all humble. Go fix up your mind. I think you are out of your mind. Maybe you should reconsider yourself. Think back to 1868 when you took our weapons from us. When you reconsider this you will know you lie. Think about these words. I thank you for it. There is really no peace among us and there is a lot of natural disasters in our world because we create these things for ourselves by our thoughts and our actions. Until the day we have peace among us, until the day you let native people live the way they want. That day everything will be good again with nature in balance. We should all think back into our hearts and act from that place. I just said what I think this evening. I hope these letters reach into your heart and all the hearts of the government.

We went to Washington D.C., with a statement to deliver, but they didn't want us in Washington. They told us to take it to Phoenix, but they didn't want us either. It is now in a circuit court in San Francisco. Why do you have to refuse us? Not accepting us, not listening to us. All the Native Americans, starting with the Navajo. All the Native Americans will not be listened to. It seems like the white men will not listen to any of them. In a lot of ways they are poor, in a lot of ways they are suffering. You can see it right here. The government ignores them. The reason why I say this, I went to Washington where the White House is. When I went there I saw the beautiful houses and buildings you live in. They told me all the leaders here are doing their work. Then I saw on the streets people sitting on the sewer grates trying to keep warm. I saw all nationalities there. When I looked at them they looked really helpless. I felt sorry for them. They were there with their children. Why does the U.S. government not see the people there trying to keep warm? That's where the leaders are. I say to myself why do they not see this? Some of the people have no food, they aren't even eating, they are begging for change. They were just sitting there helpless. I thought to myself why are these people here like that? Where did they come from? What so-called progress put them there? I thought maybe someday when the white people come to our lands and build their cities our people will be like that. What I've talked about and what I've said is what I know and is all I have to say. I hope you take it in deep concern. Thank you very much. *************************

Leonard Benally Big Mountain Dec. 18 2000

Mobilization 2000 continues to build to 2001 from phone mobilization to Lehmen Brothers Shareholders meeting April 3rd 2001 New York City To National and International concerned people: We wish to say our word again with honor and respect to the global public from the Indigenous Navajo and Hopi people who are in resistance. We are in Resistance. We will never surrender, we will never give up. We will never sell our Land or what is ours. We are reaching out to all honest people; people who are in all honest struggles. We reach out to you, our Indigenous Brothers and Sisters for solidairity and to unite against "the Beast" (Peabody Coal Co.). We are the little people. All of us are mostly Indigenous People and for many years we've veen trying to find a political solution to the conflict in Big Mountain, "U.S. of A". We have placed ourselves under the protection of International Treaties in the United Nations. There are a lot of NGOs that are aware of the Big Mountain conflict now. And the corrupted government doesn't want this for many years they tried to "keep a lid on it". But now the People from Big Mountain are speaking out and we are building a mobilization and reaching out for voices to come together and unite against Lehemen Brothers and Peabody Coal Co. and the BIA for their mistreatment and the Navajo and Hopi Councils for "bleeding their own race." They should be punished for these things. The invitation is open for you to come to a meeting and give your voice for Human Rights and the Environment if you stand for these things. We know there are a lot of struggles out there; we're not saying we are the only one. We need everyone to be there on April 3rd in New York City at the Lehmen Brothers Shareholders meeting. That way we know we are not alone. We're not living alone in silence, or dying in silence. So we are doing this for the people who have nothing. We are changing from a National Sacrifice area to a National Historic Cultural Preservation Site. We are facing Lehmen Brothers to tell them to change corporate relations with the Indigenous people and to Respect our Altar. We need your presence and your voice at the corporate shareholders meeting of Lehmen Brothers that now owns Peabody Coal Co. Come on April 3rd in New York City. We will meet with Lehmen Brothers corporation in a good way with a good heart.

Thats all for now

Good Health and Embrace

L. Bennally