“Hopi Tribal staff stuffed the Tree of Life into a woodchipper and haul the other remains away in trailers”
Camp Ana Mae, the well-known site of Sun Dances , home to Louise Benally and her children at the foot of Big Mountain, Arizona has been bulldozed by Hopi Tribal authorities.
Although it is not yet known exactly when the order came through, the site is reported to have been cleared Friday August 17 in the early morning hours, following the arrests for criminal trespass of Louise Benally’s 17 year old son Eric Crittendon and of Arlene Hamilton-Benally, who were there at the time. Ms. Hamilton-Benally, an anglo human-rights activist, and her husband Leonard Benally had held their wedding reception a few miles away just the day before. According to Ms. Hamilton-Benally, Eric had been arrested for attempting to photograph the demolition of the arbor, sweat lodges and Tree of Life and all other components of the ceremonial area next to his mother’s home. When Ms. Hamilton-Benally approached the officers to ask for his release into the custody of his family, she was arrested as well.
Hopi Tribal police have the area secured and no one is permitted entrance at this time.
One local resident has tentatively received permission to enter and photograph the home site Saturday.
Many conferences and protests concerning the relocation of Navajo and Hopi people on the division of the former Joint Use Area brought about through public law PL 93-531 have been held here over the last three decades. Louise Benally is one of the few remaining residents who abstained from signing a lease agreement with the Hopi Tribe. Louise Benally named her homesite after the late Ana Mae Aquash, the AIM activist who was murdered and had her hands cut off for post-mortem fingerprinting by the FBI in the 1970’s for her pursuit of civil and religious freedom for native people.
Said Cedric Kuwaninvaya of the Hopi LAnd Team, “This is just one of the steps that the Hopi Tribe will be taking to enforce its jurisdiction over the Hopi Reservation.” After local residents watched the Hopi Tribal staff stuff the Tree of Life into a woodchipper and haul the other remains away in trailers, he continued,”We will keep a close eye on the former site of the Camp Ana Mae to ensure that the trespassers (family) do not try and establish another camp at which they hold unwanted gatherings and celebrate their lawlessness.”