ENOUGH! Statement by Leonard Benally in response to desecration of sacred Sundance Grounds site.
To all the people Indigenous and non-indigenous people,
On August 17th at 5:00 a.m. this was a disgrace, humiliating, and disregarded our right to pray which is supposed to be protected under the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, and now they are trying to scare and frighten the people with their violent behavior. These old tactics from the 1800s are old government tactics, now this is the 21sty century the new millennium and we pray and we have faith and we have courage to stand up against something that is inhumane because we are part of the earth creation too. We want to be free like everyone else, and live our traditional lives in peace and dignity on our ancestral homeland for our future generations and generations to come.
Today we are saying the words to what happened to us at Big Mountain August 17, 2001 at 5:00 a.m. Various statements were made and some were good and some were out right fat lies, because the ten remaining families are all indigenous to the land Black Mesa, the motherland of Big Mountain. They are mostly almost all elderly people and very few young people, and we are humble. And we are poor people but we are rich in spirit with honor and dignity because they took everything from us: land, water, the animals and now they are even trying to take the air that we breathe. But our dignity is not for sale and we will not surrender. We will not give up, and many of our ancestors on Black Mesa never surrendered. They suffered to protect their homeland the Black Mesa because yes, even some of our fore fathers and foremothers were put on a Death March in the mid 1800s to Fort Sumner New Mexico, and along the way they were murdered and they were starved to death, and some of our people even froze to death while they were in the Death Camp. There was physical and spiritual death, but our ancestors had great courage and they did not die in vain, through all their suffering they only complained a little, but they survived through all these things and today we are humbled to say we are the direct descendents of our ancestors that protected Black Mesa who never surrendered even though they were brutally massacred by the Spanish invasion and the Kit Carson invasion. And now today we are invaded again by Wayne Taylor and the BIA who are using the same systematic strategies to eliminate our culture. And this Resistance is the only thing our ancestors left for us, our inheritance. Traditions and language and ceremonial life and the spiritual values, this is what we are carrying on. We speak our own traditional Dine language and that gives a different worldview and reflects a kinship to the nature of our homeland. Our language is the same language that is now recognized forty to fifty years late by the US government for winning the war for them on Foreign soil. And now the so called “tribal government” has crumbled with corporate laws. Its all about corporate needs, not about human needs, and so we say where is the Democracy and Freedom of Speech? And where is our right to pray on our traditional customary use areas? They treat us like foreigners on our own land. They ask for permits and ordinances and we do not understand these things.
These man made corporate laws and corporate armies are denying the traditional Dine and Hopi people from praying together, we have now found ourselves suffering and struggle under the Dictatorship of corporate Hopi chairman Wayne Taylor Jr. And yes, we were invaded by his cop BIA army 2 times in the last 30 days. And yes they shut off the water for the entire community 2 times, in the past month. They brought in ambulances and the driver acknowledged that he had no medicine box aboard. When I asked them why they were there (during desecration of the Sundance grounds early in the morning) they said they were on “standby” in case if they shoot somebody. This is a psychological war declared 32 years ago when they established PL 93-531 which is a declaration of war against the culture and the people. They inflict on us miseries and death, saying that they are not violent. The relocation and the accommodation agreement is nothing but empty promises and we’ve seen with our own eyes that they are “professionals of violence.”
They say that an unidentified Navajo woman asked for protection from the Hopi BIA rangers to protect her livestock and her property. Number one she is a resident on the NPL side and she collaborated with armed forces before the roadblocks began around our Sundance Ceremony and at our ceremony we do not have political allies, nor do we sell snow cones or t-shirts. It is a prayer ceremony, and we have the right to pray. This unidentified Navajo woman terrorizes her neighbors, and takes children to jail and court, as if she is paid to develop criminal records on these children. Mainly she is territorial of her whole area, and seems that she may be paid to try to start criminal charges on these children.
Also last night I heard on KTNN news as they were spreading propaganda using my brothers name and in Dineh language they were using him as an excuse to come into our community armed with many guns, ammunition and ambulances. My brother John was praying at our ceremony, sweating in the sweat loge and Sundancing. The people who were there know John and witness that he never threatened an officer.
On the second military invasion the Hopi rangers even stated that John was much calmer than the woman they arrested while they were desecrating our Sundance grounds. Yes, they use any excuse they can to rationalize their violence against us. Most of their excuses are lies and the truth is now coming out about the genocide and the genocidal policies they are carrying out on us. If anyone is “lawless” it is the ones using violence against us. Even though the Hopi traditionals are speaking out against the Hopi Tribal Government’s genocidal policies, the traditional Hopis are against violence.
They, the Hopi Tribal Council, say we have outside agitators. But they have a foreigner Claire Haywood as their spokesperson, someone from the British Empire who is trained very well to speak Hopi government’s propaganda. They paid her good to lie on the internet and on the newspapers. Some of our supporters were born on American soil, that makes them native to America. And our supporters are our witnesses to the Truth. And yes, they are punished for speaking out the Truth.
We, the Dineh people have Never invaded the Hopi Villages and we have Never stolen anybody’s land. We never abused any Hopi people. These are slanderous lies that I heard Cedric say on KTNN radio. All we know for a fact is that the US government, is the one that stole Indian Land and water and we are not going to die. We on Big Mountain will never surrender.
In our Language there is no word for giving up. And we are going to rebuild our arbor sweat lodges and the Tree of Life will return. And this time we will have to protect it from the violence and desecration of the corporate army which is run by the “peaceful” Hopi Tribe. And now we place ourselves under the international laws and of course our own natural laws which show respect for all life.
In solidarity with all indigenous people who are speaking out for their aboriginal rights