A note to the reader:
I am going on the Internet for the first time with a direct statement to the global public for ONE REASON:
To communicate with all my relatives who know and love Big Mountain and all that the Dine & Hopi Traditionals stand for – the Highest Good for all living things.
My humble thanks and honor to the Sundancers whose prayers and suffering all these years still keeps the sacred land, the traditional people and the language, ancient culture, and ceremonial life intact. Thank you to the sundance leaders.
The people united will never be defeated.
All my love, respect, prayers.
FREE LEONARD PELTIER NOW
The following is a personal statement directly from Arlene Hamilton, president of Weaving For Freedom, in response to the ruling of exclusion by the Hopi Tribal Council.
April 22, 2000
To all my brothers and sisters throughout America and across the great waters who have prayed for and cared about the traditional Dine and Hopi people who continue to resist mining of their ancestral land, I greet you, I send all of my love and thanks to you.
Like the Dine grandmothers who are caretakers of the sacred Altar of Big Mountain, you too are protectors of this land. I know that many of you have sacrificed and worked and given of yourself throughout the years to protect the Dine people and Big Mountain. I send prayers to you from my heart. You are all very important to this monumental struggle. I know that many of you know the history of Big Mountain and that the issues are very complex and the media distorts the truth. I trust all of you have your “sifters” out when you read the newspapers etc and sift through what the U.S Govt. and Peabody Coal Co. propaganda to understand the truth.
Two days ago, upon returning from Geneva, Switzerland (I travelled with Louise Benally to the U.N to present Item 11: Religious Intolerance to the Human Rights Commission) When I came back I went to Los Angeles for 24 hours. I went to meet with Woody Harrelsons assistant, while I was in his office I received a call from my lawyer telling me that the Hopi Tribal Chairman ruled for the EXCLUSION ORDER on me. Yes, I cried, I felt terribly sad and devastated to hear that they actually ruled exclusion. I immediately called Tony Serra’s office to file an appeal to the Hopi Chairman. Many of the Dine Elders cried with me in their arms BEFORE the exclusion order came out because of the sadness that it has gone this far. After I met with Woodys assistant, I then met with John Paul Dejoria briefly. I spoke of the concern for religious freedom rights out here especially this year in regard to Anne Mae Sundance. For the first time in 17 years I have GREAT CONCERN for the SAFETY of the Dine people and all nations that will come to pray here in July.
I then came back to Tuba City. When I got there I was faced with numerous newspaper articles about my case. One of them said “I was on trial for my 17 years of relief work for the Dine people residing on HPL”. Many articles put out by the Hopi Tribal Council said I have “violated Hopi laws for years”. This is news to me. I have never been convicted of a crime on Hopi land. And since when is it a crime to feed Dine and Hopi people. At the Witness Camp all we did was plant corn fields for the Dine elders, shear sheep, repair fences, haul water, chop wood, cook, and learn weaving, carding, spinning and various traditional plant dyes for the wool. Where in America is this breaking the law? And many Hopi people have told me that then Hopi Tribal Council represents the U.S. Govt., not Hopi traditional sacred laws.
Also 11 out of 12 Hopi witnesses testified on my behalf, saying not a blade of grass was harmed by the temporary Tipis I put up and removed after 8 weeks. The Hopi Rangers/Monitors stated I was always kind, respectful and fully co-operative with them when they came to the camp armed 15 times. They even stated I “fed them on several occasions”. Finally all of them stated that they NEVER told me to leave or take anything down in the 8 weeks I was there.
My lawyer called it “entrapment” to prepare for my exclusion because I had verbal permission from the Director of Hopi Lands to put the tipis up. Even the hopi Rangers stated that it was 110 to 115 degree weather and high winds and that I put up the tipis to protect elders and childrens health during the educational classes, which also included Dine language and Dine geology and history.
I have never committed any crimes, I worked to prevent violence out here for 17 years. No-one can imagine what Sarah Katenay and I went through to keep the Sundance Arbor up at Survival Camp for 14 years. In 1992 we finally had to build a fence and locked gate to keep BIA trucks from entering as the BIA tried every year to take down the Arbor. We prevented violence for years out here CONSTANTLY in peaceful negotiations with Federal, Tribal, and Corporate officials. Even Robert Carolin, former BIA Superintendent, stated that “there will be no violence if Arlene Hamilton is there, she won’t allow it.” Elders have had me escort people who had weapons off the land on several occasions. No weapons, no violence is ever permitted out here.
At the Witness Camp last summer Hopi Rangers and Monitors came and took latitude and longitude with GPS computers at the Tipi door. 3 hours later Apache helicopters swarmed the camp at tree top level for days. I thought I was in a movie. Then, when Bonnie Whitesinger, myself, and Swaneagle went to get help one night we were followed by one helicopter next to us and 6 more helicopters over our vehicle for more than 20 minutes. They were silent and they were scary. At the Witness Camp, when the helicopters came, the writer from Mother Jones magazine said “Arlene, I wouldn’t believe this if I didn’t see it for myself. But when he checked with the Air force to find out who ordered the helicopters, no-one knew anything about these overflights. Strange isn’t it?
Meanwhile the Elders and college students were planting corn while overflights in planes flying low over the fields were talking with Rangers in the trucks below. This is an example of harassment and religious intolerance. Corn planting is sacred and ceremonial and the way the people plant corn has been instructed by the Holy Ones and Great Spirit. The college students could not believe that the Elders have to live and work under these conditions.
I continued to feed 50 Elders and kids a day for 8 weeks at the Witness Camp. Many people helped us do the Witness Camp. We had no idea that the Hopi Tribe would consider the sacred Tipis “illegal structures” – this is the basis of my exclusion, as well as “unlawful assembly”. What kind of a threat is Elderly weavers spinning and carding wool in a Tipi?
The truth is that I do not blame Hopi Tribe or Hopi men or women, I blame Peabody Coal Co. executives Irl Inglehart and Howard Carson for these continuous inhumane activities. I feel sorry for Eugene Kaye that he is being used this far for making way for Peabody Coal Co., now owned by Lehman Bros. Investment Corp.
The teachers of America need to be aware and begin to speak up and organize to protect these Native American people that live on top of the 100 billion dollars worth of coal that Peabody is so greedy and hungry for, because American teachers pension funds are held in Lehman Bros Investment Corp.
Even Hopi Tribal employees have told me that these Dine Elders could be the Hopi grandchildrens best advocates because they are standing up to protect sacred land and the sacred altar of Mother Earth.
After 17 years out here it is clear to me that the Hopi and Dine people care for each other and are not able to have freedom of speech about their traditional lives together and concern for each other.
The main issue now is that I can not let this exclusion order upset these elders more than they already are, when I came back so many elders cried in my arms about this. We are family now, I have met with these Dine weavers in resistance, four generations for 17 years and followed all of their guidance and direction. I have been accountable for sending over one million dollars to these weavers in the past 15 years with the gracious help of hundreds of concerned brothers and sisters throughout America.
Weaving For Freedom (as the Elders named it) is a weaving collective of both signers and non-signers who have met together every 2-3 months for 17 years as a collective making all the decision. These weavers have been nominated the Greatest Cultural Design Artists in the world by people in Geneva, Switzerland. The weaving collective was established in 1983 All of the Elder weavers, and the younger generations, are committed to getting the areas of Red Willow Springs, Cactus Valley, Thin Rock Mesa, Blue Canyon, Mosquito Springs, Red Lake, and Big Mountain preserved as a National Historic Cultural Preservation Site.
The Hopi Tribal Council members have told me if we can get it “brought to the table” that they would vote “yes” on it. But they are getting paid to make way for mining and they cannot get it brought up or they will lose their jobs.
I understand that the people need to work to feed their children. When I go in the Hopi offices everyone is kind and nice to me. There are no enemy lines. I have respect for the people. I just hope and pray that some of them will speak up and say “:this is wrong what is happening to the Dine people”. It was humanitarians in the Hopi tribe that finally opened six water wells for the Dine families in isolated areas. The men that are humanitarians in the Hopi Tribe, like Arnold Taylor, Emmett Navakaku, Clayton honeyumptewa, Sgt. Vicente, and Ranger Clifford Nodman Jr., should speak up more and be listened to as they defend human rights and religious freedom rights for the people. It is time.
I thought Eugene Kaye (Hopi Chief of staff) looked on me as a daughter by how many times he sent Rangers to check on me. And all the money they spent on gas I could have fed more Elderly and children. I still believe that somewhere in his heart and soul that Eugene Kaye does respect my work with the Dine people and my endurance under these conditions out here all these years, but the Peabody pressure is too much.
To all of you who read this, under the Exclusion order I can no longer live with Roberta Blackgoat, who raised me for 17 years. She is 83 years old and she is extremely kind and a very spiritual woman. For 2 years I am not allowed to come to the resistors homes, but says the ruling “because of all my good work” I will be allowed after 2 years, with permission and special conditions.
So now I will meet with the Dine weavers on the NPL side of the fence. We will continue to work together to bring these sacred weavings that reflect the Dine weavers religious ties to the land to the American Public.
Please set up Rug Shows in your areas and contact us for more information through firstname.lastname@example.org.
I would also ask that all of you write letters to the Hopi Chairman Wayne Taylor, PO Box 123, Kykotsmovi, AZ 86039, asking for NO EXCLUSION ORDERS and requesting to preserve this ancient area as a National Historic Cultural Preservation Site.
Everyone should know that Peabody Coal Co. and their executives Irl Inglehart and Howard Carson have never restored the areas around Kayenta or Black Mesa mines. They continue to disturb sacred burial sites even though the Elders have been clear – “NO MORE RE BURIALS”, and nothing grows around the mines. We cannot allow them to rape the Mother earth anymore. They mine and then leave it trashed, depleted, and poisoned. And they want to get to this coal, water, and uranium, they are like hungry animals, frothing at the mouth trying to push everyone out of the way so they can mine here. I was offered $200,000 by Howard Carson asking me not to bring the Dine Elders to London to meet with Hanson Corp. I refused the offer and said all we will settle for is protection of land, culture, and endangered people. Even Eugene Kaye said “you must really be committed to these elders” in response to me refusing that offer.
In conclusion, they (Peabody and U.S. Govt) think if they get me out of the way, and others, then they will be able to mine here. I trust that ALL OF AMERICA will hear the Earth crying out to us and not let this sacred Altar here at Big Mountain be disturbed. It must be protected for the whole human family.
Already, many people from around the world are mobilizing to make Lehman Bros. Investments firm be accountable for Human Rights and Religious Freedom Rights. Please join us in this mobilization. If you are a strong person, come and plant corn with the Elders this May, and go to the Hopi Tribe to get permits first. Lets see if the office will issue permits to help the people out here. I applied 3 times for permits for the Witness Camp and they kept telling me IT WAS COMING; it wasn’t until the fifth week of the Camp that I was finally told by Eugene Kaye that my permit was denied. I pleaded with Eugene Kaye not to make me a “criminal” for helping the Elders and the children all these years, I cried with him,… he just looked at me.
I hope and pray one morning he will wake up and decide that all the $’s or hotels in Palm Springs are not worth the suffering that Peabody Coal Co. has caused, including the destruction of the ozone layer by burning fossil fuel creating global warming and extreme weather conditions. I hope and pray he will wake up one morning and say lets change to alternative energy, and let the Elders and future generations, Dine and Hopi, live in peace. And that he will no longer participate in the lies, propaganda and destructive activity of peabody Coal Co.
Yes, I still have faith and I am so proud of the Dine Elders courage to carry on their prayers and ceremonial life and love of the earth and all of humanity.
Again, all of you are so very important to us, have faith, pray more, be united in solidarity with us.
I will never give up.
I love you all,