Judging by the amount of visitors we are getting here recently, its my guess that a lot of you are focussing on the Altar right now, so I wanted to get something out quickly, so please excuse me if this issue is a bit scattered.
Communications from the Altar has never been easy. Its a very large area, with the people scattered all over,… just a couple of cell phones here, so many times something is happening and those who live in a different area don’t hear about it for days. Many people write me about how confusing it gets sometimes with the different “versions” of what is happening here, so I’d like to clarify what View from The Hogan is.
My main aim in starting to write VFH was to provide an eye-witness account of what is happening. I also try to pass on the words of people here who do not have easy access to outside communications. I try to include background and historical material that may help to understand some of the things happening here, and obviously I include a hefty dose of my opinions and feelings. As time has gone on, VFH is becoming a dialogue as I try to answer the questions people are asking. Some of the things I write are aimed at new supporters, some at old-timers.
I’m not a writer. Nor a journalist. I’m not an activist. I’m just a sheepherder. I do not claim to be speaking for anyone other than myself. I do not wish to add to any confusion that exists over what is happening here. I simply believe that what is happening here is of importance to all of us, and that the truth has a power to effect change in a good way., both within and without of ourselves.
I’ve been honored by all the messages I’ve received inquiring after my health. In a nutshell, I am very well. The lambs continue to cause much celebration in me. There is enough of them now that they hang out as a “gang”. When I first let them out they engage in a springing competition to see who can jump highest…. then it looks like the Derby as they all chase each other in a circuit, screech to a halt, and after a while head back into the corral to fall asleep in a pile. I do not see how it is possible to see that and not be filled with celebration. I celebrate the beautiful sunrise each day….. it is always a surprise. I celebrate how my body feels after I’ve been chopping wood for a while. I celebrate my connection with all of you “out there”. So, I am very well,…. surrounded by beauty. My admiration and gratitude goes to all of you out there who give of their precious time, energy, and prayers for the land and people here. For you it must be so much harder living in the belly of the beast.
Many people have inquired after Roberta’s health after her accident. She continues to heal, and asked me to tell you all thank you for your well wishes and prayers.
Until it got real busy round here I was, as usual, reading a lot, and I’d like to pass on some of what I read. None of the books were about the so-called land dispute, but they all contained information that is relevant, and in some way exposes the fallacy of a “land-dispute. The first is a book I mentioned last time, “Sun Chief: The autobiography of a Hopi Indian”. Set in the Hopi village of Oraibi during the latter part of the 19th century and the early part of the twentieth century, Dan (the author) does express some anti-Navajo feeling, though not about any “land-dispute”, rather that they were untrustworthy. This didn’t stop him having Navajo friends who stayed with him and that he in turn used to visit. The interesting point I found was that several times during the book he mentioned that several of the Navajo Clans were considered relatives of the Hopi. This confirms what the traditional Hopi and Navajo have been saying all along, that the division between the Navajo and the Hopi is an illusion created by the Feds and HTC (Those that benefit by the creation of a land-dispute). The second book is also a Hopi autobiography set in the same time period, but this one is set on Second Mesa, “Born A Chief: The nineteenth century boyhood of Edmund Nequatewa. Throughout the whole book, not one mention is made of any dispute or conflict between the Navajos and Hopis. This seems strange, because surely if such a major thing was happening it would have been mentioned. Towards the end of the book he writes about leaving the Hopi villages and living on Black Mesa with a Navajo family for a couple of years. He described Black Mesa as “Navajo Country”. Again, the book shows that the Navajo and Hopi had been on more than friendly terms throughout their history. The third book is “Utah’s Black Hawk War” and is about a little known “Indian” war in Utah during the 1860’s. Two interesting point stood out for me. One was that the indians of the 4 corners region, the Southern Ute, Navajo, Hopi, and Jicarilla Apache were all allied with each other in this war, and that all those tribes were related to each other through extensive intermarriage. More evidence that the divisions and labels used by the protagonists of a land -dispute are creations of the dominant culture, and not the actual reality. The second interesting point was that this was going on during the period of The Long Walk, 1864 to 1868, which is supposedly when ALL the Navajos were rounded up and in the concentration camp at Fort Sumner. The best evidence I’ve been able to collect is that in fact probably a full half of the Navajo people did not get rounded up, but continued to live in the western part of their territory, which includes Black Mesa. The HTC/FED argument that the Navajos came flooding in to Black mesa after being released from Ft Sumner is yet another fabrication. The archaeological evidence is that Navajos have been living on Black Mesa for at least 400 years. The final book is “The Genocidal Mentality: Nazi holocaust and nuclear threat”, and gives ample explanation of the mechanisms, both internal (psychological) and external (socio-cultural) which allow individuals and societies to commit genocidal acts. To oversimplify, it appears that these processes are various forms of denial. Americas favorite pastime.
Though I didn’t get there myself (some ones got to take the sheep out) all reports I hear of the Pipe Ceremony at Camp Anne Mae is that it was well attended and went well. It is so good to hear of the spiritual and ceremonial support. In my humble opinion it is this support that is most effective.
As I mentioned earlier, we have been blessed with an enormous number of visitors lately. As I write this there are 7 people sleeping on the floor of the hogan, and only one of them is American. There are people from Japan, Britain, South America, and from the 4 directions of Turtle Island. There can be no doubt that we are all related. There have been visitors from Germany, Italy, Canada, Mexico…… its kind of wonderful to hear so many accents and to see such a diversity of peoples enjoying communicating with little common language. Special mention must be made of a contingent of British anarchic-feminists whose energy was much appreciated, even though they spoke funny. One of the results of so many visitors has been a huge amount of chores have been done. Most “work” here on the Altar is labor-intensive, so with so many bodies available all kinds of things are being built and repaired. Of course, with so many “city kids” here there are problems. Innumerable axe-handles get broken, and sheep and sheepherders get lost. Its not so bad when the sheep get lost,… there is a sense to the sheep behaviour and they can be easily found, but when we lose sheepherders it is stressful as there is no logic to their behaviour and so its quite a worry. Overall there was a lot fewer problems with “helpers” than in previous deadlines. To all of you who were here, I’d like to tell you that the blessings of your labor will continue for a long time to come. Personally, I would like to add that I have been imeasurably enriched by getting to know you all. One point I have noticed, is that the vast majority of those people who come here in support are musicians and artists. Creative people. Why this is, I’m not sure. My thanks must also go to all the thousands of people around the world who continue to support us in a myriad of ways, organizing and attending benefits, rallies, etc but also all those many individuals who are supporting by prayer.
Among the visitors was a delegation of Swedish politicians. They came to take testimony to be presented to the European parliament. The Hopi Tribal Council put out some whiney propoganda about how unfair it was that the delegation did not visit them and ask for their side of the story, but that seems like a silly attitude. If the HTC feels that there human rights are being abused then surely they could invite people to come and witness that? Maybe the next time the HTC meets with the Feds to decide on how to continue with their planned evictions they should invite resistors to the meetings?
There was an awful lot of low level overflights the past few weeks. Those of you who have not spent time here may not realize how intense the silence is here. When planes circle the homesites at a couple of hundred feet, it is an obnoxious invasion, disturbing not only the flocks, but the prayerful ways of daily life here. Surveillance in general was stepped up to incredible and absurd levels. The Men in Black must be real happy. They must be on triple-overtime. I can’t help but wonder just exactly how much of the tax-payers money is being poured into this bullshit. What on earth are they looking for? Gaddafi’s secret terrorist training ground? The recent spate of HTC propoganda gets to throw the word “terrorist” around a lot. They claim that there was a bomb threat at HTC headquarters. I know many of the people on the land, and many of the supporters, and I don’t know anyone stupid enough to make a bomb threat. However, it is the kind of dumb thing that is used again and again to creat imaginary threats by those who wish to perpetrate their own “official” violence. Sometimes it seems that the HTC must be working from real old FBI manuals, their propaganda is so bad and transparent. Most of it seems designed to create a false sense of fear in the Hopi people, and to convince the world that the disgusting actions of the Hopi Tribal Council are representative of the wishes of the Hopi people.
Of all the many things taking place here recently, the Prayer Walk that began in Japan, and that continued from Flagstaff to Big Mountain, was perhaps the most exciting. I was around the walk for the latter part, and was powerfully affected by the beauty and power of the many people taking part. “Bliss and blisters” is how one walker described it. Bahe, who co-ordinated the walk on this side of the pacific will be writing his own report on the walk, so I recomend contacting him on firstname.lastname@example.org and asking for a copy.
The HTC propoganda about the Prayer Walk was particularly loathsome, attempting to paint this spiritual activity as protest and demonstration. The walkers were told that they were not welcome to come to Big Mountain. What the hell has it go to do with the HTC? These people were invited by the residents of the land, and the Walk had no intention of passing through any area where Hopi people live. A couple of months ago there was a sacred run by Hopi people from the San Francisco Peaks to Hopiland. The Hopi runners did not need to ask for “permission” to travel through the Navajo Reservation. This attempt to shut down the walk was just the latest in a long line of acts intended to disrupt the ceremonial life of the Dineh residents, and while they are doing this the HTC has the unmitigated gall to demand respect for their own ceremonial life. No-one has ever interfered with or blockaded a Hopi ceremony. In all events, the Men In Black behaved with an unusual amount of respect towards the Walk, confining themselves to photographing it. I applaud the restraint shown by them. This shows that it is possible for them to respect the ways of the residents and their friends. This is how it could and should be always.
To all of you who took part in the Walk and in its support, I have the following request. If you have photos and video of the walk could you please send me copies? I know its a pain in the butt when people ask for that, but I would very much like to be able to show them to all of the Elders who were not able to witness it for themselves.
After the walk was over a fast/prayer vigil was held outside the offices of the Relocation Office in Flagstaff. Led by the Japanese Buddhist nuns from the Walk, by the end of the second day more than 40 people took part, praying hard that those inside the building would have their hearts touched and would reconsider their actions. There was a half-hearted attempt by the police to close the vigil, the Mayor of Flagstaff is also the Director of the Relocation Office
You may have noticed that so far I have avoided any mention of the “D” word. Deadline. It had become obvious in the preceding months that no evictions who going to be attempted at this time, but as a certain segment of the support population continued to hype the deadline I found myself ignoring it more and more. Like the fences, the deadline was the creation of Warmaker, and I was uneasy with the focus being placed upon it. Don’t get me wrong, it is great that so much attention has become focussed here, and that so many people have come to offer support and solidarity, but my wariness was of getting sucked in to dancing to Warmakers script. My focus had to remain on keeping daily life going in a good way. Now that this latest “final deadline” has passed we now wait for the next “final deadline”. The point I would like to make is that in reality, every single day from now on is a deadline day, as in fact it has been since the original “final deadline” of 1986.. The focus and support needs to be continuous, and to grow. Interestingly, on Feb 1st, many of us were so busy celebrating in a sacred way that we actually forgot that it was deadline day.
For those of you in the neighbourhood of central Arizona this March might be interested in attending a Big Mountain Benefit/Event being held in Prescott Arizona on March 16th. There will be live music, a show of rugs, guest speakers, and a variety of other educational and entertaining activities. Contact Holly on email@example.com for more details.
Many of you write and ask if there is any little things you can send to us here. Well, I’ve thought of something. Thanks to the massive amounts of help we’ve gotten here recently I have now expanded the size of my garden, so could sure use some seeds. Corn and squashes we have plenty of, but I’d be interested in anything else that you think would grow here. Bear in mind we are at about 6000 feet, so the growing season can be quite short. Things like radishes, carrots, spinach, beets, peas, tomatoes, peppers etc would be great. I have enough space to experiment, so would be interested in trying anything.
Finally, I would like to describe a small part of what happened to me on January 30th. I awoke on the very western edge of Black Mesa. Below me the cliff dropped away to the surrounding Painted Desert. Though I have seen this view many times, it never fails to cause in me feelings of awe. Today it was overwhelming. Way off to my left, 100 miles away stood Dook’o’oo’sliid, the San Francisco Peaks. Archetypal mountains, 11000 feet, snowcapped, rising alone from the surrounding land. These mountains are sacred to 13 Tribes who live in this area. This is where the Prayer Walk began 4 days ago. The mountains are being desecrated by the expansion of a ski resort, and by a pumice mine on the lower slopes. (desecration for the pleasure of a few, and for stone-washed jeans). Between myself and the peaks is Blue Canyon and Coal Canyon….. colorfull gashes in the earth about 30 miles away. As my eyes swept the scene Gray Mountain loomed, and next to it, 80 miles distant the Grand Canyon. With binoculars the tower on the South Rim is visible. This time of the year the sun sets over the south rim, as summer solstice approaches the sun moves across to the North Rim. In front of the Grand Canyon, a small white Mesa 15 miles away. In front of me, 10 miles distant stands Wilcat Peak, A cone shaped mountain with the community of Red Lake in front of it. Red Lake was where the Walkers spent last night. In a tremendous show of support for the Walk, many local people bought food for the walkers and the evening was spent with music, dance, prayer and celebration. Many of the walkers later said that their sense of welcome from the community of Red Lake (where many relocated people now live) was the high point of their walk. Turning north from Red Lake stands White Mesa, 40 miles away. Primarily white, delicate shades of blue, pink and yellow also paint the sheer cliffs. Completing my 180 degree view is Navajo Mountain, across the border in Utah. 10,000 feet high and shaped like an inverted bowl, Navajo Mountain is another important and sacred mountain to all the tribes of the area. In the sweep of land laid out before me, stretching to the horizon, is a kalaidescope of color and form. Though my breath didn’t actually stop, the rhythmn of my breathing was dancing with what my eyes beheld.
Shortly after sunrise I heard the gentle beat of the drummers and knew the Walk was heading my way from Red Lake. I watched as over the next couple of hours the line of walkers snaked their way to the base of the cliff below me. A mile or two away and the gentle drone of the chanting was audible with the ever louder drums. At the base of the cliff stretched the hated fence, seperating, and dividing the people from each other and the land. As the line of walkers approached the fence I counted over 50 individuals making up the human snake. As the walkers past through the fence, I suddenly , and without any warning at all, found myself crying deeply. For the next 20 minutes as the walkers climbed up a narrow steep horse trail to where I stood, tears streamed down my face and did not stop until the last walker had reached where I stood at the top of the cliff. It had been almost 5 years since I had cried in this way. The tears were not of pain, but seemed to be the result of a huge wave of energy passing through me, humbling me and filling me with joy. Over the next few days I relived those moments to try and understand what was behind the tears, and this is what I realized: The fence inscribes a prison. The people who live inside the fence are watched and monitored 24 hours a day, just as in a prison. For the people inside the fence, all daily activities are regulated, and needing permission from an externally imposed authority, just as in prison, and for those inside the fence who have not signed any “agreements” with their jailors, they are now considered to be and treated as non-persons, just like in prison. The feeling behind my tears was this: there was an overwhelming feeling of hope and relief at watching all these incredible people, suffering and sacrificing and praying, breaking INTO this prison, and in doing so were dismantling not the fence, but the illusion of the fence. For the next 2 days the walk continued on towards Big Mountain, the heart of the Altar. For much of the way they followed old horse trails that were almost invisible, being rarely travelled any more…. the people who travelled it haveing been removed, and the fence stopping the free flow. The walkers “opened-up” these trails again. It was as if some arteries or streams had come back to life.
I am blessed with a life that continues to gift me with memorable days. The days I was associated with the walk now rank as the best days of my life, so to all of you walkers, I say once again, thank you, thank you, thank you. We are all related, and it is my honor to have been touched by you.
I believe that we attribute too much power and omnipotence to Warmaker. Sometimes we do this because we fear the responsibility that comes with our own individual power. During the past couple of weeks it has been my profound privelege to be around many people who honor their own power and by joining together with others manage to achieve great things. There was much hope generated here on the Altar. I wish you all could have felt it. Life is good.
But then, what the hell do I know, I’m just a sheepherder.
Thank you for giving me your time by reading this.
Your prayers, support, and correspondence are invited
“To tell the truth in times of universal deceit is a revolutionary act.”