Once again, things have been real busy here, and I’ve had a hard time getting this out, so please excuse if some of the “news” is a little out of date.
It was gratifying to hear of the demonstrations and public outreach on behalf of the people here that took place in Eugene and Portland Oregon on March 31st to commemorate the 3rd anniversary of McPains “Final Solution”, (the Accomodation Agreement). I am sure I speak for all the resistors here when I extend my thanks to all those who organized and took part in these events. In many ways it is easy to feel cut-off here,… without “normal” communications it is hard to keep in touch with what is being done and said out there, so it is heartening to hear of the many support activities that are still taking place. “The limitation of tyrants is the endurance of those they oppose.” (Frederick Douglass). I sure wish there were more support here on the land right now.
It’s been a long siege here on the Altar. Thats not a word I have heard used to describe the situation here, but I believe it is the correct one. Most Americans, upon hearing the word siege, probably think of Waco or Ruby Ridge, but those were relatively short affairs. Historically sieges were planned to last years. The dictionary defines siege as a “blockade of a city or fortified place to compel it to surrender” and “persistent attack”, and that is certainly what has been going on here for the past 26 years. First they fenced the people in, then their livestock is reduced to numbers that are below what is needed to sustain life. New homes are not allowed to be built, so the children must move away as they get older and start their own families. Repairs of exixting structures is illegal, meaning the people must live in housing that is sub-standard. Wells are capped, and firewood collecting is made illegal. Many aspects of ceremonial and religious activity are outlawed. Armed surveillance is continuous, in the air and on the ground. Sure sounds like a siege to me. And now, in recent weeks, the siege has been stepped up a couple of notches. First there was the enforcement of the Exclusion Order on Arlene Hamilton. You have all read Arlenes statement, so I won’t go in to too much detail, except to remind you that her “crime” was the erection of a Tipi, at the request of the people who live here. One of the effects of this exclusion is that the Elders who sell their rugs thru Arlenes organization Weaving For Freedom, must now travel away from their homes to meet with Arlene on the other side of the fence, leaving their homes and flocks unguarded, something we are loath to do, especially in light of another piece of news, the raid on Louise Bennallys hogan by the Men In Black. They broke in, as there was no-one home, and the place was totally ransacked. No charges were made, and no arrests followed.
Is it not a curious coincedence that when 2 people go and testify to the United nations about Human Rights abuses, shortly after coming home, one is banished from the land, and the other suffers a destructive raid by the Men In Black?
Incidentally, it is rumoured (though I am unable to confirm it) that Arlene is down in Mexico right now undergoing extensive plastic surgery to enable her to pass as a high ranking member of the Corporate Hopi Council, thereby enabling her to travel this land with impunity.
It’s possible that all this increase of harassment is because Warmaker is feeling emboldened by the dismissal of the Manybeads lawsuit. Wayne Taylor, the current head Corporate Hopi is barking in the local papers that now the case has been thrown out the Corporate Hopi viewpoint has been validated. Of course this simply isn’t so. The question of the Peoples constitutional right to religious freedom was not heard,…. the case was dismissed on a point of procedure, the HTC claimed “sovereign immunity”. If the Corporate Hopis are so sure of their case, then why won’t they let the courts decide?
It’s also sheep-count time of the year, when the Hopi-BIA come around and lord it over the peoples remaining livestock. As usual the people are getting impoundment notices for their “excess” animals. Sometimes the BIA comes and takes them, sometimes they don’t. The whole point of the exercise is to keep the resistors worried and scared about their livliehood.
I was perusing a recent issue of the Too Too Vainy (official “news”paper of the Corporate Hopis, and I read that the HTC are now claiming that over 300 families have signed the Accomodation Agreement. This is quite an achievement when one considers that 3 years ago, at the dealine for people to sign the Agreement, they claimed that the 70+ they had collected, by fair means and foul, constituted 85% of those eligible. I know the HTC possesses at least rudimentary math skills, the fact they consistently award themselves pay increases and not decreases shows this, so I am forced to the conclusion that they are yet again practicing the art of deception. There are individuals within the Federal Govt and Hopi Tribal Council who consistently lie. It is one thing to unkowingly repeat a falsehood, quite another to consciously and purposefully lie. As I’ve mentioned before, being a sheephereder I get lots of time to reflect upon things, and sometimes something gets stuck in my head and I can’t get rid of it without some form of resolution. And so it was a few weeks ago when I tried to figure out just what goes on in the heads of these individuals who shamelessly lie. Obviously these people lack integrity, and one suspects that personality disorders are involved, and then it came to me….. these people operate under pressure from their greed and fear. Two states of mind that can distort the best of our human qualities. But also, I suppose, these individuals are also the victims of something called “The Big Lie”. Stewart Udall, in his book on the tragic love affair America had/has with nuclear power defines it this way…. “The term “Big Lie” was coined in this century to describe a tissue of lies that are, by design and by constant and shameless repetition, transformed into a paramount “truth” that governs the thoughts and actions of an organization, government, or Public.” The Big Lie here is that there is such a thing as a Navajo-Hopi land dispute, and this situation has nothing to do with the billions of dollars worth of coal that lie under this ground. Yeah, right,… and the Gulf War had nothing to do with oil!
The Corporate Hopis recently put out a press release that contained slanderous lies. When the injured parties lawyer contacted the HTC, they were told “As I am sure you are aware, employees and officers of the Hopi Tribe, while acting within the scope of their duties are protected by the Hopi Tribes sovereign immunity. Press releases prepared and issued by persons such as … (name witheld to protect the guilty).. in their capacity as employees and officers of the Hopi Tribe clearly fall within the protections afforded by this immunity, regardless of where those releases were distributed. The sovereign immunity of the Hopi Tribe does not stop at the borders of the Hopi Reservation.”. Which, as far as I can tell, is a convoluted way of saying ” Hey,…. we can lie and there is nothing you can do about it, ‘cos we’are above the law. Uncle Sam says so”
And then I remember that “sovereign immunity” is the reason the Manybeads suit was dismissed without a fair hearing. And then I remember that a few year ago some of the resistors filed a lawsuit charging that the Accomodation Agreement was discriminatory (which it is). Guess what? the case was dismissed due to sovereign immunity. And then I remember that 30-some years ago the Hopi people went to court to have the HTC declared illegal. (which it is). As hard as it may be to believe, the case was dismissed dues to HTC sovereign imunity. Nice little loophole the HTC and feds have worked out between them.
The issue of truth, in the sense of accuracy, is important for any of you who choose to write to the Clowns. For instance, writing them that 3000 are set to be evicted, or that 10,000 were relocated to the NewLands ( 2 erroneous facts that were all over the Net a while back) just means your letter will be dismissed. I don’t for one minute believe that Politicians read their mail. They have staff to do that for them. However, it is thos estaff members who determine what gets kicked upstairs to their bosses, so if you write a persuasive, well written, fact-based letter, it may be possible to bring individual staff members over to your point of view, and they can influence the Clowns. Also, if you are “armed” with the facts, and they choose to answer you, they will be forced to create more lies to cover up their first lies,… eventually the lies become so transparent that even more people become aware of them. So please take the time to check the facts.
I’ve come across another good book on the history of this neighbouhood that paints quite a different picture than that put out by the Feds and HTC. “Apache, Navajo, & Spaniard” by Jack D Forbes uses the oral history of all the tribes of the southwest, the records of the Spanish, as well as archeological, ethnographic, and linguistic evidence. In closing his introduction he writes ” It is wrong, then, to picture the Navahos and Apaches simply as recent migrants from Canada to the Southwest. Biologically we know that they are thoroughly intermixed with their neighbours of all languages, and this intermixture has included the absorption of bands, clans, or village units who were participants in ancient Puebloan or other Southwestern ways of life.” The racist idea that the Navajos are recent invaders has been used extensively by the Feds to justify their relocation. (The same justification was used by the Spanish to take Inca land, and by the Dutch taking Bantu land in what is now known as South Africa.) The rest of the book has plenty of examples showing the interrelationships between the Navajo and Hopi. Incidentally, if any of you are interested in the part racism has played in this relocation issue, I reccomend reading David Brugges book “The Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute: An American tragedy.
Back in the real world, things are busy, busy, busy.
Down in the canyons the giant Cottonwood trees are leafing, with that particular shade of green that in the desert means water. I’ve lost track of the number and variety of new flowers that have appeared. Even the cactus that are normally invisible are crowned with vivid scarlet blooms. The reptiles are out and about, as are the stinkbugs. The hummingbirds are back, and birds nests are full of noisy mouths. One of our dogs has had puppies, and the cats have kittens. It’s hot, dry, and windy. Gusty, strong winds that drive the sand into every crevice, ears, eyes, nose.
On top of the usual chores, the garden takes lots of time…. especially as I’m watering by hand with a coffee can. Shearing time. It’s done with hand-shears, kind of like big scissors. Back breaking work. Like everything else round here, shearing is labor-intensive. Life goes on, dependent on your own body and brain. (Not discounting the wisdom of the elders, the co-operation of the community, and the blessings of Creator. Subsistence is what this lifeway is called. Warmaker has a dread of subsistence lifeways. Not good for business.
It’s been a while since it rained….. things are dry, so hauling water is yet another major chore. We get water from a variety of sources. In the winter, after a good snow, all the pots and pans are filled with snow and brought inside to melt. Otherwise, we depend on springs. A few miles away we have an intermittent spring. A few days after a rain or snow it will run for a while, then dry up. When that happens we go further afield to another spring down in the bottom of a canyon. Water hauling involves using a truck loaded with 50 gallon barrells, and dipping into the spring with buckets. To do this its necessary to have 3 things. a) a working truck, b) gas money, and c) the roads need to be passable. When I say “roads”, that is a bit of an overstatement. Four wheel drive trail is closer to the mark. Several times I’ve had visitors along on a water run, and they’ve commented that here would be the best place for the auto manufacturers to shoot their sexy commercials for macho trucks and SUV’s. What this all means is that water is very precious. It should not be wasted. On average, Grandma and I get through about 5 gallons a day bewteen us. Thats for drinking, cooking, washing, cleaning etc. The Elders say that in the old days there was a lot more water around. The canyons ran wet longer, and there were more springs about.
Where’s the water gone?
Just north of here, at the largest coal strip mine in the U.S., Peabody has a deep well. They suck out 2,000 gallons a minute of ancient, pristine water. 60 minutes an hour. 24 hours a day. 7 days a week, for the last 30 years. No matter which way you add it up, thats one hell of a lot of water. What do they do with this water? They crush up the coal, mix it with the water into a slurry, and then pump it almost 300 miles to a power station in Nevada. Here the coal is burned to produce electricity. One of the things this electricity is used for ( and to a large extent the rationale for this power plant) is to pump Colorado river water 3 to 4 hundred miles uphill across the desert to Phoenix and Tucson. Once there, the swimming pools are filled…. the golf courses watered, and in general people live as if they lived somewhere with an abundance of water. The idea I have is this. All those folks down in Tucson and Phoenix should load up their pick-ups, cars, SUV’s etc with every bucket, bottle and container they can get, then drive the 2 to 3 hundred miles up here to the mesa and take their water straight from our springs. This would mean we can get rid of the slurry line, close the environmental tragedy known as the CAP canal, and those folks down there will get to appreciate the true value of water, and then live a little more sustainably.
I will leave you with a final thought on this “Exclusion” episode. At the second of the recent exclusion hearings, the lawyer for the Hopi Tribe stated “the Hopi Tribe need not consent to anyones request for permission to stay on Hopi Lnads, except those persons whose presence is governed by federal law.” He also stated “Monesterskys presence on Hopi Land without consent is enough to find for exclusion.” It is absolutely clear, at least to me, from these statements that the Corporate Hopis are claiming that it is necessary for ANYONE (other than Hopi Tribal members) to seek permission to visit any of the Dine people living here. I tried to think of what other situations exist in this country where its necessary to seek permission to visit someone. The only thing I could think of was prison. Of course, looking further afield, Stalins Russia and South Africa under apartheid. This is the thin end of a very dangerous wedge. Some serious human rights are being abused here. But thats not news.
But then, what the hell do I know,…….. I’m just a sheep herder.
Thank you for giving me your time by reading this.
Your prayers, support, and correspondence are invited.
“We need to reorient our sense of citizenship towards the position that it is disloyal for citizens to abet the crimes of their government.”