Crisis at Big Mountain


Today is a sad, sad day; one in which I come to you with a heavy heart. In light of recent events at Big Mountain on August 17, 2001, nothing but extreme outrage can be expressed. Again, the HTC has acted unconscionably. What has happened? An assault against all that are indigenous, an assault against religious beliefs, an assault against all that is sacred. It was reported today that at 5:30 A.M. over fifty police descended upon Camp Anna Mae, and workers tore down the arbor, and removed the Tree of Life. They had the support of the over fifty Hopi Rangers, the BIA police, and Navajo sheriffs. More arrests were made, this time of a Dine'h youth trying to record these actions with his camera, and another, Arlene Hamilton, who was escorted off the land (something about exclusion), both being cited for trespassing. This is just another example of the Hopi Tribal Council's attempt to harass the resisters, those who remain firm that this is their land, that they will NOT be relocated, in hopes that this one action will be the one which will win this time. This won't happen.

It is amazing how the HTC planned and executed this action. It is interesting that they would think their actions would bring an outcry, so they sent the Hopi Rangers, the BIA police, and Navajo County Sheriffs for protection during this action. Why did they need that small army? Were they afraid of the resisters, especially those who live nearby? After all, according to them, they had the right to do this because this Sun dance Gathering was illegally held. Therefore, all that remains from this Gathering has to be removed to demonstrate this. Demonstrate what? In their dreams they feel they are right in these actions. We know they are not. Interesting that they are violating the Native American Religious Freedom Act of 1978 still again. There is more, but why reiterate the HTC's feeble attempts to explain these egregious actions.

It's as if there has been another Crystallnacht, one which brought extreme outrage in the reactions from the world, but today others look at what happened at Big Mountain, and turn the other way. How do some react to these actions? Here are a few of those who are unfeeling. Oh, it's only outsiders. No Dine'h has called out for help anyway. The US Army hasn't been called in. Oh, let the Dine'h work it out for themselves. Then there are those who readily agree, jumping on the bandwagon. This is exactly the kind of attitude that helps perpetuate all that goes on at Big Mountain. When will people see that it IS their problem, too?

How does the Hopi Tribal Council explain their actions? According to one spokesperson, the HTC has bent over backwards for those who have not signed the Accommodation Agreement. If this is true, then why have there been so many impoundments of their animals? Why have their wells been capped? What does the Accommodation Agreement really mean? It means a loss of rights on their own land. It means they become nothing more than tenants. There is no guarantee that they will not face the harassment they have faced in the past. Yet, they continue actions which hurt both traditional Hopi and Dine'h on the land. According to their press release, the HTC is just "asserting Hopi jurisdiction over its land through their actions" on August 17, 2001.

Everyone in good conscience knows this is wrong, but either doesn't want to do anything out of fear, or because they think this is just not their problem. As long as this kind of thing is allowed to take place unchecked, then we are all susceptible. You think you can't do anything to help? You feel it is just too far-gone? Think about it for a minute. There is much you can do. People are needed on the land to witness the actions of the HTC, and to support our relations on the land. For those who cannot do this, preferably phone contact should be made, but letters and email can be written as well. For a list of contacts, please visit BMIS. There is Roberta Blackgoat's petition, which needs to be printed and filled with signatures. We need to stand up as a united force and say together that what has been happening is wrong, that it can no longer continue, that there is no excuse. Last but not least, you can pray, pray hard for all at Big Mountain, and for all their supporters. Pray for an end to the travesty that was started back in July 2001 at Sun dance. Pray for the end of this thing called a "land dispute" by the HTC, something we all know is nonexistent. Many thanks in advance for all that you can and will do.