Black Mesa Residents & Supporters March in Window Rock, Navajo Nation demands halt to livestock impoundments
Window Rock, Diné Bikeyah — On October 30, 2014 dozens of Diné Black Mesa residents and supporters protested recent paramilitary style assaults by Bureau of Indian Affairs agents and Hopi Rangers. The raids, which have included agents armed with assault rifles, a helicopter, and two drones, have resulted in 3 arrests and theft of more than 300 sheep.
Black Mesa residents met with the Navajo Hopi Land Commission (NHLC) and outgoing Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly to demand an immediate halt to the terrorizing of their community.
Independent Diné journalist Marley Shebala reported that the NHLC came out of executive session at 4 p.m. but could not vote on the matter as they had lost a quorum. Without warning and explaining why, commissioner Lorenzo Curley left the meeting thereby preventing the vote from occurring. The NHLC committed to addressing the issue but gave no clear time frame.
Black Mesa residents then met with Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly.
Shelly and Speaker Pro Tem LoRenzo Bates issued the following press release:
Navajo Nation demands halt to livestock impoundment on Hopi Partitioned Lands
President Ben Shelly and Speaker Pro Tem LoRenzo Bates are demanding that the Hop[i] Tribe and the Bureau of Indian Affairs cooperate with a request issued by the Navajo-Hopi Land Commission Office to cease and desist from ongoing impoundment activities of livestock owned by Navajo residents in the Hopi Partitioned Lands.
In addition, Pro Tem Bates and President Shelly have issued an official request to Hopi Tribal Chairman Herman G. Honani for a meeting on Nov. 3 to discuss the ongoing livestock round-ups.
Numerous reports have surfaced from various HPL residents of ongoing livestock impoundments that have raised significant concerns for Navajo livestock owners in the area, several of whom have reported that authorities have brandished firearms during the livestock round-ups.
“Among many families, livestock is the main source of food,” said President Shelly. “Resolve is what we all want.”
“We have heard the concerns of our people, particularly those of elderly Navajos who rely heavily on their livestock for their livelihood,” stated Pro Tem Bates. “Impounding livestock of Navajo people is a deliberate violation of their rights to practice our culture and traditions and it must stop immediately.”
In an Oct. 24 memo from NHLCO executive director Raymond Maxx to Hopi Tribal chairman Herman Honanie, Maxx requested a ten-day grace period to allow for the opportunity to confer with residents to request removal of excess livestock from the HPL.
“If overgrazing is the major concern for Hopi officials, it is certainly an issue that we can address by sitting down and talking with one another,” added Pro Tem Bates.
The Navajo-Hopi Land Commission recently passed Resolution NHLCO-21-14, requesting the Hopi Tribe to accommodate livestock capacity for Navajo families living in the HPL.
NHLC members Council Delegates Dwight Witherspoon and Walter Phelps have met with Hopi and BIA officials and affected residents.
According to Delegate Witherspoon, further discussions between all parties are scheduled for this week.
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TAKE ACTION NOW!
Demand an immediate halt of assaults against Black Mesa “HPL” residents.
Navajo-Hopi Land Commission Office: (928) 871-6441
Office of Range Management(928) 734-3702
Director, Natural Resources Clayton Honyumptewa