UPDATE: Due to public concern the Navajo-Hopi Land Commission Office (NHLCO) issued a statement on Oct 24, 2014: “To avoid creating a situation that will harm both tribes and the HPL residents, (NHLCO) requests that the Hopi Tribe cease and desist from further impoundment activities and allow NHLCO an opportunity to confer with the residents to request they remove their livestock in excess of permitted from the HPL.”
Oct 24, 2014 (Big Mountain Sovereign Dineh Nation) – In the last few days, traditional Dineh (Navajos) elders who have maintained a 40 year resistance to federal relocation policies came under attack by the U.S. Justice of Department supported, Hopi tribal law agencies. Law enforcement personnel composing of federally-deputized Bureau of Indian Affairs and Hopi tribal police, who also assisted armed Hopi tribal rangers, confiscated an approximate total of 200 sheep and goats. Rangers and police personnel arrived directly in front of the sheep corral gates and pushed the complete herd into several stock trailers. The Dineh owners and herders were not allowed to interfere or question and so far, one Dineh man has been arrested.
40 years of resistance and conflict has taken a horrible psychological toll on traditional Dineh cultural lifestyle especially by having sheep and other livestock. Sheep are an intimate part of Dineh livelihood as well as religion, and it is not mythological like that popular western theory about Spaniards’ “introduction” of sheep. Wild mountain sheep and goats have been utilized by prehistoric and historic indigenous inhabitants long before European invasion. Sheep are like the buffalos or domesticated reindeer that a culturally-intact society relies on and thus, for the traditional Dineh, it is a part of their being.
These recent events of forcible confiscation of sheep and goat herds is an attack because in is more than a range management effort dictated by the relocation program, but it is psychological retaliation against the Dineh’s long-standing defiance and intended to rip out a large piece of their hearts. Most of the owners of the sheep herds in the resistance communities are elderly, non-English speaking and have been traumatized from years of witnessing cultural deterioration due to policies of U.S. government and it coal mining conglomerates.
This story of Dineh plight can no longer be shrugged off as a controversial, “Indian vs. Indian” scenario. As obvious as American citizens have witnessed the processes of U.S. energy policies of mass fossil fuel extraction and their unsafe transport, as well as, the destructive encroachment upon aboriginal peoples’ lands, Peabody Energy have been pushing the federal government to facilitate their “long-over-due” expansion. As far as indigenous Hopi interest for these pristine territories that the U.S. Congress in 1974 designated as Hopi reservation, there had been no proven facts that justified any kind of historical Dineh invasion. The 1974 law of land partition, if looked into deeply, will only show that coal and aquifer extraction potentials were behind the push to create this inhumane corporate policy.
Now it is the time to see how that romanticized notion of the name, Hopi, to mean People of Peace can only be seen, from this day on, that Hopi law enforcement are perpetrators of colonial aggression in order to further promote fossil fuel extraction and global climate change.
Citizens of the world need to demand that the U.S. and its colonial Indian tribal agencies to withdraw its aggressive campaigns from the Big Mountain region and release the Dineh livelihood, their very essences of being, the confiscated sheep and goats herds.
NaBahe Katenay Keedihiihii
Interpreter for the Big Mountain Traditional Dineh Resistance, since 1977.
Navajo-Hopi Land Commission Office: (928) 871-6441
Office of Range Management(928) 734-3702
Director, Natural Resources Clayton Honyumptewa