Hopi Rangers arrested two individuals and impounded 120 sheep this morning at the homesite of Tom and Etta Begay in Red Willow Springs. Heavily armed rangers guarded and blocked nearby dirt road entrances as well.
“The Hopi Rangers came for our homestead early this morning. They tried to arrest my Aunt Etta who is almost 70 years old and my dad Bahe. They had barricades set up at the top of the hill with two police units, when we tried to get around the barricade they chased us for two miles, trying to hit us with their trucks, and they drew their guns at us. When we got to the house they brought four more units and tried to block us in by the north hogan. They grabbed us out of our vehicles. A male officer was grabbing me around my waist. I told them they were violating our rights and violating our elders. They were trying to arrest Etta who didn’t even know what they were saying [she doesn’t speak English]. She wasn’t doing anything. They arrested my younger brother Lance and me. Because we were a threat to them for voicing our rights and defending our family. It took three officers to detain me and another three to detain my brother. We didn’t go down without a fight. We were let go after six hours of detainment. I told them they are threatening our family who is all alone and elderly and they come out with guns and threaten and scare them. Who would have defended our family if we didn’t come? We didn’t come with guns and knives; we are not violent, we just came to protect our family. Who knows what they would have done if we weren’t there. We said, we are not scared. We are protecting our elders, if you are going to take us to jail for that, do it. They took 120 sheep from our homestead.”--Milayia Yoe, arrestee.
The U.S government has always used “scorched earth policies” against Indigenous people--attempts to cut them off from their food supplies, decimate economies, or destroy infrastructure--as a precursor to forced relocations including the Long Walk of the Dineh. Livestock impoundments come under this category. There is increased surveillance on the families and livestock of the so-called “HPL” including the use of drones.
“We are in a battleground, the endless battleground of the Partitioned Lands. This is the front of the line and when it comes your family there is no yes or no, you have to stand up for your family and your relatives. This is what I was taught. The past was never really forgotten of the way the U.S. Government treated my people. It is still going on, it is still alive. We will fight- not with violence or armor, but with the old ways. This is a stand for people to know who we are and how we live as Dineh.”--Gerald Blackrock 10/23/14
“The U.S. government is using the Hopi Tribe. We are Native People, we don’t work like this.”--Beulah Blackrock 10/ 28/14
Caroline Tohannie, the elder who had her herd impounded last week, has a court date coming up where she will be facing trespassing charges for being at her homestead.
These impoundments are stressful for the entire community, particularly the elderly:
“Our life is connected to the life of the sheep. We are alive and strong because of them, and being close to them, being with them everyday, keeps us strong. Especially now in our old age the sheep are important to us. If we are too far from our sheep, we can become frail. “ Clarence and Mary Lou Blackrock, Cactus Valley Elders10/25/14
“I disapprove of the impoundments. They really affect the elderly. Ever since I was a baby I was carried on a horse to herd sheep. I have herded all my life and I am in my eighties. You have the livestock in your heart, and they want to take that away.”--Jack Woody, Black Mesa Elder 10/25/14
“They way that the rangers are treating the people goes against the Dineh way; it is very taboo to point a gun at somebody. They are traumatizing an already traumatized community. If overgrazing was actually the issue they could just educate people. But it’s not. This is uncalled for.”--Marie Gladue Big Mountain Resident 10/28/14
Calls to Action:
*Lawyers needed! If you are a lawyer or have connections to lawyers, residents are requesting legal assistance.
*Call protests at your local Department of Interior or Bureau of Indian Affairs offices, donate funds here, come to the land as a human rights observer (email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information),
*“Call the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Hopi Rangers, and the Department of Interior. Ask they stop impounding sheep on the HPL. This is current day colonialism, our food sovereignty is being attacked and ask that they stop the unjust impoundments.”--Louise Benally
The BIA superintendent Wendel Honanie at (928-738-2228),
Hopi Chairman Herman G. Honanie, Email: email@example.com, Phone: (928) 734-3102
The Hopi Rangers Clayton Honyumptewa at (928-734-3601),
The Department of Interior at (602-379-6600)
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