In the last three weeks, the harassment and surveillance of communities resisting forced relocation on the Sovereign Dineh Nation (so-called Hopi Partitioned Lands) has escalated. There have been the largest-scale impoundments since the late ‘90s, and BIA agents charged one community member with trespassing, which could lead to an attempt to evict. Impacted families are requesting long term support in the form of human rights observers over the fall and winter. Be prepared for a call to action against the Department of Interior and Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Community members are organizing for unity, justice, and protection of traditional lifeways, livestock, and continued existence on their ancestral homelands. Community member, Gerald Blackrock, wants to ensure the solidarity networks and outside world understand, “This is not about a conflict between Dineh and Hopi people. This is a conflict between people and government and what is happening is coming down from the U.S. government. ” It is important to remember that these impoundments and threats of evictions are directly related to resource colonialism. As we speak, Peabody is attempting to expand the mines on Black Mesa. The resistance communities who are being targeted for impoundments are and have been the direct blockade against mine expansion.
Update on Impoundments and Potential Evictions
“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
“We are a people of the land. We grow our own food, raise our own livestock, and tend to the area around us. In order to do this we have to have the basics of food, water, and shelter. Due to certain laws, water, food, and shelter have all been restricted to us. It started in 1974 with the federal relocation policy--known as Public Law 93-531--which has forced thousands of Dine' (Navajo) people from their ancestral land. This was the beginning and has not stopped.
Right now our sheep are being impounded and we are living in a state of fear. In the span of two weeks, three families have had over 300 sheep impounded (even at gunpoint) by heavily armed Hopi Rangers and BIA agents. Elders fear they are next everyday, and do what they must to stop the theft of their sheep. Will our livelihood, our life, be taken from us with the next hour? Day? Week? Support is needed. Whether it be coming out and doing direct action, or even just spreading the word and writing what will hopefully be thousands of letters to the US and Navajo Governments.”--Selest Manning, granddaughter of relocation resisters on so-called “Hopi Partitioned Lands”
During the impoundment of elder Caroline Tohannie’s sheep, she was made to sign a document identifying herself as a trespasser. Caroline will have to go to court to face the charges. If found guilty of trespassing at her own home, Caroline was told she will be given a 90 day notice for eviction. This is what the Director of the Hopi Tribe’s Natural Resources Department, Clayton Honyumptewa had to say about the impoundments and trespassing charge:
"So now we’re at this stage where there is no other recourse but to evict you guys [those living on the so-called Hopi Partitioned Lands who have not signed the Accommodation Agreement]... So finally I guess from central office they said we got to start doing something about this issue. And this was just this past year, we got directions from Washington, Washington D.C.”--Clayton Honyumptewa, director of the Hopi Tribe’s Natural Resources Department, 10/22/14
Ongoing Calls for Support
Please consider coming out to stay with a family who could be impacted by impoundments or evictions. We will try and keep you informed of the most urgent times for support, but there is a need for supporters and human rights observers throughout the fall and winter, so if you are able to plan ahead for a stay in the coming months, please do so. Continued presence of on-land human rights observers is the most direct way for people to support these families. The stress of impoundments and potential evictions continue to take a heavy toll on residents. “It is reassuring to us when supporters are here.”--Glenna Begay, Black Mesa Elder 11/1/14
Also, if anyone is skilled in training human rights observers, it would be helpful to have some standardized trainings or training materials for human rights observers, especially those coming to Black Mesa for the first time during this crisis. Contact email@example.com if you have information/resources.
There are research teams looking into which federal offices are specifically responsible. Stay tuned for nationwide calls for protests.
Please donate to the impoundment fund here.
With great sadness and much respect for a powerful life, we share that Elder Matriarch relocation resistor, Ida Mae Clinton, of Star Mountain, has passed on to the spirit world. With the permission of her family, we share this video--made by NaBahe Katenay Keedihiihii this spring--in memory of Ida Mae's life. Her family sends appreciation to all who have come out to support Ida Mae over the years. May she rest in power. If you can, honor her and her legacy by donating to this fund set up to cover funeral costs. The family is trying to raise several thousand more dollars by November 21st. http://www.gofundme.com/idaclinton