Posts Tagged ‘Black Mesa’

 Walee Crittendon stands with her family's livestock after the initial theft by armed rangers. (Photo Credit: Censored News)

Walee Crittendon stands with her family’s livestock after the initial theft by armed rangers. (Photo Credit: Censored News)

Click here for coverage from our friends at Censored News

From Emergency on HPL – BIA war against Navajo Grandmothers:

URGENT-PLEASE HELP-PLEASE SHARE-SIEGE IN BIG MOUNTAIN: When John Benally’s cows were confiscated on April 5, 2016, he filed a case before the Interior Board of Indian Appeals (IBIA) to request a Stay (Moratorium) on all livestock confiscations. While this suit was pending, the Hopi Tribe using BIA money funded by US taxpayers invaded John Benally homesite in Big Mountain on what is known as Hopi Partition Land.

Today, 6/7/2016, Hopi police and Hopi Rangers invaded John’s home. They came in police cars, trucks, panel trucks and trailers. They rounded up John’s cows and horses used 4-tracks to round up his livestock while they placed John Benally, his companion Tracy, his niece and nephew under house arrest to keep them from interfering with the impoundment. They also served John’s companion with a Notice of No Trespassing requesting she vacate Hopi lands immediately in spite of the fact she has lived with John in Big Mountain for the past 25 years.

John is appealing to you to make phone calls to the Secretary of the Interior and the Hopi Tribe to protect his rights to his property. John has a lawsuit pending and is supposed to be protected by the Bureau of Indian Affairs if the Hopi Tribe is violating his rights. The BIA has the power to issue John a grazing permit but has refused to.

The Hopi Tribe must respect the Stay John filed which requires as a matter of law stop all livestock confiscations as automatic. The Hopi Tribe must respect the great efforts John has taken in collaboration with the Navajo Nation – Leonard Chee from the Office of the Navajo Nation President and Vice-President and the Navajo Nation Department of Agriculture. These agencies helped John put ear tags on the cows. A Vet has come on several occasions to John’s to give the cows shots. At their advice, John purchased loading chutes for cows so they could more easily load them up.

The Navajo Nation Department of Justice was supposed to be working with John. They helped bring some of his cows to market last week. They were supposed to help John bring some more cows to market tomorrow. Then on Friday, they were supposed to help John transport most of the cows to a Tribal ranch the Navajo Nation and John were talking with.

Instead of helping John, the Navajo Nation Department of Agriculture and Leonard Chee did not answer their phones and when contacted the Department of Agriculture said they were just following orders and were told not to interfere with the livestock impoundment.

John calls these people economic terrorists and is concerned that the Navajo Nation is working in collusion to help the Hopi Tribe sell cows at public auction and keep 100% of the proceeds because cows with ear tags and shots are worth a lot of money.

The BIA must step in and stop the Hopi Tribe’s abuse against John Benally, rescind the trespassing notice against John’s companion, return his cows and horses, and Stop the Genocide in Big Mountain!
Please call:
• Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Interior (202) 208-6416
• Priscilla Pavatea, Director, Hopi Tribe Office of Range Management (928) 734-3701
• Navajo Nation Department of Agriculture (928) 871-6605
• Leonard Chee, Office of Navajo President & Vice President (928) 871-6352

——————————————————————————————

TEXT OF Notice given to John Benally’s companion: No Trespassing

Be advised that the Hopi reservation including the Hopi Partition Land (Hopi reservation) is closed pursuant to Hopi Ordinance # 46 and access is restricted to members of the Hopi tribe and those persons authorized by the Hopi Tribe to be on Hopi reservation lands in accordance with Hopi and federal law and regulations. If you are present on Hopi reservation without a valid permit or permission you are hereby advised and ordered to immediately leave the reservation.

Any individual who is not a member of the Hopi Tribe and who is not authorized under provisions of Hopi law to be present within the Hopi reservation is in violation of tribal law and is subject to a civil and criminal penalty.

Any individual who fails to abide by this notice will be subject to arrest and/or a civil fines under tribe’s civil and criminal law

By Herman G. Honanie, Chairman, Hopi tribe
6/3/16

Notice No Trespassing

——————————————————————————————

 

From Black Mesa Indigenous Support

Greetings,

We hope that this finds you well and enjoying the winter months. We are writing with updates about Black Mesa, a new group Indigenous Youth for Cultural Survival, and BMIS.

From the Land:

On Monday January 4th Hopi Rangers and BIA Impounded 21 cattle on the so-called “Hopi Partition Land”. The cattle were of Betty, Billy, and Emerson Begay and Trudy Johnson’s herd.

From Trudy Johnson Begay:

“While we (my brother and I) were out looking for our cattle we found them on ‘HPL’ I proceeded to push them back over the fence on foot, to NPL. I had to walk about 200 yards when a Hopi Ranger (BIA) drive up and call me over to his vehicle. When I approached him, he asked ‘what are you doing?’ I answered I’m getting my cattle. He told me to leave the area because they were in the middle of impoundment in the area. He stated, ‘If you don’t leave you could be arrested for interfering with impoundment.’ (All this in a harsh and argumentative tone of voice). He insisted that the animals were trespassing and impounded twenty one of them. We are tired of this kind of harassment on our ancestral homeland.”

Please donate here to a fund dedicated to releasing impounded sheep and cattle from holding.

There is a fierce new Diné youth organizing project that is working on Black Mesa! They are called Indigenous Youth for Cultural Survival (IY4CS)–check out their statements:

Action Statement: Indigenous youth for cultural survival is currently a volunteer based collective led by young Diné and supporters. Our purpose is to empower indigenous youth through education, to reconnect to our traditional ways of life, and inspire action that addresses environmental and human rights issues, indigenous sovereignty, and the protection of sacred sites.

Vision statement: From inspiration within our own communities and resisting families of Black Mesa, we seek to protect Nímá Nahasdzáán (mother earth)  and regain Hózhó (harmony) within ké (kinship) relations.  With each passing generation, our traditional knowledge is being lost due to colonialism,genocide, and desecration of sacred sites. We remain resilient in the teachings passed down from our elders to maintain our cultural survival for the generations to come.

IY4CS is planning a cultural survival gathering this spring on Black Mesa. This will be a time focused on Diné youth connecting with Big Mountain elders and sharing cultural practices. Please help make this gathering happen by donating. You can donate to BMIS and designate IY4CS in the memo.

A word about BMIS. The BMIS collective is shifting roles and is once again focused primarily on running the volunteer sheepherder/human rights observer program.  We also will continue to fundraise for projects and gatherings on Black Mesa/Big Mountain, for IY4CS, and for impoundment funds, among other things.

Tree will continue to live in Virginia and come back and forth to Black Mesa with her family. Berkley will be back and forth between Flagstaff and Tucson as of early 2016. Liza and Derek recently had a baby and have just moved back east to Asbury Park, NJ and aim to be back on Black Mesa annually. Since we are no longer a locally-based collective, we are stepping back from organizing or co-organizing gatherings on the land and instead hope to move resources and help make connections between local organizers.  And we are thrilled to be able to work with and support the work of IY4CS as they are central to the future of this resistance!

A note about getting involved:

There are always requests for sheepherder / human rights observers, so fill out the registration form and get in touch.

Additionally, we are looking for collective members interested in helping with the volunteer sheepherder program, media/ social media updates, and fundraising. We are excited to support folks who want to organize their own small gatherings on Black Mesa by putting you in touch with community members and playing an advisory role with logistics, preparation, and political education. We will continue working to connect the larger network to community members for speaking engagements, attending protests, action camps, gatherings, etc.

Thanks!
The BMIS Collective: Berkley, Liza, Tree, & Derek

Black Mesa Indigenous Support (BMIS) is a currently non-Native all volunteer, grassroots collective committed to working with the resistance communities of Black Mesa/Big Mountain.

Black Mesa banner during impoundments,(WNV / NaBahe Kateny Keediniihii)

Black Mesa banner during impoundments,(WNV / NaBahe Kateny Keediniihii)

By , Global Justice Ecology Project

In Waging Nonviolence, Liza Minno Bloom reported on recent federal campaigns to forcibly impound sheep herded by Navajo living in the Hopi Partition Lands (HPL) of Black Mesa in NE Arizona. (Yep, impound, like a car, for us city folk.)

The government claims that the livestock were impounded because there are too many and they were overgrazing and harming the land, but the weight of history and the violence of what’s currently happening suggests a different reason.

The sheep being impounded from the communities on Black Mesa indicate the continued use of scorched earth policies by the federal government and the continued use of Black Mesa as a resource colony for ever more unsustainable Southwestern cities.

More specifically, Minno explains the history and current state of Peabody Energy on the land, going back to the 1970s when the Partition Lands were created, forcing relocation off of the HPL and ushering the way for a grab of the coal-rich land. The herders facing the pressure continue to live on these lands despite the forced relocation.

She also clarifies that Peabody Energy now wants to expand mining into the areas used by the Navajo herders that are being targeted.

The three families targeted so far need to pay about $1000-2000 to get their sheep back, but also have to sign a condition of release and sell the majority of the sheep right away.

Minno writes,

Currently, Peabody seeks to combine the Kayenta Mine [their current coal mine] and the NGS [Navajo Generating Station] leases under one renewal permit that would allow the facilities to continue operating past their 2019 deadline for expiration. Since, according to the Department of the Interior, the Kayenta Mine lease area will provide only enough coal to power NGS until 2026, part of the lease renewal includes expanding mining into the lands adjacent to the Kayenta Mine and reopening the defunct Black Mesa Mine — the equipment for which remains intact on Black Mesa. Instead of calling it a re-opening of the Black Mesa Mine, however, they are referring to the expanded permit area as the Kayenta Mine Complex. Were this approved, it would mean further incursion into the HPL, which is occupied by the Dineh relocation resisters and their sheep. This explains the impetus for the impoundments.

The history Minno gives going back to the 1974 Navajo-Hopi Settlement Act is definitely required reading, but most important is what’s going on right now and the work needed to keep the coal in the ground and the herders on the land.

A banner that was displayed on Black Mesa during the impoundments in October. (WNV / Liza Minno Bloom)

A banner that was displayed on Black Mesa during the impoundments in October. (WNV / NaBahe Kateny Keediniihii)

By , Waging Nonviolence

This October, as many Americans returned to work after their Columbus Day holiday, rural Dineh, or Navajo, communities in the Black Mesa region of Northeastern Arizona were rocked by an invasion. SWAT teams descended upon this remote region, navigating unpaved, washed out roads, while drones and armed helicopters flew overhead.

Why? They were there for the sheep.

For nearly two months, Hopi Rangers, with the backing of the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, or BIA, and the Department of the Interior, have been impounding the livestock of the Dineh residents of the area now known as the “Hopi Partition Lands,” or HPL. The official justification given is that residents’ herds exceed the size allowed to them in permits, and that they are, therefore, overgrazing and causing harm to the land in a period of prolonged drought.

Many residents, however, point to the fact that Peabody Energy’s coal mining operations on Black Mesa are the more probable source of land damage and drought than overgrazing. In a letter to the Navajo Nation Tribal Council regarding the impoundments, members of the impacted communities wrote: “We believe this assault on our lives and theft of our only sustenance and livelihood is being funded and instigated by the federal government … through their continued campaign to gain access to the resources on our ancestral homelands by forcing us off the land.”

Currently, Peabody is seeking to expand its surface mining operations on Black Mesa into the areas targeted by impoundments. According to Louise Benally of Big Mountain, Ariz., “Impoundments pave the way for coal development, which is changing the climate forever.”

Scorched earth campaigns — or efforts to weaken a people by separating them from their food source or decimating their infrastructure — have long been employed by the U.S. government against indigenous peoples. These campaigns are always a precursor to a forced removal to open native lands to non-native settlement or corporate use.

The sheep being impounded from the communities on Black Mesa indicate the continued use of scorched earth policies by the federal government and the continued use of Black Mesa as a resource colony for ever more unsustainable Southwestern cities.

The BIA and Hopi Rangers claim that they gave residents ample notice, beginning in mid-August, to reduce their herds. Residents themselves say that the notices were unclear and seemed to indicate that they had a year to reduce them.

The pre-dawn impoundments are often carried out aggressively and, in several cases, there have not been Navajo translators present for the Navajo-speaking residents. According to Milayia Yoe, the Hopi Rangers came to her homestead on the morning of October 28 and impounded 120 of her aunt’s sheep.

“They had barricades set up at the top of the hill with two police units,” she recounted. “When we tried to get around the barricade they chased us for two miles, trying to hit us with their trucks, and then they drew their guns at us.”

Impoundments are causing fear and stress amongst the Dineh on the HPL.

“The way that the rangers are treating the people goes against the Dineh way,” said Big Mountain resident Marie Gladue. “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 educate people. But it’s not.”

Beyond being a major food source, traditional Dineh consider sheep sacred.

“Ever since I was a baby I was carried on a horse to herd sheep,” said Jack Woody, an elder from Red Willow Springs, Ariz. “I have herded all my life and I am in my 80s. You have the livestock in your heart, and they want to take that away.”

NaBahe Kateny Keediniihii of Big Mountain described how livestock are a part of ritual life on Black Mesa, saying, “Sitting and sleeping on a sheep skin once represented identity. Rubbing mutton grease on your legs in prayer, and using the wool for fiber are central aspects of Dineh culture.”

Thus far, rangers have impounded three families’ herds, totaling over 300 sheep. In order to get their sheep out of impoundment, families are required to pay, on average, between $1,000-$2,000, and some — as a “condition of release” — are being made to sign a statement identifying themselves as trespassers on their own homelands. To make matters worse, the rangers are telling residents that they cannot return their sheep to the HPL. As a result, many of the impounded sheep have been auctioned or sold.

Residents are organizing against this current threat to their sovereignty with several strategies. Some are securing their homesites and some are researching what legal recourse they have. They are calling for unity during this time and will soon be releasing a national call to protest at BIA and Department of Interior offices.

On October 30, several community members gathered in Window Rock, Ariz., the capital of the Navajo Nation, to meet with Navajo Nation President Ben Shelley and demand an end to impoundments. Others stayed at home and figured out ways to hide their herds, in case they were targeted next.

The wide-scale impoundments and the charge of trespassing point to the threat that the Dineh living on the HPL have faced for the last 40 years, namely forced relocation.

(more…)

Nihígaal béé Íina: Our Journey For Existence

The Navajo Nation sits on one of the richest energy corridors in the United States, and for close to a century, we have been on the frontline on resource colonization to provide cheap energy and water to the cities in the Southwest. Since the 1920’s, our land and people have been sacrificed for energy extraction for oil, gas, uranium, and coal, which is poisoning our land, water, air, and people. Despite being at the forefront of energy extraction, our people do not see its benefits; approximately 1/4 of our people today live without electricity and running water on the Navajo Nation, while our economy functions at an unemployment rate of about 60%, and our young people are leaving due to lack of opportunity. Now our people and land are facing the onset fracking and a proposed pipeline, which will transport crude oil through 130 miles in Dinétah, the emergence place of our people, in the name of “economic development”.

As young Diné people, we realize that we can’t continue on like this. We need clean air, water, and a viable lifeway for our people and for all human beings. In facing this crisis of our future, the idea of walking to raise awareness was born.

We are walking to honor the legacy of our ancestors during Hwééldi, who, a 150 years ago, were forced to walk hundreds of miles in the winter during away from our homelands in the winter to be imprisoned for four years in the name of American colonization. During this time of great suffering, our ancestors thought of our homeland, mountains, and prayed that future generations would carry on our way of life. It is in their memory and out of this profound love for the land that we are walking. It is time to heal from the legacy and trauma of colonization that we having been living under for too long.

It is our intention to walk throughout the Navajo Nation to document both the beauty of land and people and how this is being desecrated by resource extraction. We will do this through a social media campaign and a documentary films. Along our route, we will visit communities to listen to the issues our people are facing and share information about the state of water, air, land, and health, as our communities often have very little access to media or information about these issues. Our hope is that we can help to inspire our people to become engage in the care our land, air, and water, and culture so that we will have a future as Diné.

On January 6, 2015, we will start from the fireplace and doorway of Diné Bikéyah, at Dził Nahodiłii (Huerfano, NM) and Ch’ool’i’i , the emergence place of our people, which is threatened by fracking. There are over 400 proposed drill sites and within the past couple months over 100 have been started in the region. From there we will walk to communities through the Eastern Agency, and then to Tsoodzil (Mt. Taylor, Grants, NM) which also threaten by uranium mining. This first leg of our journey will be nearly 300 miles, and will take us approximately 3 weeks.

In the seasons to come, we will extend our walk to the other mountains and regions of Diné Bikéyah. To Doo’o’k’osliid (San Francisco Peak, Flagstaff, AZ) in the Spring, the Dibé Ntsáá (Hesperus, CO) in the Summer, and in the fall we will go all the way to Sisnajiní (Blanca Peak, Alamosa, CO). All combined, we will be walking over 1000 miles in 2015.

We are asking for support to cover the expenses of this journey through 2015 including gear, food, media/outreach and educational materials.

Gear – It is our intention to use as little fossil fuels as possible during our journey, so we want to carry as much as possible, therefore we are asking for funding for packs and lightweight gear including sleeping bags, tents, etc… We will also be facing extreme weather during this walk, so funding will also be used for jackets, thermals, and other cold/extreme weather clothing. We also will be needing socks, good shoes, and first aid supplies to keep us going.

Food – food to feed our walkers daily and our support crew.

Media/Outreach – a major component of this walk is to raise awareness about the issues we are facing and document the impacts of resource colonization, so we need funding for media equipment and too get the word out via internet, newspaper, radio, and television.

Educational Materials – this is to cover the expense of printing materials and documents to distribute to communities as we pass through. We want to share as much information as possible

Axhé’hee! Thank you for your support!

Fundraiser | Facebook

nihigaalbeeiina [at] gmail [dot] com

704901_493045424050316_1076545837_o_218x30057fa18e7fbfbFrom Black Mesa Indigenous Support:

BIG MOUNTAIN SPRING TRAINING CAMP
MAY 16th-23rd, 2014
BIG MOUNTAIN, DINEH NATION

#Honor40Years
#Not1MoreRELOCATION
#KeepitintheGround

“What we are trying to save—the Female Mountain—is alive. She is alive, she has blood flowing through her veins, which is the Navajo Aquifer, and the coal they are digging is Her liver. They are destroying Her.” –Marie Gladue, Big Mountain Relocation Resister

“We need to exercise our right to be human. To gather on the land and have our words be heard by the ground, the trees, and each other.” –Louise Benally, Big Mountain Relocation Resister

During this moment of peak visibility around climate change, we extend this invitation for a training camp on Big Mountain. We’ll gather to honor 40 years of Indigenous resistance to cultural genocide, forced relocation, and large-scale coal mining.

*Application link at bottom of email*

The Elders Circle of the 40-Year Sovereign Dineh Nation Resistance, with Black Mesa Indigenous Support (BMIS)–a collective working in solidarity with the Big Mountain and surrounding resistance communities–as well as Radical Action for Mountain Peoples Survival (RAMPS),  Missourians Organizing for Reform/Revolution & Empowerment (MORE), and Save the Confluence are collaboratively organizing this camp.

Background on the Training Camp

Building on alliances made during last June’s gathering on decolonization, the collaborative planning process for this gathering has been a combination of conference calls and in-person meetings. Since September, there have been five community meetings on Black Mesa with elders, second generation resisters, and collective members from BMIS. Additionally, monthly meetings are held in Flagstaff with youth and local organizations. Through these meetings, community members have guided the tone, outreach, messaging, goals, and ceremonies necessary for the preparation of this camp. When asked what kind of action elders wanted to see, they shared examples of the different forms of action they have taken while defending their right to remain on their ancestral homeland. They expressed looking forward to sharing their stories as to inspire next generations.

Camp organizers are connecting with trainers and workshop presenters from organizations such as Multicultral Alliance for a Safe Environment (MASE), Save the Confluence, Palestinian Youth Movement, RAMPS, MORE, No One is Illegal (Canada), Puente Human Rights Movement, Sixth World Solutions, Black Mesa Water Coalition, Anti-Uranium Groups, and the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission. The camp offers a variety of  non-violent direct action (NVDA) skills and workshops grounded in legacies of land-based resistance. Spiritual, cultural, artistic practices and healing will be foregrounded.

The workshops and trainings will include:

  • Introduction and History of NVDA

  • The History of the Struggle and Land Dispute on Black Mesa

  • Cultural Work as Resistance to Colonialism

  • Frontline Movement Updates

  • Cultural Sharing and Storytelling

  • NVDA techniques

  • Decolonial visioning

  • Art and prop making

  • People’s Media and Communication (including messaging, social media, and live-streaming)

  • Know Your Rights and legal training

  • …and many more

“During this gathering, we want to re-create harmony between Indigenous peoples who have been harmed by relocation policies. We want to re-spark the cross-movement connections made at last June’s Gathering by taking action at the site of disruption–the coal mine itself.” – Danny Blackgoat, community organizer and son of Resister Matriarch, Roberta Blackgoat.

Goals:

*To honor 40 years of resistance on Big Mountain and confront resource colonialism

*To build on strategic alliances between anti-extraction struggles in Appalachia and Black Mesa

*To strengthen connections between Indigenous communities on the front lines of land defense

*To build on cross-movement connections made at last June’s gathering for decolonization (on Black Mesa)

*To expand the solidarity network

*To center cultural and spiritual elements of resistance

Logistics:

The training camp is free, including all food, lodging and training. However, we are encouraging participants to fundraise and donate as they are able to help offset costs. BMIS has limited funds for travel stipends and we are prioritizing funding for Indigenous and frontline communities. There will be limited indoor space for sleeping; most participants will be camping.  The camp will be in a remote area with no running water, paved roads, or electricity.  More details are provided in the application (below).

Call for Sheepherders/ Human Rights Observers:

Resistance community members are requesting returning sheepherders/ human rights observers this spring. Because this camp is held on actively disputed land (see background), it will not be possible without human rights observation during and following the camp. Your involvement will make it possible for the resistance community to participate in the camp and will help mitigate further harassment.

Contact us if you are able to come a week early and help set up base camp!

Click Here to Apply

Contact: BigMountainCamp2014@gmail.com with application questions

In Honor of 40 Years,

The Elders Circle of the Sovereign Dineh Nation, The BMIS Collective, RAMPS, MORE, & Save the Confluence

 

Read more about this film work in progress, and the work of Bahe Katenay of Big Mountain and the filmmakers at blackmesafilm.com

By Brenda Norrell, Censored News

This is what education should become in the future, sharing the voices of Dine’ grassroots people who know the real story of Black Mesa, and the real history of Peabody Coal, corrupt politicians, the dirty coal industry, and how it resulted in Navajo relocation.

This is also what the media should become, uncensored and reporting the voices of truth.

Bahe Katenay was one of those censored by Indian Country Today, before I was terminated as a staff reporter. In that interview, Bahe spoke about the oil and gas drilling in Dinetah, the sacred place of origin, and the role of the “puppet” Navajo Nation Council, which signs energy leases, is coopted by the US government and threatens future generations of Navajos with water rights loss, pollution from dirty coal power plants, and destruction of the earth.

In the interview censored by Indian Country Today concerning those oil and gas leases, Bahe Katenay said, “I am also saddened when I think that, because these lands were given away for profit, the rest of our sacred lands everywhere are being desecrated, today: Mount Taylor, San Francisco Mountains, and Big Mountain.”

Click here to read more…

BMIS Fundraiser - 11.21.13

Click here to donate!

All funds will go directly to purchasing supplies, tools, food, and building materials for Dineh (Navajo) elders and families at Big Mountain who are in their fourth decade of resisting forced relocation and coal strip mining on their ancestral lands.

To be clear, these donated funds will *not* be used to cover transportation/food/etc costs for the supporters/organizers (us) who will be heading out to the land to volunteer our labor. We will each be paying our own costs out of pocket in order to be self-sufficient on the land.

This fundraiser is hosted by Santa Cruz Indigenous Solidarity, in partnership with Black Mesa Indigenous Support. If you have any questions, please email sheepandsagebrush [at] gmail.com – Your donations are so greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Click here to donate!

Greetings from Black Mesa Indigenous Support,

We are writing to ask for support for an amazing event this October. The Big Mountain Survival School Remembrance Gathering will be held the 6th and 7th of October. This is an anniversary of sorts; it’s been 20 years since the last Sovereign Dineh Nation (SDN) Survival School.  Funds/supplies are being raised with the intention of this being a NEW beginning.

Long time resisters from Big Mountain, Jeddito, Sanders, Flagstaff, and New Mexico are collaborating with Martha Bourke, a 25 year+ supporter to Remember and Reinvigorate by holding a Survival School gathering. Martha has been involved first through the Big Mountain Support Group that published “Big Mountain News,” ran caravans to two Spring Survival Gatherings, coordinated the Weaving for Freedom Project, and was a core facilitator for the SDN Survival School from ’89-’92, as well as assisting with two delegations to the Peabody shareholders meetings.

Several BMIS collective members plan on playing a support role at the gathering this October and want to encourage our network to read Martha Bourke’s inspiring letter and account of Survival School and make a donation with Survival School in the bylines.

“The SDN survival school was a traditional and contemporary arts and crafts day camp that was held for several weeks each summer 1989 – 1992 at the SDN-Big Mountain Survival Camp / Resistance Outpost.  We served 50+ children (including providing shuttle, snacks etc.), creating a space where families from “both sides of the fence” could experience multi-generational recreation in a culturally supportive context which provided respite from the stresses and divisions created by relocation policies. As well as develop opportunities where families on the Land, visiting family members and supporters could experience positive outcomes in the face of what continues to be the slow grind of Genocide.”

“A young woman, a mom herself now who saw me at this year’s Big Mountain Sundance, was reminiscing and told me, “I’ve never tasted a cheese sandwich as good as the ones you made at Survival School.”  I hugged her close and said, “Sweetheart, it WASN”T the sandwich…it was the GOOD feelings!”  In the few weeks that I have been working on this, here are some comments from people who participated as children between 1989 and 1992….

“Awee, I remember those times.. fun crafts and pottery making… my all time favorite was making masks.. n decorating em… also candle making on the roof of the underground storage room….”

“I think this might have been my initial inspiration for community based youth programs and youth empowerment. FUN TIMES!”

This year while most will be enjoying a three-day weekend in “honor” of Columbus…let us come together to Reactivate, Revitalize, Rededicate the sovereign oriented efforts of Dineh land-base learning.
 
Support we are looking for:

  • Funds -for foods, art supplies, to haul firewood & water, rent a generator, canvas shelter,
  • Materials – Art supplies in general and specifically, watercolors, brushes, ass’t paper, beads, bath towels and straw mats for felting,
  • Instructors / Helpers – Folks who have a traditional or contemporary art/ craft/ skill to share either half or full day projects geared towards elementary, middle school and youths.
  •  A gifted elementary art instructor (who has a history on the land) is interested in doing watercolors and printmaking; paper and t-shirts. Community members from Black Mesa have expressed interest in sharing herbal knowledge and felting and beading.
  • Audio/Visual Assistance -We want someone to manage and setup for an outdoor movie night, or either taking complete responsibility or working with me (so I can know what is needed and try to get equipment here in Taos).
  • Who Is Invited:
  • ·       Dineh kids and youth with their families who are affected by relocation and cultural displacement.
  • ·       Non-Native volunteers and instructors.

o   If you are coming through BMIS please contact us about volunteering or instructing because this is a community focused event and if there are more volunteers than needed, we might see if you can go to another home site to herd sheep or support in other ways. It is emphasized that you provide your own camping supplies and transportation.

Agenda Overview:
Saturday Oct 6th will be devoted to crafts, games and a movie night.
Sunday October 7th we will be ecological, culture hike to the original Survival Camp site and have more activities.

Twenty years after the last Survival School…..Twenty years after the great swell of awareness re: indigenous struggle in the face of the celebrating Columbus…..Won’t you support / join in honoring the Dineh spirit of resistance…..

Contact: Martha Bourke – 575-758-7045
sdnsurvives@hotmail.com
or blackmesais@gmail.com