The View From The Hogan #15 Little month of ripening crops (August 2000)
Notes from Big Mountain
(Photos at bottom of page)
I know its late in September, but here is the news from August.
So, the persecution of Kee Shay continues. Some background....... Kee
Shay is an elderly Dineh man. He and his family have spent their lives
raising a small flock of sheep, tending a small cornfield, hauling water and
firewood and maintaining ceremony. In short he is a traditional man. He does not speak English, and like most of the elders here, does not read or write in any language. Some years ago the Feds decided to put a fence across the land. Everything on one side of the fence was "given" to the Hopi Tribal Council. The logic of this still escapes me. How can some people thousands of miles away, who work for an institution that did not exist when these people began living here (the U.S. Govt.) "give" something away that never belonged to them in the first place? It seems to be based on the notion that Might is Right. They have more guns, therefore what they say is law. Anyway, this fence cut right through the middle of the Shay families customary use area, separating their summer home from their winter home. When I say "summer home", we are not talking about a condo in Florida. We're talking about a small hogan and corral, somewhere to move the flock to as the seasons change. This movement is the essence of good range management. At the time this happened, Kee happened to be in his home that the feds "allowed" the Navajos to keep. The family continued to use their customary use area and homes.
Now the Corporate Hopis have slapped one of their infamous "exclusion
orders" on Kee. Telling him he is trespassing on the Hopi Reservation. The
rationale of the Exclusion Orders is to remove people who pose a "threat to
the Hopi Tribe". How is Kee threatening the Hopi Tribe? The nearest Hopi is twenty miles away. None of the absentee Hopi cattle barons are running stock near his land. After talking with the Corporate Hopis involved, a reporter covering the case came to the conclusion that they were trying to create a "rubber-stamp" procedure to easily remove Navajos. Efficiency in the service of human suffering. Where have I heard that before?
So, for 10 days Kee had to endure sitting in a stuffy room listening to
these spiteful people rant and rave in a foreign tongue. This is a point that
the Elders here bring up all the time. If this is a dispute between Hopis and
Navajos, how come its all being done with Whiteman language and Whiteman Law? Any of you who are familiar with a subsistence lifeway knows how difficult it is to take time off from the work. Not only is Kees work suffering, somehow he must try and raise money to pay for legal help. Those doing this to him have their pockets stuffed with coal royalties. Its not hurting them at all. On the seventh day of this farce Kee collapsed and was rushed to hospital. Success for the Corporate Hopis. For thirty years they have done everything they can to cause suffering and stress to the resisters. Now this "trial" is over. They say they will render a decision by November. Why so long? The decision is a foregone conclusion.
A simple observation. There is more dignity and humility in Kee Shays
little finger than in all the greedy, vicious, "suits" doing this to him. What value does dignity and humility have?
So, I wonder how many of you have noticed the parallel between the
current crop of "exclusions", and the events that led to the creation of the
original "Moqui" (what the feds used to call the Hopis) reservation? Back in the 1880's, the U.S. program of genocide against native people was in full
swing. One of the major tools in this process was the kidnapping of the
Indian kids and forcing them into schools where they were brainwashed into becoming "good" Americans. Every vestige of their culture was attempted to be removed. (Incidentally, this process of genocide by "education" continues unabated today.) Back then, there were a couple of whitemen living in the
Hopi villages. They encouraged the traditionals to resist, telling them that
the US had no legal right to do this. Which is in fact true as the Hopi had
signed no treaty with the U.S. Well, the U.S. Indian agent for the Hopis was
incensed at this meddling in the process, and tried to have the whitemen
kicked out of Hopi, but found he did not have the "jurisdiction" to do this,
so he complained to head office in DC and demanded that the President (one Chester Arthur) create a reservation for the Hopis, so that he, the agent,
would then have the power to stop this interference. In response, in 1882,
President Arthur drew an abstract square on the map of Arizona, having no
relationship to existing land-use. Some Hopis lived outside of the square,
and some Navajos lived inside it. All this, simply to give the agent the
power to "exclude" troublemakers. So now, more than 100 years later, the
exact same process continues. Traditional Hopi and Navajo people continue to resist US genocide with the assistance of some non-indians. This time the US uses the Hopi Tribal Council for "jurisdiction". The HTC barks about how this is a great step forward for "Indian Sovereignty", but in truth it just gives the Tribal Council unlimited dictatorial power to enforce the will of the corporations and US Government against Indian people.
And if you want more evidence, consider this. Arlene Hamilton was
excluded for putting up a teepee for a few weeks. According to the Corporate Hopis, this constituted "a threat to the Hopi Tribe". As everyone here knows, the real reason she was excluded was because she helps the grandmas sell their rugs. She helps them to survive. The HTC and the feds do not want them to survive. They want them to move off. Back in the summer one grandma was paid a visit by a gang of corporate Hopis. They tried to tell her that Arlene was "ripping her off". Then they tried to tell her that she needed a permit from the Hopi Tribal Council to weave. This is pure bullshit. Under the terms of the Accommodation Agreement (that this particular grandma had signed) it states quite plainly that the people do not need permits for such activity, but of course the grandmas can't read the agreement they signed, as its in English. Its not even plain English, but "legalese". Then they tried to tell the grandma that she had to pay tax to the HTC on any rugs she sold. Again, pure bullshit. The Corporate Hopis did in fact recently attempt to introduce some taxes, one of which would have meant that the grandmas would have to pay tax on their rug sales (but Hopis wouldn't), but the Hopi people voted overwhelmingly against these taxes. So, why are these Corporate Hopis intimidating and harassing this grandma?
Clan Dyken are getting ready to hit the road again with their Beauty Way
Tour. For those who don't know what that is....Clan Dyken are a group of
fine musicians. Every year around this time they do a series of gigs around
the West, raising funds and supplies to bring out here to the land on the
annual Thanksgiving Supply Run. So, if you are interested in contributing to
these fine cause, if you are interested in arranging a gig in your area, or
just if you are interested in attending a good gig, please contact Michael
With the closing in of the evenings, I'm getting time to read again.
Interesting book I've just finished is "Navajo Roundup" by Lawrence Kelly.
Basically the book is the correspondence between Kit Carson and his boss
General Carleton during the round up of the Navajos in 1863-64 taking them to the concentration camp at Fort Sumner...known among the Navajos as "The Long Walk". The feds have justified the removal in the past 30 years of 10,000 Navajos, and the partition of this land in 1974 on the grounds that the Navajos have only lived here since they got released from the concentration
camp in 1868. That they are in fact recent arrivals onto Hopi Land. According to the dispatches sent by Kit Carson, the army made several expedition up onto Black Mesa, rounding up Navajos. So, how could they round up Navajos here, if there weren't any Navajos here? Why does the US Govt. ignore its own documentation? Another point that is repeated in the correspondence is that after 8000 Navajos were incarcerated, Carson kept insisting that at least that many Navajos were still at large, to the north, south, and west of the Hopi Mesas. Carleton chose to ignore this information, as he was basking in the success of his campaign. So there you have it..... Navajos have been living here for a lot longer than the feds (and HTC) are now trying to claim. I have heard many stories from the Elders here that talk of when their relatives came home from the concentration camp, joining their families that had continued to occupy this land for centuries.
Got a press release earlier in the summer about a mural that had been
unveiled down in Phoenix. The article was titled "Mural depicts the agony of relocation". Painted by a young Navajo artist, a large part of the mural
concerns itself with the relocation of Navajos to the concentration camp back in the 1860's. I think its great that such a subject a being bought to more peoples attention through the mural, but I worry about the fact that not a
mention is made that more Navajos have been relocated in the past 30 years
than were relocated in the 1860's. I worry that it is much easier to deal
with unpleasant subjects if they are viewed as history. We can blame our
unenlightened ancestors and feel that we could not be a party to such a
thing. In the meantime we can ignore the genocide that continues to be
perpetrated. I guess in a hundred and fifty years we might see a mural
depicting the current relocation.
With the help of some friends, I am in the process of setting up my own
Website. One section will be something I call Gallery of Resistance, that
will include posters, paintings, poems and songs about the war that has been raging here....So, if any of you have any of the old posters, paintings or
drawings you've done, poems or songs you've written, or if you know someone else who has such things, I'd like to hear from you.
Back in the real world, its been a hot dry summer. We kept hearing about
the rains down south, but nothing fell here. Water became the focus of every
day. I figured out I was spending about 25 hours a week just hauling water
and dealing with watering the sheep and corn. I don't know, but my guess is
that there are still some of you out there that work a 40 hour week. Imagine
if over half your work week was used up just dealing with supplying yourself with water. A healthy and respectful attitude towards the value of water must surely ensue. In mid August the rains finally came. First one, then a few more. There was even a bit of flooding. I suspect we will soon get notices telling us our flocks must be impounded due to waterlogging. So, the thirsty garden started to burst forth, the springs recharged, and the grass started to grow. What was yellow became green. Makes the sheep real happy. The evenings are starting to cool down, so now its time to bring in the firewood.
Surveillance seems to have been stepped up. I know that "out there" you
can't go anywhere without security cameras watching you, but I wonder how many of you are targeted for surveillance. We live in the middle of nowhere. The goons park their trucks on the ridges and spy on us with binoculars. They count the sheep, they see who is visiting who. If you were to come and visit us, chances are you will be stopped and have your ID's checked. Now they are doing more horseback surveillance. What a waste of time and money. There is no crime going on here. It's just a continuation of 30 years of intimidation and harassment.
I'd like to end here with a personal message. This is for all those of
you who know me, either through the time we spent together over the years, or simply because of our dialogue through this electronic medium. The rest of you need read no further.
I am blessed with an incredible life.
Without exaggeration I can say that I am the richest person I know.
In vain I search for a justification for this.
However, I find at least a partial explanation, and that is each of you.
Each of you knows that it is our nature to be kind, generous and
compassionate (in a word, to love)
I know that you know this, because that is what you have taught me.
Many of you hold me (and everyone else here) in your prayers.
Can there be a more precious gift than this?
Many of you send gifts. Tobacco, tapes, books, things you have made for me.
Many of you share yourselves with me through your words.
All of these activities involve you giving me some of your time.
I believe our time to be extremely precious.
It can be said, in one sense, our time is actually the only thing we possess.
So. when we give someone our time, is this not love?
The upshot of all this is that I carry with me a profound sense of gratitude.
Accompanying it a deep sense of responsibility.
So, I'd like to tell you this.
The work I do here, my daily labor (as humble as it is)
In a very real sense, I do this FOR you.
Because I believe I am only doing what each of you would do, if you were
in my position.
I suspect also that many of you could do a better job of it.
But then, what the hell do I know,... I'm just a sheepherder.
"Respect for the rights of others is peace"
Thanks for giving me your time by reading this
The Water of Life 1
A view from the hogan
Laid up with a bad leg, this
The Water of Life 2
The second rain