ACTION ALERT - Big Mountain

Sovereign Dineh Nation (
Fri, 10 Jan 1997 13:03:27 -0800



********************** BIG MOUNTAIN ACTION ALERT!!! **********************

January 10, 1996

What is going on right now?

On February 11-14, 1997 in Phoenix, Arizona "fairness hearings" will be conducted before Judge Earl H. Carroll, federal judge of the U.S. District Court for the district of Arizona. This will be the last opportunity for the HPL residents to testify in court concerning their objections to the settlement of the Manybeads case. The objectors strongly feel that the Settlement/Accommodation Agreement still impinges upon their First Amendment rights as well as their ability to continue their traditional way of life.

How did it get to this point?

This is a complicated issue, but it boils down to this: forcibly removing people from their ancestral sacred land in order to mine coal, estimated to be worth billions of dollars. What we have here are powerful mineral corporations and the Navajo and Hopi Tribal Councils*, in collusion with the Federal Government, accepting payments to ignore the genocide of a people.

Who are the Big Mountain and Black Mesa resistors?

The "resistors" are traditional Dineh (Navajo) people, many of whom are non-English speaking elders. They are self-sustaining, supporting themselves by herding sheep and cattle, weaving and dry-crop farming while caretaking their Sacred Land. They have earned the name "resistor" from steadfastly refusing forced relocation by the Federal Government, Hopi and Navajo Tribal Councils* and energy corporations.

Where is Big Mountain and the Black Mesa?

In northeast Arizona, approximately 3 hours north of Flagstaff, lies Black Mesa, with Big Mountain to the south. Big Mountain is the best known of the 45 Dineh (Navajo) communities. These communities are surrounded by four mountain peaks immemorially held sacred by Dineh. The traditional people will likely find their small plots of land surrounded by mines.

What happens if they don't relocate or sign the Agreement?

Forced eviction.

What are the effects of the 75-year lease (the Accommodation Agreement)?

If they, the residents of the Hopi Partition Land (HPL), sign the Agreement, they are allowed to inhabit their ancestral land for just 75 years. During that time, they lose their civil and First Amendment rights and face a life under martial law. The overwhelming majority refuse to sign this lease. They know that if they sign, they lose the rights to the land and mining will commence unchecked.

Where will they be relocated to?

In 1980, Congress approved the purchase of a total of 400,000 acres of land as the primary relocation site. This land, called "New Lands", is located on the Rio Puerco, downstream from Church Rock, NM, the site of the largest radioactive spill in this nation's history (1979). Money from Congress, taxpayers' dollars, were used to purchase the knowingly uranium contaminated "New Lands".

Who will enforce the relocation?

The Hopi Rangers and Federal Marshals. The Rangers are a police force equipped with state-of-the-art weaponry. They are under the mandate of the Hopi Tribal Council* and the direction of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Over the years, harassment has been stepped up by order of the Hopi Tribal Council*.

Is this an intertribal land dispute?

No. That has always been a lie created by the Federal Government and the mining interests. The Hopi and Navajo Tribal Councils* are on the same side of the issue as the Federal opposition to the Hopi and Dineh traditional people.

*The Hopi and Navajo Tribal Councils do not necessarily represent traditional interests.

**************** WHAT CAN YOU DO? *****************

At Big Mountain: It can not be stated strongly enough that this is a crucial time for the HPL residents. Highest Priority - In order for the resistors to attend and testify at the hearing, they need supporters to take care of their animals and property while they are away. This includes herding sheep, chopping wood, etc. We ask that you be self sufficient (food, cameras, warm clothes, sleeping gear, binoculars, tape recorders, batteries, etc.) and be here by February 1st in order to be trained and become acquainted with the family you will be supporting. Also, if you are in the Phoenix area we are planning a protest at the courthouse throughout the trial. Please contact our office for specifics.

Locally: Contact your local media. Use this flyer for public service announcements. Organize a protest at a local federal building on February 11th, with a show of support through the end of the trial. Collect dry goods, clothing, financial support and other supplies and send them to our office for distribution on the reservation.

For more information, or if you are interested in coming here to help, please contact the Sovereign Dineh Nation office at (520) 522-8683, fax (520) 522-8741, email as soon as possible.

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