Big Mountain Update
Words from the Land and Replies to Questions about Unity

by Bahe Y. Katenay
08 August 2004

[Share with appropriate Big Mtn. update outlets and friends. Author's Note: I have tried to make a couple of visits into the Heart of the Resistance Territories to get a sense of what is going on and what the resisters are saying. This is my info gathering in the last three weeks. I do my best to convey and translate the words and events to the best of my ability. Thanks for your understanding. BYK, (UAP/August2004)]

Kee Watchman: The herds are healthy despite the drought and there has been a good lambing season. Unfortunately, the BIA-Hopi Rangers and Police are planning on conducting a livestock count and they are obviously going to issue out orders to reduce all the herds. This only applies to those residents who have the Accommodation Lease Agreement but for those who never signed that Agreement are still "illegally" grazing and they have no permit.

We would like for you young people out there to become aware of what is happening to us. All the laws that this Relocation policy has brought to us threatens our language and the practices that are associated with our ancient culture. These laws have separated the traditionals and the youth, and many of the youth don't want to live on the land or come to visit and stay for a weekend. As time goes by, the old ones are forgetting the many aspects of wisdoms and we have no young people to retain such knowledge about the language and the religious values of the land.

The white society has recorded how our language is spoken and has recorded the religious significant of our lands --lands that are being taking away or have been abandoned, already. You see what is wrong here? We, the Dineh society are not making any efforts to preserve our Big Mountain culture. Only a few of us who are educated in the western ways believe we should do something. We must make things right and begin to put out an interest so that our own youth can return occasionally to study the wisdom of the old ones.

Haast'in Niz Begay: I will start by mentioning some experiences that I witnessed in my youth. There were many men in those days that I should have looked up to. But there were not many and only a few I looked up to as role models. I saw many of our men being misled by the new American mindset. They like the alcohol of the Whiteman and they like to act out an attitude which made them have fights. Today, none of these men are around! Other men chose to work hard by making a corn field, raise livestock, and established home sites within their grazing areas, and these sorts of men still live to this day!

Today, in my old age, I have discovered that if you do not value life and land your future as a human person can be limited. My greatest role model was my grand father who happened to be a medicine man. In my spare time or while I had a break from herding sheep, he taught me how to assist in making Sand Paintings for Healing Chant Ceremonies. And since then, I must have sand-painted every category of these sacred diagrams and symbols. I feel I have acquired a discipline from this type of role model, and this has led me to work the cornfield to make sure that the crops survived. This has made me rise at dawn each day to greet Great Spirit and to fulfill that, that day will be accomplished with the continuance of life -- in the Way of the Dineh.

Now, the modern world has something which we call, "the Counting/Measurement Method" (western education). Perhaps, those of you who know this new knowledge method can acquire another form of discipline to help the indigenous society better their futures. Maybe use these disciplines to nourish the environment so that it becomes pure again and so that, we can provide a better life for our families and for the future generations. So, humble yourself while you are young because the challenges in the latter part of your life are harder and you will have to endure.

Mazzie K. Begay: As we continue to reside out here, we feel very much alone. My husband's relatives have all been relocated so I'm sure he feels more alone. But we are a few. The old age has come upon us and that makes it more difficult in addition to the loneliness. Our communities were so alive before the relocation policies were forced on us. Families would invite each other to ceremonies and other celebrations. Now, life is so quiet and year round we try to carry on the Dineh life ways.

The only news I have are that we manage the animals on a daily basis. We try to herd our sheep and plant a little patch of crops. In the winter time, it becomes hard to do the work outside in the elements. Sometimes the weather might be too cold and if we have extra hay we will just give it to the animals and not try to herd them.

It is nice when we get visits from our relatives and our grandchildren. That gives us much joy to hear noises of children and sounds of play. Then, most of the time it is back to quietness and perhaps, the police will come around just to see if we are doing something illegal.

We go to community meetings at our (former) district center but then, some Dineh at those meetings will tell us, "You are Hopis; you have no say in the community affairs." So, we come back to this side of the partition line and the BIA-Hopi Rangers tell us, "Because you are not Hopis, you will Not do this and that!" This is loneliness. What else can you call it? This is how we live, today, under the federal government's "humane" relocation laws.

UPDATE: The late Roberta Blackgoat homestead is still there! A big Thank You for all your Prayers and thoughts! 20 sheep and goats with their guardian dogs still roam the range, the birds still sing joyfully, and the bunnies still play about. The corn, squash, melons, and tators are doing wonderful even though "Dave" had to replant. Please, visit __ for further updates.

U.S. Energy Department and the Great White Fathers in Washington have prescribed coal as the further source for at least 90 percent of the US's electrical needs. This means Mr. Peabody will be leisure-jetting all the way to the bank and of course, laughing too.

AUTHOR'S COMMENT: There had been recent questions or issues regarding "Unity" at Big Mountain in terms of "No unified voice comes from the resistance." This refers to, also, the relocation resistance and the anti-mining fronts not acknowledging that they are all in the same boat.

The support groups need to be cautious of judgments they make about "which Dineh," because this "disunity" is reinforced by the belief that a distinction should be made. Based on this, it makes the Partition Line (that the U.S. Judicial System ordered) more sacred than the land and its life forms.

Lines are now being drawn to signify as to who are the 'real' resisters and who are Not. It seems possible that one can, perhaps, define how the other suffers worst than the other, or the good and the impostures. Then, at the same time, activists who use these "borderline distinctions" resist the corporate greed or the mechanism of International Monetary Fund and accuse such institutions for dividing nations, the poor and the rich, or the natural environment and its natural habitats. Similarities should be drawn between corporate globalization and relocation at Black Mesa.

Also, for those who are caught up in the idea of what is "too radical," or "what is not true representation of the issues," they are just assisting the unbalances of human societies: Black and White, Islam and Christians, a "Free" society vs. an anti-democratic society, tree-huggers vs. loggers. It is an American mentality to judge Big Mountain between a true and dignified resistance for survival and where a family is located in accordance to some colonial demarcation. (Pondering upon personal issues should definitely be eliminated from the issues of universal survival.) Lets face it there is unity at Big Mountain!

Unity among the global movements might exist, or maybe not. This type of movement is so massive that it could be hard to distinguish an obvious disunity. However, at Big Mountain, there are 250 or so residents who are resisting on lands that have been partitioned and where, disunity can be so obvious. Lets take these residents and see what they all disagree on: _ _ [?]. There are no clues as to what the disagreements could be except and perhaps, deep-rooted petty issues. What is clear is that they all want: to stay on their ancestral Lands, to keep their ancient religious practices, for Peabody coal mining to go away, and to allow the homelands to be an indigenous world forever.

There is still one voice in regards to the core issues of the struggles. So, let's try to continue on with the resistance as Dineh, Hopis, and non-Indigenous relatives. We have not put a dent in Lehman Brothers and Peabody, yet. And already, the great, "Free" American society has chosen coal as the answer for next, brief future until all is exhausted. Dineh elders, despite their old and frail conditions, are thinking far into the future. How many generations into the future do the rest of activism think of?

For more information, go to:

[UPA, Unpopular Activist Page, August 2004, Bahe Y. Katenay] 



Reprinted as an historical reference document under the Fair Use doctrine of international copyright law.