Sara Hayes, Director
Names were not given here in hope that they will face no more repercussions
as a result of this gathering.
Mountain Spring Survival Gathering 2004, held to honor the memory
of Grandmother Roberta Blackgoat, brought together supporters of
Diné People still residing on the HPL who
relocation. As a result of this gathering a sense
of renewal of this support emerged; it also allowed all who attended
to interact with one another, thus building the support network,
them the opportunity to interact with some of the residents and family
members who also attended. The numbers of those present varied as
there were comings and goings all the days of this gathering.
day began with a sunrise ceremony, participants joining together
to welcome the new day with prayer. So the day began with good
feelings and thoughts
that continued throughout all the days of this gathering, some
spending time completing everyday chores like chopping wood,
readying the soil for planting,
sheepherding, looking out, and cooking meals. Some spent their
time listening to the residents as well as speaking to them about
their concerns, what
was needed, how they could continue their support.
resident asked that officials be contacted to tell them to stop
the mining. This included the OSM (Office of Surface Mining).
It was also asked that people write to the BIA in Washington,
DC, asking them not to fund the Hopi Tribe for relocation, telling
them that this is "destroying
the (Diné) People and their lifehood." It
was said that Washington, DC is funding this as well as livestock
impoundments. When asked about talking
to members of Congress regarding the repeal of PL 93-531, there
was no confidence that Congress would listen. However, the
word must continue to get out accurately about what's
going on at Big Mountain.
days and nights were full. The prayer fire burned continuously so
that those who felt the need could
go there, and offer prayer throughout
the day and evening.
In the evenings, supporters gathered together, again listening to family
members, sharing ideas, talking about the day's events, talking about
the land, watching the night sky, and joking amongst themselves. Some
also participated in ceremony at sundown.
While resistance territory is deep in the HPL, those attending were not deterred
by the narrow, rough roads filled with rocks and ruts that twisted through
dry washes, and up and down canyons as they came to join together
What they found there was peace most of the time when the uninvited
company, the Hopi Rangers showing up at least twice daily, wasn't around.
When they did, the tension was immediately felt. There were the notices
delivered like that from the HTC chairman, telling them that they needed
a permit to hold this gathering. Shades of Sun Dance 2001 came to mind
with this one. There was also supposed to be a letter from the other
side, asking that this permit be granted. Nothing came of either.
the visits continued, one with two armed FBI along with two Hopi
Rangers. I'm not sure what the FBI expected to find at the gathering.
the agents were wearing bulletproof vests, one firing questions
at one of the organizers of this event after demanding to know who
for it while the other checked out the area around
where all this was happening. The agent asking questions inquired
about non-Indian squatters (he was told there were some here or so
structures being built, about "protecting the land for the Indians," and
much more. These questions were handled with total disrespect for
the one being questioned as well as for the Diné grandmother present.
The agent really didn't want to listen to anything either had to
and continued to try to coerce the one being questioned to separate
the crowd who witnessed these actions so that they could hold a "normal
conversation." This never happened.
Another Hopi Ranger came the next day, one who said this was his "territory" for
patrol, trying to "clear up" matters, saying he knew nothing
about the FBI coming until he got back to the "office," that
he wanted to check to see "how everyone was doing." saying
that the FBI were no longer in the area, that they were looking for "a
female on an outstanding warrant." Strange that this was never
mentioned while the FBI was present. He also
said he wanted to make it perfectly clear that this was "not harassment." Then,
as he was leaving, another Hopi Ranger drove by, waving. There had to
be a second one. They always appeared in pairs, armed. They always
refused to remove their firearms.
Speaking to one who was helping a family out by taking care of the
homesite and sheep, he thought he had made good connections with the
Hopi Rangers in the area and the members of the Hopi Land Team who
showed up. This wasn't to be the case, however, when they showed
attending the gathering had left, telling him to get rid of the livestock,
to clear out the belongings in the house and hogan, because they are
to be demolished. The day before this, one of the Diné grandmothers
expressed her concern about the preservation of this homesite. This
must be something on their minds,
those who continue to resist.
Now there is concern for what will happen to this homesite where this
gathering was held. The threat of the destruction of this historic
site is very real. But there isn't only concern for this. There are
the grandmothers who attended this gathering. Now that those who attended
have left, who is there to witness the harassment they will endure
as a result? What message does this promised demolition send to those
resisters still living on the HPL? This isn't just a "house" or
dishonor of one who fought so hard to preserve their way of life, and
their right to remain on the land. It is yet another attempt to break
As one Diné grandmother put it, "This land, the
Hopi do not want it. I've been conversing with a Hopi who says we don't
want this land here. It was taken for no reason.... They're sorry we
are going through some hard times."
Another younger resident described
the continual harassment as something done in a "quiet manner
Please see the press
release to see what you can
do to help.