Originally Published 15 May 1999
is a new, regular
feature of SENAA West.
This is a unique opportunity to hear from one of the Dine'h elders and gain insight into the culture and daily lives of traditional Dine'h. We open this page, as Roberta wished us to, with a reprint of one of her previous statements, "Is Anyone Listening?" a statement that Roberta feels is still as appropriate today as it was when she first made it.
Thank you, dear visitor, for your support. You honor us, and you honor the Dine'h elders, by reading Roberta Blackgoat's words. Thank you. Please come back and visit often.
Al Swilling, Founder, SENAA International
This month's column was provided by Bo Peep. Used with permission
|Statement by Roberta Blackgoat, Dine Elder, Big Mountain, Arizona
14 April 1999
My name is Roberta Blackgoat. I am speaking to you from Thin Rock Mesa, the place where I live, the place where I've been born and raised and been taught how to live in this area. For twenty-five years I've been dealing with the government trying to move me off my ancestral lands. My great, great ancestors have been born here; and they've been buried in this area,.... around here there is a lot of my ancestors graveyard sites.
My grandfather had taught me how to care for life on the land in the sacred ways, with the sacred prayers and the sacred songs; and he told me how in the very beginning the world was created and how the Great Spirit has surveyed it for the Dine people in this area, between the Sacred Mountains, Mount Blanca in Colorado, Mount Taylor in New Mexico, San Francisco peaks in Arizona, and Mount Hesperus in Colorado. Between these four Sacred Mountains is a room for the Dine people, where it has been made like a church; and way out on the west side, by the San Francisco Peaks, inside the room is our altar.
And this is the main point, ... that we are being told to move off the land. This is our altar that we can't give up. We can't sell it, we can't buy it, we just have to take care of it and have people live in this area. And now we're being told to move off from our altar. This is why I really need it to be understood. ... That the government .. what they want this land for is what the Mother earth is living on. She is supposed to have a liver, and lungs, and a heart, and all these things are what we are sitting on. Just like our bodies, the Mother Earth has internal organs, ... these are the precious and valuable minerals that she needs; and so, all the equipment and things we make, all our food, even ourselves is made out of the Mother Earth;... and even money is a part of her body that has been turned into money. And now the greed is always working against our Mother Earth, and Mother Earth is suffering.
We've been hearing a lot about tornadoes, ... and earthquakes, ... a lot of these warnings have been going on... That's Her breath, because She is suffering and her breath is giving us warnings. These are the main things that we need to have understood. ... That the people need to be allowed to live in the way that they have been all their lives.
PLEASE, I am wanting to have this understood ... by writing letters to the Congressional leaders, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and all these people to know we have a pain feeling for our Mother Earth. She's getting more surgery, and no patch to it. It's just as when a human being has surgery and something is patched, but I don't believe Mother earth has any patches. They just keep on killing her more and more. I believe more understanding is needed in this way. I am just needing for this to be heard. I am not begging for money or anything, but I'm really hanging on to the world for my Dine people and every living thing.
There is a great loss on the mountains, ... the wildlife people are living there; and the people that fly, they live on the trees; and they all are losing their homes; and the food of the wildlife four-legged people; ... and even the water. ... The people that live in the water are struggling with all the pollution, and the sickness in the spirit of the water; and also all the human beings, ... us Indians, .. all the different tribes, ... they are all facing the same struggles with their land and their food.... They are suffering also. Not just the Navajos are suffering, it's all Indians living in this Indian Country are suffering. I do hope to be having a great help from all you people who are aware, by having you write to President Clinton, and Also Senator McCain, and Bruce Babbitt. Please let them have their hearts to be touched.
I have heard of the Whiteman's story, ... how the Creator made the first man, ... and He saw that he was lonely and so He created a woman for him, ... and He told them that all the things they could see were for them, BUT they must not eat the apple on the tree.... So it is for us Dine people, ... the Creator has told us we MUST look after the land in between the four sacred mountains. So write to the politicians and tell them that if they want us Dine people to move off our sacred land they should SUE THE CREATOR. I think this will be all. Thank you.
For more information please communicate directly with the people on the land .
© May, 1999. All Rights Reserved.