In Loving Memory of
Roberta Blackgoat

Photo Courtesy of Eva Goes, Sweden
All Rights Reserved


by Al Swilling


When the word "warrior" is spoken or read, the first thought is of a strong, proud Native American man, rifle in hand, passionately fighting for his people. Seldom does one envision an Elder woman sheepherder. Roberta Blackgoat was a gentle Dine'h woman who lived a simple, traditional life weaving and herding the sheep that provided the wool for the yarn she used in her weavings, yet she was as much a warrior as Geronimo, Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, or Tecumseh.

When Peabody Coal Company found coal on and around Black Mesa, convinced the U.S. government's Bureau of Indian Affairs to set up the puppet Hopi and Navajo Tribal Councils for the sole purpose of signing away the mineral rights to the land, and convinced Congress that the Hopi and Dine'h should be forcibly removed from their ancestral lands and made to give away their birthrights and leave the land that Creator had given them to care for and protect, Roberta Blackgoat stood in defiance against them. When the "Navajo Nation Tribal Council," the government that was supposed to protect the rights and interests of its people, turned a blind eye to the relocation issue and refused to get involved, Roberta gathered together the other Dine'h resisters and formed the original Sovereign Dine'h Nation. To be sure her intentions were crystal clear, Roberta posted a sign in her front yard that read:

Entering Sovereign Dine' Nation
All people who respect the land and the laws
of the Dine' are welcome.
Warning All federal, state, and tribal personnel:
Your authority DOES NOT apply here.
All your actions will be counteracted.

Sovereign Dine'h Nation Sign
Photo Courtesy of Al Swilling,
SENAA Int. All rights reserved.