Grandmother’s Crossing the Line...
by Jennafer RainTree

Most people in America, especially Los Angeles are
completely unaware about the long-time struggle that the
Dine’ people have faced at Big Mountain. The people
who are aware of Big Mountain, say it is a campaign that
they haven’t heard about in a long time, and don’t know
that the issue is still burning. In the American Indian
Movement, the issue is alive, but few people have their
ears to the ground; the ground at Black Mesa.

The Energy Mafia
holding hands with Washington

Today, the nation’s worst polluter, the Mohave Generating
Station, is committing environmental racism on the
Mohave children in Laughlin, Nevada while Los Angeles
and Las Vegas remain completely unaware of what their
energy is costing the Native American people. Edison
International remains aloof and not accountable for the
environmental and human devastation they are causing.
The national media black out on the issue is fierce. John
Boyden’s fraudulent misconduct with Peabody Coal
Company and illegal mineral leases still remain untouched.

We all know that Bruce Babbit, one of the nation’s largest
cattle ranchers, is being held in contempt of court for his
fraudulent activities as the head of the Department of the
Interior and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. His role in the
Black Mesa dispute should be included analyzing his
overall affect on Indigenous People. His role has been to
court the energy companies and the federal government in
the date-raping of the Hopi and Dine’ people through their
Tribal Governments.

I am acutely aware of those in the activist movement who
tend to dismiss their personal responsibility on the issue by
classifying this as an Intertribal dispute. Aside from the
fact that this facade began as a government
dis-information campaign which allows Peabody Coal
Company to operate cloaked stealth-fully under this
imaginary war-without any inhibitions. This war of
disinformation makes many Native people tend to not
want to get involved. The voices of the Hopi Resistance
of Dan Evehema, Thomas Banyaca, Valjean Joshvema,
Dennis Khootsi, Vernon Masayesva and many others are
being ignored. The maps I’ve seen show that the Hopi sit
on more coal than the Dine’ on Black Mesa. Plus, they are
losing their water rights, the disaster they are already
facing. Once the energy companies are done with Black
Mesa, the Hopi will be facing the same toxic politics. If
you buy into this Inter-tribal dispute, you basically give
the energy companies what they want, division in the
movement. No matter where we stand on this issue as
individuals, we can all agree that we will be better able to
resolve our differences once the energy companies are
gone. Then the “Big Energy” politics will no longer
pollute our process.
Tensions Mounting at Black Mesa

It is important to set aside our various differences at this
time, so that we may unify against the largest obstacle yet,
the Accomodation Agreement. Signed by President
Clinton, this executive order (despite Indigenous Tribal
Sovereignty) has set the final date for relocation for
February of 2000, giving the BIA complete autonomy to
do what they want, by fear and by force, to get these
people out of the way. This gives both them, and us
approximately 9 months to get it together and solve this

The Hopi Tribe, strangely still under the influence of the
former tribal chair Vernon Sekakaku (formerly known for
his powerful campaign against Peabody for the Aquifer
issues) has instituted an instant policy called the Exclusion
Order. This Exclusion Order calls for the removal of all
non-Indian people from the mesa, who do not have a
permit. Permits are automatically ‘not approved’ or are
ignored by the Tribal Government. This particular
enforcement of Hopi Policy is directed at removing
long-time non-Indian people who support the
Grandmother’s by herding sheep, tending chores and
documenting BIA and Hopi Ranger abuses. This
particular order should state plainly enough that
Indigenous People’s direct involvement is a mandatory
element in the Dine’s successful resistance.

Without daily presence of on-site supporters, the
Grandmothers are vulnerable. Pauline Whitesinger,
without supporter presence on her land, found her horse
shot and killed. She is left alone with a myriad of tracks,
trailer ruts, a collection of 5-day livestock impoundment
orders and the recent impoundment of her cows. It is hard
not to imagine that the BIA can come at any moment and
‘disappear’ whatever and whoever they wish. This fear is
gripping the grandmother’s like no other time in Big
Mountain history. The BIA recently came onto the land of
Anna and Ella Begay. Without an official search warrant
or definitive business they were asked by Anna to leave
her land. They refused the request of this grandmother
and continued a process of harassment that made her
afraid. She then brought out her gun and warned them
again. They continued. She shot at them and at that point
they left. During a visit translated by John Benally, she
spoke to us of how important it is that support be at the
side of the grandmothers. She said that this work is vital
to the survival of her people. The tension on the Mesa is

Seeking International Intervention

The Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance, Mr.
Abdelfattah Amor has released his report on “Religious
Intolerance in the United States”.

“...the Special Rapporteur considers that the actual
situation in the United States in the field of tolerance and
non-discrimination is in general satisfactory.
There are nevertheless some evident exceptions that
must be pointed out, particularly as regards to the
Situation of Native Americans.” – article 74.

After reading the document, it becomes apparent that
Native American people are the only people suffering
religious intolerance through the systematic destruction of
burial sites, sacred sites and denial of site specific
land-based religious beliefs; as well as the situations facing
incarcerated Native Americans.

On the subject of Black Mesa, the Special Rapporteur also
calls “for the observance of international law on freedom
of religion and its manifestations.” This report does not
clearly define the role of international intervention, leaving
us with another toothless call for and end to Religious
Intolerance against the Indigenous People of North
America. A call is being made personally by the Dine’
delegation currently visiting the Human Rights
Commission in Geneva to cite the U.S. for violations of
religious freedoms.

Of all the potential solutions to this issue, none of them
will be effective before the deadline for relocation. If there
isn’t an on-site presence to back the Grandmother’s
commitment to resist during the eviction process over the
next nine months this will certainly end in violence.
“They [BIA] act as if they want another Wounded Knee,”
Roberta Blackgoat.

The Elders at Big Mountain have authored a direct call to
all Chapters of the American Indian Movement to get
personally involved in helping them resist this relocation
process. We are asking for all Chapters of AIM to
personally respond to this crisis.

You can contact Southern California AIM, Fern Matthias
and Leonore Hatathlie at (323) 257-2246.

You can also contact SOL Communications for a copy of
this call from Sovereign Dine’ Nation and to coordinate
direct contact with the Resistors of the Sovereign Dine’
Nation and the campaign to stop the relocation. You can
also request a copy of “Vanishing Prayer” the 17 minute
documentary submitted for the United Nations Assembly
at Geneva during April 1999. Signal of Love
Communications, 888-41-PRAYER 6303 Fair Avenue,
North Hollywood, CA 91606.