Report on the state of the Animals in the Big Mountain resistance area

by Julia Orr, Director-Animal Welfare: SOL Communications

Date: 31 Aug 1999 15:07:50 -0700

The following statements concerning animal abuses on Big Mountain Indian
Reservation, Arizona and the Winslow Tract Ranch managed by the Navajo/Hopi Land
Commission, was either witnessed by myself, Julia Orr, or is information
collected by Sol Communications, a non- profit organization working in support
of the Dine'h peoples.
The Dine'h people are under livestock restrictions imposed by the Bureau of
Indian Affairs. They have had 90% overall, of their animals reduced and
confiscated. The BIA has a long history of animal abuse, one incident was
recounted by the elders that their livestock was rounded up, herded until they
where exhausted, and then burnt alive.
After the BIA had imposed number restrictions on the amount of livestock the
families where allowed to keep, the stock where taken to the Winslow Tract
Ranch. Sections of the ranch are held in trust by the State Department of
Agriculture and the rest owned by the Navajo Nation. The ranch was declared a
drought emergency area last spring and to date still has extremely poor grazing
and the only available water is salty. Our veterinary report states that approx.
30 - 40 head are very weak, coats are rough and body soars fair. It is his
professional opinion that these cows are reflecting their environment i.e. lack
of forage , heat extremes, salty water and distance between forage and water.
There are numerous orphaned calves who show signs of malnutrition and are not
being cared for. Some families have cattle missing. At the branding station I
observed the cattle in poor physical condition, the land looked extremely sparse
and available water was dirty to the extent of dead frogs floating on the
surface. Neither food, water or shade was made available to the cattle. One cow
after being herded many miles gave birth in appalling conditions, again no food,
water or shade. An elder refused to brand one of her cows because it had a
dislocated hip, still, the BIA took it and branded it. It is extremely difficult
for people to get to Winslow to care for their cows. They have no transport, no
money and no trailers to take their horses to ride the range. The elderly owners
cannot afford the $4 (approx.) per head monthly grazing fee for the use of this
range. The ideal resolution is for the elders to take their cattle home.
Unfortunately the number restriction makes this impossible at present. The
situation is in desperate need of help, with regular deliveries of feed and
fresh water. Donations for veterinary costs, vehicles and gas are imperative,
along with the co-ordination of trailers and horses for the elders to be able to
care take of their own cows. About $10,000 annually is needed to make the
grazing fee alone.
On the land itself the sheep and cattle are constantly in danger of being
poisoned by chemicals dumped from the mines that run into the local creeks. One
family had 85 sheep die in 24 hours after they had drunk poisoned water. There
have been many other cases of poisoned animals since the mines opened and never
with any compensation paid to the families
Due to the appalling circumstances the Dine-h find themselves in, they are
unable to care for their beloved domestic animals. Dogs and cats are suffering
from malnutrition, mange, ticks, fleas and flea anemia.
The Dine-h people have a deep and profound respect for their domestic and farm
animals. They need help to care for their cattle, sheep, horses,
cats and dogs.