MARCH 5th, 1999AD SOL COMMUNICATIONS RUN.
The caravan consisted of 5 vehicles, 4 sport utility vehicles, 1 car and 1 U-Haul trailer.
We were carrying approx. 4000 lbs. of dog food, of which there is still 500 lbs. remaining in LA because we didn't have the space, 1000 lbs. people food, 4 disposable cameras, 7000 mix of blue corn seeds, pinto bean seed, squash seed, zucchini seed. (Not quite a ton!!) crayons and coloring books, lamp oil, assorted clothes 4 boxes, 2 bags, 1 lamp, and various personal items individually requested by certain elders.
With us on this trip representatives from various LA based organizations- Dang and Annette from Action Resource Center, Estevan from Harmony Keepers, Jennafer from Food Not Bombs (Sol Communications), Jim from American Indian Movement, Tom from San Cayentano circle, Julia, Mauro, Alitha and Joelle from Sol Communications. Support for this caravan also came from Unity of Nations and No Nukes. For the record Sol Communications works with all these LA groups. Food source kindly donated by Christian Church. Valuable information and support also came from Black Mesa Indigenous Support Group. We were also in contact with Iron Circle Nation, San Pedro, CA and fulfilling a special request from them.
Tom and Jim went to San Diego where 125 boxes of food were waiting to be picked up. They continued on to Big Mountain via Phoenix. ABOUT TWENTY MILES BEFORE PHOENIX they're engine caught fire. THEY HAD JUST FUELED and were on the road when the motor cut out. So they pulled off as soon as they could and saw the engine on fire. Prior to that they hadn't seen any smoke. They used water to put the fire out because the earth was too hard to find sand. It want' a gasoline fire, it was electrical that had ignited insulation that had fallen down from the hood. Final analisis: a rat had made a nest in the insulation. They limped on into Phoenix and replaced the wires. They arrived near to Big M. at 3.30 a.m. and caught a couple of hours sleep by the rail road tracks.
Joelle and Jennifer arrived just before dawn and made coffee for everyone.
Meanwhile, Alitha and Annette met up with Marsha Monestersky and Carlos Begay who were waiting for a major news network to arrive from Colorado.
Mauro and Julia left LA around 5.30 just two hours earlier Mauro had received a phone call that his dear friend Terence Unity Freitas and two other human rights activists (women) were slain, execution style while on a humanitarian mission in Columbia, this of course tormented Mauro on this journey (and probably will for the rest of his life). We arrived at Glenna's at 9.30 the next morning.
(Note from Julia. Sat. It was a long drive, very slow hauling the trailer full of dog food and other donations. It gets toughest in the early hours of the morning, when your eyes are blurring the lights of the cars and the road is dark. I only drove for a while; we took turns sleeping in the back of the jeep. We could only drive slowly because of the weight of the trailer. It's a good feeling to get on the mesa but a strange ominous silence always fills the truck as you drive past the mine, once a corn field.
This is a sad trip as the memory of a murdered Spiritual Warrior; a fallen Angel fills my friends minds. I did not know him, yet I feel his loss.)
On arrival at Glenna's, we take the time for our first cup of coffee with Grandma. Selena translates to her mother Glenna the news about Terry. About a year and a half ago, Glenna and six other Dineh elders met Terry and a spokesperson for the U'WA Tribe at a prophecy conference in Sedona, Glenna remembers in great detail meeting Terry. After that meeting the U'WA rep. Roberto, Terry and Mauro travel back to LA together. Soon after in Columbia, Roberto was thrown off a cliff and barely survived. He had been abducted and brutalized and left for dead.
Meanwhile, Jennafer coordinates the teams for the food drop. We decided to begin delivering food to the families closest to the mine whilst we waited for Marsha, Carlos and the others. First we dropped Glenna's food to lighten the load. Mauro led this part of the operation.
Glenna gets dog food, 13 cases, 5 boxes of food, 12 pack toilet roll, case mixed food-grain bars, chicken broth, and lamp oil.
Needs basketball, solar panels and power (ask solar power companies for donation), generator. Cleaning supplies-mops, dishsoap, etc. Garden tools, rake etc Squash, pumpkin, cucumber seeds. Watermelon, cantaloupe seeds. White rice, cornmeal, peanut butter, pinto beans don't eat kidney and black beans. Likes pinto beans. Glennas granddaughter needs backpack, pens, pencils etc.
Mabel Benally -5 Boxes of food, 5 Cases of dog food (nobody home)
(Note from Julia. And so the caravan moved off to Big Mountain Boulevard. Tracked we think by unknown radio sources speaking Dineh. Mauro took the wrong road, yeah and our mysterious friends follow. Red and white bronco following had a good look at us.)
Ataid Lake- Could not easily get to house driveway bulldozed. Left 5 cases of dog food, 1 Sack of flour, 1 bag of potatoes, (whilst our mysterious friend in the white cap tried to blend in with the sheep but the dogs where giving him away) 5 cases of food.
Mary Gilmore and Ruth Laughter- 5 cases of food, 12 cases of dog food, 5 carnation milk, sack of potatoes. Needs sky blue pant and 2 women helpers to paint.
Maxine not home, left 5 cases of food, carnation milk
Back to Glenna's to pick up Marsha and Carlos, CBS was a no show, they waited 3 hours for their contact but she didn't show up. Ate some lunch, need the energy.
(Julia Note. This is about the time the lack of sleep really kicks in, so it's good to eat something to kick in some energy, shame its so meaty up here, oh well. I always feel so bad for the kids, especially the teenagers, they don't have much. It's so tough to be a teen anyway I wander how they cope with the inevitable boredom that comes with being a teenager. The grandmas are so hospitable, but we can't stay in the Hogan tonight there's a all night ceremony.)
Blaze of phone calls occurs between Sol and other groups around the country about Terry's murder. Mauro is also in contact at this time with co producer and the editors of the Geneva video. Decisions are being made as to last minute adjustments to the script. Side note: Geneva video is being edited the entire time this caravan is on the mountain. The editors working frantically for Tuesday completion so that it can be made available for a meeting with a major potential contributor to the legal funds of the SDN.
(Julia Note. We should get going soon, it takes a long time to get everything accomplished. Cornfields, cornfields all around should be sunny cornfields. By the way we decided to test out the dog food we brought with us, the dogs loved it, so did the cats and even the chickens had a peck at it, very strange sight carnivorous chickens!)
At this point the caravan divides into two. Team 1 consists of point persons Carlos Begay and Marsha Monestersky, security Jim La Pointe and Mauro. Documentation specialist Julia (journal and video) and Dang No (photography) Tom Wilson - agricultural specialist, Annette - Crisis Assessment Manager (Professional)
Team 2 consists of Point person and security Leonard Benally, Jennafer Waggoner -video, Joelle Davis - documentation, Alitha - she's the rookie, she's on observation, Estevan - Harmony Keeper.
The following is Team 1's journal (authored by Julia with comments from rest of Team 1) followed by Team 2's,
Kee Z and Alice Begay- Bag of Rice, 5 boxes of food, tub of Crisco, 5 cases of dog food. Assorted clothes. Grandpa and Grandma here have coughs. Need winter squash, corn, cantaloupe (any variety), watermelon seeds (any variety).
Need chicken, chicken wire, and roosters
Mauro receives phone call from Carol Derstaadt in New York. She is very upset about Terry's death and sends her compassion to our caravan and the families of our slain brothers and sisters. Carol has been selling rugs for the Grandmothers for about two months in New York and via the Internet. Sol communications supports her work 100%. She can be reached at www.migrations.com
Carol's work extends into supporting all New York based United Nations trips the elders have made of late, she is working hard for Geneva and is a woman of great integrity.
Onwards across the mountain.
Zonnie Whitehair- we are not dropping she is not in and 3 builders from the Navajo Tribal Council are on her property and we fear they may steal the food.
Next there is a meeting at Kee Watchman's, first on the agenda is Geneva.
Whilst waiting for Mauro to talk with Kee, Annette feeds the dogs and a cute puppy.
(Julia Note. All the families have dogs, they are all very skinny, flea bitten, weepy eyed mongrels, but are nonetheless very friendly. We would like to get some more help with donations for the animals, I hope Jennifer's contact with dog food and veterinarian help comes through.)
Whilst the others were in the meeting Jim La Pointe wrote the following entry for our journal.
I was told once that these people live to "walk in beauty", they live in that beauty and all day today I have walked in sight of that beauty. For the first time I have some understanding of what they mean, they need to be left alone to live on their sovereign land. Peabody wants to scar the face of that beauty and the face of life itself, what that means for these people is genocide. We need to get to the heart of the issue instead of just putting out the fires. This work is good it shows a good heart and it does good things but it does not accomplish the whole of the job we have to get this information out to the world so that they can know the crimes that are happening on this sovereign land. This is the war we fight.
Hosteen nez Begay and Mazee Begay- building hogan 5 cases of food, 5 cases of dog food.
Pauline Whitesinger- 3 box of dog food, 3 boxes of food. Needs dishsoap, laundry soap. Last visit with Pauline.
(Julia Note. 2 weeks ago Grandma had trouble with her truck. Mauro and Sea Dog went to Tuba City, at least a 150 miles to get her a battery for the truck and proceeded to become the saviors of the day by producing the finest battery you ever did see, connecting it, fixing the fuel line and getting the beat up old truck going. Grandmother was going to walk to Tuba City to get the battery and carry it in a backpack all the way home, would you let anyone do this let alone your Grandmother. These elders are incredible.)
Dangs comment for our journal on the Big Mountain situation is "It sucks!"
Henry James and Family - 7 boxes of food, 5 cases of dog food. The family has lots of little children; we have never visited them before.
(Julia Note. As we drove away from Grandpa James house we had the Big Mountain sunset happeing. You could see the San Francisco Peaks from here. The clouds are purple and on fire. I asked our car what the clouds reminded them of, Annette said "A little blanket" in her beautiful French accent, Mauro said " Terry", and Dang said "Terry". Then the clouds turned into blue eyes watching us from above. Don't tell Anettes daughter but she had a cigarette with us and then sang a French song. The first star came out for the night.)
Next stop my favorites Grandma and Grandpa Greyeyes and their granddaughter. We arrived there at about 6.30 at night. They were delivered approx. 4 cases of food and 4 cases of dog food. The last time we were here Grandma and her daughter were weaving baskets, Tiffany is already very good at 10 years old, she also makes a killer fry bread, how many 10 year olds do you know that can weave a basket and make fry bread for a group of people instantaneously?
On a more serious note, the BIA showed up at the house last week and twisted the arm of a young supporter (documentation is available for this) The Greyeyes' house is in bad repair, the ceilings fiberglass insulation is falling down, we are very concerned as Grandma has had a persistent cough for a while. Tom thinks that as the insulation has mold on it the spores may be contributing to her bad health. Even worse than that after discussing trying to get help to repair the house, Mauro informs us that Grandpa may have built the house from uranium tailings before he knew what this meant. We must get a Geiger counter out here as soon as possible to determine if the house is hot. It is very hard to imagine how bad it must feel to think you may have built your own family house out of deadly material.
Side note: Last year, one half mile outside of Cameron, 100 yds from road and next to a trading post Mauro documented uranium radiation readings of 1600 rads a minute. This area was completely accessible to children and was surrounded by pools of water that were stained yellow from 'yellow cake'. At another site, 100 yds from the elementary school in Cove, Arizona he documented 800 rads a minute. Both of these events were recorded on videotape. During both of these events, Mauro received extremely dangerous doses of radiation. (Documentation available)
URGENT NOTE: WE NEED HELP FROM ANY ORGANIZATIONS WHO CAN GET AND KNOW HOW TO USE A Geiger COUNTER SO WE CAN MEASURE THE GREYEYES HOUSE. IT IS A PITIFUL SITUATION.
Marsha joins Jim, Mauro and Julia in the Sol Communications Jeep and we are up and running to visit with Grandma Yellowhair who lives in a dug out in the side of the mountain, inside the Earth herself. It is the most incredible place overlooking a deep rugged canyon of outstanding beauty and awe inspiring grandeur. Unfortunately, she is not home when we get there well after dark. We leave 8 boxes of food, 4 boxes of dog food at the Grandmothers. Last time we were here our hearts broke as we discovered that just hours earlier Grandmother and her family had to butcher their mule for food. Perhaps if we had not slept after fifteen hours of driving we would of got there in time to deliver food and she would not of had to butcher the mule. She needed the mule to get down into the canyon to her cornfield and because of her remoteness she did not know we were coming. The bloody mule's head was clearly visible inside her supplies hut.
Back over the mountain.
Anna Begay - delivered to her 8 boxes of food, 2 cases of dog food.
At first Anna would not answer her door to us because she did not know us and she was living under terror of threats from the BIA.We had to take her brother over with us so we could deliver the food and introduce ourselves.
Willie Begay- delivered 6 boxes of food, 4 boxes of dog food.
It's 9pm and we're getting tired. We've been travelling all day, delivering food maybe staying for some time especially with the Grey Eyes. We have had some trouble with the vehicles. Jim has seen the underside of 2 vehicles not to mention the fire he first encountered. After verifying that Mauros transmission mount has indeed separated, Jim has a go at Tom's radiator leak. At one point in the day while we were hovered over an engine Jim showed us how to listen to the internal workings using just a stick, one end on the engine, one end to the ear like a stethoscope. Suddenly this whole new world opens up that exists underneath our hoods and yet goes unnoticed............sort of like Black Mesa!
We left 2 supporters on Black Mesa, one staying for a week and a half, the other staying for a couple more days. To help directly with two families. `The caravan then proceeded onto Hotevilla where they dropped food to a Hopi family at the request of White Raven. Lucky for them they also attended a Kachina Dance and then proceeded to LA.
Jim, Julia and Mauro attempted to deliver seed to Rena Babbit Lane but could not because of the U-Haul trailer. We didn't really know the way that well and Marsha and Carlos had to go someplace else to work, so we got a map from John Benally and tried to find Rena and Junh. John Benally also gave us a memorial on his mother. We had bought with us a picture of an elder that the Dorman web site was needing permission to print and it turned out to be John's mother. The window in John's house had broken and they were keeping the weather out with plastic, very strong winds were whipping through the house. Everyone was sitting inside with their coats and hats on. John is unable to make repairs on his house because of the Bennett freeze, meaning it is illegal for him and indeed any families to make repairs on their property. The water in that area has dried up thanks to the mine draining the aquifer for the coal slurry line. It is getting really hard for them, and I mean really hard. We talked about him needing Willows and Cattails to plant and how the red sacred clay (Tchi) they used for pottery and sunscreen was now gone also due to the mining. He also needs gas money to get their youth up to the Nevada test site.
Back on the road to Rena and Junh Babbit Lane's house.
(Julia Note. We turned of the main road at the Old Red Lake Trading Post and followed the pipeline down a very bumpy dirt track. We were hauling the terrified trailer wandering if we would make it. Eventually we came to a gate and stopped for a while to think about this. When we got out the car to get some fresh air, the wind had picked up and looking around us we noticed a strange thing, a truck with its lights on seemingly hiding behind the rock. Ever cautious of being watched and deciding that the trailer would not make it we turnedback. The wind picked up even stronger and added to the incoming surreal feeling, tumbleweed blew down the road and a man appeared out of the duststorm walking home. The surrounding rocks looked intriguingly like cliff dwellings, the colors of the mountains were really starting to stand out as the storm blew in. We had one more job to do and then we could head back home to LA.)
We then went 90 miles east to Keams Canyon to photograph the impoundment yards to verify that no livestock where taken this week. We did photograph all animals there, which included Anna Begays horses that were taken last week. We then proceeded on towards Los Angeles. On the way, using notes from Selena and Glenna we began to outline the new supporters handbook for Glenna's family. This handbook will be reviewed and updated by elders and will be made available to all families to give to their supporters.
Side note: At approx. 6 PM West Coast time a large crowd was gathering for ceremony for the slain human rights activist at the home of Mary Wright in S. Cali.
Clandestine Meeting, 8pm Flagstaff time. We met with Dixie and Nettle from Black Mesa Indigenous Support Group. In the back of their van on a cold wintry night, the ground was like a skating rink.
1. Gave them Rena Babbit Lanes planting seed, requested they hand it all to Grandma and let her decide what to do with excess.
2. Gave them verbal summary of who did and did not receive supplies, they requested copy of our report from this run.
3. Discussed priorities and immediate needs, discussed supporter handbook material. To some degree we discussed contact information and debriefing on LA, House of Blues tour. Since we had 13 hours to go and we are in the middle of snowstorm we cut the meeting short. Approximate time of meeting 1hour.
To his credit BMIS dog was in attendance but said nothing.
Sol Communications would like to thank BMIS for all their support.
We would like to make a big thank you to Carlos and Marsha for without them none of this could be accomplished. Needless to say they tirelessly lead us to all the families in need of help, they carry with them a stack of paperwork. All the resisting elders that they will see this weekend will be brought up to date on Geneva and the BIA Impoundment's and dozens of other issues that are of importance to the sovereign Dineh nation. Marsha will also take down testimonies from the elders and their families that pertain to any type of human and civil rights violations, these testimonies will be later typed brought back verified for accuracy and then signed. Translators for these excursions have been numerous including John Benally, Carlos Begay, Bonnie Whitesinger, Leonard Benally and family members of the elders themselves. This is what Marsha does between meetings of the elders (SDN) it is a monumental task that must be done. In essence this is how the case, now before the human rights commission was created. This exhausting pace Marsha keeps up 7 days a week without any salary whatsoever.
Quote from Mauro- "What do I need to do to wake everybody up to Marsha! She eats breaths and sleeps this issue. She is bonded to these Grandmothers in a way that is unknown unless you follow her around. She is constantly under attack by people I never see on the mountain and who do not have a clue what is going on at the United Nations. Anybody who has ears to hear, call me on my cell 407 701 4628 ."
With love from Mauro, driving us home at midnight the long trip back to LA.
REPORT FROM TEAM 2.
Needs support of food donations and supporters on site for
Zonnie Whitehair - 4 flats of dog food, disposable camera, 2 boxes of food.
Her daughter says that Zonnie was sent a grazing permit that stated she
could have 8 cattle but it did not include her sheep. She has 28 cows and
100 sheep. She doesn't feel comfortable corralling animals because she
does not trust that the BIA won't come and take them in the pen. Since Oscar
passed away she hasn't been feeling well, she is lonely and does not want
to stay alone at her place. Desperately needs a supporter. Shirley Herder
is her daughter, 520-672-2454 or call the chapter house and leave a message
520-672-2460. Special needs &SHY; sheepherder, livestock feed, dog food.
John Benally - 20 flats of dog food for him and neighbors. 4 boxes family
food, toilet paper, produce. Moving to Pauline's on Wed.
Leonard Benally -10 flats of dog food, 2 boxes of food for him and a
supporter. Needs a passenger side leaf spring for his truck to get it
running again. Needs his truck for hauling water, food and transportation
(95 Toyota 2 wheel drive, main leaf spring broken).
5 families, all signers. 3 boxes of family food per family, 5 flats of dog
food per family and misc. produce and toiletries. Childrens clothes,
patagonia items. Some families would like to sell their hand made items.
6 families total including:
Ida Mae Clinton. Rose Verna Clinton says that her mother needs a female
supporter with a vehicle. Special needs &SHY; batteries for flashlight size D and the large square size, lantern, food
Peggy Francis-Scott and her mother.
12 boxes of food, 60 flats of dog food, canned goods, produce, toilet paper
and a disposable camera. They claim that after Gabor's visit a troop of 12
Heavily Armed Hopi Rangers with an impoundment trailer came to the camp and
One drop off for distribution to families in need.
Nelson Davison - 10 flats dog food, 10 boxes of family food.
Dennis Kootzie - 10 flats of dog food, 6 boxes of family food. Would like to sell his rattles.