Dear Big Mountain Supporters,
Two great leaders of the Dineh have recently passed away.
Please contact the
families to send condolences and money to help with funeral expenses if you
Thank you for your support and concern.
Consultant to Sovereign Dineh Nation
Text of Article that appeared in the Navajo-Hopi Observer with
Wednesday, November 10, 1999.
Jenny Manybeads passes away at 115
By Sandra J. Wilson
"They called her Left-Handed Lady-they knew her that way."
A clan relative
introduced her thusly. The fact that Jenny Manybeads was left-handed is
hardly the most remarkable aspect of this world-famous woman.
What is amazing is that her fame came well after her 100th year of life
when her name was affixed to the First Amendment lawsuit against the United
States government in response to Navajo and Hopi relocation. And some would
wonder that she and other individuals affected by the relocation law have
done is attempt to live their lives out on the land of their birth in a
traditional manner. It has been suggested that Jenny may have often wondered
what all the fuss over her has been about.
Manybeads passed peacefully into the final rest the evening of November
3. It is thought that she was 115.
According to one woman who visited Manybeads at her final home at Los
Arcos in Flagstaff, "She never said much about relocation but talked about
friends and acquaintances, Navajo and Hopi alike. Her last years were
remembered that way. She talked about the good things in her life, and spoke
of peole who I know are long gone." Obviously these people still lived in
Jennys heart and mind.
She leaves many, many relatives and people who will miss her. But they
talk of how she was a happy, funny person. "She was a great lady," said Mary
Kahn of Flagstaff. "She was always joking and teasing." People have been
remembered for far worse.
This post was given by Mae Washington, John and Leonard Benallys
granddaughter of Jenny Manybeads, who filed the Manybeads, class action law
suit for Dineh religious freedom.
Jenny Manybeads Passes away at 115
Jenny Manybeads was of the Mexican Clan, born for Bitterwater
Clan. She was
married into the Manygoats Clan. She was 115, born in 1884. She died
Wednesday November 3, 1999 of natural causes. She was put to rest at Tuba
City Community Cemetery. We did not make any attempt to put her to rest on
her own homeland because we knew she could not be buried on her land. They
denied my aunt, Alice Benally the right to be buried on her land and we could
not face the same kind of situation again. That is why we buried her at Tuba
Jenny Manybeads is a fourth generation grandmother. She had
4 generations of
grandkids. There are 86 first generation grandkids, 39 third generation
grandkids and 8 fourth generation grandkids.
Jenny lived all her life around Mosquito Spring vicinity.
She was a rug
weaver, herbalist, mid- wife. We dont know how many children she delivered.
I know it was many, many children. That was before hospitals. She always
rode horses, that was her main transportation. She was a person that planned
for the family. If anyone of her family was sick, she was the person that
got all the people together from all the families in the community. She was
a community leader and would call for dances and ceremonies and everyone
would gather to help. Like the enemy way dance, she got people together,
saying come help and get things done. She was very strong in her own way
where people listened to what she had to say. She presented herself as an
activist, a person that really cares about human rights and the quality of
the human race. She believed that everyone was created equal, that no one was
more or less than anyone else. The way she saw life is that every person has
a purpose on this earth to carry out. She always strongly expressed that
every human race did not have colors, rich or poor, they were all of the same
creation and therefore you do not become greedy and take things for your own
personal gain. If you do that you would pay for it when you leave this
earth. So, she was always mindful that the Dineh people were put here to be
the keeper of the Mother Earth. She would say, you take care of the Mother
Earth the way Mother Earth takes care of you. The air, is the same way
because it is so important, it gives us life and we breathe it every minute.
Just as water is the essence of life. It gives us strength and life and we
cannot do without it. Therefore we must have reverence for it. It is the
same way with the energy of the sun, we should not abuse it or misuse it.
These four elements, if we abuse any of them and have no respect for them, it
will abuse us too and eventually take our life.
People cause so much pollution we have global warming and one
of these days
if we dont stop in the name of greed we will fry ourselves. For that
matter, every element of this earth if we abuse it it will eventually take
our life. That was her belief and she had really advocated for the rights of
everyone living being on this earth, even down to the little ant. She would
say, the tiny little ants, they have life here. We cannot just eradicate
them because we think they are a nuisance. Every living thing on this earth
has a purpose. So as a human being we cannot say we rule and take these
things for granted. That was her basic message to us and to a lot of other
people. And I think we should be very mindful that Jenny Manybeads did speak
She said the land issue should not have come about in this
manner with so
many people relocated. She considered this an atrocity where you literally
remove a person from their home by force threatening them, humiliating them,
taking their livestock, their means of living away from them, making them
helpless, powerless and causing them to live with tremendous stress from day
to day because they do not know where their next meal is coming from, their
basic life taken away from them. So these have no choice but to move away to
an unknown land and unknown life, maybe into the city or into some other
wasteland that has been contaminated by uranium where more and more people
have died of many different kinds of illness. She also spoke of all the
peole that have died of loneliness, despair, hopelessness, all created by the
US federal government, Bureau of Indian Affairs, removing the people just so
they could take the natural resources out of the land so the big corporations
can become fat with their money. That was her argument. She said we cannot
just give up, we must continue fighting for who we are and stand our ground
and speak for ourselves and not allow the federal government to tell us what
to do. This was her message to her grandchildren, her children and her
Jenny was the one that filed the Manybeads lawsuit. Her husband
Medicine Man died in 1978 or 1979. She filed this class-action lawsuit for
religious freedom on behalf of all her people so they could remain on the
land, saying that relocation violates Dineh religion. She felt that the way
the government handled the situation was just a way to take the land away
from us, she called it the fleecing of America. The corporations and the
government have money so it is really sad to see what has happened to her
people. 400 million dollars of taxpayers money was spent to put a lot of
people to death and live a life of misery. This is just like the
concentration camp and a repeat of the Long Walk.
I think she saw a lot of the things happening to her people,
finally the big
sleeping giant woke up and now it is going to devour us. Do we sitthere or
do we fight the big giant? And I think Jennys basic argument was our belief
is tied to the land, that is the way we understand it. But to the government
the land is an economic base. To us, in our belief it has a religious
significance that you do not just dig out every tree on this land and
contaminate all the water that was put here. They are just taking from us
and not leaving anything for the people. That was really her belief and her
life, her own nature and personality. She was always smiling, always
laughing. She was really a happy person. I dont think she ever picked a
fight with people because she wanted to. She had a very settled way of
dealing with any situation. She was very diplomatic in the way she handled
issues at hand.
She was the type of person that didnt get out in the
front line but was very
visible. That is why she filed this lawsuit. She said we do not understand
man made law. When man made law is imposed on us, it is full of lies and
idioms. The way they translate words to us could be very tricky so we have
to be very mindful to what they say and not agree to things that are written.
For example, if they use two little words like and or, two little words,
this could means you and I have this joint thing we own and neither one can
do something without the other person giving consent. In the case of the US
government it is you or I can do what we want, in most cases it is or, that
little word can change a lot of things. That is the way this whole situation
has been handled by the government. We never were a part of all the
litigation that went on behind closed doors. That is not the way to deal
with our lives, we have feelings, emotion, ties to the land, to everything
around us. So how can they make decisions of what we they are doing to our
life. She understood how things come about in the name of greed. Jenny was
another Martin Luther King, another Mother Theresa. These people, she
herself was that inspiration. This was the vibe you got from her when you
talked with her. Every time I went to see her and talked with her I felt
there was still hope when I spoke with her.
Rena Babbitt Lane, an elder matriarch of Red Lake says, "I
remember Jenny as
a very kind woman, she worried if everyone had food and would butcher to help
people out to make sure they were well fed. She always asked if we had
enough for ourselves. And when she sheared her sheep she would give us wool
to make rugs and support my family. She never said this is only for me, she
always made sure she had something to share, even little things, you never
went away from her empty handed. She helped our life. Jenny was always
sharing things with people. If she had corn she would give us some. My
mother was Jennys older sister. She was like my mother, my aunt. So in
Navajo culture you dont refer to her as my aunt, but as my mothers older or
younger sister, and she called me her daughter."
Mae Washington, who translated this statement for Rena is the
generation great grandchild of Jenny Manybeads and a grandmother herself with
If people want to communicate, send donations to help pay for
expenses and send condolence cards please contact: Bessie M. Begay and Alton
Begay, P.O. Box 103, Tuba City, AZ 86045. Thank you,
Emmett Bert Tso passes away at 68
Emmett Tso is survived by his wife Faye B. Tso. He was born
1930 and passed away on November 7, 1999. Emmett says he was relocated 3
times from what is known as District 6 and then relocated from HPL where he
lived near Huck and Genevieve Greyeyes. And each time he was told us to
move, finally he said no more. Then he ended up subject to the Bennett
Freeze. He said he and his family became refugees in their own homeland. He
is survived by 8 children and a lot of grandchildren.
Emmett Tso was very outspoken about the land issue and the
both he viewed as basically the same, ways the US government tortures the
Dineh people, denying his people the right to live their life. When his kids
were very small he used to live close to Moencopi and his house burned down
and he lost everything and had to start out all over again. He thinks this
happened because he was outspoken about land issues. He often talked about
how many of his people were moved several times and were just told to move
again. He lived in this type of situations all his life and suffered greatly.
He was a Council delegate from Tuba City and served in a lot
capacities as an official, always speaking for his people and serving them as
a leader. He was never afraid to express himself.
If anyone wants to write to his wife and his children to express
condolences, please contact Faye B. Tso, P.O. Box 583, Tuba City, AZ 86045.
His family depleted all their resources trying to make him better. He was in
the hospital for 1 month, using medicine men and doctors, in a coma. He
never regained consciousness. Many of us believe we lost a great man with
leadership ability and we miss him greatly. Thank you,