The Black Hills stretch across western South
Dakota, northeast Wyoming and southeast
Montana and constitute a sacred landscape for
the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne and Omaha. To
the Lakota, they are Paha Sapa, “the heart of
everything that is.” The Black Hills were the
casualty of one of the most blatant land grabs in
U.S. history and continue to be the site of a legal
and political confrontation. Rick Two-Dogs, an
Oglala Lakota medicine man, explains: “All of
our origin stories go back to this place. We have a
spiritual connection to the Black Hills that can’t
be sold. I don’t think I could face the Creator
with an open heart if I ever took money for it.”
Report by Amy Corbin
History of the Conflict
In the rolling, forested highlands of the Black
Hills, four thousand archaeological sites
spanning 12,000 years attest to a long
relationship with native people. An oblong ridge
circles the Black Hills, separating them from the
surrounding prairie grasslands and making them
“one of the most unusual environmental features
in the United States,” according to
anthropologist Peter Nabokov. In the 1700s and
1800s, the Lakota ceremonial season began each spring with the stampede of buffalo
from the Black Hills through Buffalo Gap. As the people followed the buffalo, they would
go to places like Devils Tower and Bear Butte, their pathway forming the shape of a
buffalo’s head. As Lakota scholar Vine Deloria tells it: “In the spring, the people would
follow the buffalo herd and they'd have to do a series of four ceremonies, the last one of
which would either end up at Devils Tower or Bear Butte depending on what year it was
and what the situation was. This is written down now in a book on star knowledge”
which illustrates the relationship between the constellations, land formations and
movement of Lakota bands within the Black Hills. The Lakota believe that permanent
occupancy of the Black Hills was set aside for the birds and the animals, not for humans.
The U.S. government initially tried to prevent settlement of the Black Hills, having
signed the 1851 Treaty of Ft. Laramie, which promised 60 million acres of the Black Hills
“for the absolute and undisturbed use and occupancy of the Sioux.” Settlers were aware
that the Black Hills were sacred, considered the womb of Mother Earth and the location
of ceremonies, vision quests, and burials. Initially, the newcomers accepted the fact that
the Hills belonged to the Lakota—until gold was discovered. When they heard the
rumors of gold, they clamored for access to a vast area that had previously been avoided
for fear of Native American attacks and because of the 1851 Treaty.
In 1857, Lakota leaders gathered at Bear Butte to discuss the increasing number of white
invaders in the Black Hills. As settlers continued to ignore the treaty boundaries of the
Black Hills, and as the government began to build military posts within them to assure
the safety of the westward moving settlers, a second treaty was signed by only a few
Lakota leaders which reduced their land base to 20 million acres. This was the 1868
Treaty of Ft. Laramie, the one to which all current legal arguments refer. In 1874, the
government allowed General George Armstrong Custer to explore the Hills—ostensibly
to find a place to build a fort, but Custer was accompanied by geologists and miners who
confirmed the presence of gold. This was a clear violation of even the second, more
limited, treaty. Discovery of gold sparked a rush of miners and settlers, and the
government tried to threaten the Lakota into selling their remaining 20 million acres.
When this didn't work, Congress enacted a new treaty in 1877, with only 10% of the
adult male Lakota population signing it, which seized the land, resulting in war and
eventual defeat for the Lakota—though Custer died for his sins in 1876 at Little Bighorn.
In the twentieth century, the Lakota began a concerted legal effort to reclaim the Black
Hills. A federal judge who reviewed the case in the 1970s commented: “A more ripe and
rank case of dishonorable dealing will never, in all probability, be found in our history.”
Now, the issue is whether tribal sacred lands taken in the nineteenth century can be
bought and sold in the twenty-first. After a century of struggle to file claims in court
against the illegality of the 1868 treaty, the Indian Claims Commission, the Court of
Claims, and finally the Supreme Court in 1980 recognized the 8 Lakota Nations' rights
to the part of the Black Hills specified in the1868 treaty. But instead of ordering the
government to return the land, the Claims Commission awarded a financial sum equal
to the land’s value in 1877 plus interest. This sum now totals $570 million—a
considerable amount but still much smaller than the value of the natural resources
which have been extracted from the Black Hills, estimated at $4 billion. The Lakota have
refused to accept the money on the grounds that one cannot buy and sell sacred land.
Says Johnson Holy Rock, a Lakota elder and former chairman of the Oglala Sioux, “We
don't think of the air and water in terms of dollars and cents.” Two political plans in the
1980s (one spearheaded by Senator Bill Bradley) to return 1.3 million acres of federal
land in the Black Hills were defeated by the South Dakota congressional delegation,
including Senator Tom Daschle.
Over the years, the Black Hills have experienced mining, logging, and recreational uses,
often in violation of Lakota beliefs. Mining for gold, coal and uranium pollutes water.
Cyanide heap-leach gold mines, such as Homestake and Gilt Edge, use cyanide to extract
gold from crushed ore. The cyanide mixes with other chemicals, producing toxic
chemicals which can leach into the groundwater. This sort of mining leaves huge open
pits which scar the landscape, and frequently the companies are allowed to abandon the
mines without cleaning up or restoring the land to its original state.
Two sacred places within the Black Hills, Bear Butte and Devils Tower are on public land
and are protected from natural resource extraction. However, both have endured
conflicts over recreational use. Bear Butte, known as Mato Paha, has long been a site for
ceremonies, vision quests, and important tribal meetings, though most Americans see
the dramatic little mountain as just one of the many geographically stunning
outcroppings in the Black Hills. Bear Butte became a South Dakota state park in 1961,
and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. To accommodate
different uses of the park, the state created two different trails, one for hikers and one
for native religious practitioners, which leads people to a designated ceremonial area.
Both trails are open to the public, however non-native users are requested to stay on
trail and not disturb prayer bundles or individuals in ceremony.
In 1982 Lakota and Tsistsistas (Cheyenne) elders sued the state of South Dakota to
prevent deeper incursions into the park to increase tourism, including a parking lot,
roads, and campgrounds. They also sought to limit the state's ability to establish new
regulations requiring visitors, including traditional religious practitioners, to obtain
permits. The U.S. District Court’s opinion Fools Crow v. Gullet, found that the Native
Americans could not have “full, unrestricted, and uninterrupted religious use of Bear
Butte” because that would constitute the state establishing a religion, and because the
state’s right to open the landmark to the public was protected under the First
Amendment. This was one of several cases in the 1980s which showcased the failure of
the American Indian Religious Freedom Act to protect native religious practices on
Other sacred places in the Black Hills include Buffalo Gap National Grasslands,
Angostura Springs, Harney Peak, and Wind Cave National Park. The Lakota believe that
the Wind Cave is the place where their ancestors emerged. The site was occupied by
Lakota activists and elders in 1981 to protest the 1980 Supreme Court decision that
offered financial restitution for the taking of the Black Hills. The same year marked the
beginning of the occupation of Yellow Thunder Camp by American Indian Movement
activists, an occupation which lasted for several years but was ultimately disbanded
since they were denied permits for permanent structures.
Breaking News Stories:
Congress Approves Clearcuts in Black Hills Wilderness
Bear Butte Threatened by Proposed Firing Range
Claiming to protect a national forest, Congress has authorized further desecration of the
Black Hills. This “protection” came in the form of an innocent-sounding amendment—
“The Black Hills Fire Prevention Agreement”—which was sponsored by Senator Tom
Daschle (D, SD) and attached to the “2002 Supplemental Appropriations Act for Further
Recovery from and Response to Terrorist Attacks on the United States.” Congress
passed the bill in August 2002.
Currently, only 3% of the Black Hills area is untouched, roadless wilderness, and this
rider opens up the Norbeck Wildlife Preserve and the Beaver Park Roadless Area to
logging clearcuts, road construction and associated infrastructure. The rider was
ostensibly to protect areas of the Black Hills from wildfires and the pine bark beetle
through logging. However, this contradicts the natural function of fire in cleansing a
forest and the Forest Service’s own information that there are very few beetles in the
The Black Hills have been sacred to the Lakota and other native people for thousands of
years, known as a place of extraordinary spiritual power. Within the Norbeck Wildlife
Preserve lies Harney Peak, described by Lakota spiritual leader Black Elk as “the Center
of the World.” Logging roads are now being built in this landscape, destroying sacred
places that cannot be restored. The logging itself will have long-term impacts on old-
growth trees, associated water systems and wildlife.
The Forest Service has allowed the cutting of a 20 mile long, 400 foot wide buffer
around the Beaver Park Roadless Area, where there previously were roads on the
boundary and where all have now been upgraded. Meanwhile, 700 acres have been
clearcut in Beaver Park due to the presence of pine beetles. In the Jasper fire area, which
has been logged extensively, the Forest Service had previously documented 20 sacred
sites. Two years ago, fire swept through the area and revealed an additional 60 sacred
sites and burials.
This thinly-disguised gift to the timber industry is another in a long series of intrusions
into the Black Hills, in further violation of the 1851 and 1868 treaties between the Lakota
and the U.S. government. Those treaties should have protected the area from resource
extraction and allowed native people to manage the Black Hills, but instead, the area has
been subject to the industry-friendly policies of the U.S. Forest Service. Charmaine
White Face of Defenders of the Black Hills notes, “The Fort Laramie Treaties remain the
supreme law of the land, and as such, enforcement of these treaties should form the
basis for all stewardship decisions made by the Forest Service in its stewardship role on
the lands of the Great Sioux Reservation, in general, and the sacred Black Hills in
Senator Dashle’s rider prefigured a recent debate on management of all forest lands in
the U.S. In May 2003, President Bush released his “Healthy Forests Initiative” plan, a
companion to House Bill 1904, “The Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003,” both of
which lift logging restrictions in the name of fire protection. In June 2003, the National
Forest Protection Alliance recognized the Black Hills National Forest as one of the top 10
Most Endangered Forests in the U.S. In July, Democrats introduced a counter-bill,
Senate Bill 1453, “The Forestry and Community Assistance Act of 2003,” which proposes
fire protection measures without interfering with healthy old-growth forests.
Meanwhile, the city of Sturgis, South Dakota and a group of private investors plan to
build a sports complex and shooting range just 4 miles north of Bear Butte. They have
already spent $250,000 of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) money on the
project. Although they knew Bear Butte was sacred to many Plains tribes, no tribes were
consulted about the proposal, a possible violation of federal laws.
Concerns about the proposed shooting range include:
The sound of an estimated 10,000 rounds per day being fired from
rifles and handguns will disrupt the silence and serenity of people
from more than 60 different tribes who come to pray at Bear Butte,
as well as non-tribal people who visit to enjoy the tranquility,
beauty and power of the butte.
Increased traffic to the new development by patrons and
employees, and to a clubhouse, motel, and restaurant that are being
Increased air pollution caused by firing 10,000 rounds of
ammunition per day.
The sounds and activity will disturb birds and wildlife in the Bear
Butte area, and in particular, the eagle, which is important in
Native American spirituality and ceremonies.
Possible effects on patients at Fort Meade Veterans Administration
Hospital from the sound of distant gunfire.
The land claim settlement money sits untouched in a bank account while the Lakota,
who have the lowest income and highest unemployment rates in the country, continue to
demand the return of their land. California businessman Phil Stevens, who was the
architect of one of the plans in the 1980s, is still working with the Rosebud Sioux Tribe
on a plan for returning part of the Black Hills. Other proposals include allowing the
Lakota to purchase privately-held land using interest from the settlement, or the federal
government returning particular sites within the Black Hills to the Lakota.
Meanwhile, politicians continue to allow the Black Hills to be violated. In late 2001,
Senator Tom Daschle attached a rider to a defense bill granting immunity to the owners
of the Homestake Mine, a 125-year old cyanide heap leach gold mine from the early days
of illegal claims, allowing Homestake to vacate the depleted mine without cleaning up
any of the pollution or reclaiming deep pits in the landscape.
The U.S. Forest Service allows the Black Hills National Forest to be logged, to the point
where few old growth trees remain. The Black Elk Wilderness Area, .8% of the Black
Hills, is the only protected area, but even here, timber companies are pressing for
Recreational and spiritual users of Bear Butte continue to co-exist, but native people are
concerned about the growing numbers of visitors, some of whom show no respect for
religious practices. State park officials emphasize their desire to provide adequate
privacy for ceremonies, but they are legally bound to accommodate the land use wishes
of the general public. While the native people still hope that some areas of the Butte will
be set aside for their exclusive use, that seems unlikely in the near future.
A strange twist to the Black Hills story is the recent attempt by Kevin Costner, director
and star of Dances With Wolves, to build a 838-acre recreation resort, including ski runs
and a railroad, in the lands of the people who were the subject of his film. Since the mid-
1990s, Costner and his brother have been planning the resort and dismissing Lakota
concerns. In April 2002, Costner met with Lakota leader Arvol Looking Horse and
agreed to reconsider his development plans to better serve the Lakota. Costner has also
cleaned up a trash pit dump area which was left by the Homestake Mine.
While the Supreme Court case concerning the Black Hills was important
because it affirmed the treaty the U.S. signed with the Lakota, the
resulting financial settlement reveals the lack of legitimacy granted to
Native American religions under the U.S. legal system. For this conflict
to be settled, land must be returned. The story of the Black Hills and
their division into National Parks, State Parks, Forest Service land and
private property reveals a cultural misunderstanding of the concept of a
sacred landscape. Preserving certain obvious physical features, such as
Bear Butte, while mining and logging thousands of acres in other parts of
the Black Hills, is a grave affront to Lakota people. Legal and political
analysis of the issue must incorporate the idea of continuous,
interconnected stretches of land, rather than specific locations around
which fences can be erected. As has been made clear in other sacred land
cases, the courts will be of little assistance until there is broadly-
conceived legislation, or unless there is specific protection for an area
granted by the executive branch.
This patchwork of land holdings in the Black Hills provides an
opportunity to develop a model for shared land management between
tribes, states, and the federal government. Any co-management of land
would have to take into account the fact that tribes are sovereign nations,
so decisions about the land would be made in the context of government-
WHAT IS THE AMERICAN INDIAN MOVEMENT?
Things will never be same again and that is what the American Indian Movement is about ...
They are respected by many, hated by some, but they are never ignored ...
They are the catalyst for Indian Sovereignty ...
They intend to raise questions in the minds of all, questions that have gone to sleep in the
minds of Indians and non-Indian alike ...
From the outside, AIM people are tough people, they had to be ...
AIM was born out of the dark violence of police brutality and voiceless despair of Indian
people in the courts of Minneapolis, Minnesota ...
AIM was born because a few knew that it was enough, enough to endure for themselves and
all others like them who were people without power or rights ...
AIM people have known the insides of jails; the long wait; the no appeal of the courts for
Indians, because many of them were there ...
From the inside AIM people are cleansing themselves; many have returned to the old
traditional religions of their tribes, away from the confused notions of a society that has made
them slaves of their own unguided lives ...
AIM is first, a spiritual movement, a religious re-birth, and then the re-birth of dignity and
pride in a people ...
AIM succeeds because they have beliefs to act upon ...
The American Indian Movement is attempting to connect the realities of the past with the
promise of tomorrow ...
They are people in a hurry, because they know that the dignity of a person can be snuffed by
despair and a belt in a cell of a city jail ...
They know that the deepest hopes of the old people could die with them ...
They know that the Indian way is not tolerated in White America, because it is not
acknowledged as a decent way to be ...
Sovereignty, Land, and Culture cannot endure if a people is not left in peace ...
The American Indian Movement is then, the Warriors Class of this century, who are bound
to the bond of the Drum, who vote with their bodies instead of their mouths ... THEIR
BUSINESS IS HOPE.
The Long Walk
During the time before the Long Walk, traditional Navajos tell stories of why the
Dine' suffered the tremendous hardships of the Long Walk.
Traditional Dine' believe that all problems and suffering are caused by disharmony
with the following teachings and natural laws. When one lives in disharmony and
disobeys the laws of nature, one brings upon themselves problems and suffering. The
sufferings caused by the most painful event in Dine' history known as the Long Walk,
is attributed to such disharmony.
It is said that the Dine' had two medicine bundles, one representing all that is good in
life and is termed (Hozhooji (Blessing Way) and the other Hochxoo'ji (Evil Way)
representing the negative side of life. These bundles were placed with the Dine' by the
Diyin Dine'e (Holy People) so they could live in harmony with each other and the
Problems arose with the Dine' civilization because many of the people began to
disrespect the traditional teachings and the need to live in harmony. Those who
valued the traditional teachings tried to impress upon the people the need to follow
the teachings, but were unsuccessful. As a result, the views and priorities of those that
did not fully respect the tradition took precedence and began to take on the
leadership of the Dine'. Traditional Dine' had no choice but to agree to the leadership
of the progressive Dine' who did not respect the teachings. It is told that they agreed
to let this new leadership lead the Dine' for four years.
During the four years, things got worse, especially between the new leadership and
those that strongly adhered to the traditional ways. As a result of this situation of
disharmony, many of the prayers, songs, ceremonies, and even the healing herbs and
medicines became ineffective and disease became eminent. The natural environment
seemed to be in a state of confusion. This weakened and caused the disharmonious
state of the Dine', eventually leading to the Long Walk. Many Dine' were forced to
travel hundreds of miles to an area in present day New Mexico known as Hweeldi'
(Bosque Redondo or Fort Sumner), thousands of Dine' were killed or left to die
enroute to this place.
With this in mind, the U.S. Calvary went on a campaign to force the Dine' to give
themselves up. The Dine' were accused of raiding other tribes, spaniards, and the
white people when in reality it was the outside forces intruding on traditional Navajo
land. The soldiers came and burned their cornfields, hogans, molested women and
children, and slaughtered their livestock. They captured women and young girls and
sold them into slavery because of their excellent weaving skills which also brought a
The Dine' were taken to Ft. Sumner, by groups. They were not taken all at once. The
first group comprising of women and children were taken. Other groups were taken
by way of Santa Fe. The reasoning behind this was to show the citizens of Santa Fe
that the Dine', who were bound in chains, had been conquered. Navajos that could
not walk any more and women who were giving birth were shot and left behind for
scavengers. They were being herded at a fast pace, the Navajo were not given time to
rest, and even build a fire. It is said that this all took place within one year, starting
with the Fall of 1863 and ending in the winter of 1864. With inclement weather
during the winter, some Navajos died from exposure, starvation, and malnutrition.
Approximately 10,000 Navajos were taken into captivity.
The reason the Dine' were taken to Ft. Sumner was to break their connection with the
sacred mountains as is evident when one visits Ft. Sumner where no mountains can
be seen in all directions. The four years of suffering and captivity would forever be
remembered by the Navajos. Barboncito was selected as head leader to represent the
Navajos to negotiate a treat with the United States government. At the time the plans
for the captives was to send and settle them in Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Florida to
assimilate them along with the eastern tribes. He pleaded with the U.S. Calvary for
the release of all Navajos, but was unsuccessful. The traditional ceremonies, songs,
and prayers kept the hopes of the people alive that they would eventually return
home within the sacred mountains and guided them in the treaty negotations. The
Dine' then gathered together and held a traditional coyote ceremony and when they
saw the coyote depart from the camp towards the west, they knew they would return
home. The treaty was made and then signed by Naat'aanii (head spokespersons).
After the signing of the treaty the Dine' gathered and regretted the suffering, because
it should not have happened in the first place because of the people's failure to
respect the traditional values and culture.
Upon their return from Ft. Sumner, the people planted cornfields, but their planting
yielded little crops for four years. The traditional religious leaders and Naat'aanii
discussed the problems the Dine' were faced with and agreed that harmony needed to
be restored among the Dine' through an Ndaa' (Enemy Way) ceremony. Harmony
was once again restored upon the DIne'. At this time, it is also told that a Naahid
ceremony was also held. This ceremony was held to rejuvenate and restore harmony
among the Dine' and nature. The Naachid ceremony is composed of several
ceremonies that begin the Fall and end in the Spring. With the completion of the
Naachid, harmony was restored upon mother earth. It is said that a Dine' woman
initiated the Naachid, and therefore the Dine' women is recognized as having an
important role in government. After this the land, crops, livestock, culture and way of
life, was once again restored and began to prosper.
Terror of Radiation Pervading the Earth
Sludge contaminating rivers
Poor labor conditions in uranium mines
Wastes remain after mine closing
New Mexico, USA Navajo Reservation Health problems steadily increasing
Colorful, fantastically shaped rocks jut from complex configurations of multiple strata. We
are about 200 kilometers (125 miles) west of Albuquerque, New Mexico. At Church Rock on
the Navajo Reservation near the Arizona border, the natural beauty that delights the eye fails
to quell fears about invisible radiation.
No protective mask
"See, waste from uranium mining is scattered all over here-radioactive earth without even a
soil cover." Karl Katenay (52), a former employee of a uranium mine owned by Kerr-McGee
Company, stood on his former work site. He was one of the last workers still in the mines
when they were closed in 1985.
"We were digging uranium ore at the bottom, 1800 feet down, and they didn't even give us
protective masks. When the price of uranium fell, they closed the mine. They just buried it all
right here-contaminated bulldozers, shovels-it's terrible."
United Nuclear Metals Co. stood next to the Kerr-McGee mine. When the dam containing
uranium sludge burst in 1979, about 360,000 liters of radioactive substances spilled into a
river near a Colorado River tributary. A full 1,100 tons of sludge drifited downstream,
creating a zone of contamination that extended to Arizona and Nevada. After a hasty cleanup,
United Nuclear Metals also shut down in 1985.
Radioactive waste contaminated the groundwater, and strong winds carried uranium sludge
through the air to nearby ranches and farms. Cattle and sheep drank the radioactive river
water and chewed the grass. Children of local tribes played in that river and on that ranchland.
Almost 400 dead
The population of the Navajo Reservation is about 250,000. They live on about 6.87 million
hectares (about 26,530 sq. miles). A successful atomic bomb test by the former Soviet Union
in 1949 spurred a sudden uranium mining rush on a Navajo Reservation bordered by New
Mexico, Arizona, and Utah. Mining continued here until mining production in Australia,
South Africa, and elsewhere depressed prices. Production was eventually halted in the latter
half of the 1980s.
Working in substandard conditions, many Navajo men who worked in the mines contracted
lung cancer or other respiratory diseases.
Anna Rondon (42) of the Southwest Indigenous Uranium Forum, who joined Katenay as my
guide, sighed, "Already 350 to 400 workers have died from cancer and other diseases. In
some communities, the majority of women are widows."
There are more than 1,000 uranium mine sites on Navajo land. Of the 110 communities
within the reservation, more than one-third are reportedly affected by radioactivity. Even so,
neither the former mining companies nor the US government is making any move to clean up
the vast amounts of dumped radioactive wastes.
"After the war, the atomic bombs continued to harm the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The same is true of the closed uranium mines. There's an increase in the number of newborns
with congenital defects. I wish the scientists who say the level is too low to hurt anyone
would take this waste home to their own backyards."
Rondon and others are now working to make the Navajo Reservation a Nuclear-Free Zone,
which would include banning the mining of uranium.
(Story and photos by Akira Tashiro)
Public Law 93-531 Big Mountain Relocation
Note and notice: This bill was introduced by Rep Wayne Owens (D-UT).
Mr. Owens was working for John Boyden prior to becoming a U.S. Representative.
John Boyden was council for Peabody Coal.
H.R.10337 Revised Digest Exists (CG93) 9/18/73
Mr. Owens Interior and Insular Affairs
Public Law 93-531(12/22/74)
OFFICIAL TITLE AS INTRODUCED:
A bill to authorize the partition of the surface rights in the joint use
area of the 1882 Executive order Hopi Reservation and the surface and
subsurface rights in the 1934 Navajo Reservation between the Hopi and Navajo
Tribes, to provide for allotments to certain Paiute Indians, and for other
purposes. (BILL TITLE ONLY; DIGESTED IN SUBSEQUENT ISSUE)
9/18/73 hrcm010 Referred to House Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs
3/13/74 hcac080 Reported to House, amended, H. Rept. 93-909
5/30/74 srcm010 Referred to Senate Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs
9/25/74 scac080 Reported to Senate, amended, S. Rept. 93-1177
12/2/74 sfac152 Measure passed Senate, amended, roll call #510 (72-0)
12/10/74 hfac086 House agreed to Senate amendments
12/22/74 fact050 Public law 93-531
Authorizes the partition of the surface rights in the joint use area of
the 1882 Executive Order Hopi Reservation and the surface and subsurface
rights in the 1934 Navajo Reservation between the Hopi and Navajo Tribes.
Provides for allotments of such rights to the Paite Indians living on said
Requires the Director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to
appoint a Mediator to assist in the negotiations for the settlement and
partition of the relative rights and interests of the Hopi and Navajo Tribes,
in the supplemental proceedings in the case of Healing v. Jones pending in the
United States District Court for the District of Arizona. Prescribes the
procedure for the negotiations.
Authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to allot lands to Paiute Indians,
not now members of the Navajo Tribe, who are located in the affected area,
such land to be held in trust for them and their heirs by the United States.
Authorizes the Secretary to transfer up to 250,000 acres of lands within
the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management within Arizona or New Mexico
to the Navajo Tribe, in return for the fair market value of such land as
determined by the Secretary.
Establishes within the executive branch the Navajo and Hopi Indian
Relocation Commission. Requires the Commission, following an order of the
District Court in the supplemental proceedings of the Healing case, to prepare
and submit to Congress a report concerning the relocation of Members and
households of each tribe from lands partitioned to the other tribe. Specifies
the procedure for such relocations as may be necessary.
Grants to the Hopi Tribe perpetual use of Cliff Spring in Arizona as a
religious shrine, and provides that the Secretary shall make reasonable
provision for the use and right of access to identified religious shrines for
the members of each tribe on the reservation of the other tribe.
Authorizes funds to be appropriated for the purpose of carrying out
specified provisions of this Act, such funds to remain available until
Lagförslag i Black Mesa
Folket på Big Mountain behöver Din Hjälp!
Ett nytt lagförslag står för dörren att bli antaget I kongressen, och som sätter ett nytt slutdatum
för tvångsförflyttningen, S1003 "The Navajo Hopi Land Settlement Act Amendments of
30 september, 2008 skall samtliga familjer vara förflyttade!
U.S. Senate Bill S.1003 may become an amendment to the 1974 Federal Law, so-called,
"Navajo-Hopi Land Settlement Act." This new bill calls for relocation of all Dineh residents
of, mostly, the Big Mountain and Black Mesa areas by September 2008. It also calls for: the
federal commission responsible for pre/post-relocation to close its program, and the BIA of
the U.S. Department of the Interior to start management-control of all tribal royalties earned
from the Black Mesa coal mines.
The federal relocation commission sets forth its "official" number of 130 Dineh to be
relocated before 2008, but this figure is incorrect according to Dineh residents of Big
Mountain. More numbers of extended family members still claim Big Mountain area as their
homeland, and hundreds more have been displaced without any compensation from this
federal relocation agency. The "unofficial" numbers used by resisters from Big Mountain,
Black Mesa and Star Mountain is over 300 individuals currently resisting. However, the
colonialist, occupier's relocation commission decides who is a resident, and the "inferior"
Indian still does not know who s/he is.
This Bill has now entered the U.S. Senate Chambers for debate, however, Senator John
McCain of Arizona is urging that the Bill be made into law immediately and he wants it
labelled as a "non-controversial item." Many of you have followed this issue at Big Mountain
and you must also realize again that the U.S. southwest energy companies are secretly behind
this Bill again. Instead Peabody coal company and western energy companies continue to
parade themselves as powerful lobbyist for this new anti-Indian legislation.
The Hopi (progressive) tribal council are again more than willing to be used as the anti-
Navajo bait for Peabody Coal. The U.S. government with its claim of being the human-rights-
God of the world has yet to prove the alleged "century old Navajo and Hopi land dispute."
The Dineh of Big Mountain and those resisting this modern-day genocide are aware of the
threatening times and the uncertain future for Earth's children. We will only listen to the old
ones whom have carried on the ancient wisdom and have today, informed us of the
prophecies. Shoshone, Hopi and Big Mountain Elders have all shared the same prophecy even
though they don't have electricity or watch the news of mass media. The animal kingdoms are
feeling the effects of the uncertain future and they are crying out aloud. As a people, Dineh,
we call out on behalf of our relations, too. "We are sick of 'relocation' while our natural-
ancestral habitats are polluted!"
We will continue to fight to defend our homelands and hopeful, our endurance and defiance
will continue into the next couple of years. For now, I hope that everyone will continue to
pray and as the traditional Hopi elder stated, "we now need to decide about our relationship to
Also, if you have not, send your comments to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Indian
Affairs, go to www.blackmesais.org and submit your letter to your official representative.
Visit this website for any further updates.