Big Mountain Parts 1 and 2

stop_peabodyThe 2001 Thanksgiving food and supply run is as good as over and most of the supporters have gone back to their communities and their lives. The Altar is once again quiet and the People are mostly left to themselves, which is the way they like it. A light fall show has left patches of the white stuff under sage brush and pinion tree. Forage will turn green and provide the fattening that will get the livestock thru the winter. Once again the cycle of time and life will renew themselves.

After a very shaky start due to some confusing words from a respected individual and some musical uncertainty in the Clan Dyken camp, the short benefit series stumbled on. Thanks to a small group of more generous contributors our fund reached the sum of $4700 plus a very exciting donation of $5000 earmarked for the livestock. Many thanks to Bear, Mark, Gary and all the producers and everyone else involved in helping raise these funds. It couldn’t be done with out ya.

The food and supply run began for me with a packed truck (Little Wing, faithful steed) and a hug goodbye from my niece Sherry. No one to caravan with this time as all the others were starting from disparate places in NoCal and SoOre. The ride over the Sierras and down the Western valleys was beautiful and uneventful. I was caught by surprise when an Amiee Mann song came on the radio from Big Pine just as the sun was setting and dark settled over the road ahead.

I was the first one to reach Poo Ha Ba and was greeted warmly and fed a hearty bean stew for supper. Thanks Viola. Corbin had already hit the hay as did I very shortly after eating. The rest of the crew, Mark, Catherine, David, James, Melissa, Lief, Marty staggered in, a rich rag tag tradition. Sunrise ceremony saw about half a circle. Corbin’s prayers were strong. The inspiration moved us and we dedicated ourselves to the work ahead. We got away from Tacopah around noon and headed East to Flagstaff. We noted the military road block at the Hoover dam. My first direct experience of the militarization of America. Hold on to your hats kids, it’s gonna be a hard rain. With Dixie and Marita riding shotgun we slid into Flag with only one other small hassle when a very courteous Arizona Hiway Patrolman pulled us over to give us a warning about my license plate lights being out. We found Louise’s house and before long a group of folks gathered to stratagize last minute for the work ahead. It was good to see Tom and Klee and Danny and the other brothers and sisters from the land.

Supporters from as far away as New York City and Wisconsin sat in the circle with us and new friendships were formed readily. It was agreed that some of us would meet up in the morning to do the buying while another crew would head up to Anna Mae Camp and set up the distribution center there.

Those of us who stayed behind went first to see Dan Martin at the Flagstaff Farmer’s Market who had been dealing with various farmers and suppliers trying to get us the best deals on produce and other food items. He generously supplied a large truck at his cost to carry the food up the heavily rutted red dirt roads to our distribution center at Anna Mae Camp. So most all of the materials were on the Mountain by Monday afternoon. We stragglers wandered into camp Tuesday afternoon with a small load of dog food to find that the crew had been hard at work and the donations were boxed up and ready for distribution.

We found 81 households still resisting in one form or another the destruction of a way of life on Black Mesa. This is fewer than we found last year by slightly more than 20. Not a good omen for the People nor Mother Earth. Some of the stalwarts have passed in the last year and the rest are another year older. We are thankful for the young men and women who continue to stand for the land and the People. They are the future of the Altar. We pray that they find it possible to remain strong in the face of daunting pressure and harassment. May they stay connected to the songs and stories of the ancestors thru their elders.

The hugs and good natured ribbing that greeted us when we arrived temporarily distracted me from the destroyed Sundance arbor and sweat area just up the hill from our hosts hogans. Soon however, I found myself approaching that sacred place with horror and a sharp pain in my gut. The arbor where so many good people shouted encouragement to the dancers and sang along with the prayer songs was gone. The shade structure where the dancers rested between rounds was gone. The Tree of Life had been ripped from her place in the center of the dance grounds and chainsawed into pieces, her trunk sections left to rot along with the debris of piled Pinon branches that had shaded the People in Prayer. The sacred Arc of grandfather stones that had been lovingly laid to their rest after blessing the People in the Sweat Lodges had been bulldozed and scattered or pushed into the mud. The Sweat Lodges themselves were piles of broken willow and torn coverings. I had to cover my tear filled eyes and weep.

This action taken by the HTC with the blessing of the Federal government was an act of terror, let there be no mistake. This destruction of a sacred shrine was no less than the burning of the synagogues by the Nazi thugs in Germany in the 1930’s. The ones responsible should be made to answer for their flagrant disregard and contemptible arrogance. Who are these men of no heart?

I want to thank my brothers and sisters who helped begin the healing of that sacred ground by clearing the debris and making a walking prayer over the bulldozer track scared earth. The People’s prayers did not die as the Tree of Life came down. They are still there and will be forever. This is one thing the destroyers did not count on. It is my prayer that this action will prove to be the undoing of the Relocation and the undoing of the fascist thugs who perpetrated it. From the highest ranks of the Federal Government down to the military police units that watched and laughed as the deed was done, let this be their undoing.

I will carry on with the tale soon.

To carry on with the story from my point of view:

We got a few deliveries out the Tuesday afternoon and were pretty much done by Thursday afternoon. We couldn’t find anybody to guide us to Low Mountain and most of the People say that there is no one there anymore. Friday morning some of the crew went over to Kee Watchman’s for a sunrise ceremony with Corbin. He had come up to the Altar for Kee’s wedding to Mellissa on Saturday.

Some of us made the trip to Tuba City for the traditional Dineh ceremony. I felt truly honored to be included. We made it back to Camp after dark. The wind was howling and the campfire didn’t seem sufficient to warm us. So I trundled off to my camp to get some much needed sleep. I woke up in the night to find that my windows were covered with snow.

In the morning we found ourselves in a white winter desert, the crunchy snow under our feet. Since I had to get Louise’s kids back to Flagstaff in time to get ready for school we decided we’d better get outta there fast. Six of us piled into Little Wing (faithful steed) and off we went. It took us almost four hours to get to Flag.

Meanwhile the intrepid Tzoddite had to find a new water pump for his truck and then install it. I’ve gotta say the man is unstoppable. He overcame the obsticals of no tools and the dark and cold of night to get the thing fixed and himself back to the job of bringing firewood to several of the elders who were in need.

The next task before us was to ransom the Benally horses from the auction yard where the Hopi rangers had taken them. We had to travel over a hundred miles, East of Winslow and then bid on them as if they were just any other horses for sale. Actually we got them for a fraction of the impound fees of $2000.

After many phone calls and some negotiations the hay delivery was arranged with the Navajo Agricultural Products folks in Farmington. Many thanks to Carol Halberstadt at the Weavers for Land and Life and Daniel Tso at NAPI. A heavy snow storm on Thursday evening had me worried that the semi’s wouldn’t be able to make it over the pass. But when I pulled up to the Hard Rock Chapterhouse early Friday morning there was one of them waiting and the other wasn’t far behind.

People began to line up for their hay soon after I arrived and the two semis were unloaded by 1pm. I took off for the South soon after and am now sittin at home writing this for you. Another Food and Supply run successfully completed. Thanks to all and stay tuned for more news from the Altar.

Walk in Beauty m.g.