I have been asked to write an overview of this years Revive the Beauty Way tour
and Thanksgiving food and supply run to support the Dineh (Navajo) People resisting forced relocation from their homelands in northeastern Arizona.
Thanks to Mike Gerrel for his phone work, designing posters and live sound at the Ukiah Brew Pub and the West Point Youth Center.
Thanks to, Mark, Gary and Bear Dyken, and Somer Moon. The Clan Dyken band performed five benefit concerts which raised about eight thousand dollars total. That is a credit to the generosity of the communities that hosted these events. So lets spend some lines thanking those people now.
Libby Uhuru organized and promoted the show at the Ukiah Brew Pub. Year after year Libby has stood with the resistance by her good work facilitating this event. A long time friend of the family, she also put us up for the night and fed us breakfast. Thank you Libby and thanks to the good folks at Ukiah Brew Pub where organic is not just a word, but a way of life.
Thanks and prayers go out to Catherine Lambie for facilitating the show at the
West Point Youth Center. For many years Catherine has made the trip out to the rez. She also acts as the treasurer and does a lot of ordering and phone wrangling for the goods and services that we bring to the people. Sadly Catherine’s father passed away just prior to departure and so she could not make the trip. Love and healing to you dear sister.
The Nevada City/North San Juan contingent has supported the run with art, music, food, love, and allot of heart. Thanks to Darlene Markey, who was the main facilitator of this years event. Darlene also made the trip to the rez , bringing food, a kitchen, a pickup truck, good vibes, and all the stuff we left at the show. She came early and left late. Thanks to Wendy for organizing the dinner in Nevada City. Thanks to the Feather River Drum, Tamara, Star, and Laughter, and Root Down One for filling the night with music. Thanks to Ron for the sound. Thanks to the local Native Elder for opening the night with a prayer. The community of Williams Oregon came through once again for the Dineh people.
Thanks to Ohana and Windsong Martin for organizing this event and hosting us at their home. Thanks to Windsong and Kat Del Rio and their band for opening the show with their original songs. Thanks to the whole community for the corn dance, and the youth group for the food. Thanks to Abe for the sound.
Last stop before heading out to the res. was the Bayside Grange near Arcata
California. Thanks to Ed and Pam Grant for organizing this event. Thanks to the most awesome Joanne Rand and the Little Big band for the musical treat that kicked off the night. Thanks to Elk Thunder Drum for helping us with the blanket dance. Thanks to Andrew Christian for joining us on congas, his hot tub and putting us up for the night. Thanks to Moe for sound.
Special thanks to Leonard Benally, a Dineh resistor, from downtown Big Mountain who came all the way from his home to be a "voice for the voiceless". If you got a chance to
see him at the last three events you know he spoke eloquently on behalf of his people. We
owe him a great deal of respect.
Special thanks also to our trusty mechanics, Fred and Aaron of Precision Auto in
Martell California. Since the Clan Dyken bus was down and out we had to rely on my truck to haul equipment to the shows and supplies to the res. These heroes have been working to
keep this Frankenstein of a tank working well on bio-diesel. A work in progress, they
performed miracles under pressure, we couldn’t have done it without them.
And so we headed out, carrying your love in what ever form you gave it. Your
contributions bought boxes of a variety of quality foods and dry goods, put together by New Frontiers Natural Foods of Flagstaff. Bags of Bluebird flour direct from the mill, Dineh grown winter squash (thanks big to Louise Benally for pulling this important purchase together) and fire wood (thanks huge to Owen Johnson, Tree, the Herbert bros, and Tzade, Lution, and Taj Heatherstone for their Herculean efforts in gathering and delivering locally harvested firewood). Someone from Colorado, Craig I think his name was had come and gone leaving three cords of firewood and a whole lot of potatoes. Maureen of Honeydew had come and gone leaving a mountain of dog food which she had bought out of her own pocket. Dog food is important for the dogs who tend the sheep and Maureen has spear headed this part for the last four years. Robin and Barry brought coffee, purchased by their fund raiser in Sebastapol. A group from Santa Cruz/San Francisco showed up with construction tools, supplies and crew. There were folks from a radio station in New Mexico, Kate and Sarah who were there to help and interview supporters and spread the word. There were also people from other parts of Arizona, France, South America, the streets of Flagstaff and other places I’m forgetting. Thanks to Crystal, for being there and bringing your crew, Dixie and Black Mesa Indigenous Support Network for putting the word out and Mark Dyken for the radio show and the Clan Dyken news letter. In this way people from all walks of life were brought in to help when we needed it most.
We were hosted by Tim and Belinda Johnson and family at their beautiful home which is known as Dove Springs. This was our fourth year there and I can’t say thanks enough for the hospitality and teamwork. Tim leads the morning circles with gracious humility and Belinda cooks a mean thanksgiving dinner including a traditional vegan dish she calls blue marble soup. They keep the camp alive with their entertaining humor and storytelling skills.
So much happened on this trip and not all of it to me and so I’m just going to give you a couple impressions of experiences that I left with; having failed to find it on the first day of delivering, Somer and I finally found the home of the elusive Calvin Nez and his wife.
The smiles on the faces of these beautiful elders and the way that grandma cradled that winter squash like a new born baby makes my heart smile still.
And so we shine a little light into a dark world where the true cost of the life styles of excess and corporatism come to bear on these old people and the culture and traditions that they uphold. Sometimes it is sudden and brutal as in the recent case of Rena Babbit Lane who suffered a heart attack after being muscled around by rangers. The pressure of consistent cruelty is the norm. The increase in capping off wells used for drinking water, the buzzing and terrifying of elders with helicopters and ongoing livestock confiscations….
When we came to deliver to the home of Eva Lee on Sandsprings Mesa I was
astonished to see all the cars and people. They were there for Eva’s memorial service. We were told she had finally succumbed to the cancer she had been battling the last three years.
I said we had food to deliver and was directed to speak to the eldest daughter who was greeting the many people who had come to pay their last respects to this beloved elder. It was an awkward moment. I was feeling stunned,out of place, and suddenly very aware of our appearance (not much sleep lately, camping out, no bath) I was feeling ashamed of our scrappy little offerings and the not enoughness of it all. When the woman saw me she recognized me from deliveries before. Tears welled up in her eyes as she thanked me and all of us for the support and concern we have shown for her mother and her people over the years. I too began to tear up…then I heard my name being called from a table in the crowd of people. The entire Yazzi family was attending and suddenly I was greeting old friends as they were greeting cousins they hadn’t seen in decades and so on. They had come from far and wide to be here. We left the food and the gathering and rolled off for more deliveries. As we were leaving I was once again struck by how these old people hold space for so many others, including us. When they fall it’s like an ancient tree hitting the forest floor, leaving behind the rich soil and seedlings that are the hope of a future forest. I was also reminded that the work we are doing is not about hanging on to the past, but rather, how we are stepping into the future with respect for how we came to be here and the struggles of those who were here before us.. The dineh culture holds a broad overview of the surviving of the last five hundred plus years of imperialism and war against indigenous people world wide. They carry information about the land and history, seeds, and technology that may be critical to our very survival.
As far as supporters go, there were many new faces in the circle and not many repeat veterans from the past. The resisters are still there. We did our best and we did agood thing. Thanks everyone. For more information and updates please go to blackmesais.org.
On the way home we stopped at Corbin Harneys healing center near TecopaCalifornia. I have been hearing ominous rumblings of the condition of Corbins health of late. I have known the Shoshone spiritual leader for more than twenty years. With strength, courage, and persistence this powerhouse of a man has lead the charge against nuclear weapons testing by the U.S. and British governments on his peoples ancestral homelands. I have traveled many miles with him, prayed, sweated, sung, laughed, cried, and been arrested with him. He has been the inspiration of many of my songs.
Earlier this year in August Corbin was scheduled to be at Bechtel corporate
headquarters in San Francisco for the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
When we got the message that he had to cancel I knew something was really wrong. The Shundahai Newsletter recently confirmed that western medical doctors have diagnosed him with prostate cancer which has spread into his bones. On top of that the healing center just lost it’s main grant. Furthermore, even though the governor of Nevada and the D.O.E. frequently call Corbi for expert Shoshone advice and to engage his services to perform proper reburials when they accidentally dig up someone’s grave, Corbin is not recognized as Shoshone by the BIA and therefore cannot receive financial help for his medical costs. The man is eighty six years old as far as I can tell. English is his second language. He is not very good at asking for help for himself. He has been fighting for all of us and "all life on this Mother Earth" for decades. He has blessed us generously by sharing his wisdom, ceremonies, and knowledge of the Nature Way, regardless of race, gender, nationality, religion, or cultural background.
We arrived at Poo Ha Bah (the name of his healing center, which in English
translates to "doctor water") around midnight. At about four thirty a.m. I was sitting on a rock by the parking lot putting on my boots when I heard the door to the little trailer open. He didn’t seem to know I was watching from the darkness as he muttered something to himself, making his way down the steps. Pushing his walker, he clump clumped his way to the Subaru, got in and drove up to the area where he performs Sunrise Ceremony. Soon there was a small but cheerful fire burning and the steady heartbeat of his drum announced that he had once again made ready to greet the sun. That beat and the deep resonance of his voice have permeated my soul, sustaining me through my hard times. I will never miss a chance to attend sunrise ceremony no matter how tired I may be. The sun blasted the sky with glorious color as we danced around the fire in a circle, holding hands. Corbin sat in a chair, drumming and singing in his native tongue. I want everyone to know that although he is feeling a little shaky and off balance, frustrated at times by his foggy memory, and thought he is in pain and not taking pain killers, his sense of humor and timing remain fully intact. You can line up all the comedians in Las Vegas, for my money I’ll take Corbin Harney as the best sit down comedian around. Soon we were all laughing and sharing breakfast. We left for the rest of the trip over the mountains to our home in the foothills of the Sierras later that afternoon.
It has taken me awhile to process and write this essay. As I am finishing it I am planning to go back to Poo Ha Bah next week to bring more firewood and help repair the solar water pumping system. It is time to rally around Corbin Harney. If you have attended one of his ceremonies, heard him speak, read his book, If you support his life’s work, or have been touched by him in any way and you feel moved to help or connect, NOW IS THE TIME!
Shundahai Network is collecting statements to be read to Corbin, if you feel like sending him a short message you can go to http://www.shundahai.org/enews12o6.htm#corbin . To send money or contact him by mail: p.o. box 187 Tecopa Ca 92389.
One more thing: the day before Thanksgiving my daughter, Suneca, gave birth to a baby boy. Her oldest son, Solomon, and his friend Dylan (both 14 years old) came with us on the trip and were a big help.