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© 2001 Indian Country Tomorrow
Navajo Nation Declares War on Mexico
SUNDAY, APRIL 1, 2001


Kelsey Begaye greets a generation of "Navajo Warriors."


Navajo troops head for the border with the one of the Four Sacred Mountains in the background.
WINDOW ROCK, AZ -- Stunning Indian Country and the international community, the Navajo Nation on Friday seceded from the United States and declared war on Mexico.

"We're going to reclaim what is rightfully ours," President Kelsey Begaye told Indian Country Tomorrow in an exclusive interview. "Mexico belongs to the Navajo Nation and that's that."

From his home in Kaibeto, Begaye will command a force of 20,000 Navajo men and women who have volunteered to form the very first Navajo Army. After a rousing rally in Window Rock featuring golfer Notah Begay III and singer Delphine Tsinajinnie, the troops began marching towards the Mexican border in what Begaye proudly termed "the new Long Walk, a walk for freedom and justice."

The reason for the war is simple, said Navajo Nation Secretary of State Wardell Bitsuie. Citing the 1848 Treaty of Guadelupe Hidalgo, Bitsuie and said the tribe's land rights throughout what is now the American southwest were terminated illegaly by Mexico and the United States. But the tribe is only declaring war on their southern neighbors for logistical reasons, he said.

"Mexico's army, quite simply, is not that great," Bitsuie told Indian Country Tomorrow. "And they're a bit busy dismantling those Chiapas military bases right now. We know we can surprise them."

Mexican President Vicente Fox was not pleased with the declaration of war. In a press conference in Mexico City, Fox said he will rally his forces "to defeat the Dineh threat."

Fox is also seeking support from other tribes. He will leave for Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Monday to meet with the All Indian Pueblo Council, representing the state's 19 Pueblos, whom he hopes will help stop the Navajo Army before they reach his country.

President George W. Bush would not comment on the Navajo Nation's secession or the war declaration. The Bureau of Indian Affairs said the tribes' desire to vote themselves out of the United States was an internal matter.

© 2001 Indian Country Tomorrow