Native Sun News Today: Navajo elders continue long fight on disputed land

Gathered at Juniper Grove in Big Mountain independent sovereign territory, supporters flank traditional elders leading resistance to forced livestock reduction and relocation of Navajo (Dineh) on 1868 Ft. Sumner Treaty lands. Photo courtesy Santa Cruz Indigenous Solidarity

Dineh elders: ‘We are protesting on behalf of global society’
40-year-old Navajo battle is compared to DAPL standoff
By Talli Nauman
Native Sun News Today
Health & Environment Editor

BIG MOUNTAIN, Ariz. –– Comparing themselves to the water protectors who defend the Missouri River from the Dakota Access Pipeline construction in Lakota Territory, relocation resisters recently observed their 40th anniversary here in Navajo-Hopi lands with a call for volunteers to help elders keep traditions alive.

“If you are experienced from other battle fields, like Standing Rock, North Dakota, and seeking to continue your learning and contribute to peace, this is one of the places – Big Mountain,” they said in a written missive.

“This 40-year Dineh experience may be equal and similar to the fight at Standing Rock,” they told the Native Sun News Today.

Located in the Four-Corners plateau of the U.S. Southwest, Big Mountain encompasses most of the northern portion of the so-called “Hopi Partitioned Lands,” an area in which a 1974 Presidential Executive Order called for forced eviction of traditional, non-English-speaking Navajo, or Dineh, under the Navajo-Hopi Relocation Act or Public Law 93-531.

Since that time, nearly 14,000 Dineh and 600 Hopi have been relocated from Big Mountain and other communities like Coal Mine Mesa, Jeddito, Sands Springs, and Star Mountain. Altogether 22,000 Dineh have been displaced or have lost their ancestral range areas, due to federal demarcation of reservation boundaries in territory once shared.

Strict federal policing of the relocation continues into the 21st Century, not without clashes between armed officers and traditional sheepherders. Enforcement includes limitations on water and natural spring management, animal husbandry, firewood gathering, and any type of social or ceremonial activities.

Meanwhile, Peabody Energy Co., which has exhausted a 70,000-acre coal mining lease at Kayenta Mine, is pondering expansion southward into the heart of Big Mountain.

The Dineh resistance began in 1977, with intense direct actions organized by only a couple of local Dineh coordinators and interpreters. Resistance leaders stated their purpose: the protection of the dwelling places of the deities in the Big Mountain Summits and the defense of the central Altar of the Dineh Universe, Black Mesa.

In 1979, resistance community members declared the independence of the 450,000-acre Big Mountain sovereign area, based on the 1868 Ft. Sumner Treaty.

Read the rest of the story on the Native Sun News Today website: Dineh elders: ‘We are protesting on behalf of global society’

(Contact Talli Nauman at

Copyright permission Native Sun News

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