Relocated Navajos and the So-Called “New Lands”

— On Tue, 7/1/08, Margo Tamez <> wrote:

From: Margo Tamez <>
Subject: Dine’ “NEW LANDS”–State & Corporate Methods of Genocide
To: “sumalhepa. nde. defense” <>
Date: Tuesday, July 1, 2008, 5:28 AM

“New Lands” – Navajo Reservation, near Black Mesa

Mon Jun 30, 2008 6:32 pm (PDT)
Blessings All

From: swaneagle harijan

The following AP article from June 26, 2008 fails to first of all mention that these
so called “New Lands” have water contaminated by a major nuclear accident in 1979
when United Nuclear’s Churchrock damn burst spilling 97 million gallons of highly
radioactive contaminants into the Rio Puerco, water source for the thousands of
relocatees. Many reported cancer, deformed babies and livestock.

The suicide rate among youth was highest in the nation at one time in this region.
Dine of all ages killed themselves in despair, many by walking into traffic on the

Twice i went to the “New Lands”, once with another nonIndian supporter and another
time with Pauline Whitesinger to visit the Bedonie family mentioned in the article.

The place is utterly bleak. It is not the same lush and varied landscape so
inspiring to all who live and spend time on Black Mesa. Tho people may have running
water and electricity, the cluster track homes are cheap and ugly. The people keep
small groups of sheep in tiny corrals, but there are no corn fields nor areas for
customary semi nomadic survival and spiritual practices. It is a holding facility
for people forcibly moved to make way for the largest coal mining operation in the
United States. It is slow motion genocide. To make it a success story is just
another in the many lies surrounding this greatest human rights violation of the
late 20th and early 21st century in U.S. history within it’s borders. But who will
see it this way? Many do, but most will proceed thru life ignorant of the scope of
this atrocity.

Alcohol is prohibited on the Navajo Reservation. The “New Lands” are not bound by
such limits. Hootches is a very large bar that was packed with cars leaving the
surrounding desolate homes deserted on that Sunday i first drove there in the ’80’s.
Alcohol is a tool of genocide used to pacify displaced refugees all over the globe
who have had their ancient homelands stolen.

While this success story is now being touted by a nameless author, the greedy forces
of Peabody Coal Company and it’s spectrum of government agencies are busy pushing to
combine the Black Mesa and Kayenta coal mines until depletion, to drain more of the
Navajo Aquifer for coal transport via the reconfigured slurry line to the Navajo
Generating Station in Page, Arizona, to finish off relocating the remaining Dine
resisters and continue with genocidal policies terminating traditional land based
peoples once and for all as well as accelerating the termination of a livable

With the 2005 closure of the Mojave Generating Station in Laughlin, Nevada, 60% of
the aquifer had been drained in this first slurry line leaving ancient springs and
wells dry at Big Mountain and other regions of Black Mesa. To use pristine, precious
water for industrial use highlights the insanity of corporate greed.

When the massive implications of such plans are laid before us, how can anyone
continue with life as usual? What is occurring at Black Mesa is the tried and true
blueprint for annihilation in the name of profit that has killed over a million
Iraqis, over 4100 US soldiers and countless others for the control of the largest
remaining oil reserves. Iran is on the dart board now and the police state at home
expands. I personally am questioning the reality of supporting my daughter finishing
high school in the face of man made global disaster….

How can any proceed as if all of us weren’t embedded in the most striking crisis in
human memory? What will we do to stop the killers taking away the future from all of
our children? American apathy and denial is astounding, shocking, unconscionable….

A few weeks ago, i dreamed Pauline was sitting on my bed while Owen wrote down what
she wanted me to hear. It was very intense. Then i dreamed i called Bahe to tell him
about the first dream. A few days later, Rachel, Pauline’s granddaughter called to
tell me that Pauline’s collapsed hogan had been rebuilt by Owen. She said the BIA
rangers were harassing Pauline to take the hogan down.

My friend Marilyn James went to visit Pauline last winter. She told me how her
hogan, which was over 100 years old, was completely down with the logs around the
smooth circle they once enclosed. She found Pauline in the little sheepherder hogan
where she visited with her briefly leaving a good supply of groceries. Marilyn is
another Indigenous frontline Grandmother defending the lands of Sinixt in the Slocan
Valley of British Columbia. The story is the same all over Mother Earth.

We must write the letters and let the killers know we oppose their evil deeds. We
must tell everyone we know about these serious situations, but most importantly, we
must decide how and where to put our very lives on the line to truly put a stop to
the greatest mass insanity that greed had ever devised. We must act quickly, with
great courage and hear the very heart of the Earth that comes thru the elders
defending her daily.




p.s. Just wonder what Obama’s stance would be on this situation as he received
support from the coal industry in his quest to become a senator.
I have little hope for change other than that activated by the people to truly
reclaim justice and peace with their very lives.

Current information on Peabody, Navajo Aquifer, Hearings, etc. July 7, 2008 comment

A mural is displayed in the Nahata Dziil Chapter
House of the Navajo community in Sanders.

Tucson Citizen
Years later, relocated Navajos question shift by feds
The Associated Press

Published: 06.28.2008

SANDERS – Unlike most of the vast, impoverished Navajo Nation, in this town, all the
roads are paved, schools and clinics are a short drive away, and everyone has
electricity and running water in their homes.

Those modern conveniences are what lured hundreds of Navajo families to the “new
lands” – ranch land the federal government bought in the early 1980s as part of a
big project to relocate thousands of Navajos from Hopi land and hundreds of Hopis
from Navajo land.

Now, a quarter century and $514 million later, the federal Office of Navajo-Hopi
Indian Relocation is winding down what has become one of the largest relocation
efforts in U.S. history.

The office expects to move the last of the group – some 40 families – by next year.
The community of relocated Navajos near Sanders calls itself Nahata’ Dziil, or
“planning with strength,” and to some, the so-called New Lands is a success story.
The relocated families, they say, are mostly doing well and the community has a
bright future.

But there are persistent critics, along with some families who have balked at the
idea, refusing to move from their own land in eastern Arizona that their families
inhabited for generations. And now the question looms: Can the New Lands remain
self-sufficient once the federal program ends?

Hopi sought land back In 1882, President Chester Arthur designated 2.5 million acres
in northern Arizona for the Hopi Tribe and “such other Indians as the Secretary of
the Interior may see fit to settle thereon.”

Prior to that date, Navajos had been herding sheep on the land in the years since
they returned from the Long Walk, as the Navajos call their forced relocation and
imprisonment in eastern New Mexico in the mid-1860s.

The Hopi Tribe went to court in 1958 seeking return of the land the Hopi tribe
claimed as its own, and in 1962, a federal court in Arizona deemed 1.8 million acres
a joint use area.

Twelve years later, Congress approved the Navajo-Hopi settlement and ordered the
tribes to work out their differences over the land. That never happened. Four years
later, Congress divided the 1.8 million acres and ordered members of each tribe to
leave the other tribe’s land.

When the federal government proposed relocation as the solution to the land dispute
it helped create, some Navajos armed themselves and threatened bloodshed if anyone
tried to move them. Some allied themselves with the American Indian Movement, vowing
to stay on the disputed land and lobby Congress for mercy.

Moving is not a concept widely embraced in the Navajo culture. Navajos often bury
their children’s umbilical cords in the land to tie them to it.

“We get used to our surrounding so much because we’re part of our surrounding,” said
Peterson Zah, a former Navajo chairman and president, whose tenure was dominated by
the relocation project. “You live in the spiritual way, with all the plants and the
vegetation, the trees, the animal life, those kind of things people generally don’t

But whether they liked it or not, Navajos complied with the law under which they
were provided a home and some benefits.

Glenna Thompson said Navajos often asked their creator to allow them to stay on the
disputed land.

“We prayed that we wouldn’t be forced to move because that’s where our hearts are
and that’s where we wanted to stay,” she said.

But as she saw other families near Teesto pick up and go, she and her family also
left – first to Winslow and later to Sanders to live with her mother.

Others signed accommodation agreements to remain on Hopi land under that tribe’s

Some relocated to much smaller plots across the reservation and in towns that border
Navajo land.

While big-city life was an easy transition for some who worked and whose children
went to school off the reservation, early studies found that others lost their homes
because they could not pay water and utility bills — basic amenities they had been
living without.

Water, soil a concern Ram Herder, 89, thought he might enjoy himself in the New
Lands – located within the tribe’s four sacred mountains and near the railroad and
Interstate 40. But he finds himself concerned with the water quality and the soil
that he says is sandier here than in Howell Mesa where he grew up. The vegetation,
he says, is not as lush and he worries that people could be getting sick by eating
livestock that must be vaccinated.

“When the sheep eat good grass and that grass became part of our nutrition, we were
healthy,” he said. “That’s how I saw it in my time.”

Each day, he walks out to a shed near his house and gathers hay to feed to his sheep
in a corral – animals he said used to roam freely before he relocated in 1987.
What the future holds for his children and grandchildren is another concern.
“I enjoyed life. I feel satisfied with my life,” he said through an interpreter.

“The matter is 20, 30 years into the future, how our grandchildren will feel. Are
they going to blame us that we decided to come here?”

Eilene Tsosie, 22, has similar thoughts of how her generation will handle life away
from the traditional reservation. At 3 years old, she didn’t understand why her
family, led by her father’s mother – or “nali” as she calls her in Navajo – left
eastern Arizona.

What made it successful, though, is that families moved together, she said. Some
even named street signs in Nahata Dziil after their hometowns.
Tsosie established a youth organization in Sanders and has been working to create an
archive of interviews, documents and photos in hopes of connecting people like her
to their past.

“I don’t think the answer to it is to erase everything,” she said. “If you can show
them this community is their own, they’ll take more responsibility in development.”
Livestock limits imposed About 400 Navajo families — the largest concentration of
those who were relocated – live in Sanders, a suburban-type setting along Interstate
40 near the New Mexico state line.

The land is divided into range management units with pastures where livestock graze
as part of the only such management plan on the reservation.

Those who didn’t have grazing permits had the option of living in the rural part of
the Navajo community.

Bringing along their livestock was important for many Navajo families who grew up
herding sheep, using the animal’s wool to weave blankets and rugs and the meat for
mutton dishes popular in their culture.

The Office of Navajo-Hopi Indian Relocation’s budget provides for staff in the New
Lands who maintain windmills and monitor the forage. The management system is unique
on the reservation in that livestock are rotated through the pastures and residents
are limited in the number of horses, sheep or cows they can keep on the land.
Livestock must be vaccinated and twice-yearly livestock counts keep people from
having too many animals on the range lands.

The rules are more restrictive than Navajos were used to. On the rest of the
reservation, livestock roam, often without boundaries, onto customary use areas.
Tim Varner, New Lands manager for the Office of Navajo-Hopi Indian Relocation, said
the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs regional office has been preparing a budget that
would allow the agency to take over the duties now handled by his office.

Varner is hopeful Congress will approve it as a special program, though he remains a
little concerned about how the livestock will be managed.

“Once we’re gone, we have no control over what the federal government does,” he said.
The community is set to elect a five-member government commission in November that
would have the authority to issue home and business site leases – one of a few such
local government models across the reservation. Its economic development
corporation, which is planning a shopping center, recently held its first meeting.
Development is advancing, “and it seems like they’re ready to go,” said Nathan
Begay, manager of the Nahata’ Dziil Chapter, similar to a town government.

“But they’re dependent on the government,” he said. “It seems like they don’t want
to let that go.” The older generation that includes Herder might never fully adapt
to life on the New Lands. He feels that the federal government lied to and abused
the Navajo people. “Mentally, for us older folks that moved down here, it still
hurts,” said Clarence Bedonie, 53, who helps manage the livestock in Sanders. Once
every five years he visits family in Big Mountain, who continue to resist relocation
and accuse him of selling out. As he walks around the hills surrounding the area
where he grew up, he sometimes thinks he never should have left the place. “But I
didn’t make that decision for myself,” he says. “For the kids, I didn’t want them to
be tied to the traditional rez.”

Go to our BLOG!

Lipan Apache (El Calaboz) Women Community Built a Local-Global Movement…

Our case is supported by~~
Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law
University of Texas School of Law & Rappaport Institute for Human Rights

PRESS RELEASES: Lipan Apache (El Calaboz) Communty Defense~~
(courtesy of National Network for Immigrant & Refugee Rights,
(RE: Dr. Eloisa Garcia Tamez vs. Michael Chertoff/U.S. DHS):
Lipan T’nde’ Shini’, South Texas-Tamaulipas, Apacheria, (San Pedro de Carricitos)

Restoring T’nde’ Isdzan shimaa shini’ gokal


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