Report to the Honorable Harry R. McCue Regarding the Dine' (Navajo) Families' Religious Concerns and Suggested Solutions
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UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT
JENNY MANYBEADS, et al.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, et al.
REPORT TO THE
HONORABLE HARRY R. McCUE
REGARDING THE DINE' (NAVAJO) FAMILIES' RELIGIOUS
CONCERNS AND SUGGESTED SOLUTIONS
December 21, 1993
Lee Brooke Phillips, Attorney for the MANYBEADS
Big Mountain Legal Office
308 N. Agassiz
P.O. Box 1509
Flagstaff, AZ 86002
Katherine W. Hazard, Attorney
Member of the United States Mediation Team
U.S. Department of Justice
P.O. Box 23795 (L'Enfant Station)
Washington D.C. 20026
INTRODUCTION AND PREFATORY STATEMENT BY COUNSEL
At a negotiation session in Phoenix on September 16,
1993, the Dine' families expressed concern that Dine'
religious issues were not adequately addressed by the Hopis'
proposed draft lease. Judge McCue asked us, the lawyer for
the Dine' families (Lee Phillips) and a member of the
federal mediation team (Katherine Hazard), to meet with the
families to see if their religious and other concerns with
the Hopi proposed lease could be reduced to writing and
suggestions made for how those concerns could be
accommodated by means not involving a land exchange. During
October and the first two weeks of November meetings were
held by Mr. Phillips in the Hopi Partitioned Lands (HPL)
communities to discuss with the families what had happened
in the mediation since the August 5, 1993, meeting at Rocky
Ridge and to ask whether they would like to continue
participating in mediation and work, as Judge McCue had
requested, to identify their religious and other concerns
with greater specificity. Meetings were hold at the
communities of Teestoh, Mosquito Springs, Coalmine Mesa,
Sand Springs, Big Mountain and Cactus Valley.
One of the concerns frequently raised at these meetings
was that the families had not been more directly involved in
the mediation process. The Dine' families live scattered
throughout a large area of land accessible only by dirt
roads. Travel is time consuming and difficult. To cross the
affected area is approximately a five (5) hour drive. Few
people have telephones and, except in the Teestoh area to
the south east, there is not a governmental or community
organization structure in existence for the Dine' residents
of various areas on the HPL. Thus, communication to hold
meetings and exchange information is difficult under any
Throughout the mediation there has not been any
representational mechanism for the families on the HPL. On
November 22, 1993, several residents from each of the
communities met in Flagstaff with us to discuss whether
representatives night be selected from the different
communities so that there could be a mediation team to
participate in future meetings and negotiations. It was
unanimously determined that the residents would return to
their communities and representatives would be chosen from
the communities and reconvene in Flagstaff on December 7,
1993. This was a landmark step that will greatly facilitate
mediation. Aware of the December 31, 1993, deadline for a
showing of progress required by the Ninth Circuit, the
representatives planned a 2-day meeting for December 13-14
to identify in writing their religious concerns and begin
drafting suggestions for an accommodation of those concerns.
A day long drafting session occurred on December 16, 1993,
involving a smaller group chosen to complete the report.
The following religious concerns and suggested
solutions were expressed by the Dine' families in the
various meetings which occurred between the families and the
Hopi Tribe during the summer of 1993, in community-wide
meetings which occurred throughout the fall of 1993, and
during three (3) days of meetings with approximately thirty
(30) representatives from the various Dine' communities on
the HPL. The United States participated, at Judge McCue's
request, in order to aid in facilitating the formulation of
a report/proposal that articulates the families' concerns
with the terms of the Hopi lease proposal -- not to endorse
the substance of any concern or proposal. With this
introduction to the process requested by the mediator, what
follows is a report by Mr. Phillips and the Dine' families'
of the families' religious concerns and suggested solutions
and recommendations regarding an accommodation.
Lee Brooke Phillips
Katherine W. Hazard
RELIGIOUS CONCERNS AND SUGGESTED SOLUTIONS OF THE DINE'
(NAVAJO) FAMILIES WHO LIVE ON HOPI PARTITIONED LANDS (HPL)
The following religious concerns and suggested
solutions were expressed by the Dine' families in meetings
between the families and the Hopi Tribe during the summer of
1993, in community-wide meetings on the HPL during the fall
of 1993 and during three (3) days of meetings with
approximately thirty (30) representatives from the various
Dine' communities on the HPL. The families feel that these
concerns were not adequately addressed or considered in the
development of either the Agreement in Principle or the Hopi
draft lease proposal.
1. THE DRAFT LEASE PROPOSAL HAS NO EXPRESS GUARANTEE
FOR RESPECT OR PROTECTION OF DINE' RELIGION
The Hopi draft lease proposal contains no express
guarantee that the religious beliefs and practices of the
Dine' families will be recognized or protected under the
proposed settlement. The mediation was ordered by the United
States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in the
MANYBEADS v. UNITED STATES case. The MANYBEADS case was
filed by the grassroots people who refuse to relocate for
religious reasons. The families wish to emphasize that the
purpose for filing the MANYBEADS lawsuit and for the Ninth
Circuit's decision to order the mediation and to appoint
Judge McCue as mediator was to consider the religious needs
and concerns of the Dine' families and to find an
alternative to the forced relocation provisions of the 1974
relocation law. This alternative must recognize the
legitimate religious beliefs and concerns of the Dine'
families and provide them with a fair and reasonable
Throughout the last several years of mediation very
little time was spent discussing the religious concerns of
the Dine' families facing relocation. When the mediation did
focus on religious concerns, the Dine' families felt that it
was primarily Hopi and not Dine' religious concerns which
were addressed. For example, focus on Hopi religious
concerns -- such as eagle gathering by Hopis on the Navajo
reservation, giving the Hopis access to Cliff Springs,
inclusion of provisions that the Navajo Nation give the Hopi
Tribe Navajo land including the sacred area known as
'Sipapu' and land for a corridor to connect the CO Bar Ranch
with the Hopi reservation -- left the Dine' families feeling
that the federal government and the Mediator gave greater
recognition to the Hopi religious concerns than to those of
the Dine' families. This perception was greatly increased
when the families were asked to dismantle Mae Tso's
ceremonial hogan and the hogan at the Big Mountain Survival
Camp as part of the Hopi Tribe's 10 Preconditions.
Although the Dine' families raised several religious
concerns in meetings during the summer, the August 5, 1993,
deadline ended the direct talks between the Dine' families
and the Hopi Tribe. There may have been different
expectations about how to proceed to address the concerns
that were expressed by the Dine' families. Regardless, the
end result was that these religious concerns have not yet
been addressed by the Hopi Tribe and the draft lease
proposal has not yet been modified to accommodate these
needs. Any agreement must include a guarantee that the
religious beliefs and practices of both Hopi and Dine'
people will be respected and protected on an equal basis.
2. RELIGIOUS SITES, STRUCTURES AND CEREMONIES
The thread running through traditional Dine' culture
that defines well-being, indeed life itself, is a religion
that has enabled the Dine' to retain their identity in a
rapidly changing world. Religion as lived by the traditional
Dine' is their well being, it is life, the rain, the
weather, the change of seasons, the land, the hogan, their
livestock and cornfields, These things are interrelated and
can not be separated. The land and home (the hogan), the
reproductive powers of nature, and the origins of the Dine'
Way are closely tied together in legend and ceremony.
For the traditional Dine', their "church" is the world
bounded by four sacred mountains, and their traditional
home, the hogan, is a model of that world, from the details
of its construction to the placement of the first and the
orientation of the doorway. Thus, many traditional
ceremonies are held in the family's hogan. But many others
are held outside, sometimes at a distant location away from
the hogan. Religious ceremonies do not always take place and
sacred places are not always centered -- as they are for
many non-Indians -- only in built religious structures. The
sacred can manifest itself many other places: in trees,
mountains, springs, or plants. Proper attention and respect
for the sacred requires that offerings and prayers be made
at many different types of offering sites. Sacred places and
practices are part of the definition of the Dine' families'
occupancy of their homesites and thus religion; to limit
people to three acre homesites without a guarantee of
protection for sacred places outside the homesite betrays a
fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the
traditional Dine' religion.
a. THE HOGAN -- The hogan is the center of Dine'
ceremonial life. The hogan itself is, like a church, a very
sacred place. Most traditional ceremonies require a hogan
and the religious paraphernalia known as the prayer or earth
bundle are kept in the hogan. The prayer bundle is one of
the most sacred objects in Dine' religion. It contains sand
from the six sacred mountains, a sheep doll fetish made of
white stone, a horse doll fetish made of black (jet) stone,
buckskin, corn pollen, white shell, abalone, turquoise, jet
stone, crystal and Ha dah hon ni yeh (a sacred stone which
serves as the centerpiece or spine of the bundle).
The prayer bundle symbolizes the balance in life and
must always be kept safe and secure. The prayer bundle is
kept in a Navajo basket which in turn is kept in the hogan.
The relationships of these sacred objects is essential to
maintaining the balance and harmony in the beauty way of the
One of the most central and fundamental Dine'
ceremonies is Blessingway. With the Blessingway, as with all
Dine' ceremonies, "marking" or offerings of white corn meal
and corn poller. are made before the ceremony begins. The
purpose of the ceremony is to establish a state of balance
or harmony. Blessingway songs are sung at the end of every
ceremony. Blessingway is also the core of the initiation of
young girls into womanhood, and new homes are blessed with
songs from the ceremony. Its legends tell of the events
after the Emergence, the construction of the hogan, and the
sacred geography of the Dine'; hence, Blessingway is perhaps
the most important religious facet of traditional Dine'
identity. These ceremonies can only be performed in the
families' hogans and at other sacred places known to the
b. SACRED SITES ON THE HPL -- Learning how to live
means praying to and giving thanks for what gives life:
Mother Earth, the Sun, Fire and Air. Each has gods or Holy
People dwelling within. There are prayers and offerings at
special places -- like springs, shrines, flat areas, young
trees, and at home -- that must be learned and passed on.
These prayers are for well-being, protection, and blessings
The first tie to the land occurs when a child is
conceived in the mother's womb. Prayers and ceremonies are
performed for the unborn child which introduce the child to
the Holy Ones and visa versa. When the child is born the
afterbirth is offered to a young tree so as the young tree
grows the child grows. The tree stands in a lifelong
relationship to the person and prayers and offerings are
made there throughout one's lifetime.
Sacred places are commonly expressed as a place of
offering. A place is sacred because it is possible to
communicate there with the Holy People through prayer and
offering. The Holy People cannot be seen, but their presence
is known through air movements and vibrations, a certain
kind of light, pictographs, noises, and through legends.
There are several consistent qualitative associations,
such as kinds of places, atmospheric conditions, or times,
that provide needed access to the Holy People. Mountains,
watercourses, springs, hills, flat areas, at young trees,
and at home are common places for prayer and offering. There
are also traditional natural springs, rock formations, and
other phenomena of nature that are shrines.
Families' traditional use areas are bounded by sacred
places where Holy people dwell. Parents and grandparents
teach their children and grandchildren the prayers and
offerings that must be made at these places to insure well-
being and protection. The land outside of this protective
line is potentially dangerous. Also, families have
responsibility as caretakers of the land; the prayers and
offerings must be continued to maintain the essential order
of balance and harmony.
Sacred places are used on a regular basis by local
families, and some are used regionally. Big Mountain is an
example of a site with regional significance. The mountain
is a very important Holy Person, mentioned frequently in the
literature of Navajo religion. "He is the one that created
man,' said one resident. There is a Shrine on Big Mountain
that was built by Holy People when the universe was being
form d. It was built by the Holy People for the Dine' and
they were instructed to preserve and protect it.
There are numerous places throughout the HPL which have
religious significance to the Dine' families. (1) Neither
the Hopi Tribe nor the U.S. Government, and to some degree
the Navajo Nation, realized or understand the many religious
sites which exist on the HPL. The families believe that the
governments involved do not understand the significance or
importance of these religious sites to the Dine' families.
(1) Some of these places include: natural springs, trees
struck by lightning, rocks struck by lightning,
prairies/meadows, stream and river beds, trees, wind
paths, undisturbed areas, cornfields, highest points of
mountains/buttes, plants, rocks, Star Mountain, daily
offering places located away from the homesite where
offerings are made at dawn and dusk, coyote paths, eagle
nesting areas, cliffs or tse (rocks), hilltops, sacred
mountains, talking rocks (where nature joins you in your
prayers) and caves, mouths of canyons or elsewhere where
the wind echoes.
There are sites such as Big Mountain and Star Mountain
that are significant to all Dine'. There are sites such as
springs, rock formations, trees and other special places
that have a religious significance to the extended families
which make up the Dine' communities and clans. There are
also offering sites, burial sites and other places that have
a religious significance to the individual family that lives
within the Dine' communities. All of these places are
important because they are known by the Holy People and by
These sacred places must be respected and protected.
Some of these places can be identified and discussed with
outsiders. Other places cannot be identified or discussed
without exposing the site and the people who depend on the
site to danger or destruction. Any settlement must include
an express agreement that sacred sites will be respected and
The families suggest that each community prepare a map
of the sacred sites within the community. These maps must be
kept confidential and would be used in meetings with the
Hopi Tribe to work out the details for land use, development
etc. The Manybeads/Tso family and Medicine man Alvin Clinton
and the other families from the Star Mountain area are in
the process of mapping their areas. They should be prepared
by mid-January to discuss the maps of those two areas to the
Hopi Tribe and the Mediator.
The families believe that in the past the U.S.
Government and the Hopi Tribe have not respected or
protected religious sites on the HPL. For example, Star
Mountain, which is located in the Teestoh area, is a place
of great religious significance to the Dine'. When the Hopi
Tribe and the U.S. Government began to erect barbwire range
fence near Star Mountain, the Teestoh community raised their
religious based concerns with both the Hopi Tribe and the
U.S. Government. Despite being aware of the religious
significance of Star Mountain, the Hopi Tribe and the U.S.
Government ignored the Dine' concerns and fenced Star
A medicine man in the Teestoh community was then
arrested and jailed when he attempted to stop the U.S.
Government and the Hopi Tribe from desecrating Star
Mountain. The U. S. Government and the Hopi Tribe could have
built its range fencing around Star Mountain without
interfering with this important religious site. Instead, the
U.S. Government and the Hopi Tribe chose to put the barbwire
fence up over Star Mountain in spite of the Dine's expressed
religious concerns about the area. As a result, Star
Mountain is fenced to the top from the east and west sides
of the mountain and there is also a third fence line that
comes to the base of mountain from the south side.
The Hopi Tribe wants a two mile radius around its
shrine at Cliff Springs that restricts development, grazing
and other uses. The Hopi Tribe also seeks similar protection
for eagle nesting areas and for the sacred area known as
"Sipapu," all of which are located on Navajo land. The Dine'
families believe that the Hopi Tribe has in the past refused
to agree to equal or similar protection of Dine' sites. The
Dine' families therefore would like the same type of
protection or respect. There must be equal treatment of Hopi
and Dine' religious needs.
c. CORNFIELDS/FARMING -- Cornfields are also sacred.
There are songs and prayers that involve the corn and
cornfields Sand from the cornfields is involved in
ceremonies. The sand is taken into the hogan and returned to
the field after the ceremony is completed. Sand is also used
in sand paintings and as a purification wash. Different
kinds of corn and different parts of the corn (the husk,
corn cob, corn pollen) are used in ceremonies and as
offerings. In the field, the different colored corn are laid
out in a sacred way in planting. The corn is used in almost
every ceremony. These fields are also important for food.
Corn and other crops, such as melon, beans and squash are
grown in the corn fields and the seeds from all the crops
are saved for replanting.
Each individual family's cornfield is sacred and
important to them and should be protected and treated as a
sacred site. When children are married they need to be able
to select cornfield for their family.
d. CONSTRUCTION OF RELIGIOUS STRUCTURES -- Most of our
ceremonies are performed in hogans or other special
structures. Unlike the Hopi, we do not live in villages or
perform our ceremonies in Kivas. We Dine' perform our
ceremonies at many different locations, normally at secluded
or undisturbed areas of nature. These outdoor ceremonies are
never performed at the same place twice. (2)
(2) An example of some of our ceremonies include: Yei bi
che, Ni dah, Firedance, Hozho Ji, 5 night ceremony, Ki
nal dah, Nit chi ji, wedding ceremony, Peyote, Herb
gathering, Hand trembling, Crystal gazing, Sundance,
Daily offerings, Ni ghiz, Healing ceremonies and Sweat
Many of our ceremonies, including the Yei bi che, Enemy
Way and Fire Dance ceremonies, last several days and require
us to build special structures away from our homes. These
ceremonies require the use of open areas and land much
larger than three acres. The type of structures usually
include hogans, ramadas, sweat lodges, Yei houses and
firepits. We need to be able to build these religious
structures not only at our homesite but also elsewhere on
the HPL. The structures may need to be up for several weeks.
For example the Yei bi che, Ni dah and Fire Dance last for
nearly two weeks. In certain rare situations a structure may
need to be left up for a longer period of time. We could
either notify the Hopi Tribe directly or through the Navajo
Nation when we have such a ceremony.
An example of what we are talking about is the Yei Bi
Che ceremony. For this winter ceremony we need a ceremonial
hogan, a ramada or cooking shack, a Yei house (four wooden
posts covered with green cedar tree branches), an herb rack
and a sweat lodge. Normally the Yei house is built about 500
feet to the east of the hogan. The ramada or cooking shack
is about 200 feet west of the hogan and the herb rack is
located near and to the southeast of the hogan.
We use approximately 10 loads of wood during the
ceremony. We need camping and parking space for the
participants and guests. We also need to gather herbs prior
to the ceremony. We may go anywhere from 5-20 miles to
collect the herbs. Prior, during and after the ceremonies
there will be a lot of people travelling to and from the
The ceremony lasts for 13 days (9 days followed by 4
days of reflection after the ceremony). Sacred objects are
then left in the Yei house which is left standing until the
it decays by natural forces. The other structures may be
taken down after the days of reflection.
The Dine' families will identify the various ceremonies
that involve construction of shelters outside the homesite
areas, describing the approximate number of days of the
ceremony and reflection time and describing which structures
(if any) must remain standing after the ceremony and for how
4. GATHERING OF HERBS.
Herbs are used in all Dine' ceremonies and medicines.
(3) The agreement would need to contain a recognition that
we have always gathered and used these herbs and that we
would have the right to do so in the future. There is a
special way in which these sacred herbs are collected. The
medicine person knows where the plants are located. They go
to that place and offer a prayer. The plant is called by its
Dine' name and an offering is made to the Holy Ones. The
Holy Ones are told why the plant is being taken and who the
plant is for. We take the plants for ceremonies only at the
time when they are needed and in the amount that they are
needed for a particular ceremony or patient. Herbs are also
used for food, dyes and medicine.
(3) Some of the herbs we use in religious ceremonies and
offerings include: Yucca, Spearmint, Cho'ho Juv Yeh,
Snake Weed, Cactus-Prickly Pear, Sage, Foxtail, Cedar,
and Chil bi Chi Th.
Natural springs are considered sacred to the Dine'.
There are several natural springs on the H.P.L. (4)
(4) An example of some of those springs include: Red Willow
Springs, Big Mountain Springs (East, West, North,
South), Gravel Pit (Coalmine area), Mosquito Springs,
Dove Springs, Badger Springs, Owl Springs, Sunshine
Springs, Tiic Ya Toh, To Ha Tich, Black Horse Spring,
Clay Spring, Onion Spring, Horse Spring, Yes Ya Toh,
Lizard Spring, Tsi Dzeh (Jeddito area) and other various
The agreement would need to include a guarantee that
these sacred places will be respected and protected. In the
past, many of the springs have been disturbed or destroyed
by the BIA or Hopi Tribe. For example, Horse Springs, near
Star Mountain, and several other natural springs have been
sealed off and the sacred water diverted to other areas for
Hopi cattle. We would want to be able to identify these
springs and be consulted before the Hopi Tribe or the U.S.
takes any action which would impact a spring.
6. PROTECTION OF THE BURIAL SITES
This is a very sensitive issue. For the Dine', we do
not think of one's death and it should not normally be
spoken about. To speak about death and burial is understood
by the families as if we are planning for their death. When
death does occur, we see it as the completion of a natural
cycle where we are returned to our Mother.
Existing burial sites must be protected and we must
also be allowed to bury our loved ones in the future. Our
families and our ancestors have been born and raised in our
homelands. We hope our future generations will be born here
as well. These are the lands where our umbilical cords are
buried which help tie us to our Mother, the Earth. There are
prayers and songs like the Beauty Way and other traditional
Dine' ceremonies which have been performed on the land.
These prayers and ceremonies anchor us to our Mother. We
believe that the places where we are born and where we are
buried, are sacred places. When we pass on, we are returned
to the lands we know and love. We are returned to our
Mother. For us, it is a moral and religious right to be
buried on our homelands.
Those who have passed on and who have been returned to
the earth on the HPL should be respected. Each community
should decide how their burial sites could be identified so
that they will not be disturbed. This information should be
Each community should also decide how they will settle
the issue of future burial sites. Some communities may wish
to establish community cemeteries, others may choose to
continue burying their loved ones on the Navajo reservation
or even off the reservation. Some families may wish to
continue burying their loved ones at a traditional site near
their homesite. The exact details should be worked out
between the Dine' communities and the Hopi Tribe. We are
very uncomfortable about the Hopi Tribe regulating this
special issue and want to stress that any agreement should
be sensitive to this concern and we must be treated equally
with the Hopi.
The Hopi lease only provides approximately 112
homesites. The agreement should include all Dine' families
who live on the HPL on a full time basis. It is not possible
for us to separate our children from ourselves. Our
relatives who are temporarily away from home for military,
school, work or medical reasons should also be included.
Families are also concerned that the three acre site is
not large enough to accommodate an extended family and the
necessary structures for practicing their religion and
maintaining their traditional livelihood. Because of the
construction freeze, many Dine' families have not been able
to construct homesites for children as they have families of
their own. One family will serve as an example of why a
three acre homesite is not large enough. There are seven
heads of household, requiring seven homes. There are also
the following additional structures and requirements:
outhouse, coal or wood pile, lumber pile, water barrel, ash
pile, trash, rabbits/pigs/dog/cat/chicken shelters, shade
trees, clothes line, goat and sheep corral, horse corral,
ramada or shade house, hay storage place, tool shack,
ceremonial hogan, tipi ground (for members of the Native
American Church), storage for tipi poles, sweat lodge, bread
oven, play area for children.
Any agreement should provide for residential, farming,
grazing and religious use. We understand that this is a very
important issue and we would like to map our homesites to
demonstrate where and how we live. Many of the elderly are
still fearful of being fenced inside a three acre area with
no other grazing area for their animals and of not being
allowed outside the three acre site for religious purposes.
This issue requires further discussion and some method of
visually demonstrating the concept to the people.
For us, the traditional grassroots people, our
livestock are one of the most important things in our lives.
These animals have been given to us by the Creator for our
ceremonies, food, to be used to teach our children the
stories and lessons that they must know to carry on our way
of life, and for wool which is used to weave rugs and
provide income to the families. The weaving of rugs means
much more to us that just income. When a women learns to
weave she is taught the stories about the animals and about
the loom and the other instruments that are used to turn raw
wool into a beautiful rug. The weaving process teaches the
woman to use her mind and imagination to plan the design,
color and size of the rug. It helps her strengthen her mind,
to develop exact thoughts, and to weave a story, using
symbols, into the rug. As livestock has been severely
reduced over the years, so has this central part of a
woman's religious education.
All of the animals have sacred songs and prayers. Each
has a name which is used in our ceremonies. Livestock is
also used as gifts and food in our religious and social
functions and for economical survival. Livestock is so
important that sheep and horse fetishes are kept inside the
Navajo prayer or earth bundle.
We understood that the livestock must be raised so that
the land is not overgrazed or injured. We also understand
that we are being asked to share the land with the Hopi
neighbors so that we both can have a good life. We only ask
to be treated fairly and equally with the Hopi neighbors.
For us, we believe we must be allowed to maintain our
animal herds, including sheep, cattle and horses -- not just
sheep. If there is not enough land for all of the animals,
perhaps other land off the HPL could be made available near
us for grazing. The amount of animals that would be allowed
should be discussed between each Dine' community and the
Hopi Tribe. In addition, the Navajo Nation should not be the
ones to decide who gets the grazing allocated to the Dine'
families. The allocation should be worked out between the
Dine' residents of the HPL and the Hopi Tribe.
The Hopi lease proposal has many things that are harsh
and that hurt us when we hear about them. It seems the Hopi
Tribe is really trying more to evict us than to live with us
as neighbors. We want these harsh words to be replaced with
words of friendship and peace.
If a non-Indian or Hopi person breaks the law, they are
punished by a fine or a jail sentence. They do not lose
their home and their family. We should be treated equally
with the non-Indian and the Hopi. If one of our people
breaks the law we should be punished the same as the non-
Indian or the Hopi, we should not be driven from our
homeland and our family. The same basic laws should apply
equally to all of us regardless of race, creed or color. In
this way we will all be treated the same no matter whose
laws or courts are used.
There are also several traditional forms of livelihood
which should not be considered "commercial activities."
These include silversmithing, weaving and selling rugs,
raising livestock, gathering herbs, and performing
ceremonies (medicine people). Practice of these traditional
forms of livelihood should not be considered violations of
Eviction and violations of the agreement are difficult
to discuss because it seems to imply that these bad things
will happen. We believe that we can reach an agreement with
the Hopi Tribe and that through further meetings and
discussion we will demonstrate that the harsh parts of the
proposed lease will not be necessary to include in our
agreement. The people need to understand that the rules and
regulations do not apply only to them and that these are the
same laws that Hopi, non-Indian and other Dine' must follow.
This issue is very difficult for us because, for us, it
is like asking us to pay for the right to practice our
religion. We, the people who live on the HPL, should make
our agreement with the Hopi Tribe concerning the religious
accommodation. The Navajo Nation, the U.S. and the Hopi
Tribe should make a separate agreement concerning the
lawsuits between the tribal governments and other money
issues. We do not want cur religion mixed with the money
11. 75 YEAR LEASE TERM
We believe that if we can explain ourselves to the Hopi
Tribe and if they can explain their religious concerns and
needs to us, it will be possible to reach a more permanent
arrangement. We think that if we can both experience a good
neighbor relationship that it should be presumed that the
neighborship agreement will continue for future generations.
Perhaps a test or interim period should be agreed upon so
that we can all see and understand how the agreement will
work. In this way, the agreement could be reviewed or
modified if we discover that there are problems that we did
The draft lease currently includes a 75 year lease
term. At the end of that 75 year period there is no
agreement that the Dine' families will be allowed to remain
on their ancestral homelands. The right to remain on their
ancestral homelands is central to the Dine' peoples' ability
to exercise their religion and, thus, is central to any
accommodation. There are two categories of reasons why
continued occupancy is essential for the exercise of the
traditional Dine' religion. The first includes reasons why
one must stay on one's traditional use area. The second
includes reasons why one could not leave their homeland and
live in a "foreign" place.
One should stay on one's traditional use area because
of the responsibility for taking care of the land, in a
spiritual sense. As an HPL resident put it: "The places were
handed down from my mother and father. They told me to use
it. They told me to live on that land. If we don't pray
there, if that prayer is not offered and we relocate and are
no longer there, the Holy People might think humans are no
longer in existence and that may bring the end of the future
at that time. I don't want the end to occur that soon. I
want my children to live and my grandchildren to live."
In other words, there may be a new, unknown, and
potentially dangerous order of things if the families cannot
meet their responsibility for taking care of the land. The
sacred places in a family's traditional use area define a
sacred zone to which they have responsibilities and which is
also a safe area for the family. For a family, this is
analogous to the sacredness and safeness of the area which
exists for the Dine' as a whole within the four sacred
mountains. People feel spiritually safe and secure within
these spiritual zones of protection.
There are also serious problems in moving to unknown
"foreign" land, as the following quotation from a resident
of the Hopi-Partitioned Lands clearly indicates: "We are not
familiar with many places, we are not familiar with many
areas. Because we have never been there, there night be a
place where people are not supposed to go that is for
something else, and we might be living there. Or maybe we
might go to a spring where our people were forbidden. And
here we thought it was a good place and we would go there
and we would conflict with the Holy People that protect
those areas. This we could not know because our grandfathers
and our mothers and fathers did not tell us, because we
never knew that things like this relocation would ever take
As noted above, the traditional Dine' belief is that
"improper contact with inherently dangerous power . . . may
lead to illness, the price man pays for disturbance of the
normal order, harmony, or balance among elements in the
universe." Moving to a "foreign" land could bring persons
into contact with dangerous powers that could cause illness
now or in 75 years.
A related concern for traditional Dine' moving to
"foreign" lands is a lack of knowledge of places where one
can communicate with the Holy People; in other words, sacred
places. People will wonder where, for example, certain
ceremonies may or must be held.
These issues are even more significant today than they
were a generation ago. Much of the specialized religious
knowledge is held by elderly medicine people, and by the
grandparent-generation. With the passing on of these
persons, the likelihood of finding persons who know, or can
determine, places to avoid or places where one may
communicate with the Holy People is greatly diminished. The
families fear for their children and grandchildren who will
face this problem in 75 years.
For these reasons, the Dine' families have made clear
that they can not relocate now or in 75 years. For the
families, the 75 year lease period is like saying that the
families only have 75 more years to be Dine'; 75 more years
to carry out their religious teachings which have been
passed down through generations; 75 more years for sacred
places which were given to the Dine' by the Creator to
remain sacred. At the end of 75 years the families are
expected to stop being Dine'. There must be some guarantee
that the Dine' children and grandchildren will be allowed to
remain near their sacred places in the future in a treaty or
neighborship agreement reached and fulfilled by the parties.
We would like to have the mediation extended beyond the
December 31, 1993, deadline to allow for the following:
1. Identification, by January 21, 1994, of the details
of other major ceremonies (in addition to the Yei bi
che ceremony) that may require use of areas outside the
2. Completion of the maps of sacred sites in the Dine'
communities near Teestoh and Mosquito Springs by
January 21, 1994. Completion of the maps in the other
communities by February 18, 1994.
3. Development of a more detailed discussion of our
concerns and suggested solutions to be provided to the
Hopi Tribe prior to the change in Hopi administration.
4. Discussion of our concerns and suggested solutions
with the Mediator once the maps for the Teestoh and
Mosquito Springs areas are completed. This could occur
in late January. Because of the sensitivity of sharing
the location of sacred sites, we would like to share
the maps for purposes of discussion, but to keep them
with the Dine' families -- at least while there are
discussions prior to ratification of a preliminary
draft agreement as discussed in number 6 below.
5. Meetings between the Dine' representatives and the
Hopi Tribe to allow the Dine' to explain their concerns
and suggestions and to answer questions the Hopi Tribe
may have. These meetings could begin as soon as the
Hopi Tribe would be available. We, the Dine', believe
that we do not understand the Hopi Tribe's concerns and
needs and, for that reason, it is difficult to know on
some issues what to offer as a suggested solution.
Without understanding the Hopi Tribe's concerns and
needs, we, the Dine' families, might propose something
that would cause upset and frustration and sound harsh
and harmful to the Hopis. We hope that the Hopi Tribe
can explain their concerns and needs to us, as well so
that we can help each other find a way to live in peace
6. The preparation and ratification of a preliminary
draft agreement on several key issues including: 1)
recognition and respect for both Dine' and Hopi
religion; 2) recognition and protection of sacred
sites; 3) burial sites; 4) the construction of
religious structures outside the homesite; 5) gathering
of herbs; 6) right to maintain cornfields and farming
areas; and 7) protection of and access to certain
natural springs. This could be completed by March 1,
7. Meetings between the Hopi Tribe and individual Dine'
communities to work out the details of the remaining
issues including the final form and nature of the
agreement, residential use areas, grazing, and a
dispute resolution mechanism.
The Dine' families understand that this process cannot
go on forever. At the same time, we feel that we now have
only just recently been included in the actual negotiation
process and have made great progress in the last several
months. We want to live as neighbors with the Hopi. We
believe that each Dine' community should be allowed to
finalize the details of a neighborship agreement with the
Hopi that takes into account the unique concerns of the
various communities. We do not believe we understand the
Hopis and want very much to listen to their concerns and
needs so that we can understand their position on these
issues. We also believe that this mediation is our best hope
to achieve a fair and humane solution to this complex issue.
The Dine' families remember the words that you said to
Mae Tso at the first mediation meeting in San Diego over
three years ago when you introduced yourself to them. You
told her that you had been appointed by the Ninth Circuit
Court -- to listen to her problems -- to help her forget her
pain -- and to help those two great nations settle this
dispute so that Mae Tso and the other elderly women would
weep no more about this problem. If these things could be
done, you will be blessed by the Holy Spirit. We want to
assist you in reaching that goal and hope that this report
will bring us closer to a resolution acceptable to all.
Respectfully submitted, on behalf of the Dine'
residents of the HPL,
Lee Brooke Phillips
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