John McCain's Trail of Tears

While most pundits, and wanna-be pundits,  keep acting like paparazzis in this era of TMZ politics over none issues, the big stories are going under the rug never to see the sun. One such issue is that of Big Mountain, where over 10,000 Navajos are facing a modern day  Trail of Tears. This forced-relocation is the work of a horrific "Indian Agent",  one John McCain.

Senator McCain introduced and amended legislation (S1973-1 and S.1003) which he claimed were justified by what has turned out to be a non-existent range war between the Dineh (mainly consisting of grandfathers and grandmothers in their 70's living on farmlands that had belonged to their tribe since 1500 AD) and the Hopi (the 3-5 individuals rapidly assembled to assist Peabody Western Group by Senator McCain, Congressman Owens and John Boyden).

Subsequently, as the Dineh were removed from their farms by the "Relocation Commission" authorized by the US Senate at the behest of the revisions to the Public Law 93-531 introduced as S.1973-1 (1996 Partition) and S.1003 (2001 and 2005 accelerated removal of the Dineh by amendment) by Senator McCain, expanded Coal Mining Rights to their lands were granted to Peabody Western who with Bechtel Corp, have been mining the lands formerly occupied by the Dineh, and piping the coal to the Mohave Generating Station in Nevada, which serves the Las Vegas and Reno areas power needs.

Even the UN is applauded: do.htm#dineh

The Dineh (otherwise known as Navajo) were stripped of all land title and forced to relocate. Their land was turned over to the coal companies without making any provisions to protect the burial or sacred sites that would be destroyed by the mines. People whose lives were based in their deep spiritual and life-giving relationship with the land were relocated into cities, often without compensation, forbidden to return to the land that their families had occupied for generations. People became homeless with significant increases in alcoholism, suicide, family break up, emotional abuse and death.

The current laws deny the Dineh families who remain on their land a fundamental constitutional right enjoyed by other citizens of the U.S. They are not allowed to vote or in any way to participate in the government which controls their lives. They are not allowed to participate in the legal system other than as defendants. They have no right to appeal any police or government action. Mining company security personnel, harass and intimidate elders, threatening them with imprisonment if they try to protect their homes, property and burial sites from Peabody Coal's bulldozers. They can be arbitrarily thrown in jail for resisting actions by the mining company. People and their livestock are given trespass notices. Ceremonial hogans, houses, sacred sites and graveyards are bulldozed. Armed rangers visit elders at their homes and threaten and harass them and confiscate their livestock at the government's discretion. They are denied access to water, their water wells are fenced, capped off and dismantled.

In 1996, Congress passed a law endorsing a 75-year lease arrangement that would allow a few of the families to remain as tenants on the land. The law sanctions the relocation of families not eligible for these leases and forces the families who sign the leases to live without benefit of civil and religious rights exercised by other Americans. In April 1997, when all efforts to obtain justice in the U.S. judicial system failed, and in order to get the relocation laws repealed, the Dineh filed a formal request for the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to conduct an investigation of human rights violations against them by the U.S. government. Several visits to New York by Dineh helped create an Inter-faith coalition of faith-based Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). A delegation of NGOs traveled to Black Mesa to witness the historic meeting between the traditional Dineh and Hopi people and Mr. Abdelfattah Amor, Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Mr. Amor traveled to Black Mesa in early February 1998 to investigate charges of human rights violations by the U.S. government. This is the first time the U.S. is being formally investigated by the United Nations for violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief. It is the hope of the Dineh people that the UN will cite the U.S. for violations of International Human Rights law.

"The forcible relocation of over 10,000 Navajo people is a tragedy of genocide and injustice that will be a blot on the conscience of this country for many generations."

Leon Berger, Executive Director, Navajo-Hopi Indian Relocation Commission upon resignation.

Senator McCain, as author and as chair of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, created the final agreement and amended 1974 Act as captained through the Senate in 1996. Senator McCain proposed a land partitioning scheme which led to the construction of a fence along the Dineh Range blocking their ability to field range their cattle (PL S.1973-1 1996 Dineh Proposal for Land Partitioning), eventually leading to seizure of their cattle for bridging the fence, and capping of their wells, which water was then sequestered for use by Peabody Western Group. c/deep.html

A Millenia of Co-Existence
The Dineh (Navajo) and Hopi have been the inhabitants of the Four Corners region since time immemorial. The Hopi way of life - living in pueblos atop the mesas and farming the arid land - was harmonious with the rhythms of the desert. Beyond the Hopi mesas Dineh sheepherders moved with the seasons between summer and winter settlements, living in accordance with ancient traditions. The Dineh and Hopi regularly interacted, exchanging food, weavings, pottery, and silver jewelry. Intermarriage between the peoples was not uncommon, allowing centuries of cultural exchange. These people describe their relationship as being based on a "covenant of neighborship" established in the ancient past with the exchange of sacred objects and renewed in the last century as well as recently in the early 1990's.

Public Law 93-531
Black Mesa stands on the northern end of the 1882 Executive Order area. Hopi prophecy foretold that one day outsiders would want to devastate it, and that if they were successful it would be the beginning of the end of the world. With the discovery of extremely rich coal fields in this area, Peabody Coal Company's public relations and lobbying firms created a "Hopi-Navajo land dispute", portraying the two peoples who had peacefully co-existed for hundreds of years as being embattled in a bloody "range war". One of the key figures in the fueling the dispute was a lawyer named John Boyden. Boyden's two main clients were the Hopi Tribal Council, which wanted to lease out the coal rich land, and Peabody Coal Company, whose interests are quite obvious. In 1974, despite the protests of traditional Hopi and Dineh peoples and in light of an expose by the Washington Post of the conflict as fictional, the Relocation Act (P.L. 93-531) was pushed through Congress. The main lobbyist, Harrison Loesh, a Department of the Interior employee, became Vice-President of Peabody Coal Company immediately followwing the signing of P.L.93-531.

Supposedly in the name of conflict resolution, the law mandated that the Joint Use Area be partitioned into exclusively Hopi and "Navajo" sides. More than 10,000 Navajo and 100 Hopi found themselves on the wrong side of a fence.

Low Intensity Warfare
Those resisting the government relocation have been subject to livestock reduction to levels below sustenance, as well as bans on wood gathering, home repair, and new construction. Wells and springs have been destroyed, forcing people to haul water on unimproved dirt roads. Religious ceremonies have been disrupted by F-16 fighter jet flyovers "so low that you could see their helmets". Other means of intimidation include 24 hour surveillance by government agents.

In order to transport coal cheaply, Peabody Coal Company uses the only illegal slurry line in the U.S. The slurry line pumps over one billion gallons of water each year from the aquifer which once fed the springs of Black Mesa. People can no longer water their crops and livestock.

In effect, P.L. 93-531 is a declaration of war on the people of Black Mesa, who have now lived under a state of siege for twenty-one years. P.L. 93-531 must be repealed.

So please, carry on with Reverend Wright this, Hillary's broke that, it's just another sad chapter in American history that is happening before our eyes. All so Senator John McCain could placate big donors in his home state.

I mean, it's just over 2000 historical and religious sites destroyed by Peabody, so McCain could get a campaign contribution.

It's just a forced relocation of a people, so a faceless corporation can garnish profit to fill McCain's coffers.

It's just an unspoken war against the first Americans that has lead to the death of 25% of their population, so McCain's political career could live another cycle.

It's just the enslavement of a people into abject poverty and disenfranchisement of their civil rights so McCain is free and entitled to keep his position of power.

It's just the death of Lahe'ena'e Gay, Terence Unity Freitas and Ingrid Washinawatok, who lost their lives in non-violent protests so McCain's political ambitions could live on.

And everytime you turn a blind eye to this issue of basic human dignity, you are supporting John McCain's Trail of Tears.

You are supporting this:

Tags: Dineh, John McCain, train of tears (all tags)



Very good diary

sadly a lot of people ignore this kind of stuff when it happens.

by Student Guy 2008-04-29 09:12AM | 0 recs
You mean like right now?

See, political coverage has become very TMZish, and bloggers are the new paparazzi.

There is no fun in looking into the darkness of candidate's hearts, they spend all their time trying to be the ones to post the next Blue Dress or Macaca video.

That is why this will be ignored, yet what Reverend Wright is wearing today will be.


by pinche tejano 2008-04-29 09:24AM | 0 recs
I bet you get fewer than 5 recs

which is very sad.  This should be on top of the rec list... (as of the last time I check it had one rec which was my own)

by Student Guy 2008-04-29 09:29AM | 0 recs
Well, a classic example of what I am talking about

was the 'pansy' equals 'gay' remark this morning by the Governor of North Carolina.

After that, people raced to the blog, trying to be first to say Breaking! Hillary Finishes God, Guns and Gays by disppearing Gays as Pansy!

I mean, really, come the fuck on.

Blogging is pretty over, it has become like sports talk radio, each blogger calling in with wild spectulation.

by pinche tejano 2008-04-29 09:39AM | 0 recs
The Hopi-Navaho areas also have uranium

Its a similar situation to Tibet, where a scarce resource is being strongarmed away from people who do not have the arms to defend it, often damaging their culture and health..

Are the Navaho and Hopi being paid even a percentage of market value for the minerals?

by architek 2008-04-29 03:50PM | 0 recs
Wow, really great diary.

Highly recommended.

by sricki 2008-04-29 09:39AM | 0 recs
Keep this in your pocket for the General.

That's when we fire all cannons of the canaan of John Mccain.

by pinche tejano 2008-04-29 09:44AM | 0 recs
Re: John McCain's Trail of Tears

Sadly, you ignore the position of the Hopi people.

The removal of Navajo families was part of  extremely difficult negotiations between the Hopi and Navajo nations.  The Hopi have faced centuries of Navajo incursions on their traditional lands.  Part of this was due to historical patterns - the Hopi were community-dwelling agriculturalists, the Navajo dispersed pastoralists.

Given a growing population and the greater need for land, Navajos expanded into Hopi lands and dominated the Joint Use areas.  Since these lands have tremendous value - especially in mineral rights - the Hopi sought to reclaim them.  Please be aware that the Hopi are among the poorest of  Native Americans.  Should they not have access to their own resources?

Negotiations for the settlement were bitter and acrimonious, but this was the best agreement that could be reached.  And as for Peabody - no group has a more checkered history with Peabody than the Navajo nation.  Peter MacDonald, former tribal chairman, was convicted of fraud, bribery, and extortion - much of which was connected to dealings with Peabody.

As Hopi officials have stated repeatedly, the presentation of this dispute as a "Trail of Tears" and a land grab by Peabody trivializes the position of the Hopi people.

The maps below show:

  1. Historical Hopi lands
  2. The continued erosion of the 1882 Hopi Reservation
  3. The Hopi and Navajo Reservations today i.html

by johnnygunn 2008-04-29 09:54AM | 0 recs
So you bought into false Hopi-Navajo range war.


It should be noted that from about 1977 on, councils and delegations of traditional Hopi elders meeting together, and meeting with traditional Big Mountain Navajo elders, have repeatedly said the land dispute can be resolved in traditional ways by traditional people -- who are opposed to development, mining, exploitation of sacred lands, and real estate profiteering.

But please, carry on with Peabody's propaganda campaign.

by pinche tejano 2008-04-29 10:00AM | 0 recs
Re: So you bought into false Hopi-Navajo range war

What a disgusting attack!

Since you are so clearly one-sided, I won't bother to offer a reply.
That what happens when people refuse to consider multiple viewpoints.

I have spend considerable time in both Navajo and Hopi land.
Have you?

by johnnygunn 2008-04-29 10:08AM | 0 recs
Re: So you bought into false Hopi-Navajo range war

Oh man, that was snark buddy.

Come on, dude, did really need to "snark" tag that?

by pinche tejano 2008-04-30 07:17AM | 0 recs
Re: John McCain's Trail of Tears

As an outsider, I might be misled to view this as  a "range war",  except for the operative "third party" factor in the entire story : Peabody Coal

by yankhadenuf 2008-05-12 08:46AM | 0 recs


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