Following up the story about Journalist Brenda Norrell getting fired from Indian Country Today(ICT), and the history of censorship she mentions, I contacted Brenda to get more info on just what ICT has censored.
Here is what she says:
Of all the things that were censored, the most heart breaking are those comments from Big Mountain, where the people have suffered so much and been so oppressed.
I asked ICT to publish a correction on the article, “Suffering and strength at Bosque Redondo,” but ICT refused. The article was published when the Fort Sumner monument was being dedicated. I am happy that these comments can now be published, in a few words, Louise has expressed the profound. Bahe Katenay’s censored comments on Dinetah follow.
Navajos at Big Mountain resisting forced relocation view the 19th Century prison camp of Bosque Redondo and the war in Iraq as a continuum of U.S. government sponsored terror. Louise Benally of Big Mountain remembered her great-grandfather and other Navajos driven from their beloved homeland by the U.S. Army on foot for hundreds of miles while witnessing the murder, rape and starvation of their family and friends.
“I think these poor children had gone through so much, but, yet they had the will to go on and live their lives. If it weren’t for that, we wouldn’t be here today.
“It makes me feel very sad and I apply this to the situation in Iraq. I wonder how the Native Americans in the combat zone feel about killing innocent lives.”
Looking at the faces of the Navajo and Apache children in the Bosque Redondo photo, Benally said, “I think the children in the picture look concerned and maybe confused. It makes me think of what the children in Iraq must be going through right now.
“The U.S. military first murders your people and destroys your way of life while stealing your culture, then forces you to learn their evil
ways of lying and cheating,” Benally said.
The following comments by Bahe Katenay, concerning the desecration of Dinetah, the sacred place of origin, were censored by ICT:
Censored from the article, which I had titled: “Pandering to corporations” in 2004
Bahe Katenay is responding to the fact that the Bush administration developed a task force to facilitate industry requests and fast track requests for drilling. The Bureau of Land Management increased oil and gas drilling permits by 70 percent since the previous administration.
Bahe Katenay, Navajo from Big Mountain, Ariz., said oil and gas drilling is violating Navajos’ most sacred region, the Dine’ place of
origin, near present day Bloomfield, N.M.
“Gas reserves are drilled in places where White Shell Woman was found by Talking God and places where she did her Kinalda (puberty ceremony). “Places where the Twin Warrior Gods made their divine deeds are also desecrated with drilling, piping, wells and recreation activities. The Dine’ have lost these lands and their ‘puppet’ tribal government have refused to fight for a claim to this area,” Katenay said.
Katenay point out that sacred land is being violated while many Navajos haul propane tanks in the backs of their trucks for fuel to cook with. “What would the Christians do if their Holy Lands were dotted with natural gas pumping stations and strands of pipelines crisscrossed everywhere?” Katenay asked.
“Then to make things worst, what if these gas reserves were illegally tapped with permission from a puppet government that is made up of their own people. Finally, how would they feel if these natural resources were being bought off cheap from their nation, exported away to another country and none made available for their use? “To the Dine’, this has happened when our Holy Lands were made available to gas companies in northwestern New Mexico in a region known to us as Dinetah.
“Today, several major gas pipelines are routed out towards southern California. Many Dine’ of course have to pay for the natural gas or propane from companies that desecrate their Holy Lands. Many Dine’ household do not receive piping so they haul their propane bottles to the local markets to get them filled.”
Katenay said the place of Dine’ origin, Dinetah in northwestern New Mexico, still holds ancient archaeological sites and a large portion of the creation stories related to all geographical features of that area. Energy development threatens the Navajos’ Four Sacred Mountains,
located in the region from Flagstaff, Ariz., southern Colorado and northern New Mexico, he said.
“I travel from Black Mesa to these areas when I can. I am disturbed every time I come back to my Holy Land. I see new drilling and new roads that scar the wooded mesas and buttes. I always wonder if the Spirits of our Creators are still alive there. Despite this, I still get a sense of healing when I look upon Gobernador Knob or Huerfano Mesa and its surrounding canyonlands.
“But I am also saddened when I think that, because these lands were given away for profit, the rest of our sacred lands everywhere are being desecrated, today: Mount Taylor, San Francisco Mountains, and Big Mountain.”
(In 2004, a report by the Environmental Working Group’s showed the federal government has offered 27.9 million acres of public and private land in New Mexico for oil and gas drilling. New Mexico ranked second among 12 western states for lands currently leased and second for the amount of land currently producing oil and gas. San Juan County, the place of origin of Dine’, was among the top three counties targeted, along with Eddy and Lea counties, according to the 2004 report.)