Black Mesa Elders take Direct Action

Black Mesa Elders take Direct Action

Support our journalism. Become a Patron!
November 12, 2006

Black Mesa Elder Rena Babbitt-Lane (approx. 80 yrs old) is in the hospital recovering from a minor heart attack and other injuries after an incident of harrasment by BIA/Hopi Rangers earlier this week.


“My sheep herder had left recently, so I was home alone and I took the sheep out to a close area where they like to graze. This was Monday, November 3rd. Three of the goats somehow ran through the partition fence and I could not get them back across. I cut the fence and herded the sheep through and put them all back together. Then they went to a nearby water hole on that side of the fence and were drinking. I laid down under a tree because I was exhausted. Three Rangers came up to me there. I think they were all Hopi, but one of them spoke good enough Navajo that I could understand him. They immediately began to threaten me. The ranger was saying, ‘You broke the law! You’re gonna go to jail! You are not allowed to herd over here.’ They grabbed me by the shoulder and pushed me around. Pretty rough. I tried to tell them that they should not be pushing around an old lady like me, what kind of people are they? They took me back to my house and were trying to search around. I was trying to stop them. One picked up a stick and threatened me with it. They were heavily armed. I told them that they were a bunch of bullies, bringing all those guns around my house and being intimidating. They said, “We’re gonna come back tomorrow and either impound all your sheep or else maybe we will put you in jail and let the coyotes eat all of your sheep while you sit in there.” There were other things that they did to me too. I cannot remember all the details very well. Then they wrote a ticket or something and left. I was feeling very weak after that. I have no transportation so I walked 3 miles to the neighbors’ house. They drove me down to my relatives closer to town. In the course of retelling the story, I realized that I was having a pain in my chest. They brought me to the hospital here and I have been here for four days now. I am very sad about what’s happened here. I am not a bad person, I am a kind person. Just herding sheep and they treat me this way…”


Last month, an elderly Navajo man from Cactus Valley had reported that some sort of government official, possibly from the land management team came right within a mile of his house and loaded up a pile of wood that he was gathering. The elderly man followed the officials up the road and got them to stop. There was a heated exchange—the man demanded that the officials return the wood. They insisted that he was somehow in violation of his wood hauling permit and that they were taking the wood back to Hopi. They wrote him a ticket and gave him a court date. He went to court in Polacca, 50 miles away, on Oct.20. The charges were found to be false, and the judge dismissed them outright. The firewood was not returned.


On behalf of my Dineh Relations at Big Mountain and throughout the so-called, “HPL,”

I demand an immediate investigation into this federally-sponsored elder abuse and harassment of an individual(s) who still have no understanding of the modern American laws, and

I demand that the Navajo Nation make an inquiry to the BIA Hopi Agency and its Land Management Office about their justification for this incident of intimidation and physically shove or thrust a lone and fragile
elder around, and

I further demand that the Navajo Nation immediately convene its council members and the Office of the Navajo-Hopi Land Commission to facilitate the much needed testimonies from the residents of the “Hopi Partitioned Lands” and begin to address the escalating Human Rights violations within
the aforementioned region.

Let it be resolved that, the traditional Dineh families and their elderly matriarchs and patriarchs are highly valuable for the future of the Dineh Nation and that honor is due to them for their years of defiance
against the illegal mandates implemented upon their lives in the name of energy exploitation. Furthermore, if the Dineh continue to dismiss the situations at Big Mountain and throughout the “HPL,” a geninue part of
Dineh-Hopi prehistoric experiences will be obliterated as their ancestral lands become the wastelands of energy developments.


Families are asking for help. Now is the time to come and stay with a family. BMIS is willing to help you get to the land–please check our website for specifics.

Meanwhile, the Hopi and Navajo governments have been in secret negotiations in Washington and Phoenix. Joe Shirley, the President of the Navajo Nation, announced on the radio several days before the Nov. 7 election that the Bennett Freeze has been lifted and that there will be no forced relocation from the Freeze Area. Shirley was re-elected yesterday by a significant margin.

Accord reached for sacred Hopi sites on Navajo land (from az daily sun)
Hopis, Navajos end 40-year battle (az rep)
President signs historic legislation (Gallup Independent)

More articles about the current policies and legislations

Unfortunately we are unable to update our website at this time due to the loss of the critical laptop of our web designer. Members of Black Mesa Indigenous Support are all volunteers as we use our own funds and tools to do much of what we do. So, we are asking our friends and allies for help to front a new laptop until we can pay you back with our own money. Thank you!

We're fighting for our lives

Indigenous Peoples are putting their bodies on the line and it's our responsibility to make sure you know why. That takes time, expertise and resources - and we're up against a constant tide of misinformation and distorted coverage. By supporting IC you're empowering the kind of journalism we need, at the moment we need it most.

independent uncompromising indigenous
Except where otherwise noted, articles on this website are licensed under a Creative Commons License