Date: Sat, 27 Nov 1999 10:38:28 EST
Subject: viewfromthehogan8

The View from the Hogan  #8 Skinny Winds Month (November 1999)

Notes from Big Mountain


     For new readers of View From The Hogan I offer a glossary of words used 
whose meaning may not be discernable from a dictionary.

Altar       The land where these words are written and about which these 
words are written. The land "formerly known as HPL"
Babble-On   "Out there", the dominant culture. The people here on the land 
belong to an oral culture, and one aspect of an oral culture is that the 
power of words is honored. Not much is said, but when it is it is important 
that it be the truth. In Babble-On there is a lot of "noise", as if 
validation for oneself comes from making as much noise as possible.
Clowns      Politicians.
LaLaLand    Los Angeles. Spiritual Capital of Babble-On. Also where all the 
damn pesky aeroplanes fly to and from over our heads. (What on earth can all 
those people be going to L.A. for?)
Men in black    The various "law-enforcement agencies" active here on the 
Altar. The Hopi Ranger uniform is actually a very, very dark green. The Hopi 
Rangers are the para-military trained, uniformed wing of law enforcement who 
travel in vehicles with insignia. The "Field Monitors" are plain-clothes, 
officially unarmed and travel in unmarked vehicles (though with U.S. Govt. 
plates). The monitors are in essence spies, they are the ones that sneak 
around and count peoples sheep, see who has been building, who has visitors 
etc etc. Their findings are reported back to the Rangers. Maybe its because 
they don't get pretty uniforms and have to hide their guns in their vehicles, 
but it is the monitors who are usually surly and disrespectful and full of 
swagger. BIA cops and, when deemed necesary, County Sherrifs make up the rest 
of the team.
Visitors        Americans. It was only just yesterday (150 years ago) that 
the visitors were "knocking on the door" (in New Mexico). And now they are 
trying to say that they "own" this land.
Warmaker    Some might call it the U.S. Government. Some might call it the 
Whiteman. Or the Patriarchy. I see it as the cultural trait that urges us to 
use conflict and aggression as a Modus Operandi. (my editor says I need to 
use more latin)
Waynes World    Hopi Tribal Council Offices. Also a state of mind. For Wayne 
Taylor, the current chairman.

     A friend recently wrote me that when she talks to people about the 
situation here at Big Mountain she sometimes gets the reponse "Well, the land 
is just desert,  why are they so intent on keeping it?". Brings to mind the 
Clown in "Broken Rainbow" who basically says "Hey! These Indians should get 
real, Americans relocate every day". I'd like to try and partially answer 
this query. I won't try and explain how it is to have a sacred obligation to 
a land, and I won't try and explain how it is to live on land that your 
family has lived on for hundreds of years, which is, in  a very real sense 
composed of your ancestors bones. I'll try and explain what the land means in 
a "practical" sense, and I'll try to do it by introducing you to just one of 
the other species that lives here on the land with us. The humble Juniper 
     Biologists say we live here in the "Pinyon-Juniper Belt". What that means 
is that the Pinyon  and the Juniper are the two dominant tree species round 
here. Right where I am is mainly juniper with a few pinyons. In the slightly 
higher places the pinyon dominates.
     The Juniper is a "gnarly" tree. Nothing straight, turning and twisting 
back on itself, kind of like frozen turbulence. The hogan where I live, and 
where these words are written is made from Juniper logs. And mud. The corrall 
where the flock is sleeping is made from Juniper limbs. As is the Sweatlodge.
      The fire that is keeping me warm is fed by Juniper. As is the fire for 
the sweat, the cookstove, and the outdoor fire pit.
     Juniper boughs are used to constuct summer shelters, and are used in a 
variety of ways ceremonially. The green tips of the branches, when burned to 
ash, is added to all recipes using blue corneal. A wide variety of parts of 
the tree are used medicinally, and also for dye. If there is a couple of feet 
of snow on the ground, then the juniper is all the flock can get at to eat.
     The fruit is edible, for the flock as well as the 2 legged. I believe 
that Gin is made from the fruit. The seeds of the fruit I collect and string 
as necklaces,,,, this is my source of tobacco money. The bark when scrunched 
makes excellent tinder, and is also still used as a diaper in the 
cradleborad. It is said that long ago the bark fibres was used for a skirt.
     The bark fibre makes a good brush for wetting the mud plaster, and when 
tied with baling wire is used as a chimney brush.
     For a simple sheepherder the juniper affords protection, from a searing 
sun, or a bitter wind. For a simple sheepherder the juniper is a source of 
beauty, wonder, and lessons.
     The Juniper is a good ally. And that's just one of the many species that 
inhabit this "worthless desert"
     The simple fact is, that the land is life. There are those that think 
that we can "own" land, but in truth it is we who belong to the land, for, as 
Roberta says "everything we use comes from the Mother Earth". This is a 
simple truth, even "out there" in Babble-On

     Referring back to the concept of Juniper-pinyon Belt, both Pinyon and 
Juniper are trees, yet they each occupy a slightly different niche in the 
eco-system. they each have their own way of "being-in-the-world", and I have 
yet to hear a pinyon demand that the junipers leave because it is not their 

     So, we are fast approaching Thanksgiving,... or as it is known around 
here, "Kishmish Biyazhi", Little Christmas. And we look forward with 
anticipation to the arrival of the two big annual supply/support runs, the 
Traditional Support Caravan, and the Clan Dyken Caravan. To all of you who 
have donated support to these caravans, we thank you and want you to know 
that your support will go to where it is needed and most useful,..... you ARE 
making a difference. To all of you who come on these caravans and help 
organize them, we also send our thanks once again, and a special thanks for 
making sure that support reaches every single family on the Altar. As I hope 
you all know, I consider you my relatives, and you are welcome in the Hogan 
at any time. .

     Things have been pretty quiet round here. No-one I know has had any 
animals snatched, though everyone I meet knows someone who has been 
threatened by impoundments. Same old same old, stressing people out with 
their continous siege tactics. There continues to be a lot of harassment to 
get more of the people here to sign on with the stupid Accommodation 
Agreement. As I understand it, a few years ago when the AA was being debated 
in the Congress, they decided that if 85% of the people here did not sign the 
AA, then it was back to litigation. A year and a half ago when the deadline 
for the people to sign the AA passed, amazingly the Feds and the HTC and the 
Relocation people claimed they just got 85% to sign on. I think the simple 
truth is that they achieved this magical number by  coercion. bribery, and 
forgery, and, ss cynical as it may sound, I have a sneaking suspicion that 
they lied, and that they have been spending the last year and half getting 
more signatures to finally make the magic number. Of course, its possible 
that I would lie too, if there were a fifty million dollar "sweetener" in it 
for me. The whole thing seems to be based on "New Math" anyway, something I 
am unfamiliar with,.... how else can approximately 100 signatures equal 
2-3000 people?

     Back in the real world, the weather has been glorious. And kind. Warm, 
cloudless, still, days. The silence and the sky  broken only by the flying 
machines rushing to and from LaLALand. The flock are a bit uncomfortable, 
they have winter coats already. But for now we take advantage of the warmth. 
Soon enough the wind will turn to the north and we can enjoy winter. A 
neighbour has had a couple of babies born to her flock, so its getting to be 
that time of the years again.

     Some good folks down in Prescott, Arizona have come up with a nice 
support project. They've gone into the local schools (K-8) and explained 
about the situation here, and how important the sheep dogs are to the 
families, and they've organized a "Support the Sheep Dogs" campaign. Already 
one truck load of dog food has been delivered to the land. This is the kind 
of support that the people here need and support. If anyone is interested in 
supporting this project, or in starting up one of their own, please contact 

     Some younger Dineh have started a project to create a monument to 
relocation. Initially based on the experience of the Dineh, the idea grew to 
encompass all people everywhere who have suffered from relocation. The 
monument is planned for Window Rock, AZ, and for now they are looking from 
input and suggestions from any young people in the four-corners region. 
Please contact Klee Benally on (520) 527 3791 or [EMAIL PROTECTED]

     Another enterprise starting up is a co-operative to market the wool of 
the local people here. Last year the price paid for their wool didn't even 
cover the cost of the gas money to sell it. There are weavers "out there" who 
pay a decent price for wool, either as fleeces, cleaned, carded, spun or 
dyed, so if any of you are weavers, or have friends who are weavers, and 
might be interested in helping this economic enterprise, please contact me on 
this email address.

     I recently bumped into Kee Watchamn. Like Roberta, Kee has made many 
visits to the U.N. and to Europe as a representative of the people here. I 
asked him what message he wanted me to pass on to y'all. His remarks are 
addressed to international supporters. "We are not asking for money. We want 
the U.S. Embassies and the U.S. politicians to keep getting petitions and 
letters. We also want international lawyers to come here and take testimony 
from the people."

     I am led to believe that many of you are heading out to the Land this 
winter. I offer a small piece of advice. You want to bring a good hat, good 
gloves, good boots, and good socks. You are going to be spending a lot of 
time outside, and it may very well be very cold. Good gear can make the 
difference bewtween enjoying yourself, and being miserable. A small thermos 
flask is also very useful. After a couple of hours in the wind and snow, a 
cup of hot coffee will let you understand the phrase "nectar of the Gods".
     I continue to be honored by the email I'm receiving. In the past week 
I've heard from England, Norway, Sweden, France, Luxembourg, Germany, 
Australia, Canada, Hawaii, and all over Turtle Island. An obvious sign that 
what is happening here on the Altar is of significance to  people everywhere. 
This must be the Global Village that I've been hearing about for years.... 
not the Global Marketplace that is being pushed on us by McDonalds, Coca 
Cola, Hollywood, and Washington..It reflects, I hope, a growing awareness 
that as the biological and cultural diversity of our planet is being 
destroyed in far off places, and is being  replaced with Monoculture, each of 
us is diminished, whether we ever visit those far off places or not. It also 
reflects (again I hope) the awareness that by the products we buy and the 
resources we consume we are in fact the cause of this destruction. It is WE 
who are responsible for what is happening, and therefore it is WE who are 
responsible for stopping it, and de facto we have the power to stop it. 

     I also note with some interest that many of you writing to me describe 
yourselves with reference to your ancestory, you define yourselves as 
Choctaw/Scot, or Irish/Swedish/African-american, or Zapotec/Eyak, not 
American, or Mexican, or British. We are starting to reject the abstract 
divisions that are Nation States. Many of us can trace our bloodlines to a 
multitude of points around the globe. Kind of like a world-wide web huh? 
Underlying the situation here on the Altar is the matter of abstract 
definitions being imposed. A U.S. President draws lines on a map and says 
"this defines such and such", a little later more lines are drawn, then more 
lines,...... fences,..... names, dividing,....separating. Even the definition 
of what is "Navajo" and what is "Hopi" is an abstraction imposed on reality, 
for in truth in the blood of most navajoes and most hopis is the blood of 
many different peoples and tribes.
     It is said that the language we use to describe reality also tends to 
define that reality. What is going on here on The Altar is a conflict between 
two realities. One seeking to destroy the other and replace it with its own. 
If we use the word HPL to define the land here, we are already buying into 
Warmakers reality. In truth the land here is an altar, and to use that word 
is to deal with the reality
Many of us seek to change our reality, our world, to one that reflects our 
deeper beliefs rather than the beliefs we were taught by Warmaker...... The 
language we use to define ourselves and our world must surely be one place to 
start. There is great power in how we define ourselves, as there is also in 
how we allow others to define us.

     On the other hand, there are just 2 types of people in the world. Those 
that have spent time here on the Altar, and those that have not. The 
readership of this humble newsletter fall in to both categories. To the first 
group, I would urge you (if you're not already doing it) to tell your 
stories.  I'm not talking about the politics, or the suffering, but the 
beauty of these people, this life, this land. When you left here, you took a 
part of Big Mountain with you. Let that part speak. A request for poetry, not 

With that in mind I'd recommend you point your web browser at the following 

(check out the Fry Bread song)

But then, what the hell do I know,........ I'm just a sheepherder.


             Your prayers, support, and correspondence are invited.

             I thank you for your time that you have given me by reading this.

             For all my relations

                 Bo Peep

                 reachable via [EMAIL PROTECTED]

P.S. To all those who have written to me, please be aware that owing to the 
pressing needs of the flock, the firewood, and the Grandmas, the office is 
sometimes left unattended for days at a time. It may take as long as a half  
moon between when you write, and when you hear back from me. Around here the 
information superhighway is a sandy jeep trail. Please be patient, you will 
hear from me.

If you have received this update as a forward, but want to sure of getting 
them in the future, please let me know and I will add you to the list. Also 
if there are any  "back issues" you don't have, again, let me know.

Please feel free to distribute (unedited) this email.

Reply via email to