IN HONOR OF SACRED NAVAJO HORSES AND BURROS
In tribute to the Dine' (the traditional Navajo people) who have sacrificed and risked their lives in effort to save Navajo's sacred horses and burros from brutal roundup and gruesome slaughter
The Nohooka' Dine' (Navajo Elders and Medicine People) oppose the U.S. government funded Navajo Nation (NN) horse roundups and the slaughter. They unanimously passed a Resolution that states, “We strongly urge the Navajo Nation and U.S. Government, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), DOI, USDA, to stop the desecration and destruction of the Diné Way of Life and Spiritual Foundation by recklessly promoting and supporting the roundup and mass execution of our relative, the horse.”
The Nohooka Dine' Resolution was passed on Aug. 26, 2013, by traditional Dine' practitioners with 32 in favor and none opposing.
The Nohooka Dine' (Navajo Elders and Medicine People) Oppose the Navajo Roundups and horse slaughter. The Nohooka' Dine' Resolution states:
"The Horse is our medicine and has helped us survive many hardships, they must be given respect and honored for their sacred place within the Creation, as they possess the same fundamental right to Life as we, Five Fingered Ones do,"states the Resolution of the Nahooka Dine', traditional Navajo medicine people opposing the slaughter of the horse.
The Resolution states, "the capture, imprisonment and proposed execution of these horses represents a forced assimalation and destruction of our spiritual and cultural way of life."
"We recognize that the capture, imprisonment and proposed execution of these horses is the same destructive cycle of actions that Our Ancestors endured, equal in destructive impact to our cultural way of life as the slaughter of the bison."
Nahooka Dine' state, "The Navajo Nation of our fundamental belief and understanding of K'é. The Navajo Nation's proposed mass execution of horses erodes this basic fundamental belief and understanding that Peaseably Unites Us to One Another and to All Creation."
The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples requires both the Navajo Nation and United States governments to consult with Indigenous Peoples who are guaranteed the right to free, prior and informed consent.
The Navajo Nation government's support of horse slaughter represents recklessness and it continues the assimilation of boarding schools when Navajo children's hair was cut and they were forbidden to speak their Dine' language. The Navajo Nation is demonstrating recklessness to Navajo children, a behavior that leads to domestic violence and drug abuse. The tribal government is demonstrating the same behavior that led to the slaughter of the bison.
"We see this mass execution of our relatives, the horses, as the rotten fruit of a bad seed that was planted in the minds of our children in the earlier days," states the Resolution.
"Our children must be taught to value life, otherwise they will treat their own lives recklessly and be drawn toward substance abuse, domestic violence, suicide and other behaviors that are not in accordance with Our Way of Life."
Leland Grass, Diné, states that, "The resolution was passed by the Elders and Medicine people on Aug 26, 2013 at Lower Black Mesa (below Peabody.) The Dine' people come out from New Mexico, Shiprock, Pinon, Tuba City, Gap-Bodaway, Coalmine, Hardrock (Rocky Ridge), Shonto, Kayenta, Chilchinbeto, Red Lake, Kaibeto, Many Farms, Rough Rock and Black Mesa. This is excluding ones called in from most parts of Southern Navajo Indian Reservation and also Utah residents. This resolution is made from them, at the traditional fire of their homes and ceremony grounds, and gathered by clanship K'é, and looking forward for a better life for their children."
In speaking about the horse roundups and the way they are being carried out Leland Grass stated, "This is not how we Elders of Dine' live. It is the way the U.S. Congress treated us long ago and now it is the way how our own Navajo Nation government is treating us. Our ceremony needs to be acknowledged on a daily bases. It is the Creator's doings to have our people live the way they are. The Law of the Creator never changed, it stays the same, and Navajo Nation government is trying to change that. That's a hell of a lot to pay for, for people saying or doing those things and it will have a domino effect on our newborn, unborn and ones in schools, our children."
"The disrespect of this way of life will be learned, courtesy of the Navajo Nation Government and its President Ben Shelly. They mismanage our money at the end. The $1.3 million approved for round up of our horses and slaughter is somewhat doing the same thing, running it to dry, mismanaging and stealing our horses. I can see where this stealing is coming from," said Leland Grass.
|A look into the history of Navajo Horses Over Time
The Navajos were granted 3.5 million acres of land inside their four sacred mountains at the time of the Navajo Treaty with the U.S. Government, year 1868. It is estimated that the Navajo people owned 80,000 horses and 1.5 million goats and sheep at that time.
By 1880, the Navajo had developed its own livestock-based economy which flourished to the point that it put them in conflict with some of the most powerful interests in the New Mexico Territory.
The Navajo Treaty of 1868 had stipulated that no legal decisions concerning land use could be made without the consent of 75 percent of all Navajo adult males. Valuable minerals were sought and with oil prospects on the line, it was realized that gaining the consent of that many Navajo males for oilo and other land use rights would be next to impossible, so the federal government created councils which supposedly would representat the Navajo males in these manners.
During this same time period, across the U.S., American Indian children were taken from their homes and put into government-mandated boarding schools, many not returning home for years, if ever. The U.S. Government-mandated boarding schools were aimed at assimilation of the tribal people. The boarding school system of the late nineteenth century is still a topic that evokes intense bitterness and anger among many native peoples. Many of the children died of diseases and parents were not informed that their children were ill. They were devastated to learn that their children had died and had been buried so far away.
The schools were highly regimented, patterned after military institutions. Children's hair was cut as soon as they arrived and spiritual belongings were taken away from them. For many of the students, cutting their hair was contrary to their spiritual belief, but they had no choice. The children were forbidden to speak their own language, the only language many knew. Severe physical punishment was the norm, whippings were common, and some reportedly suffered sexual molestation at the schools.
Courts of Indian Offenses were established in the 1880s and 1890s with the purpose of abolishing all forms of Indian ceremony (spiritual beliefs and practices). Offenders (practitioners of native spiritual practices) were incarcerated through these tribunals.
Grazing permits were developed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) in 1930 and it was established that the majority of the Navajo land would be held in trust by the BIA. During that same time period, U.S. Government- mandated stock reduction was in earnest and U.S. Government officials reportedly came on to the reservation and began to shoot sheep and horses, often right at their owner's homes. The carcasses were left to rot.
Currently the BIA Branch of Natural Resources is responsible for grazing management of 16.2 million acres of NN trust lands.
NNDA indicates the Navajo range is currently overrun with domesticated livestock by more than 40 percent and they admit that more cattle auctions need to be held across the Navajo Nation to reduce the drought damage and improve range condition. The NNDA also points to "feral" horses and donkeys on the range for compounding the drought problems.
Horses and donkeys have been labeled as "feral" and "invasive" by the DOI, BLM, USDA and NNDA. The false labeling by these agencies is in denial of their indigenous roots and ability to heal the lands. Paleontological evidence shows that horses evolved on the North American continent over 50,000,000 years ago. In other parts of the world such as the United Kingdom, where conservation grazing is practiced; wild horse herds are being successfully restored to the woodlands and pastures for their rejuvenation benefits to the environment.
From 2008 - 2009, the NN conducted four horse roundups on the reservation. It was determined from the amount of water and hay provided to the horses after they were captured that "feral" horses consume 5,000 gallons of water and 18lbs of hay every day. This information has since been distributed widely on the reservation to promote the removal horses instead of cutting stock at auction as originally recommended by the NNDA.
In 2010 NN tribal people requested the government to initiate an annual Navajo Nation 'Horse Day' to help restore respect for the horse. The Dine' say that "without horses the economy, history and character of the Navajo Nation would be profoundly different. The horse is an animal which creates a common bond among all people of this world. They are written about in the Bible. They are even in our Creation stories. They are sung about in our ceremony songs." The celebration of horses was apparently denied.
In 2010 United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service' (USDA APHIS) tribal liaison Janie Hipp facilitated invitations and funding for over 50 tribal representatives to attend U.S. Government meetings in Washington D.C. where they received misinformation about wild horses and horse slaughter for the purpose of distributing to their congressional delegations. (more)
In 2012 some questionable incentives offered by the Department of Interior (DOI) were exposed in the DOI 2012 budget revealing how livestock permittees are enticed to use forage on public lands for their stock before other forage sources; as further revealed were the DOI's commendations for permittees' more intensive use of federal grazing allotments during drought periods. Thus the connection to drought, erosion and the push by grazing permittees to get wild horses off public lands.
In 2012 the NN Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) requested increased funding from the U.S. Government for rangeland management improvements through the DOI's new Cooperative Landscape Conservation program where Stakeholders (grazing permittees, oil companies, etc) and scientists sit as Advisory Committee members to engage public focus on impacts such as wildlife migration patterns, drought, erosion, and invasive species. The BLM & BIA steering committees contribute to the outcome by making recommendations.
In 2012 USDA liaison Hipp traveled to the NN to meet with Navajo President Shelly about climate conditions and livestock overpopulation.
In 2012 NN President Shelly delivered The NN State of the Nation with another push for the Navajo Grazing Act and more attention to the drought conditions. Shelly pointed to 170,000 sheep at Fort Defiance Agency which he said can only support about 7,800 head of sheep. Shelly said "the Navajo Grazing Act would create new ways to manage our land in times of increased livestock population."
In 2012 Chapter House meetings and presentations were held to promote the passage of the Navajo Grazing Act with unwelcome fees for NN ranchers. The act they say is in effort to reduce the hardships of those grazing livestock on the reservation.
In 2012 NNDA proposed the passage of the Navajo Grazing Act and although it was Tabled/Deferred, portions were taken out and developed further into current law, including the provision that District Grazing Committee members and Eastern Land Board members will be authorized to carry out the"feral" horse roundups. That any person interfering with a horse roundup in any way, verbal or otherwise, is subject to arrest.
The BIA Natural Resources department has been conducting meetings and distributing misinformation, about a need to roundup so called "feral" horses. The NN Grazing Committee has been holding meetings to promote horse roundups. The promotional materials used reflect much of the same language as provided by the USDA APHIS, DOI and BLM.
PRESENT YEAR 2013
The United States still asserts plenary power to require the Navajo Nation to submit all proposed laws to the United States Secretary of the Interior for Secretarial Review, through the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Most conflicts and controversies between the federal government and the Nation are settled by negotiation and by political agreements. (more)
NN President Ben Shelly signed a bill that provides $3 million for drought relief for the Navajo Nation together with legislation for $1.3 million going to the NNDA for "feral" horse round ups.
In 2013 the National Congress of American Indians passed a Resolution in Opposition to Any/All Horse Anti Slaughter Acts claiming that "feral" horses are overgrazing and destroying the rangeland, citing much of the same language provided to the tribes by USDA APHIS and BLM.
July 25, 2013, NN President Shelly signed legislation to mandate a mass roundup and execution of horses from NN reservation lands with the use of US tax payer funds. The new NN law cites USDA APHIS and BLM language as grounds for the NN act.
August 1, 2013, the NN Government began a large-scale roundup of wild horses despite opposition from many tribal people. Local tribal members have reported government rangers coming onto their property and confiscating virtually every horse, even from within their stalls and pens. Horse owners are said to have two days to claim or save their horses, but in many cases owners didn’t learn about the roundup until the very moment when rangers were storming their property. The NN Department of Agriculture is taking the horses to holding facilities, then auction, and selling the unclaimed horses to dealers, including kill buyers. Many have gone straight to slaughter.
August 22, 2013, NN President Shelly lobbied against a horse slaughter ban on his trip to Washington D.C., asking congressional leaders not to support a provision in the 2014 Agricultural Appropriations Bill that would reinstate a ban on horse slaughtering. In addition to citing the provided USDA APHIS language, Shelly said the range of the NN reservation- about 27,000 square miles - is suitable for about 30,000 horses.
August 26, 2013, The Nohooka Dine' (Navajo Elders and Spiritual Leaders) passed a resolution opposing the horse roundups and slaughter. Their resolution as noted above, in part states, "We see this mass execution of our relatives, the horses, as the rotten fruit of a bad seed that was planted in the minds of our children in the earlier days."
September 9 - September 25th, Several Navajo Chapters including the TSA YA TOH Chapter House, the Iyanbito Chapter, and the Shiprock Chapter passed resolutions in opposition to the NN wild horse roundups and the NN position in support of slaughter.
Sept 11- 12, 2013, NN President Shelly was in Washington DC lobbying in support of horse slaughter on Sept 11, 2013, but then on Sept 12, 2013 his spokesperson, Ernie Zah announced on public radio that Navajo Nation is opposed to horse slaughter.
Sept 28, 2013, approximately 1600 wild and domestic horses and burros have been captured to date in the US funded Navajo government roundups. The tally includes wild horses and both branded and unbranded family pet ponies, trail riding horses, ranch horses and burros.
September 28, 2013, The current NN roundups take a two week recess with NN roundups said to resume on Oct 7, 2013.
September 28, 2013, The Dine' Hataali Association, a Navajo organization comprised of medicine men and women that serve as board of directors from six Navajo regions, passed a resolution opposing the NN position on horse slaughter and the NN wild horse roundupsSupport for Slaughter and Suspends Roundups of Wild Horses on the Reservation.
October 7, 2013, Navajo Leader agrees to Memorandum of Agreement (MOU) to Drop His Support for Slaughter and Suspend the NN Roundups of Wild Horses on the Reservation.
Navajo President Drops Support of Horse Slaughter and Suspends Roundup 10-8-13
Oct 25,2013, Absent an effective MOU that officially suspends the roundups, the NNDA has continued to hold U.S. government funded roundups in the Chilchinbeto and Keyenta areas of the Navajo reservation. Trailers full of Mustangs living on the reservation were removed from their Native homelands. Witnesses report at least 4 young foals were left abandoned on the range at the end of the day - their Mothers were swept away in the roundup.
November, 2013, Reports have been confirmed. Dispite the proposed MOU as announced on October 7, 2013, the U.S. government funded NN roundups are in fact continuing on the reservation and the captured horses and burros are being shipped to slaughter.
|In the documentary, SAVING AMERICA'S HORSES: A NATION BETRAYED, Elder Margaret Jackson, Northern Paiute Tribe, NV, describes how the U.S. government rounded up our indigenous people and separated them by men, women and children.. "I was a product of that, being taken from the family, placed in what they called boarding schools at that time, and incarcerated just the same as they are doing to the horses now."