Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

January 28, 2012

Black Mesa: Navajo horses impounded being sold

Censored News

Update Mon., Jan. 30, 2012
Black Mesa Indigenous Support sent this letter to the Hopi Chairman and Hopi Council:

Hopi Tribal Council
P.O. Box 123, Kykotsmovi, AZ  86039
Dear Honorable Chairman Shingoitewa,

It is with great concern that we write to you today, January 31 year 2012.
The undersigned are members of a group called Black Mesa Indigenous Support (BMIS) that exists to promote respect and support for the elders of Black Mesa/Big Mountain, specifically those living traditionally on the Hopi Partitioned Land (HPL). We write with support and encouragement from that community.  As you know, many of these individuals are related to those of you directly.  BMIS has worked with you at Hopi in the past on many issues, and have recently been honored to support your work and the work of others in protecting the sacred San Fransisco Peaks by stopping Snowbowl. 
It has been brought to our attention that on January 25 and 27, Hopi rangers impounded animals belonging to Dineh families who live on HPL. These animals were rounded up by Hopi rangers using quads, on grazing districts 257 and 259.

According to acting chief Hopi ranger, Ronald Honyumptewa, the order to carry out these impoundments came directly from the Hopi tribal council chairman.
Mr. Honyumptewa stated that they have the right to confiscate these animals under ordinance 43 in the Accommodation Agreement (Public Law 104-301), and said further that the Hopi authorities are not obligated to hold on to impounded animals for owners to claim.

We are also very concerned to learn that a buyer of some of the animals was already identified directly before the impoundments had taken place, and that the animals were transported to Sun Valley for the purchase.

We understand that PL 104-301 authorizes such impoundments by Hopi rangers, however we are troubled at the manner in which they were carried out. 

As we have understood it, the owners of these now impounded animals, were never given personal notice to sell or arrange for said unbranded animals, nor told in advance that these impoundments were going to take place. We have learned now, after the incidents, that notices were put up in the Rocky Ridge store and some local Chapter Houses five days before the impoundments took place.  The residents report that being notified in such a manner is insufficient, considering that many of the elders cannot read English and/or speak English and do not frequent the Rocky Ridge store and Chapter Houses due to lack of transportation and funds. In the future, we, on behalf of the elders, urge you to employ direct, respectful, and personal communication with an aim to reach mutual understanding and solve livestock problems.

Again, our purpose in writing this letter is to encourage mutual respect, kindness, and moral responses to the issues that arise on the Hopi Partitioned Land.  We received reports of Hopi rangers whipping livestock and speeding on all-terrain vehicles in sensitive environments in front of Dineh elders while rounding up livestock, and then laughing at the elders who expressed dismay at the abuse of their land and animals.  As you well know, life on the Hopi Partition Land has its myriad difficulties, and we believe, as we know you do, that all people deserve respect and have the right to live their lives in dignity.  We value your commitment to stewardship of the earth and respect your efforts at stewardship in various venues; it is our heartfelt hope that that commitment extends to the HPL. 

The aforementioned act of selling the impounded livestock without due process that would allow for the retrieval of said livestock is viewed as disrespectful by the affected community and can be considered a violation of Human Rights and a specific violation of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as articulated by the UN Declaration for Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

As you know, in that Declaration, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on September 13th 2007, it is stated that:
Article 20
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and develop their political,
economic and social systems or institutions, to be secure in the enjoyment of their
own means of subsistence and development, and to engage freely in all their
traditional and other economic activities.
2. Indigenous peoples deprived of their means of subsistence and
development are entitled to just and fair redress
Article 22
1. Particular attention shall be paid to the rights and special needs of
indigenous elders, women, youth, children and persons with disabilities in the
implementation of this Declaration.
2. States shall take measures, in conjunction with indigenous peoples, to
ensure that indigenous women and children enjoy the full protection and guarantees against all forms of violence and discrimination
Article 24
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to their traditional medicines and to
maintain their health practices, including the conservation of their vital medicinal
plants, animals and minerals. Indigenous individuals also have the right to access,
without any discrimination, to all social and health services.
2. Indigenous individuals have an equal right to the enjoyment of the
highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. States shall take the
necessary steps with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of this
Article 25
Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinctive
spiritual relationship with their traditionally owned or otherwise occupied and used
lands, territories, waters and coastal seas and other resources and to uphold their
responsibilities to future generations in this regard.
Article 8
1. Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right not to be subjected to
forced assimilation or destruction of their culture.
Article 10
Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their lands or
territories. No relocation shall take place without the free, prior and informed
consent of the indigenous peoples concerned and after agreement on just and fair
compensation and, where possible, with the option of return.
Article 12
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to manifest, practice, develop and
teach their spiritual and religious traditions, customs and ceremonies; the right to
maintain, protect, and have access in privacy to their religious and cultural sites; the
right to the use and control of their ceremonial objects; and the right to the repatriation of  their human remains
In light of the information above, we the undersigned, urge you, the Hopi Tribal Council to consider:
1. An immediate return of the livestock confiscated on the aforementioned dates to the appropriate families.
2. As per all articles of the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and Fundamental Freedoms cited above, an immediate revocation of Public Laws 93-531 and 104-301, and an immediate end to the forced relocation and harassment of residents of the Hopi Partition Land. 
3.  That all future impoundments are preceded by notices in Dineh and English and are delivered in a personal manner at least three weeks prior to the beginning of the impoundments to the affected parties with clear proof that said parties understand and consent. 
4.  As per articles 20 (1, 2); 22 (1); and 24 (1) specifically of the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and Fundamental Freedoms cited above, an immediate end to limitation of livestock herd sizes for residents of the Hopi Partition Land. 
5. An immediate end of the use of all-terrain vehicles for livestock roundups on the environmentally sensitive Hopi Partition Land.
6. An immediate assessment by the Hopi Tribal Council of the Hopi Rangers’ capacity for dealing with the problem of wild horse herds on the Hopi Partition Land before any further impoudments of livestock belonging to individuals are considered.
We thank you for your time and consideration and look forward to hearing a response within the next two weeks.  Please contact us at


The Black Mesa Indigenous Support Collective: Derek Minno Bloom, Liza Minno Bloom, Hallie Boas, Berkley Carnine, Theresa Gigante, and Owen Johnson
From Rachel Tso:
Impoundments are currently happening on the HPL
In a phone call, Hopi ranger Ronald Honyumptewa confirmed that animals were impounded from range units 257 and 259 of the HPL from Monday through Wednesday. He stated that all unbranded horses have already been sold, that a buyer was identified so they went out with quads to round them up, then sold them. He also said the order came down directly from the Hopi Chairman. They were all sold to Sun Valley. Ranger Honyumptewa said they have the legal right to confiscate them under ordinance 43 in the Accommodation Agreement and are not obligated to hold impounded illegal animals for the residents to claim. He also said they will be rounding up from the rest of the HPL range units.
From Black Mesa Indigenous Support:
  In the last two days, livestock impoundment crews have confiscated calves and stolen and immediately sold horses belonging to several Dineh people of Big Mountain/Black Mesa, Arizona. These livestock impoundments constitute human rights violations against traditional Dineh (Navajo); they take away one of their major food sources and one of the main sources of their livelihood. This is a tactical move to further genocidal relocation policies.
Even though it is Saturday, call now and throughout the week and flood their lines and answering machines. Say that the elders need their animals to survive, these confiscations are WRONG, that we are watching, and that we see this ongoing harassment as part of cultural genocide. Also, make sure to ask that they stop driving quads illegally through sensitive environments.
Please Call The Hopi tribal chairman’s office @ 928-734-3102. Ask for the chair, LeRoy Shingoitewa who made the direct order for the impoundments and stolen horses.
We’re collecting funds to pay for livestock reclamation. We know it will be at least $500. The amount increases daily. You can go here to donate now:
Many Thanks for Your Support. Stay in touch!

The BMIS Collective: Hallie, Berkley, Liza, Derek, and Tree

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