Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

April 6, 2016

BIA Hopi Rangers Seized Big Mountain Cattle


                                                April 6, 2016
Big Mountain Dineh Resisters to PL 93-531
434-607-7677 and 937-479-4214
Or Black Mesa Indigenous Support                                                                                                                              

April 6, 2016 – Big Mountain Dineh Bikeyah:  Today, there are up to 40 to 45 cattle impounded at an Indian police stockade on the Hopi Indian reservation. They are being withheld from Dineh (Navajos) owners unless they pay several hundreds of dollars per head, including daily fees. These cattle were confiscated on April 5th in the southeastern portion of the Big Mountain area, lands partitioned in 1977 to the Hopi Tribe by the U.S. government, despite the historical residency by Dineh herders and farmers. The Hopi Tribe's Office of Natural Resource Protection and Enforcement, backed by multi-agency law enforcement personnel, converged on this little corner of the now contested region that has, in the past, seen hostile confrontations. Law enforcement units were stationed throughout a seven square mile area, armed for intimidation of body cams, hands near their tasers, a few stayed near their vehicle and assault rifles, hands on their side arms as they monitored the roundups or documented encounters with local observers. ATVs and a couple of armed horseback riders herded the cattle to strategically located, corral panels to feed-in the roundup into four 20 ft. long stock trailers. In less than five hours, the range of rich and fresh, springtime vegetation and pure water streams was empty of livestock.      

John Benally, a Big Mountain relocation resister and who still has his parents' original grazing permit states, "This act carried out today was illegal. I have not signed any agreements with the U.S. in terms of new policies of residency status and therefore, my livestock do not fall under such jurisdiction enforced, here, today. We who are living here in Dineh Sovereign territory constantly live under a state of fear and anxiety over the fate of our animals and homes, and when such seizures of our livestock like this happens, it does not only impact our property but our state of mind." John went to the secured stockade after the confiscation and witnessed calves separated from their mothers, mixed herds jammed into small quarters, recognized ear markings belonging to his neighbors, and the animals in need of water.     

If these animals are not paid for and released back to their rightful owners, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Agency will direct the Hopi agency to put them up for auction. 

 The U.S. – BIA Hopi, Office of Natural Resource Protection and Enforcement's implementation of ordinances are utilized as mere attacks by the "progressive" Hopis (U.S.-supported corporate tribal board) against Dineh existence with these genocidal tactics to obliterate the last of Dineh Big Mountain history and the ancient Dineh-Hopi cultural relations. Furthermore, underlining these lands are not only coal but the so-called Mancos Shale which is hundreds of feet thick and will likely accommodate fracking after coal dependence is reduced.

John Benally and his local, affected neighbors who all have experienced years of this harsh anti-Indian policies are demanding for the immediate release of the animals confiscated, and that no payment of release be enforced. It is also reiterated that, this is an act of gross human rights violation of such clauses pursuant to rights to food and economic security, and it is an act of genocide by forcibly limiting or eliminating cultural practices. Traditional Dineh subsistence, dependent upon pastoral life style, as well as Dineh's animal husbandry are intertwined with cultural and religious survival.

It is asked that people immediately contact the BIA superintendent Wendel Honanie at (928-738-2228)

·         Hopi Chairman Herman G. Honanie,  Email:, Phone: (928) 734-3102
  • The Hopi Rangers Clayton Honyumptewa at (928-734-3601),
  • The Department of Interior at  (602-379-6600)


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