Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights 2020

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Sweet Journey my Friend Bessie Taylor McKay, Dineh



Photo: Bessie at the Indigenous World Uranium Summit in Window Rock in 2006 by Brenda Norrell.
Sweet Journey My Friend

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

My friend Bessie Taylor McKay, who I often lived with in Crystal in the Chuska Mountains on the Navajo Nation, passed to the Spirit World on Monday night following an injury from a fall.

Bessie traveled the world in her lifetime, traveling through China and hitchhiking on trucks to Tibet, riding camels in Saudi Arabia and living in Kenya. Together we traveled by truck to be with the Tarahumara in Copper Canyon in Mexico.

I'm remembering her now, watering the corn down by Lake Assayi in summer in the Chuska Mountains, where there are eagles and wild turkey. She was always there when the snow piled up around my log cabin when I lived across the road. In good weather, she was picking pinyons and wild plants. We welcomed many friends, including our friend Inuit Maynard Eaken who came down from Alaska. We taught him to build a fire with wood in winter.



Bessie had a tremendous spirit to fight for life.

Bessie spoke out against the logging of the old-growth Ponderosa Pine forests in the Chuska Mountains. She lived in the traditional Dine' way and worked as a dental hygienist at Fort Defiance PHS.

Most of all, I remember laughing with her, for 40 years, her great love of humanity, and always looking forward together to our next journeys. Much love goes out to her family and friends. The family will hold a memorial service at a later date. Sweet flight my friend.

My interviews with Bessie

During my interviews for news with Bessie, she spoke out against U.S. torture, and thanked Sarah White of Sanostee, N.M., for creating Dooda Desert Rock to fight another power plant on the Navajo Nation.


Speaking out against U.S. torture in 2004, Bessie said, “It seems like white people are the worst savages."

After viewing the photograph of a female soldier holding a leash tied around the throat of a naked Iraqi, Taylor said the female soldier should be dragged in the same manner. “She probably doesn’t know what it feels like to be tortured.”

Reflecting on the fight of Dooda Desert Rock, and the fight against another coal-fired power plant on the Navajo Nation, she said, "Anything you do to become a great person, to make yourself rich or make things turn around for you, it will fall back on you. That's why this Desert Rock is such a big thing to me and it scares me."

"I hope for you folks who live in that area, I hope someone will explain to you what the dangers are. Those people who say you will get rich are trying to brainwash you with money. A lot of us are sad about this. I appreciate all the people that are standing with us."

United States torturers evoke painful memories
By Brenda Norrell
June 1, 2004

ALBUQERQUE, N.M. -- American Indians said apologies would not erase the tortures in Iraq and President Bush should be held responsible for leading America into a groundless war.

"It seems like white people are the worst savages," said Bessie Taylor, Navajo from Ch'ooshgai Mountain on the Navajo Nation in New Mexico.

After viewing the photograph of a female soldier holding a leash tied around the throat of a naked Iraqi, Taylor said the female soldier should be dragged in the same manner. "She probably doesn't know what it feels like to be tortured."

After Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld apologized for the abuses in Iraq, Taylor said, "An apology is nothing. What does an apology do for you -- nothing."

Taylor said Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Rumsfeld should be held responsible for the tortures in Iraq. "They were so eager for this war, now look what has happened. President Bush is responsible for leading America into this war. He is responsible for this. This war was about oil and making Bush's friends rich."

Taylor questioned why the United States is fighting the war in Iraq, since there were no weapons of mass destruction and no links to those responsible for the attacks on 9/11.

After Rumsfeld's statement and apology concerning the tortures, Taylor said it is frightening to think of him in a decision-making role. She said the image of Americans has dipped to a new low around the world. "It is ruined and people will be afraid to travel to other countries now."

Taylor, however, thanked the media for exposing the truth in Iraq."You are real heroes. God bless. Whoever you are, good luck to you. Thank you for bringing us the real news again."

Navajo grandmother thanks resisters opposing power plant and asks the Navajo President: 'Do you remember?' 

Bessie thanks Sarah White of Sanostee for creating Dooda Desert Rock to halt another power plant on the Navajo Nation

By Brenda Norrell
March 31, 2007

"I appreciate you resisters who are trying to stop this big corporation. A lot of us agree with what you are doing. Some of us don't have a way to get there. It was very cold here in the winter. I appreciate Sarah White for doing this. I appreciate the people who marched on inauguration day and also the people who are on the land. I see that you have a heart for the people who don't know much about what is going on with this Desert Rock," said Bessie Taylor, Dine' in Crystal.

"As for those people who are smart and know a lot about this Desert Rock, all they can see is money. What they don't know about is the health. Once the smoke goes up it is going to bring down the acid rain and it will go into our drinking water and into our plants and onto our animals. It will also darken the sky and it won't be a clear blue sky anymore. Some of us know that it is going to increase global warming."

"Joe Shirley calls himself, 'Dr. Joe Shirley.' He should know about these dangerous things. Dineh Power should be on our side, not on the side of killing the earth. Joe Shirley said this has been talked about for years, but I have never heard about this at the chapter.

"Joe Shirley always puts the culture up front when he is speaking, so I was really for him. I thought he really knew how to be our leader. But now he turns around and is on the bilagaana side.

"Joe Shirley do you remember way back our ancestors used to say 'if you try to do something that is only good for you, in the long run it will fall back on you and not be good for you.' Anything you do to become a great person, to make yourself rich or make things turn around for you, it will fall back on you. That's why this Desert Rock is such a big thing to me and it scares me.

"I hope for you folks who live in that area, I hope someone will explain to you what the dangers are. Those people who say you will get rich are trying to brainwash you with money. A lot of us are sad about this. I appreciate all the people that are standing with us."

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