August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Monday, June 27, 2022

Big Mountain's John Benally Passes to Spirit World



John Benally at home in Big Mountain. Photo by Brenda Norrell.


Big Mountain's John Benally Passes to Spirit World

In memory of John Benally, Dineh, life long resister of relocation on Big Mountain, we share John's words during an interview after the Sundance was bulldozed in 2001. Our sincere condolences to John's family, may his life and perseverance as a resister  be an inspiration to all who struggle. -- Brenda, Censored News.

“We have suffered enough. “The only way to resolve this is to give Navajo back their original land.” -- John Benally

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

BIG MOUNTAIN (2001) -- John Benally sits without food for himself or his dogs near the bulldozed Sundance grounds.

“The only way to resolve this is to give Navajo back their original land.”

John said, too, it is time for Navajos to return to farming. “If we are farmers, we can help people. Opening a mine, you think that is the answer? Forget it, only a few people will work. I know people who have died of black lung.”

Mining on Black Mesa is destroying the air for the plants, animals and people. “This whole relocation should be investigated,” he said of Peabody Coal's mine on Black Mesa.

“We have suffered enough,” said John Benally. “The only way to resolve this is to give Navajo back their original land.”

John said, too, it is time for Navajos to return to farming. “If we are farmers, we can help people. Opening a mine, you think that is the answer? Forget it, only a few people will work. I know people who have died of black lung.”

Mining on Black Mesa is destroying the air for the plants, animals and people. “This whole relocation should be investigated,” he said.

“We are being neglected by the Navajo government and the Hopi government. I really support the idea of the study. Our kids do not like education because of the relocation effect.

“I do not get food stamps or anything. Its too much harassment to fill out the forms and get food stamps. The interviewer can interrogate you. They should make it easier.”

John said he worked for Peabody Coal Company, just down the dirt road on Black Mesa, for seven years. Now he receives nothing back from the taxes he paid.

“Throughout the year we are harassed, our livestock is impounded and we are intimidated by the Hopi Rangers. The police are monitoring us and we are slandered many times when they say we are trespassers. The Hopi Rangers and Hopi monitors are the trespassers.

“They desecrated our ceremonial Sundance grounds where all people come and pray from the Four Directions.”

Read the full interviews with John and his brother Leonard Benally at Censored News. Big Mountain relocation resister Leonard Benally passed to the Spirit World in 2013. https://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2013/10/big-mountain-warrior-leonard-benally.html

Earl Tulley of Blue Gap said, "John Benally, Nakai Dine'e of Big Mountain journeyed on. He was one of many icons of the Big Mountain resistance to forced relocation by the U.S. government and Peabody Coal Company.

"My clan daddy and comrade. He threw his body under BIA police tire during one of many impoundments.

Condolences to his family and the Big Mountain People. He will be remembered. The work will continue."

Copyright Brenda Norrell, Censored News

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