Dear Friends and Family,
For the last 15 years, I have been travelling to the Navajo (Dineh) reservation as a human rights observer and supporter for the elders who are resisting relocation on Black Mesa. I have gone out in answer to a call for help from the Dineh people as they have undergone severe hardship in a political, aggressive battle for their land. Peabody Coal has mines on Hopi and Dineh land, and has been attempting to expand its strip mining operation to further power Las Vegas and Southern California. So far, they have been successful by pushing thousands of inidigenous people onto land that has been deemed unfit for human survival. Many families have refused to leave their ancestral home, and have been met with decades of intimidation, harrassment, arrests, and strict laws designed to destroy their way of life and force them off the coal filled land.
Two Thursdays ago, a dear friend of mine died of a broken heart. Her name was Ida Clinton and she was my favorite Navajo elder and resister on Black Mesa. I have visited her several times over the years, offering massages, cooking, hauling water, chopping wood, herding sheep, being a human rights observer, and listening to her amazing stories. She was hilarious, tough as nails, and unendingly kind. She lived a life of bold integrity, inspired all who knew her, and then was gone. She died in tragic times, in a month when aggressive relocation tactics increased. Forty years into forcing people off their land from various angles, this fall the focus was on impounding livestock . 90 year old couples have been arrested for having "too many" sheep . 85 year old women have been met with guns to their faces while their sheep have been taken away from them. After a lifetime of fighting for the right to live at home, Ida was done fighting. She left this world of injustice, and left a gaping hole in her wake that can never be filled. There is no way to express who this woman was to her community, to all those who met her, and who she was to me, who she is, and who she always will be. (My last visit. Rose, me, Ida -April, 2013)
In my prayers sincer her passing, I have received one very clear message from Ida: "Go to my land. Help. You must. We need you." So many times I have wanted to go out and be of service, to visit Ida, and too many times I have allowed finances to keep me from it. Knowing that I lost my chance to see her again is crushing, and honoring her struggle is paramount. A new cry for help was issued about a month ago.
In her honor, I need to answer it. I hope to head out to the Dineh reservation for two weeks over my December break and be of assistance in any way I can. With your help, I can make this happen. The amount that I am wanting to raise is to cover transportation, accommodation , food and water, as well as food, water, and supplies for the families on Black Mesa.
I thank you so very much for your time, and am so grateful for your generosity. With Thanksgiving upon us, I think it is only fitting to give back to the people who were here before us in any way that we can. Any and all amounts are appreciated. There is no donation too small. If you can offer $3 toward this trip, I am grateful for that donation. I am also offering gifts of Navajo jewelry to those who donate $50 or more.
Thanks again, and Happy Thanksgiving.
May you always be free.
- Val Houser
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