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Stereotype of the Month Entry

Another Stereotype of the Month entry and response to Hopis vs. Big Mountain Trespassers:

Statement from Arvol Looking Horse re Big Mountain Sundance
Date: Sat, 14 Jul 2001 17:41:56 -0500

Statement from Chief Arvol Looking Horse:

I, Chief Arvol Looking Horse of the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota Nation would like to offer a statement concerning the violation against the Sacred Sundance Ceremony at Big Mountain, Arizona. The Sacred White Buffalo Calf Bundle that I care for consists of the Seven Sacred Rights and one of them is the Sundance. Because of this responsibility, my work is toward World Peace and Global Healing, as our ceremonies are connected to the Sacred Mother, including her well being preserved for generations to come. The Sacred Tree represents all life upon Mother Earth. A very important protocol in putting up the Sacred Tree with it's offerings of prayers for all life including health for our relatives, is that the ceremony and energy must not be broken or stopped. This ceremony has been with Sacred Bundle for nineteen generations. We have shared this ceremony for health and well being with other Indigenous Nations to bring spiritual awareness and strength back to Nations.

When I heard of the Hopi Nation's attitude and violations to a spiritual ceremony, I had to realize that it was not the Hopi Nation, but rather a group of people who have been affected by the "disease of the mind". This disease that has spread throughout Turtle Island to many Honorable Nations that have made decisions affecting relationships toward their own "brothers and sisters" of Indigenous Nations, including the violation toward our Mother Earth.

In my Peace works I was honored to sit with many Hopi Traditional Elders, including the late Thomas Banyanca, who had the most deepest respect for all ceremonies, as we shared the Sacred C'anupa together. We understood that our work and message was the same. His concern for his people violating their own culture and traditions was the same as mine. There are many other "Traditional Hopi" who understand the proper protocol to ceremonies and would not think and do anything toward violating one another in interrupting a Sacred Right. So this brings my thoughts to those who do not understand who they are as a Hopi, a person that holds a bloodline to their Ancestors that walked in honor and in harmony. Many Nations have these kinds of people that are not aware of the blood that carry in their veins and responsibility to bring honor to their people by making wise decisions based on compassion, understanding and respect. This makes me realize that the people making these decisions have another motive based on the material world, which brings unbalance to our Mother the Earth. They only need to understand that these prayers made at all ceremonies are for their children's health as well. Prayers need to be offered to "our people" that have become lost in their spirit and identity as an Indigenous Nation of this Turtle Island. Our prayers are strong and to react the same as them will not resolve anything, but bring more division and confusion.

My prayer is for this issue to be resolved in a most Peaceful way and honor to all Nations represented will heal and communicate for Peace and Harmony.

In a Sacred Hoop of Life, where there is no ending and beginning!

Mitakuye Oyasin (all my relations),

Chief Arvol Looking Horse, 19th Generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe

Rob's comment
The stereotype here is Looking Horse's claim that Indians who disagree with him—who don't support the Navajo occupation of Hopi land—have a "disease of the mind." They're sick in the head, in other words. That makes their thoughts and beliefs wrongheaded and "non-Indian."

Looking Horse apparently believes the Hopi who aren't "traditional" enough, who may have disrupted the ceremony for good reason, somehow forfeit their Indian label. Wrong. Indian aren't Indians simply because of what they believe. If that were true, I could change my beliefs and become an Indian too.

No, the Hopi and other Indians are Indians no matter what they think or say. If they abandon their traditions completely and join the Native American Church, the Mormon Church, or the Hare Krishnas, they're still Indians. The only sickness I see is Looking Horse's insulting claim that anyone who disagrees with him is less honorable than he is.

Some additional facts from the Navajo-Hopi Observer, 7/24/01:

More than 100 individuals have set up camp on Hopi land and have announced that they intend to stay until the Sundance ceremony is complete. Hopi police are turning away others who would swell the camps numbers to perhaps several hundred.

The host of the Sundance ceremony is believed to be the Benally family, Navajo resisters who refuse to move off of Hopi land in the face of court orders denying them any legal right to be there. Neither the Benallys nor anyone else requested permission from the Hopi Tribe to host the ceremony on Hopi land and no permit was issued for the event. It is clear that Hopi law requires such a permit and the Benallys, as well as others seeking to use the HPL, have been repeatedly reminded of this fact. On at least one previous occasion, Ruth Benally contacted the Hopi Tribe seeking such a permit.

In response to that request, a July 7, 1998, letter from Chairman Wayne Taylor Jr. granted permission for Hopi a 1998 Sundance on the explicit condition "that this be the last Sundance held on the Hopi Reservation. After this year, if you are to hold another Sundance, it will have to be held off the Hopi Reservation."

Ruth Benally signed and dated the letter, acknowledging receipt and understanding of its contents. Commenting on the current situation Chairman Taylor said "Apparently Ms. Benally's word means nothing to her."
In response to allegations that the Hopi Tribe is violating the Sundance participants' religious freedom, Cedric Kuwaninvaya, chairman of the Hopi Land Team responded, "The Hopi Tribe's objections to this Sundance have nothing to do with the religious aspects of the ceremony. We are opposed to this ceremony taking place on Hopi land against our wishes.

"Just like any other government or landowner, the Hopi Tribe has the right to regulate the use of its land by requiring permits and by objecting to any use which violates Hopi laws. By coming on to and using Hopi land for this ceremony without the tribe's permission they are violating the Tribe's sovereign rights."

Kuwaninvaya added "A number of years ago, the Oglala Sioux informed us that the hosts of a Sundance, which is a Lakota ceremony, must have permission from the landowner of the ceremonial site.

"Joseph Chasing Horse, the medicine man for this Sundance, is Sioux and should know this. Yet even after he was informed that the Hopi Tribe had not granted permission for the ceremony to take place on Hopi land, he knowingly and willfully continued with preparations."

Correspondent Jason Spaulding adds some background information:

For several years, the Sun Dance has been used as a provocation by the SDN to seek outside support against the Hopi Tribal Council, on whose reservation this is held. This has been divisive in my adoptive family; my step-nephew pierced there in 1996, although we do respect each other's feelings on this issue.

The Sun Dance is not indigenous to that area; extremely traditional Hopi spiritual people have written a semi-private communication to Arvol Looking Horse and his pipe carriers asking that the Sun Dance not be conducted on Hopi Tutsqua without their permission in a traditional way. To my best knowledge, this is a schismatic ceremony.

If anyone cuts a living tree without a permit on the Hopi Rez, it is a violation of the tribal code; this has been the source of much friction in the past. In that harsh land, trees take centuries to grow a few feet high, and woodcutting of living trees is strictly controlled as to all Hopi and non-Hopi NDNs and non-NDNs alike. Even Christmas tree cutting for Christians is forbidden without a permit.

The SDN is now down to about six families; all other Navajos on the Hopi Rez have a residence agreement and I have heard of no disharmony with these several hundred people.

The Chairman and President of the Hopi and Navajo tribes have asked that outsiders stay out of this painful and long-standing dispute. That is my wholehearted position. Six hundred years of dispute is enough. My role is not to take one side or another, but is limited to countering the propaganda of the Dorman group.

Related links
Norrell claims Hopi sovereignty is "apartheid attitude"
Newspapers write about "traditional Navajo Sundance"
Hopis vs. Big Mountain trespassers

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