12 Nov 2012 15:00
“Our way of life is our religion, and our teaching. If we are relocated by force, we will die slowly. The people would not be in balance with Mother Earth and Sky Father and the spiritual people. In every way, here we are connected to the land. We belong here.”
-Mary T. Begay, Navajo elder-
For over twenty years now Clan Dyken, a Californian music band, have returned to the Arizonian Navajo reservation, annually, to help Dineh natives fighting a relocation process. In the weeks preceding Thanksgiving, they go on tour, raise money and awareness towards the Dineh situation, and then travel across the country to deliver goods and firewood to the Indians. For several days, they set up camp in the desert, split food units for the local families, and do whatever is needed to help them live on the land of their ancestors.
Since the XVIth century and the discovery of the New World by the first Europeans, relations between natives and « Anglos » have been chaotic. In 1868, in the South West, after a decade of intense persecution against the Dineh nation, a peace treaty was negotiated with the federal government, granting the Indians a reservation the size of Ireland (ten times smaller than their original land). Located in a semiarid area of northern Arizona, and ruled by a specific tribal administration, it allowed a calming between the settlers and the Dineh. The Indians could regain some autonomy on their sacred land.
The surroundings of the Grand Canyon and Black Mesa regions, in the heart of the reservation, are rich in mineral resources. Uranium was exploited for strategic reasons during the cold war and coal for energetic reasons for more than a century. The cost of both these exploitations, in terms of health and environmental impact, were overlooked. The price paid by local natives is heavy, and denies their belief, where Mother Earth is sacred. Most of the Dineh do not hesitate to voice their disapproval of this mining policy, but industries show preference towards the prices reached by the minerals. To force the departure of the Indians and their relocation outside the reservation, a policy of service desertification is beng driven by the US government, clearly aiming for the extraction of resources.
“The Beauty way” is a Dineh medicinal ceremony restoring the internal balance of a being. Throughout these 20 years of activism, the volunteers from Revive the Beauty Way, hand in hand with the natives, fight to reach this balance between the “Anglos” and the Dineh.