San Juan residents talk back: Eastern Lands Bill comments

In order to better understand the land issues in the film, we need to see the current events concerning the land today. Because it was originally in the hands of the Navajo, other outside entities have contested claims to these lands, rightfully or wrongly, but they often neglect the voice of the indigenous peoples who live there despite outsiders’ own claims.

Here is a document that shares some local points of view about the proposed San Juan County wilderness areas and various perspectives on it. There is a media sharing happening now with all the documents floating around the internet concerning the Eastern Lands Bill and the stakeholders associated with it. What is interesting about it is the pointed and biased views of the Navajo people from locals, an obvious prejudicial tendency to stereotype Navajos as trying to take “their” lands away from them. For more information on the overt dislike for Navajos voicing their opinion, click “The Petroglyph”, a local news media outlet  for residents of San Juan County: http://thepetroglyph.com/dine-bikeyah-sells-their-traditional-life-style-for-say-in-bishops-land-bill/ Obviously, there are a number of things wrong with their arguments, not the least of which is the Manifest Destiny claim against Navajos. Evidently, the author doesn’t know the meaning and origin of the word.

Most notably, the commission meetings are held in the town areas away from the borders of the Navajo Nation, some of those lands which are in San Juan County, leaving the voice of the local Utah Navajos out. Many of those local Navajos there do not have transportation are elders, don’t speak English, or are able to be fully informed of the current events intended for these meetings.

Commission Meeting:

October 22nd Monticello Utah– 7:00 PM at the Monticello High School

October 23rd Blanding Utah – 7:00 PM at the Blanding High School

October 24th Bluff Utah – 7:00 PM at the Bluff Community Center 

For more information about the scheduled meetings for the discussion about the land issues that leave out consideration for Navajo input: http://thepetroglyph.com/san-juan-county-lands-bill-open-houses/

As you can see, there is not as much consideration for the Navajo population in San Juan County to meet them where they live at and build more meaningful and positive relationships with Non-Navajos as one would hope. The least SJ residents, leaders, politicians, and community representatives could do is hold a meeting in Mexican Hat, Monument Valley, or Montezuma Creek. These are closer towns to the Navajo Nation and their chapters. Incidents of not extending the services of San Juan County to Navajos and not just Non-Navajos have been rising in recent years. Some would call that discrimination. If want to see the full schedule of proposed meetings, access here:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/179509421/San-Juan-County-Lands-BIll-Survey

Please take the time to look some of these comments over and see that there are many sides to the issue but just because residents feel strongly about their local residency doesn’t mean Navajos feel any less strongly. Arguably, they feel more connected and responsible for the lands here because we were already here before the settler-colonial expansion into the West, not more than a couple hundred years ago by them, lest they forget.CITIZENS SAY NO TO BISHOP’S LANDS BILL

This is the land area that everyone is talking about either making a wilderness conservation area, a free-for-all for business and tourism, or a balance between both.

For more information about the current events for the land dispute occurring in San Juan County, access the documents at this link: http://www.scribd.com/doc/183792272/San-Juan-Alliance-Proposal-for-Bishops-lands-bill

While I don’t agree nor condone most of the views from this electronic press outlet, I do think alternative views are in order to see what other perspectives are out there: http://thepetroglyph.com

I believe if one reads their articles, people can ascertain for themselves whether or not they want to invest their time and energy into a publication that is slanted against Navajos and conservationists while endorsing Republicans and Mormons. Regardless, it is helpful for residents, Navajo and Non-Navajo, to educate themselves about what is going on in their backyard.

Behind the Story

Helen Yellowman, a Navajo elder who does not speak English, and her grandson, Angelo Baca, are the two main characters in this journey film about two Native American people who are traveling across the western United States from Seattle to Navajo country.

Angelo travels back and forth from the University of Washington in Seattle to his home in the Four Corners, the American Southwest, where the edge of the Navajo Nation Reservation and the borders of the four states meet. It is here where Helen lives and has always lived with her family and tribal community, a traditional Navajo woman and elder.

When she decides that she is going back home, he must take her back on this long ride home but it is, for the two of them, a shared experience of two Navajo travelers, young and old, who are blood relatives who take the time to talk, share, tell stories, and relate to the past, present, and future of their family, tribe, land, and country. As they travel, they encounter the traditional lands and territories of the indigenous places and people never forgetting the recent historical traumas and past injustices, echoes of the effects of colonization, assimilation, and acculturation of Western expansion into Indian Country.

She traces back to the old days of when outsiders first came to her country and lands. How she was pushed out by oil companies, uranium miners, community members, and local Mormons to live somewhere else and forced to be a refugee in her own lands. The original land where she lived is now a hotly contested area in the southwest region of Utah state and San Juan County, a place called Montezuma Creek, with various entities vying for resource control.

The film is about making choices in today’s modern and contemporary world about who you are, where you come from, what your place and destiny in the world is, and about returning back to the place that you call “home”. This film is more than about walking in two world but traveling between them, often as much as one can while not forgetting who they are or where they come from. A young Navajo who struggles to maintain his connection with his culture, language, tradition, and family. An elder who has seen the better part of century of changes, independent and traditional in every way. Ultimately, her story is the story of every native community who have endured similar experiences but her hope is still strong that one day, her children and herself can return to the place they have always known as home.

ANETH OIL FIELDS OF UTAH

Pumping unit

Click on this image (above) to learn more about the contentious history of the Aneth Oil Fields of Utah

At the same time that the uranium industry in Monument Valley was booming, a second industry, oil, became increasingly prominent in the Aneth-Montezuma Creek area. Starting in 1953, Humble Oil and Shell Oil initiated agreements with the Navajo Tribe and the State of Utah to exploit the rich petroleum reserves locked beneath the Aneth lands. The Texas Company drilled its first well on 16 February 1956 and welcomed a rapid flow of 1,704 barrels per day. Other companies responded immediately; suddenly the tribe found itself administering leases and rentals throughout the northern part of the reservation, known generally as the Four Corners Oil Field.

San Juan County, the Southeastern region of Utah state, is the highly contested land area (The Ancestor's Land) focused upon in this film.

San Juan County, the Southeastern region of Utah state, is the highly contested land area (The Ancestor’s Land) focused upon in this film.

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