Indigenous Sovereignty On The Line
The fight to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline from being built on tribal land and under Lake Oahe of the Missouri River has brought together hundreds of tribes in an historic show of unity. Non-indigenous people and organizations have also joined to support this Indigenous-led effort. There is a long legacy of extraction of fuels on Indigenous land without respect for the sovereignty of Indigenous nations or treaties and without regard for the impacts these projects have on people, animals and the Earth. Currently, another project is about to start – a Uranium mine on Havasupai land near the Grand Canyon. The Uranium ore will be carried by trucks through Diné (Navajo) and close to Hopi land to White Mesa Mill, which is close to a Ute community. President-elect Trump has declared a plan to privatize Indigenous land for coal, oil and gas extraction. Our guests will discuss the history of Indigenous rights in the United States and the current effort to stop the Canyon Mine.
Relevant articles and websites:
Land Claims: An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz grew up in rural Oklahoma, daughter of a landless farmer and half-Indian mother. Her paternal grandfather, a white settler, farmer, and veterinarian, had been a labor activist and Socialist in Oklahoma with the Industrial Workers of the World in the first two decades of the twentieth century. The stories of her grandfather inspired her to lifelong social justice activism.
Married at eighteen, she left with her husband for San Francisco, California, where she has lived most of the years since, although the marriage ended. Her account of life up to leaving Oklahoma is recorded in Red Dirt: Growing Up Okie. She has a daughter, Michelle.
Roxanne graduated, majoring in History, from San Francisco State College, a working class public institution, but was selected for History graduate school at University of California at Berkeley, transferring to University of California, Los Angeles to complete her doctorate in History.
From 1967 to 1972, she was a full time activist living in various parts of the United States, traveling to Europe, Mexico, and Cuba. This time of her life and the aftermath, 1960-1975, is the story told in Outlaw Woman: Memoir of the War Years.
Roxanne took a position teaching in a newly established Native American Studies program at California State University at Hayward, near San Francisco, and helped develop the Department of Ethnic Studies, as well as Women’s Studies. In 1974, she became active in the American Indian Movement (AIM) and the International Indian Treaty Council, beginning a lifelong commitment to international human rights.
Her first published book, The Great Sioux Nation: An Oral History of the Sioux Nation and its Struggle for Sovereignty, was published in 1977 and was presented as the fundamental document at the first international conference on Indians of the Americas, held at United Nations’ headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. That book was followed by two others in the following years: Roots of Resistance: A History of Land Tenure in New Mexico, 1680-1980 and Indians of the Americas: Human Rights and Self-Determination.
In 1981, she was asked to visit Sandinista Nicaragua to appraise the land tenure situation of the Miskitu Indians in the northeastern region of the country. Her two trips there that year coincided with the beginning of United States government’s sponsorship of a proxy war to overthrow the Sandinistas, with the northeastern region on the border with Honduras becoming a war zone and the basis for extensive propaganda carried out by the Reagan administration against the Sandinistas. In over a hundred trips to Nicaragua and Honduras from 1981 to 1989, she monitored what was called the Contra War. Her book, Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War was published in 2005. She is also the author of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States.
Klee Benally (Diné/Russian-Polish) was born in Tuba City on the Diné (Navajo) Nation and currently lives in Flagstaff, Arizona. He is originally from Black Mesa and has worked most of his life at the front lines in struggles to protect Indigenous sacred lands. From occupying Border Patrol headquarters in Arizona to call an end to militarization on Indigenous lands to multiple arrests in direct action to protect the San Francisco Peaks and other threatened sacred places, in every aspect of his work Klee fights for a livable and healthy world.
Klee doesn’t believe the current dominant social order (read “colonial system”) can be fixed but should (and will be) smashed to pieces. When asked about his politics he says, “I maintain Diné traditionalism as my way of being in this world. I have affinity with Anarchism and identify myself as an Indigenous Anarchist.”“
He currently is project coordinator of Indigenous Action Media and volunteers with Protect the Peaks efforts and Taala Hooghan Infoshop. In 2004, Klee helped start Outta Your Backpack Media (www.oybm.org), an Indigenous youth empowerment project that focuses on media literacy and media justice for Indigenous communities.
Klee directed and edited “The Snowbowl Effect”, a feature documentary which has been screened both nationally andinternationally and is currently used in teaching curriculum at Northern Arizona University.
Klee also does presentations, workshops and strategic planning. Read more about the workshops here.
For 20 years Klee performed with Native American Music Award winning rock group Blackfire (www.blackfire.net). Blackfire toured nationally and internationally and played on stages from the Warped Tour, the Ryman Auditorium, Festival in the Desert Mali, Africa, to L’Olympia in Paris, France.
Klee grew up participating in traditional ceremonies and inter-Indigenous pow-wows. He learned the Hoop Dance from his father Jones Benally. He also performed with the internationally acclaimed traditional dance group, The Jones Benally Family , with which he has performed Diné traditional dances all of his life.
Arts & Crafts
Klee carries on traditional crafts such as leather working & silversmithing. He is also a graphic & web-designer, likes to sew & is an aspiring bladesmith. Klee’s work has earned awards such as the “Best of Show” at the Museum of Northern Arizona’s Navajo Show. View some of his art here: www.etsy.com/shop/Benally