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RED MAN's LEGACY AND THE STREET PARTY 2001

[czflag]

Translation of an article posted in Czech independent webmagazine "Britské listy" (British Papers), to which I had contributed

Authors: Bushka Bryndová, Štěpán Kotrba, Lenka Jonášová

 

[Street Party 2001]

Prague Street Party against Globalization

 

Last Prague Street Party, which took place on June 16, 2001, was held under the sign of a desire of thousands of young people to live in a city where streets would serve people and their encounters, and not only vehicles. "Reclaim The Streets" was the main call word of this meeting and a march across the city of a thousand of participants. "The city suffocated with exhaustion gases is not a place where we would want to live and bring up our children" were saying young mothers to casual bystanders who attended Street Party's end on Peace Square in Prague quarter Vinohrady. "Why is it that there are no habitations for young people and why none of our politicians is interested in this fact?" "Why they can't have their own clubs, their own culture, so they wouldn't have to care only for profit made from entrance fees in order to pay excessively expensive rent?" "Why should money be a barrier to culture - why an indigent person couldn't also strive for cultural self-realization?" "Are slums and dirty suburbs the only thing that young people can expect?" "What future has a young person in this profit-greedy society?"

Questions asked with the impatience of youngsters. Questions staying unanswered in spite of government's declaration of being social-democratic and being a government of the "lower ten millions" … Really? So, why these young people have an impression that this government is not "their"? Is it really only their fault?

Urban, Eco-social or Social Underground, how is sometimes called this movement of young people (is not to be confounded with activities of anarchist or anarcho-social groups, although anarchists, trockists and other similarly oriented groups usually attend Street Party and other events), represents a natural reaction of a part of youth to the excruciating character of market mechanisms, destroying natural inter human relations and culture in big cities. It is a natural reaction of those who do not wish or can't "keep up the pace" in this mad and senseless gold-rush. It is not specific for post -communist countries, although it has to overcome the defiance against any protest meetings, any collective expression of discontent, to any sign of emerging civic society, deeply rooted in their majority societies. But there is a hope for the Czech Republic as the sharp edges of enmities are becoming blunter and blunter, and so this year's Street Party was reminding more a carnival than a battlefield.

This year's peaceful course of the Street Party was concluded by a night concert in the club Squat Milada, started by Czech anarcho-punk band AVERZE. The concert's “chef-d’oeuvre” became a performance of the USA band BLACKFIRE (pictures). Members of this musical band are three siblings from Navajo (Dineh – as they call themselves) Nation – Jeneda (bassguitar), Klee (guitar, vocals) and Clayson (drums). They are used to be called a punk-rock band, but their expression reaches beyond the limits of this musical style as it includes powerful elements of traditional Native American culture. Themselves, they say that through their music they are willing to demonstrate that it is possible to overcome differences – not only in origins, races, sexual orientations, opinions – but also the differences between generations, which they prove right on the spot by inviting their gray-haired father - a renowned healer and medicine-man Jones Benally on the stage to sing with them. A spontaneous energy flowing between the stage and the audience carries on the message of their anger against the World which believes that all the Indians were since a long time shot by John Wayne and the rest of them if any is dancing with the wolves somewhere. Against the society, which is discriminating them and is trying to convince them that the best thing to do for them would be to give up their ancient culture and assimilate as “good” Americans. The society, which highest value is money while their own traditional culture –perceived as barbarian by Americans – has always put health and harmony with the nature at the first place, same as it used to be in the case of most of the old civilizations narrowly connected to the Nature. Nevertheless, they also carry a hope in their hearts – the hope that people in the World will listen to their voices and will fight for their own human rights and preservation of their own cultures because we all are Native peoples somewhere and we should be able to recall the wisdom of our grandfathers, who were still living in harmony with the Nature – because only in this way could our civilization survive and stop destroying itself. Because only in this way we can continue to be human beings.

 

 

[Jones]

[Clayson]

Jones Benally on the stage

Clayson

[Jeneda]

[Klee]

Jeneda

Klee

What does the editor and photographer of British Papers Stepan Kotrba say about the ending of the Street Party? "It was cool. Music sets and people (our team included) moved to the concert. That night's music in Squat Milada was so crazy that one was threatened to become dumb - a proof of creativity of the sound technician, I guess - and the consequence of small size of the underground concert hall. Or I might be too old for punk-rock :o)), but punk is not dead, isn't it? My feelings depended on the distance from the loudspeakers … Air inside Milada was heavy and dump, one visitor, one bottle and at least one cigarette-box per one cube meter of air. People were absolutely cool, funny and loquacious as the night itself. With small breaks we have managed to keep up until half past one in the morning, but after we gave up, swimming in sweat and catching breath. The concert went on until three. Some tired young people were sleeping in front of Milada on the plain ground, but it was quiet. I was feeling sorry for the inhabitants of the Squat who were going to wake up prostrated visitors and clean up broken bottles and cigarette-butts. Otherwise their dogs would cut their paws. Some of the squatter-girls were clearly unhappy about all those visitors, probably because of the thought on morning cleaning. But they were trying to be courageous. I was sorry for my colleague Bushka Bryndova who kept the pace until the early morning end…"

Their lyrics are expressing anger over the contemporaneous situation of Native Americans in the USA, over the forced relocation of their Nation from one part of their ancestral lands, where a big mining company supported by the US government would wish to expand presently operated surface mining in the worldwide largest coal strip mine located right at the border of their reservation. Their pain over the indifference of present American society, which would prefer to forget about the original inhabitants of this continent and is continuing to treat them with almost the same ruthlessness and cruelty like hundred years ago, believing that international community would just silently ignore it. This could have been true only until the last decade, but with the coming of the internet Native Americans had broken the medial insulation and through its intermediary they managed to spread information on injustices and misconducts of the US government of which they are victims. Indians already know, how to get to the internet and not only that – more and more often they travel around the World and spread awareness on the dirty human rights backyard in the country, which itself pretends to be their greatest defendant and guarantor. Blackfire have their own website on http://www.blackfire.net/, where you can find also their CDs – including the last one with 15 songs, which has surpassed all the precedent ones and is available to British Papers readers for a download.

 

[Milada1]

[Milada2]

Squat Milada

 

The objective of their European Tour 2001, which had started with two weeks spent in my country – the Czech Republic – and Slovakia (where they participated also to Bratislava Street Party) and is continuing across Germany, Switzerland, Austria, France and Luxembourg is to make the European public acquainted with the continuous oppression of their Nation by the US government and with other controversial causes disputed by other Native American Peoples against the USA. Including the case of the Native American activist Leonard Peltier, falsely accused of murders of two FBI agents and sentenced to life-prison, who has become blind of one eye due to the refusal of prison authorities to allow him a surgery in a specialized clinic, and who is presently in a very poor health condition after more than 25 years of imprisonment. Due to a refusal of prison administration to allow him to undergo a surgery in a specialized clinic he has become blind at one eye and after more than 25 years of prison he is in a very poor health condition. Peltier's case was also being considered by the former President of the USA Bill Clinton, but finally he refused to take any initiative in the matter of clemency because of the cause of Monika Lewinsky.

An integral part of Navajo shows in the course of the Czech and Slovak Tour were author readings from the Czech translation of Peltier’s book “Prison Writings: My Life Is My Sundance” by translator and publicist Bushka Bryndova. These readings were part of the Czech contribution to Peltier’s Month of Awareness initiated by the LPDC.

 

[Cteni1]

Prison Writings in the Squat

[Cteni2]

Last Prison Writings reading at traditional dances show

 

Benally’s brothers and a sister were born in a traditional Navajo family. Navajo people live in the largest Native American reservation including the most of Arizona and territories in states of Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. Benally’s belong to the most renowned and respected Dineh families, the grandmother of Blackfire – Roberta Blackgoat - is well known as a legendary figure of Navajo resistance to the US government relocation efforts and is one of the last 300 mostly elder persons refusing to obey eviction orders and continuing to live in the disputed area of Black Mesa, which borders match too exactly with borders of the coal deposit which has given the name to this Navajo band. “Black fire” in Dineh language means burning surface deposits of coal, which is a common phenomenon in the arid mesa where Navajo people live, breeding their livestock and growing those few plants which can yield in this water-scarce environment unfavorable to intensive agriculture. The father of Blackfire members is a renowned traditional healer and medicine-man, traditional dancer and musician who is transmitting his extensive experience and knowledge received from his own ancestors to his children and together they are performing examples of traditional dances and ceremonies of Dinehs under the name of “The Jones Benally’s Family”. Their second show - this time of traditional dances - in Prague the day following the Street Party on Strelecky Island was performed in traditional regalia. Dance of Eagle, of Spears and Shields, Gourd and Swan dances... Father Benally was accompanying his children an a drum and and as usually crowned the show with the healing Hoop Dance. He was enclosing himself into hoops forming complex figures with the volubility of an escape artist – a ceremony which has for aim to heal the patient and re-establish a harmony in his relationship with the Universe. At the end Navajos has made all the audience (over 200 persons) to dance in an enormous circle of the Friendship Round Dance, accompanied by drumming and singing of the old medicine-man. Their message has arrived to the right address – we all are ONE!

 

Navajo traditional dances performed by The Jones Benally's Family in Prague

[Gourdance]

[jeneda]

[eagle]

[jeneda and clayson]

[jones]

[public]

[kolo]

Pictures are courtesy of:: © 2001 S. Kotrba http://www.blisty.cz/

 

Background of the forced relocation of the Navajo Nation

 

In 1974 a legislation was initiated to settle supposed “range war” between Navajo and Hopi Nations. It enacted the forced removal of over 14 000 Navajo families from their traditional homelands. Today a handful of Dineh people of all ages are resisting relocation and now facing the threat of “imminent force removal” by US agents pressured by the Hopi Tribal Council. Tribal Councils were initially created by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to access resources on Tribal lands. Under Black Mesa lies North America’s largest coal deposit. The fence dividing the disputed land almost completely outlines the estimated coal deposit. Coincidence? Instrumental in creating the relocation act, a Mormon lawyer named John Boyden was working with the Hopi Tribal Council representing them on their mineral rights. At the same time he was also working with Peabody Coal Company, the coal company now operating on the border of the “disputed area”. 

Peabody Coal is the World’s largest strip mine (103 sq miles) and is currently seeking to expand into the disputed lands. To save money shipping coal, a 275 mile coal slurry pipeline pumps over 1,5 billion gallons of water from aquifer beneath Black Mesa. The draining of this precious aquifer from these arid lands drastically undermines the sovereignty and lives of both Hopi and Dineh. Many traditional Hopi expressed that they are not represented by the Hopi Tribal Council, many have said that this is a fabricated dispute. Over the last 27 years the Hopi Tribal Council has continuously played the role of the victim in an illusionary crime, while committing a very real and serious crime against the very people they claim to be criminals. Roger Lewis, one of the federally appointed officials of the Relocation Commission who resigned over the years said: “I feel that in relocating these elderly people, we are as bad as the people who ran the concentration camps in the World War II.” 

In 1996, a settlement was proposed called the “Accommodation Agreement (AA)”, which is basically a 75 year land lease agreement. This agreement was created without the voice of many it would effect. Those Dineh that have signed the AA have no representation in the government that presides over them. If three terms of the AA are violated, they will be evicted. Some examples are: the signers are not allowed to bury their dead on the land, visitors are required to have permits, and signers must get permits to gather green wood (which in many cases is necessary for ceremonies). Therefore, forcing the traditional Navajos to become tenants, and second class citizens, of their own homeland. Those Dineh who did not want to sign this document that clearly violated human rights, are currently facing forced eviction. If the traditional teachings of the Hopi, the people of peace, say that they cannot own the land, then why is there a dispute over land? Something doesn’t add up here. Those who put profit over life, those who seek economic gain over harmonious existence, who’s greed ultimately creates imbalance and destroys – they are the real criminals! Forced relocation of a people is a crime against humanity. Time is critical for the Navajo people still resisting relocation.

 

Navajo people need your help – your signatures under petitions for their cause and form letters to be sent to the US administration. More information in Czech language is to be found on my website:

 http://www.bushka.narodni.cz/peltier/bigmountain.html
and in English on http://www.blackmesais.org/ and http://www.hoganview.com/.

 

NAVAJO BAND BLACKFIRE IN THE HEART OF EUROPE
Program of the European Tour 2001

 

[poster]

Courtesy of Ivan Macenauer© 2001

 

English translation of the original article in Czech language by Bushka Bryndova

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