Vernon Bellecourt takes flight to the Spirit World
From: Chris Spotted Eagle
Date: Sat, 13 Oct 2007 18:51:34 -0400
Vernon Bellecourt (WaBun-Inini) passed over into the spirit world
earlier today, October 13, 2007. Minneapolis, Minnesota surrounded by
his friends and family.
1931 - 2007
Vernon was a principal spokesman for the American Indian Movement and a
leader in actions ranging from the 1972 occupation of the Bureau of
Indian Affairs in Washington to the 1992 Redskin Superbowl
demonstrations. He Co-founded and was the first Executive Director of
the Denver AIM Chapter. His involvement at Wounded Knee in 1973 led to
a Federal indictment. He was a special representative of the
International Indian Treaty Council and helped organize the first
Treaty Conference in 1974. He was jailed for throwing his blood on the
Guatemalan Embassy to protest the killing of 100,000 Indians. He was
elected to a 4-year term in his White Earth tribal government and
developed a model program for the spiritual education of Indian
prisoners. Vernon was President of the National Coalition on Racism in
Sports & Media and recipient of the City of Phoenix, Martin Luther King
Human Rights Award 1993
Monday, October 15, 2007 - 5pm - Celebration of Vernon's Life
All Nations Indian Church
1515 E 23rd Street Minneapolis, MN 55404
Tuesday, October 16, 2007 - Wake
Circle of Life School, White Earth Reservation, MN
Wednesday Morning, October 17, 2007 - Burial
White Earth Reservation, MN
Vernon had no medical insurance plan and the Bellecourt family is
collecting donations to help pay for medical and burial costs.
Donations and cards can be sent to:
3953 14th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55407
Vernon Bellecourt, in poor health and in a wheelchair, joined an
American Indian delegation to Venezuela in Aug
As some of you have probably already heard, our dear friend and brother, "Doc" Ron Rosen, suffered a massive stroke on Friday, and passed to the spirit world yesterday morning. He is being taken to Crow Dog's Paradise this morning, on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, for his final rest. Please keep Doc, his wife and his children in your thoughts and prayers, and please read the message from one of his colleagues in the message below this one.
As we all know, Doc was a member of AIM at least since his service as a medic in Wounded Knee in 1973. He was one of the few non-Indians who was considered a full member of AIM, having given and given to Indian people, without asking anything in return. Whenever we needed a medic in the streets for any AIM action, Doc was there -- ready to provide his services in the midst of tear gas or police clubs or arrests. Doc was a certified acupuncturist, and many of us benefited from his skills, which he often provided for free, or certainly at a reduced rate for Native people. He travelled regularly to Guatemala, to provide freed medical services to Indian communities there. In 2004, he went to the area in Thailand that was most heavily destroyed by the massive tsunami in that region. In addition, he served as a medic coordinator at the World Trade Organization protests in Seattle in 1999, and in Toronto in 2003. Needless to say, he was always integral to coordinating the medic trainings and teams for Columbus Day in Denver.
Doc and his new wife, Carol, were married only a month ago, and all of our support for her will be appreciated. I believe that we should plan a memorial for Doc toward the end of the summer, to remind us of his commitment and dedication to the Movement, and to Indian people, and to continue his work. I will write more later. Below is a message from one of Doc's colleagues.
From Diana Horowitz:
Today is a deeply sad day for the acupuncture profession and for humanity. "Doc" Ron Rosen, OMD, L.Ac., passed away in the comfort of his home at approximately 11:00 a.m. this morning.
As an honored, adopted member of the Lakota tribe, Doc will be buried on the Rosebud reservation in South Dakota tomorrow (Monday, July 23rd) in the late afternoon/early evening. If you wish to attend the burial, please contact Joe Wollen for details at 720-234-0967. Meet up with them in S. Dakota, or join the departing entourage at 10:00 a.m., at the funeral home located at 17th Avenue and York Street in Denver.
There will be a memorial service/fundraiser/ celebration of Doc's life in Denver after August 6th. Details will follow. Doc is survived by his wife Carol (they were just married last month), sons Lonny and Ari, and his daughter Krystal. He did not have any health insurance. To make a contribution towards medical and funeral expenses, please send a check to:
1590 S. Dalia Street
Denver, CO 80222
Also, Doc had recently expanded his clinic at Colfax & York in Denver, and was in need of a few more holistic health care renters. Renting a treatment space would be a terrific way to help out Doc's family. Please call Maria Lee, L.Ac. at 720-275-1205 for more information.
Doc dedicated his life to helping all people in need, locally and globally, and regardless of their income level. He treated thousands of patients, and mentored dozens of fledgling acupuncturists over the course of his career. Doc was a co-founder of the Acupuncture Association of CO, and one the persons responsible for our professional licensure in the 1980's. Now is the time to return the generosity that Doc gave so freely. Let's band together as a community to commemorate Doc's extraordinary life, and help his family through this time of uncertainty and loss.
Diana Horowitz, M.S., L.Ac.
Corbin Harney, Western Shoshone spiritual leader July 10, 2007- March 24, 1920.
Eulogy by Katherine Blossom, Western Shoshone:Corbin Harney, Western Shoshone spiritual leader passed away on July 10, 2007.He was born in Bruno, Idaho on March 24, 1920.He was raised by his grandparents.Corbin traveled around the world and spoke out about global toxins, radiation and illness.He spent most of his life teaching people and healing many.He spoke to many highschools, grade schools, universities, youth correctional institutions and prisons.Corbin is well known around the world for the work he did.Corbin founded Poo Ha Bah – meaning “Doctor Water” in Tecopa, California in the 1980’s, which is a unique native healing and prayer center.
Corbin Harney is descended from generations of Newe (Shoshone) traditional healers and was always grateful for the many extraordinary teachers who shared their knowledge in his lifetime. Corbin is survived by his daughter Reynaulda Taylor; granddaughters Ann Taylor and Nada Leno; grandsons Keith, Jon and Joel Leno and William Henry Taylor; seven great-grandchildren; two great-great grandchildren; and his sister Rosie Blossom’s family; John Harney and other Harney family members; and the family of Marge McDade and many cousins and other family members as well as many, many friends around the world.Corbin was preceded in death by his mother, father, sister, grandparents, uncle, great granddaughter, cousins, and friends.A very special thanks to Patricia Davidson, Corbin’s caregiver in his final months; Dominic Daileda, Corbin’s friend and companion for his support and compassion in hard times, and the family of Dixie and Martin van derKamp for opening up their home and their hearts to Corbin and his family and friends during his time of need.
He was raised by his grandparents.Corbin traveled around the world and spoke out about global toxins, radiation and illness.He spent most of his life teaching people and healing many.He spoke to many highschools, grade schools, universities, youth correctional institutions and prisons.Corbin is well known around the world for the work he did.Corbin founded Poo Ha Bah – meaning “Doctor Water” in Tecopa, California in the 1980’s, which is a unique native healing and prayer center.Burial will be held at the graveside at the BattleMountainCityCemetery...A feast will follow at the BattleMountainIndianCommunityAdministrativeBuilding.
With sincere and heartfelt sadness, please accept the condolences of the
Seventh Generation Fund regarding the passing of Mickey Gemmill, an
esteemed member of the Pitt River and Wintu Nations, a longtime friend,
activist and respected traditional Native leader whom we knew well and
will miss in this world, tremendously.
We have been honored to know Mickey and we have been honored to say that
we stood with Mickey many times. At times we walked with him during
protests to protect sacred sites, at other moments, we learned from his
strong and determined words for Native justice, and other days, we were
guided by his dedication to Native peoples and Indigenous rights.
Mickey's lifetime of work on behalf of his community and beyond, for
Indigenous peoples throughout the Americas and the world, stands as a
testament and example to all of us here, who must recall his strength
and his steadfast determination and carry the work forward.
Mickey was a friend and an ally. He presented at Seventh Generation Fund
conferences on issues of genocide, mining and sovereignty. Together we
laughed and told jokes and imagined a more just world. We sat together
in airports and we shared food. Our memories recall chilly mornings and
sunrise ceremonies, and late evenings at campfires. We will miss him,
tremendously, and so will Indigenous peoples throughout the world who
knew and respected Mickey.
On behalf of the Seventh Generation Fund, I extend our heartfelt
condolences to Mickey's family, to his community and Nations. May he
dance and sing with his people and in our memories, for all time.
For 32 years, Navajo Pauline Whitesinger has resisted efforts to force her off what it says is Hopi land. For her, home is who she is.
By Sean Reily
Times Staff Writer
HOPI RESERVATION, Ariz. A rifle
hangs under Pauline Whitesinger's mud-packed timber ceiling. It's placed within
easy reach so she can scare off the coyotes that threaten her sheep. But there
have been times when she's imagined other uses.
"Maybe we should have set up firearms at our doorways so we could defend
our homes," she said in her native Navajo language, as translated by her
nephew Danny Blackgoat.
Whitesinger lives like her ancestors did, in an eight-sided juniper hogan in the
reaches of Big Mountain, Ariz. Miles from the nearest paved road, she is
without electricity or running water. She sleeps on a cot over a dirt floor
next to a wood fire built within an overturned, sawed-off barrel. She wakes
each morning before dawn, and her first action is to make a small white-corn
pollen offering and to pray in the direction of the rising sun.
Whitesinger is one of the last Navajos remaining on this land after the largest
forced migration in the since the
internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. In 1974, Congress drew a
boundary through what had been a 1.8-million-acre joint-use area between the
Navajo and Hopi tribes. While an estimated 100 Hopis were told to move from
what had become the Navajo side of the boundary, about 12,000 Navajos were
ordered off the Hopi side.
Sponsors of the Navajo-Hopi Land Settlement Act said its purpose was to return
to the Hopi Tribe ancestral land that had been occupied by the Navajos for more
than a century. Critics said it was no coincidence that beneath the land lay
some of the largest untouched coal deposits in North America , and
that the Navajos needed to be moved to allow the mining.
Either way, Whitesinger said, "it was like a big wind that flew into our
vicinity and said, 'This is it; you have to abide by what had passed in
Congress. You are going to have to relocate.' "
In traditional Navajo belief, land cannot belong to a person. Instead, a person
belongs to the land on which they were born. If Navajos stray too far from that
land, they lose themselves and their sense of purpose and direction.
So when a representative from the Office of Navajo and Hopi Indian Relocation
"came to ask me to sign up for the relocation benefits and move,"
Whitesinger recalled, "I didn't bother with that person at all. But all of
a sudden, it was like a sieve. Where we were a thousand points of light within
this area, there are only a few of us now ? a few flickers of light."
Many Navajos called the relocation the "Second Long Walk," comparing
it to the infamous Long Walk in 1864, when the U.S.
government rounded up the tribal members and marched them to Ft. Sumner in New
Mexico a trail on which many died. In this new
transplantation, the Navajos were given promises of the so-called New Lands, mostly
government-built housing on the reservation's border towns.
A rural people who earned their living off the land, they were undereducated
and ill-equipped to compete for the few jobs on a reservation where
unemployment hovers near 50%. Most of the elders and many of the adults didn't
speak English. Many of the stories that followed were of tragedy, grief and
depression. Of the first groups that relocated, 25% were dead within four
"I had a lot of my relatives relocate to the New Lands," Whitesinger
said. "If they had sheep, it was three sheep in a corral the size of my
hogan. They might have nice homes, but that isn't the way I was brought up.
That is why I stayed."
Whitesinger and the other Navajos who refused to move became known as
"resisters." And the federal government and Hopi Tribe set out to
make life difficult for them.
All construction, including repairs to existing structures, was forbidden.
Reductions were placed on livestock, often limiting their numbers to fewer than
it would take to support a family. Grazing permits were canceled. Free-roaming
livestock that crossed newly created boundary lines were impounded. Regulations
limited the collection of firewood. Water wells were capped and blades were
removed from the windmills that pumped the water. Even the prairie dogs that
the poorer Navajos ate were poisoned in a pest-eradication program.
As Whitesinger watched one resister family after another wear down and succumb
to the relocation, she saw "the Hopi come with their bulldozers and level
their home sites, leaving no trace of their lives there," she said.
When a work crew arrived in the late 1970s to place a fence across the grazing
land for her sheep in the relocation's first move against her, Whitesinger
borrowed her son's truck and drove close to the workers in an attempt to scare
Each time the crew members returned, they would find their previous day's work
dismantled and discarded. Eventually they gave up.
Whitesinger said it was a Hopi ranger who came next. The ranger read the
mandate for her to leave in English ? with her daughter translating ? while
Whitesinger whittled the end of a long stick. When the ranger demanded
Whitesinger's acceptance and answer, her daughter said to him that he could see
"She is making a stick right now. A fire poker. To poke you with,"
Whitesinger said, recalling her daughter's words. "She told him if he
stayed around I might even fix a blade to the end of the stick."
For three decades, Whitesinger has kept powerful forces at bay.
"I don't know how old I am," she said. "It is like floating down
a river. Each year passes by, and it's just another season of winter, and time
But, she added, speaking in Navajo, "I know where I belong. I know if I
relocate, I will die of loneliness."
Threats of Armed Conflict
Before the settlement act was approved, the Navajo and Hopi
governments signed a pact to share equally in all royalties from minerals mined
from beneath the joint-use land, regardless of who controlled its surface.
Whitesinger believes that's why "through this all, any kind of needs that
we had, any kind of requests that we made to Window Rock [the seat of the
Navajo government], they say we can't do it because this is all under Hopi
In the mid-1980s, representatives from the Navajo government called upon her
and her sister Roberta Blackgoat.
"There was about seven or eight that came out here to meet us, including
the Navajo tribal chairman," Whitesinger said. "My sister had come to
my house to wait for them with me. When they came, they threatened us with
armed confrontation. They told us that the U.S. Army was coming to forcefully
relocate us. They related that unless we left, they were going to witness us
being drug out of this house."
Long past being intimidated, "I said, 'Where is the Army?' "
Whitesinger recalled. "They told us they were right over the hill. So I
said, 'OK, let's get it over with. Which one of you tribal officials are going
to be the one that's going to grab me, and which is it of you that are going to
According to Whitesinger, none of the Navajo officials answered.
The standoff didn't last long. There was no Army unit. No one dragged anyone
out. And if they had, the officials knew they probably would have had a media
event on their hands. By then, the resisters had learned how to get out their
message. Sympathizers and volunteers from outside had arrived to offer their
help and numbers.
The growing publicity eventually caused a reevaluation in Washington, and in
1996, Congress passed the second Hopi-Navajo settlement act, also called the
Accommodation Agreement. Sponsored by Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona,
it permitted those few Navajos who had stayed to live out their lives on the
land if they signed leases with the Hopi government giving up all property
rights and stating that the land could not be passed to their heirs.
A new forcible eviction date was set for late 2000.
"A lot of elders were pressured to sign the Accommodation Agreement, and a
lot moved," Whitesinger said. But she and her sister still did not sign.
To them, land could not be ceded away.
Today, where there once had been about 12,000 Navajos, only eight resister
families remain, with 22 adults.
A Fading History
The affected lands are now a vast, quiet and empty desert. In
winter, snow dusts the juniper trees and sage. In summer, the heat can reach
triple digits by early morning. Water is always the most precious commodity.
No coal has been mined here, as coal transportation costs, because of the
remoteness of the area, have proved prohibitive. No more than a handful of
Hopis has tried moving here despite their government's claim that this was a
return of their homeland. And the Office of Navajo and Hopi Indian Relocation
is planning to close down sometime in the next few years.
For Pauline Whitesinger and the U.S. and Hopi governments, it's a war of
Whitesinger points to a post within her hogan.
"It needs to be repaired," she said. "But the Hopis won't allow me
to cut the wood to get a new post. Whatever way they can to break our spirit,
they have done that. We still experience a lot of hardship. And now it seems
like we're forgotten."
In July 2003, Roberta Blackgoat died, and with her went not only Whitesinger's
sister and closest friend, but also the primary voice of the resisters to the
"We used to be a team," Whitesinger said. "My sister used to
bring her herd over here right before the summer heat, and we'd join our flocks
and would graze them in the coolness."
Her words fade, and she puts her hands up to her face.
"When I was in shape, I didn't feel lonely out here," Whitesinger
said. "I used to go visit my sister and my neighbors, and go herd sheep
and look after the horses and cattle. But I got hurt, and since then I am more
homebound and I feel the sense of loneliness now."
She looks out over the desert where she was born.
"It's quite obvious here [with what's happened] that we are going to lose
the essence of ourselves, our language, the sense of kinship and who we
are," Whitesinger said. "We are going to lose our connection to what
we've been taught from the early days. Ceremony will be lost ? our prayers, our
way of life. There is a lot of history that was covered up. The essence of
[our] time [here] covered up by the wind."
Every evening before darkness, as she is able, Whitesinger puts her sheep into
pens made of juniper branches, wire and broken wooden pallets, with mattress
frames stripped to their springs as gates.
She still tends to her free-roaming horses when they return for the water that
is trucked in. She still goes to her woodpile for the branches to keep the fire
going in her hogan.
And every evening, Whitesinger finishes the prayer that she starts that
"I make an offering with the yellow cornmeal to the yellow folding of the
evening," she said. "I pray to anything and everything that is holy
around here. I pray for harmony and peace and that there be compassion and
understanding by any and all about our situation here. I pray for an end to the
disharmony that is caused by man."