a version of this article appeared on indianvoices.net
“From Big Mountain to Palestine, relocation is genocide!” sings Klee Benally, Diné activist, filmmaker and former member of the indigenous punk band Blackfire, in his song 'An Act of Liberation.'
Benally refers to two of numerous politically and economically motivated displacements of people in recent memory. For one, the Nabka, 700,000 Palestinians were forced to leave their villages in 1948 to make way for the creation of the state of Israel.
The other was the topic of a screening and discussion of the 1985 documentary film Broken Rainbow, hosted by the San Diego Independent Media Center at the Metate Infoshop on January 29, as part of Enero Zapatista. The film details the historical context, events leading up to, and human and environmental impact of the forced relocation of 14,000 Diné people from the Black Mesa area, beginning in 1974, to permit expansion of the operations of Peabody Coal.
A picture of the genocide is drawn in Broken Rainbow using the stories of elders and families who were relocated, included Klee Benally's family. Following the initial wave of colonization, Kit Carson directed the burning of Dené crops, slaughtering of livestock and murdering of people. In 1864, the 8000 survivors were forced to walk more than 450 miles across New Mexico – the Long Walk – to concentration camps (later studied by Nazis) where they were held for four years with no shelter and inadequate provisions. Because of the expense of the camps and resistance, most Diné were allowed to return to their ancestral homelands, interspersed with their traditional neighbors, the Hopi. One- hundred years of boarding schools, white settlers, the arbitrary drawing of boundary lines, discovery of vast mineral wealth in the region (coal, uranium, oil, gas, ...), seizure of livestock and co-optation of tribal leadership then set the stage for Diné relocation.
The discussion following the film highlighted continued government efforts to displace remaining families at Big Mountain, the human and environmental impact of this genocide, continued resistance to relocation and the centrality of struggles for land.
The San Diego Independent Media Center was founded in 2001 as a part of a global network of Indymedia centers – a volunteer collective to tell the stories of people struggling against injustice and oppression and for autonomy. Inspired by the Zapatista movement, the first Indymedia Center was founded in 1999 as a means for anti-globalization activists protesting the World Trade Organization meeting to tell their own stories, unfiltered by corporate media bias, and quickly spread to hundreds of Centers across the globe. Co-optation of the concept by Facebook, Twitter, etc. has weakened the Indymedia movement, but some strong Centers remain. San Diego Indymedia volunteers view themselves not as neutral observers, but rather as active participants in struggles against oppression. The most basic injustices involve stolen lands and cultural genocide; the most powerful resistance centers around indigenous struggles, which form a pivotal role in San Diego Indymedia's efforts. San Diego Indymedia's web site offers open publishing of stories and events to the community.
For more information about San Diego Indymedia, visit http://sandiego.indymedia.org