The Traditional Support Caravan

Traditional Support Caravan


The caravan distributes food each fall to help Navajo families endure the winter.

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Organization Overvview

"Relocation is a word that does not exist in the Navajo language. To be relocated is to disappear and never be seen again.
- Pauline Whitesinger, Relocation Resister

A Millennia of Co-Existence

The Dine (Navajo) and Hopi have been the inhabitants of the Four Corners region since time immemorial. The Hopi way of life - living in pueblos atop the mesas and farming the arid land - was harmonious with the rhythms of the desert. Beyond the Hopi mesas Dine sheepherders moved with the seasons between summer and winter settlements, living in accordance with ancient traditions. The Dine and Hopi regularly interacted, exchanging food, weavings, pottery, and silver jewelry. Intermarriage between the peoples was not uncommon, allowing centuries of cultural exchange. These people describe their relationship as being based on a "covenant of neighborship" established in the ancient past with the exchange of sacred objects and renewed in the last century as well as recently in the early 1990's.

The Longest Walk

After the Civil War, excess troops were directed west to complete the conquest of Native Peoples and their lands.
With the momentum of Manifest Destiny and under the direction of Colonel Kit Carson, the US Army began a brutal campaign to open up Arizona for white settlement. 9,000 Dine surrendered to Kit Carson after a military campaign aimed at destroying their agriculture. The people were marched 300 miles from Fort Defiance, Arizona to Bosque Redondo, adjacent to Fort Sumner. Living under armed guards, in holes in the ground, with extremely scarce rations, it is no wonder that more than 3,500 Dine men, women, and children died while in the concentration camp. The genocidal mentality and actions of the U.S. policy makers would find similar expression years later when the Nazis, under Hitler, studied the plans of Bosque Redondo to design the concentration camps for Jews.
It was not the inhumane conditions of the internment, but rather the high cost to U.S. taxpayers and the government's desire to avoid scandal (they were prosecuting the Confederate Army for similar concentration camps at the time) that led to the Dine's release and relocation to a federally recognized reservation.
In a successful attempt to impose itself against the traditional Hopi, the U.S. Government passed the Executive Order of 1882 shortly after the formation of the Navajo reservation to the east. This established the Hopi reservation and was to include "other Indians as the Secretary of the Interior may see fit to settle thereon." Continuous Dine settlement within the Hopi reservation, as well as the return of Dine relocatees, led to the 1962 declaration of the area as a "Joint Use Area" (JUA) surrounding the autonomous Hopi reservation. In the meantime, a series of federal mandates had increased the size of the "Navajo Nation" until it surrounded the 1882 Executive Order boundary.

Corporate Interests and Puppet Governments

What was once thought to be barren desert "only fit for Indians to live on" proved to be rich in oil, coal, uranium, and copper. In the early 1900's corporate mineral interests wanted to exploit the profit potential of the land but were met with stiff opposition by the traditional leadership of the Hopi and Dine. To counter this resistance the U.S. government hand picked tribal councils so that "legal documents" could be signed in order to lease tribal lands. Thus began a history of disruption of traditional ways in the face of "energy development". This includes the forced relocation of people from their ancestral lands.

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