Navajo Relocation and Cultural Change: Three Generations Speak

Navajo Relocation and
Cultural Change: Three
Generations Speak
Wednesday, December 6th, 2000
The story of the Hathatlies
and Bedonies
 Emily
Benedek, Beyond the Four Corners
of the World: A Navajo Woman’s Journey
(New York: Knopf, 1995)
 Suggestive of other stories still
occurring on Big Mountain
Bessie Hathatlie
 Born
 Whole life on her clan’s land near Coal Mine
 130 years in the clan; ancestors buried here;
umbilical cords buried
 Eviction notices every year since 1979
 Illegal to conduct repairs; sheep confiscated
 She says: “No way am I going to leave this
place. This is where I was born; this is where
I’m going to die.”
Ella Badonie
 Born
1952, one of Bessie’s 11 children; eldest
 1952-1958: on the reservation
 1958-1961: Boarding school in Tuba City
 1961-1970: Lived 7 months a year with
Mormon family in California
 “I always felt more connected to my mother’s
land. I would come home in the summers and
tend the sheep and that’s when I felt that I
was most truly myself. I never doubted that I
was a Navajo.”
More Ella Badonie
 1970.
Met and married Dennis Badonie,
a Christian Navajo schoolteacher
 1970-1974: Lived near Dennis’ parents
in Flagstaff
 1974-1979: Returned to mother’s clan
land, built hogan. Three children. Ella
taught preschool. Nell born in 1976.
Moving away
 1979:
received first eviction notice
 1979-1985: refused to move
 1985-1989: Feared they would be
forcibly relocated: moved to trailer in
Tuba City
 1989- Finally gave in and bought a
house in Flagstaff
Ella’s worries
This is where I feel strong. When I’m in Flagstaff I
don’t feel so strong, and sometimes I’m weak; and I
come here, and I take in all this fresh air and I feel
good. I go to the corral with my mom, and we laugh,
and that’s healing for me. But I’m not going to ask
my brothers and sisters for forgiveness. . . When I
have my ceremonies. . . they don’t come in and say
anything to me. Maybe they are mad that I ‘sold out’,
or ashamed, or they don’t know how to approach me
or something. . . I am worried my children will not be
able to raise their children with the sheep, with the
corn, summer dances, the winter recitations of the
animal stories. How much of the Navajo ways will
they retain?”
 Born
in 1976
 Since 1989, has lived in Flagstaff
 Likes Flagstaff better than Tuba City
 “In Tuba City, it was just Navajo, and
that can get boring,” she said. “Here, I
made lost of friends: “Yeah, I got lots, a
lot of Spanish friends, and two white
friends, and one Indian friend.”
Big Plans
 “All
those foreign places I want to go. I love
different places. When I’m in the twelfth
grade, I want to go somewhere to go to
school, somewhere far away. But my mom
won’t let me. She says, ‘It’s too far.’ And then
she says she’s going to come with me. My
dad said the same thing. I want to go to Italy.
Maybe I’ll go to school – you know, where
you can get a good education is, um, Japan,
because the kids there are more advanced. I
want to go there. I know how to speak
French, Spanish, and a little bit of Navajo.”
Nell on Bessie
 “Grandma
says she won’t leave. The
government is threatening to come and take
her away. I don’t know. My mom moved
away and she survived, right? I just think she
would have a hard time adapting to life
anywhere else. I think she should come and
live with us. It is so uncomfortable there in
that hogan – she can’t repair it, and it is
literally falling apart around her. Here in
Flagstaff it is nice and clean, and comfortable.
There are lots of things to do here; I would
take her to the movies.”
More Nell on Bessie
 “I
think I understand why my
grandmother wants to stay on the land,
but I really think she should reconsider.
I guess I see things differently from her.
Because I think that wherever she goes,
God will be with her. She doesn’t
understand that. It isn’t just in that
place that God blesses her. She can go
wherever, and take with her the
blessings of God. So it seems to me this
is a pretty big mistake for her.”
 1998:
Benadek returned to Coal Mine
 Found Nell (aged 22):
 had
finsihed u of Az
 Had started law school
 was taking Navajo language courses
What Nell wants to do
 “In
college I saw how my people really
has suffered through the years. I want
to be a lawyer because I want to fight
for my people’s rights to hold on to
their land. My grandmother is
connected to the land – you know, my
own umbilical cord was buried there
too. So I I will always be connected
there. . . It is women like my
grandmother who inspire me. I was on
the way to losing my culture. My
grandmother helped me find it again.”