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Black Mesa Weavers for Life and Land
Roberta Blackgoat (1918-2002)
"There is a great loss on the mountains..."
With deep sadness, we mourn the passing of Roberta Blackgoat, grandmother, weaver, elder, and a wise leader of great strength and courage. She succumbed to a heart attack on the evening of April 23, 2002, at the age of 84. May her soul be bound up in the bond of life, and her memory be a blessing.
Roberta Blackgoat's weaving is first one purchased and sold by Black Mesa Weavers for Life and Land.
Roberta Blackgoat was a woman of valor... Her legacy will live on.
A weaving by Roberta Blackgoat
"And this is the main point,... that we are being told to move off our land. This is our altar that we can't give up. We can't sell it, we can't buy it, we just have to take care of it and have people live in this area. And now we're being told to move off from our altar. This is why I really need it to be understood..."
"There is a great loss on the mountains, ... the wildlife people are living there, and the people that fly, they live on the trees, and they all are losing their homes, and the food of the wildlife four-legged people, ... And even the water, ... the people that live in the water are struggling with all the pollution, and the sickness in the spirit of the water, and also all the human beings, ... us Indians, ... all the different tribes, ... they are all facing the same struggles with their land and their food,... they are suffering also, not just the Navajos are suffering, it's all Indians living in this Indian Country are suffering. I do hope to be having a great help from all you people who are aware, by having you write to President Clinton, and also Senator McCain, and Bruce Babbitt. Please let them have their hearts to be touched" (from a letter by Roberta Blackgoat, April 14, 1999).
Roberta Blackgoat, 1918-2002
(photo ©1998 Carol Snyder Halberstadt)
In November 1998, a delegation of Dine' elders and leaders came to New York City to meet with United Nations officials, seek legal counsel, and consult with others in their struggle for freedom. One afternoon, we visited the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, at Battery Park, near the ferry to the Statue of Liberty. Roberta Blackgoat is shown here in the museum wearing a buffalo robe for a few minutes.
There were once buffalo in Dine' Bike'yah (Navajo Land). Perhaps some day there will be buffalo again.
Two buffalo on the gentle Earth, Yellowstone National Park.
in bent grass and light snow,
the great slopes of their bodies
arced as bows.
They bow, nodding,
blown from nostrils
wide with scent.
She lifts her tail,
horns dipped in light.
unhurried in the gentle grass,
calm as life.
(©1/25/01 Carol Snyder Halberstadt)
In the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston:
Seeing Black Mesa, Arizona
I have filled my eyes with stones,
black basalt, obsidian sheared by wind,
eyes stripped of paint, the color scuffed away,
naked as Greeks
limned in kohl on sarcophagus lids,
old as Egyptians surprised by death.
I have seen mountains chewed like bones,
and junipers still crowned with seeds,
their grey roots struggling from sand,
felt earth blowing and hard dust cold in my hair,
there in a lonely land
where eyes have turned to salt.
In the courtyard under glass my eyes came back
to see the painted fish in painted ponds
and long-legged herons wading,
a stream of milk pouring forever
from the jug,
and the bluebird, a turquoise flashing.
(©7/15/99 Carol Snyder Halberstadt)
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Copyright © 1998 -2002 Carol Snyder Halberstadt, Migrations. All rights reserved.
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