By The Black Hammer Times Staff
On May 7, The Black Hammer Times interviewed Chief Afeni, Chief of Black Hammer Organization’s Western region in the united snakes of amerikkka.
Like all regions of the BHO, the Western region distributes personal protective equipment to our communities in the midst of this pandemic which especially puts Colonized people at risk.
We interviewed Chief Afeni about the Navajo nation, a group of indigenous people who mainly inhabit the western part of what we consider north america.
Chief Olo: Chief Afeni, can you tell us a bit about your encounter with the Navajo people? What are their conditions and how important is it to build unity with our Navajo Comrades?
Chief Afeni: My recent contact with the Navajo nation was brought by Comrade Sante who lives in Utah. If you’re not familiar with the Navajo nation, they are indigenous to Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.
They have had their land stolen from them, they now have been forced to live on reservations, and like all Colonized people, we give nicknames. Like we [African/black people] call the projects the PJs and they call the reservations the “rez.”
Sante contacted his colleague who is Native American and has family in the reservations both in Arizona and New Mexico. Because just like in all Colonized nations, COVID-19 is hitting them the hardest.
Initially it started with outreach and now we’re just trying to build this relationship because there is a wall of mistrust there and it’s understandable because having to deal with settlers and colonialism first-hand and having your actual land stolen will instill a sense of mistrust in you.
As a member of BHO, it’s our job to help our communities regain that trust of the people, the poor and working class people and that we don’t align white power, imperialism, capitalism and colonialism and that we’re actively trying to fight against them, so that was the mission.
My goal was to introduce BHO to the Dine Bikeyah and the Navajo people in a way that is anti-colonial and that they understood that we’re trying to fight for the return of their land to their people.
Sante set up a phone conversation to reach out an elder of the nation but then there was this situation because the elder doesn’t speak English and it was very powerful. I was excited about that even though I knew it was going to be more difficult to communicate.
We were finally able to set up a three-way phone call with someone who spoke both the Dine language (Navajo) nation which was extremely powerful and it brought me to tears.
One of the main reasons it did, because number one, the elder didn’t speak english. I appreciated that because fuck this colonizer language and two, just the sound of her voice, the tones and the inflections.
I had no idea what she was saying but it pierced my soul. I felt I understood without really understanding, and when the words were translated I already figured what she was saying: the government hasn’t been doing anything, there is no help for them, that there is only one store in the reservation and it was completely out of supplies and she needed regular things like canned food and tea and cleaning supplies and masks; they absolutely had no access to masks.
So our first priority was to get those things to them and we’ve been working really hard to do that because there is no postal service there and everything is done through PO boxes; we had to find a way to ship it there.
It was costly, but worth it because getting them the supplies and having them saying thank you and that they were so grateful was more than enough.
Our main goal is not to support them through coronavirus, but also to create this relationship because our goal is to have a BHO chapter in the Navajo nation, fully functioning and ready to join us in this fight to return their land to them.
I think it’s very important. When I started to think about the West region and the things we’re going to do, that was one of the things I knew was going to be very important; how can we say we’re anti-colonial if we’re not going to fight for the people who have been just as ravaged by colonialism, if not more than us here on the united snakes of amerikkka soil?
When I started to do my research, I found it quite alarming reading about the history; it sheds some light on the fact that our colonized nations share so many similar things.
You can tell at some point; their government tried to assimilate into Western democracy and you see the ravages of that just like here. The inequality of life from what I’ve been told and what areas they were one of the richest nations on indigenous lands and that they sold their oil to the u.s. and now the united snakes is trying to remove them from the land and frack on them like they always do and the people on that land aren’t protected by any government.
They have a very high suicide rate and a huge rate of alcoholism just like in all of our colonized nations; the effects of colonialism affect everyday life. Speaking to the people of the Navajo nation, they give similar stories of being sent back home from the hospital and tell them that they aren’t sick enough and when they become sick enough, they don’t properly treat them or giving them information on other people in the hospital having coronavirus.
This brings me to a story that was so heart-breaking. When I spoke to one of the people; they were talking about the elder who ended up in the hospital and basically, they were lying to them and no telling them the truth about coronavirus. They sent them home first and once they came back sicker, they finally gave her a test.
One of the ladies who was visiting her mother in the hospital, the mother told her that one of the ladies next to her had covid-19 and they took her away in the middle of the night and didn’t tell anyone or tell her and she felt they were lying to her. That went to show that colonialism, no matter where you are, is ravaging all of us.
I feel like our biggest goal in BHO, is that us Colonized people on the outside of the res should build relationships with the people on the inside; especially in Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado because that is their land. Our ultimate goal is to create chapters in the reservation to help us join in this fight.
As Chief Olo said, that’s not a conversation other organizations are having; no one is talking about returning their land and we at BHO want them to know that we want them to have dictatorship over their land and create a society and world where no one lives at the expense of anyone else and break down this relationship that oppression has created between our nations.
I know personally as a Black person, having that history with the indigenous peoples of this land, it will call for political education on both parts so we aren’t creating the systems again of mistrust of exploitation and things like that.
I’m so excited and ready to make this connection and ready to form this solidarity so we can fight together and return our lands together.