Farmington Racism-Part One
Posted in the Aztec Forum
#2 Dec 2, 2011
Farmington Racism - Part Two
Chili Yazzie, president of the Shiprock Chapter of the Navajo Nation (the equivalent of the mayor of the closest reservation town to Farmington), was himself victimized back in 1978, when a white hitchhiker blew Yazzie's right arm off with two blasts from a .44 Magnum. The first bullet shattered the bones in his arm and continued into his rib cage. "The whole world was the color of a really bad sandstorm," Yazzie recalls. "Out of his poncho I saw a hole and some smoke coming out. I realized that he had a pistol pointed at me all this time from under his poncho." "I asked him,'What are you doing, you crazy son of a bastard?' Then he shot me again." Yazzie spent a month in the hospital. The shooter served less than five years. Back then, Yazzie was a member of the radical American Indian Movement as well as the famous rock-and-roll protest band X-IT, which provided the soundtrack for the Red Power movement. Now 56, his black hair is woven with wisps of grey. His tactics have mellowed and his rhetoric has softened, but he remains a dedicated advocate for his people. In 1974, four years before he was shot, Yazzie took part in a series of dramatic marches organized by Farmington Navajos in response to a brutal triple-murder. Last September, 32 years later, Yazzie found himself leading a similar march of 1,500 Navajos protesting racism and violence after the attack on William Blackie, which occurred just two weeks after an assault on a Navajo undercover police officer by a white man with a knife. Yazzie says tempers ran hot among Navajos. "There were guys that wanted to come in here and take an eye for an eye. There are people capable of doing that," he says somberly. Yazzie likes to call himself a "reasonable radical," and his cool head calmed an explosive situation. "Chili Yazzie represents a new type of leadership in Navajo Country," says the Commission on Civil Rights' Dulles, adding that without Yazzie's influence on the community this summer, "There could have been serious disturbances, confrontations, even riots." Instead, the Sept. 2 memorial walk to commemorate victims of hate crimes was
peaceful. Too peaceful for the likes of Nation of Islam leader Louis
Farrakhan, who Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley had consulted with in July during a visit to the Navajo capitol in Window Rock.
"Marching is okay, I'm not saying it isn't," Farrakhan said, "but marching will never win the respect of those who are already looking down on us." Yazzie doesn't put much stock in what Farrakhan thinks, and considers him an unwelcome ally. "The walk was enough for those people who wanted to do something," he says. Speaking slowly, his words carefully measured, Yazzie says that Farmington is haunted by racially motivated violence. As he speaks, the phantom of his missing limb enters the conversation, as the stump of his right arm moves slightly under his suit jacket in concert with the sweeping gestures of his left. "I try to be fair to the city of Farmington," he says. "We recognize that the vast majority of the community are good people who do not tolerate racism.
But there's a small group of people who make it difficult for everyone." The latest episodes have resurrected bad memories of bodies bruised, beaten, and bludgeoned. Each time another Navajo is attacked it reopens wounds as deep as the canyons where many of their bodies have been found.
#4 Dec 2, 2011
Farmington Racism - Part Four
'Our Dusky Neighbors'
Farmington, N.M., population 43,000 (63% white, 18% Indian), is a center of commerce in northwestern New Mexico. The streets bustle with reservation shoppers on Saturdays. On the quaint main drag are coffee shops, a movie theater, restaurants, "Welcome to Farmington" signs, and several boutiques selling Navajo art and jewelry. In one antique store, the white shopkeeper carefully wraps a porcelain mug with a caricature of a beaming Indian. "How! Me friendly," it reads. "Isn't he just so cute!" the owner exclaims.
That's not the way American Indians are viewed by some residents of Farmington, who welcome Navajo money but not Navajos themselves. Like many reservation border towns, Farmington has a substantial transient population. Police and social workers estimate there are as many as 700 transients in Farmington, most of them American Indians. "There is incredible mistreatment," says Adele Foutz, executive director of the Navajo United Methodist Shelter for battered women and children. "The community attitude is that they are dirty and smelly and shouldn't be walking the streets at all."
Many of the Navajo transients in Farmington abuse alcohol, which was deliberately introduced to their ancestors as a tool of conquest, more subtle perhaps than smallpox-infected blankets, but no less deadly in the long run.(According to the Department of Health and Human Services, alcohol-related deaths are 7.7 times higher among American Indians and Alaska Natives than the national average).
Alcohol abuse fuels hate crimes against American Indians in Farmington and elsewhere both by creating more vulnerable victims and by reinforcing the stereotypes that embolden violent racists.
"Violence is frequent, very frequent, and hard to get a handle on the cause. Was this violence perpetrated as a hate crime?" asks Paul Ehrlich the director of Totah Behavioral Health Authority, which treats substance abuse among the homeless. "We have encountered people who were beaten up on the street, or
picked up on the street and taken out into the desert and beaten. People aren't willing to say exactly what happened." The drunken Navajos living on the streets in Farmington today are in many
ways the residual effects of a tradition of disdain that's as old as Farmington itself. In 1893, at a time when Indian children were forced to attend boarding schools where they were washed with lye and bleach to lighten their skin, the editors of the Farmington newspaper wrote: "There can be no doubt that some strict course must be pursued in order to place the dominant White race in
a position of safety and quietude, with respect to our dusky and uncertain neighbors." This Old West attitude of white entitlement and superiority has persisted through the decades. In 1950, town firemen dumped a bucket of red paint over two inebriated Navajos. In 1974, a quarter century later, a high school student boasted to anyone who'd listen that he carried the severed finger of a Navajo in his pocket. And in 2002, former Farmington Mayor Marlo Webb gave an interview for a documentary in which he sounded a lot like his predecessors in the late 1800s. "They've culturally not come in to join what we call modern society," the mayor said of his Navajo neighbors. "They're not, they haven't been educated to do it. They're not equipped to do it. They're very backward."
#5 Dec 2, 2011
Farmington Racism - Part Five
The most notorious hate crime in Farmington history occurred in April 1974, during Webb's first term as mayor. Three Navajos, Benjamin Benally, John Harvey, and David Ignacio were found bludgeoned, mutilated and burned in Chokecherry Canyon.
"They were tortured. Firecrackers were placed in their noses and anuses," says Yazzie, the Navajo leader. "As they were dying, they were burned. They tried to burn off their privates. Then these young guys got big boulders, basketball-sized, to make sure they were dead." Three white Farmington High School students were arrested for the murders. "We wanted to come in and burn the place," Yazzie, then a member of the American Indian Movement (AIM), recalls. "The desire for payback was very strong. People were needing and demanding that something be done." Navajos marched through Farmington on seven successive Sundays, effectively closing down the town. Tensions mounted. Business owners were hurting and increasingly vocal in their demands for the city to put a stop to the protests. Adele Foutz manned a hotline designed to control rumors, which were rampant from both angry Navajos and fearful whites. "People would call up and say
things like,'We hear the Indians are on the warpath'," she recalls.
And some of them were. As author Rodney Barker recounts in his meticulously researched account of the crimes and their aftermath, Broken Circle, AIM member Lorenzo LeValdo warned the City Council: "If you don't give us what we want, we're going to give you some violence.…[W]e're going to do the same thing the blacks did in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and down south. I may not
live to see the end of this but I'll tell you one thing, I'm gonna take a
couple of you with me." City council members began carrying guns.
Mayor Webb at the time likened himself to "Custer in a sea of brown faces." He told the Farmington Daily Times: "I don't think race had anything to do with [the murders]. Just high school students rolling drunks, and all the drunks were Navajos."
Things came to a head when a judge denied the district attorney's request to prosecute the young men as adults (two were 16 and one was 15) and sentenced the murderers to reform school.
#6 Dec 2, 2011
Farmington Racism - Part Six
The next day, city officials refused to grant protesters a permit to march due to a scheduling conflict with the annual sheriff's posse parade, whose unfortunate theme was "observing this ritual of reverence for the Old West." The parade included a mounted ceremonial unit dressed in frontier uniforms, as they would have been when their principal mission was killing Indians. Coupled with the light sentences doled out to three convicted murderers the day
before, the posse parade was viewed by Navajo activists as a deliberate provocation. When protesters tried to block the parade, one of the cavalry officers drew his sword. A riot broke out. Police fired teargas into the crowd and 30 people were arrested.
The murders, the marches, the riot, and the attendant media coverage brought the federal Commission on Civil Rights to Farmington in August of that year. Hearings conducted by John Dulles led to redistricting of election districts in San Juan County, which made it possible for Navajos to be elected to the
County Commission for the first time. Subsequently, the Justice Department sued the county hospital for refusing to treat Navajos in its emergency room, and the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission sued the city for employment discrimination. In late 2005, 30 years after the Chokecherry Canyon murders, the Commission on Civil Rights released a report on race relations in Farmington that mostly
praised the community for its progress, concluding, "The climate of
tolerance and respect between the two cultures is a marked improvement from the conditions the Committee observed 30 years ago in 1974." Yet seven months after the report was released, the beating of William Blackie summoned the restless ghosts of three dead Navajos in Chokecherry Canyon.'A Mortal Illness'
Racial violence directed at American Indians and Alaska Natives today certainly does not approach the levels seen during the white settlement of the prairies and deserts of the western United States. And while it may be true that conditions have improved in Farmington, just as race relations on a larger scale between white Americans and indigenous Americans have improved since the
era when Indians were routinely massacred as a matter of governmental policy, recent bloodshed in New Mexico, Kentucky and other states demonstrates that racially motivated attacks on American Indians and Alaska Natives are still extensive, and too often minimized. "There has been little attempt by legal authorities or anyone else to understand the phenomenon of racially motivated violence in these communities," Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, professor emeritus of Native American Studies at Eastern Washington University, writes in her recent book Anti-Indianism in Modern
America. "The first step is to acknowledge that anti-Indian hate crime is America's essential cancer and that it is a mortal illness, as devastating as anti-Semitism has been to other parts of the world."
Several hundred interviews into her own ongoing research on hate crimes against Indians, University of Ontario Professor Barbara Perry realized that such violence "is more than the act of mean-spirited bigots. It is embedded in the structural and cultural context within which groups interact. It does not occur in a social or cultural vacuum, nor is it over when the perpetrator moves on."
#7 Dec 3, 2011
yeah yeah, sameo sameo, white people baaaaddddd, natives poor defensless peaceful and subserviant. Gee, have heard it all before, adnauseum
#8 Dec 3, 2011
The reason you've heard it all before is because racism is rampant in Farmington and always has been. People like you accept is as the norm and you....racist.....are the problem.
I know it's useless to ask this, but did you even READ the posts--the examples of racism, murder, torture? If you did (if you're even capable of that much reading, you pathetic and stupid brainless degenerate), do you have an opinion about why these things happen with such regularity in Farmington?
Of course, not only can you barely read, you can't spell, so if you reply I'll get someone to translate or interpret.
#9 Dec 3, 2011
So what's your point?
#10 Dec 3, 2011
I will ask you: isn't the point self-explanatory? But no, I will explain to you. Farmington is still a dangerous place for the Navajo (and other American Indians). Racism is deadly for them. Racism exists throughout this town, and although the American Indian is very helpful to the economics of this town, they still are not particularly welcome here, are condescended to, and treated in a racist manner, because that is the ignorant philosophical bent of this area.
Must the point really be explained, or did you simply not read the articles?
Now. What's YOUR point?
#11 Dec 3, 2011
I travel a lot inside the USA every summer on vacation coming from Germany and I agree it is shocking how racist farmingtown is .I have met nice navajo people here and the looks we get walking togther thru town is wierd. White Americans in Farmington are very much living like back in the 50 .
#12 Dec 3, 2011
You receive the treatment that you project to others. I see a lot of "attitude" these days from folks who think they're owed something that others aren't even able to provide.
You want respect, you give respect.
#13 Dec 3, 2011
Yeah, ya got a point. I mean, a person who is given a ride can expect to be lied to and taken somewhere to be beaten with a ball bat, robbed, left for dead while his WHITE attackers are yelling, "Die, n****r." I guess he projected an attitude and it was returned to him? Brilliant deduction, there, genius.
Oh, and Chili Yazzie was given a ride by a person who blew his arm off. It was because Yazzie was an American Indian, and he should really not project that attitude.
Oh, and then we have the infamous murders by innocent young white thugs who simply did not like drunk Navajo, therefore, they tortured and killed them. Those Indians were projecting an attitude and got it back.
Yeah, you got a point--the point being, if these Indians don't want to get tortured and killed, they need to be more likeable and subservient to the naturally superior white dudes like you, huh?
You are living proof of the rampant racism and double portioned backwardness and ignorance in Farmington. There are so many outright dumb people here, and BTW, READ THE ARTICLES, YOU IGNORANT ASSWIPE.
Since: Jul 11
#14 Dec 3, 2011
Any attitude as you say that I would project comes from my accomplishments in education and industry. Unfortunately you only see a uppity Indian and ignore all the rest.
Exactly as you said respect it a two way street.
#15 Dec 3, 2011
I wasn't talking about Yazzie or others, I was talking about you when I suggested respect begets respect.
When you launch personal attacks and fill your post with hate speech it's clear that you're just the same as those you detest. And it becomes evident you're really not interested in dialog, you're just venting your personal frustrations.
Now I know what the point of your tirade is.
#16 Dec 3, 2011
So is this about Anglo on Navajo violence?
#17 Dec 3, 2011
Just as I thought. You did not read the articles; merely my replies. Where was I asking for anything--respect or otherwise? I don't care whether or not you or anyone else respects me. That's not the point of the articles or these posts.(Good god). I was observing the stupidity and ignorance of the couple of replies to this point, and YOU can only comment on me?
Do you have an opinion as to why Navajo and American Indians are killed and tortured on a regular basis by anglos here in this area? Or are you still concerned with my rudeness?
#18 Dec 3, 2011
what do y'all expect? farmington is one of the least educated, most ignorant places i have ever seen in this country. never have i been so ashamed to be a white person as i am here. the idiot shit that i hear around here is shameful
#19 Dec 3, 2011
Is what talking about Anglo on Navajo violence? Simple way to find out .......... READ THE ARTICLES.
#20 Dec 3, 2011
Well, they aren't killed and tortured on a regular basis in this area.
Your claims are baseless.
#21 Dec 3, 2011
The articles cite the murders in 1974 and Chili Yazzie's attack in '78. That's hardly evidence of systematic torture and murder of Navajos in 2011.
#22 Dec 3, 2011
Yes they are.
Read the articles for just a FEW examples. There are many more.
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