Manataka American Indian Council










Come herd sheep and stay with a family living on Black Mesa. 


"We welcome people to come out and support our resistance in this way."-A resister grandmother.


Guests of the families are encouraged to stay for a month, as it can require a lot of work for both the family and the guest to establish a routine. It is important to have good help out there, and not create more work for the families. Guests are expected to be adequately prepared prior to staying with families on Black Mesa, which is high desert and very remote. Read the Cultural Sensitivity & Preparedness Booklet and fill out the supporter application form prior to making arrangements for your stay.  Supporters are expected to pay for gas and expenses when families provide their ride out to the land.







Mandatory reading for the direct on-land supporter!



This document provides you with important information that you will need when visiting Dinetah. It gives you tips on what to expect, what to bring, and how to carry yourself. It is very important that you understand certain ways of the Dineh. This cultural sensitivity packet is an in-depth guide to help prepare you for your stay on Black Mesa and also so families will not have to explain ways of doing things to each visitor that comes to their homeland. Please keep this packet with you when visiting Black Mesa.


The incredible mesas and canyons of Arizona are home to the indigenous people of the Dineh (Navajo) and Hopi tribes, who have lived in traditional and sustainable communities for countless generations. The wisdom and experience that these families hold are a treasure that has been largely overlooked, and sadly abused, for too long. Basic human rights have been stripped from their lives. The United States government and private corporations enforce atrocious relocation laws with little or no regard for this area or the people they affect all in the name of the almighty dollar. Massive coal mining is one of the many excuses used to literally destroy home sites and the lives connected to them. Yet these indigenous communities endure, they persevere, and they continue to inspire all of us who have witnessed this struggle. For those of us who love justice, human rights, and the earth, it is a privilege and honor to learn from and work with residents of Black Mesa, a place where the Dineh and Hopi have been living traditionally and on the front lines for generations.


All of the information listed within this document can feel intimidating however, it is not expected of you to memorize all the traditions and taboos mentioned herein. Much of this information is common-sense and deals with respect. If you are respectful, listen more than you speak, and come self-sustainable (your own food, comfort and warmth is a must), then you are welcome. Any questions, comments, or concerns, can be brought to the attention of the individuals or organization that you are working with, as this is our responsibility.


It is important that your visit to the land be comfortable and safe, for both you and the families.


Orientation and involvement with a support group is encouraged. It is not a good idea to just show up on Black Mesa without first coordinating with a support group or your host family. You need to know what to expect, who is requesting assistance, what work projects are currently in need of people, how to get there without getting lost in the boonies, etc. Cultural sensitivity is a must. You must be willing and able to work hard at a high altitude (6,000-7,000 ft.) at the direction of the resisters. If you are unable to do physical labor or have an injury, there are other ways to support, such as helping Elders around the house (cooking, cleaning, carding wool, etc.). It is likely that arrangements can be make with a family to pick you up. If this is the case, please help with money too. BMIS can share information on food banks in Flagstaff if you need food. If you are not prepared physically, emotionally, and materially, consider going when you are ready. Again, BMIS (or any support organizations) can work with you and we will do our best to answer any questions and assist with your stay on Black Mesa.

There are many remaining indigenous Dineh who are still resisting forced removal, and do not wish to sign an


Accommodation Agreement, or whom are making alternative efforts to remain on ancestral lands. There are many families struggling to keep their livestock. Despite years of struggle against the federal government to repeal the relocation law, the United States continues to deny the Dineh the right to live on their homeland and preserve their traditional way of life. Many of the families still remaining on Big Mountain and surrounding communities are elders, whose children have been relocated or otherwise forced to leave their homeland. As a result many elders live alone and it is difficult for them to continue their way of life while living under the relocation laws, going to meetings or to court, and dealing with harassment from U.S. and tribal governments.


RESPECT: There are many things a supporter must know before going on to the land to stay with a family. The lifestyle is very different from average everyday American living and can be rough and physically demanding for some. The struggle is very old and very intense and involves a highly structured, principled indigenous society. It is essential that all supporters understand that the Dineh customs must be respected at all times, even if you do not understand them.


Being respectful and responsible is a must, the families on the land will have to deal with the repercussions of your actions; bear that in mind. You may encounter harassment from law authorities. It is essential that you remain courteous at all times. All actions taken by supporters will be at the traditional elders' request and under their leadership. The traditional Dineh Elders are our guides and will be kept at the center of our minds when visiting and acting on their lands. With respect for their needs and wishes, there is no room for reckless, defiant, or independent behavior, as well-intentioned as it may be.


Keeping with this attitude at all times, we will remember that it is the Dineh who will remain on the land after support leaves, and it is they who continue to withstand great hardships to safeguard the survival of their future generations.


DIRECT ON-LAND SUPPORT As guests, you will be staying with families and assisting with various tasks: herd & shear sheep, chop and haul firewood, haul water, cook, clean, stay with children and elders, repair homes & vehicles, if possible, occasionally drive people to meetings or help with errands, plant and harvest corn, and possibly witness and document harassment.


A month minimum commitment is ideal for on-land support, however, shorter visits are still helpful and appreciated. If you are able to stay under two weeks, then consider organizing a work party. If you are interested in staying with a family at Black Mesa but are concerned about being totally self-reliant, consider asking people in your community to help sponsor your trip. After your stay, you can do a report-back about your stay on Black Mesa with your sponsors and community. This is a great way to raise awareness.



If you cannot commit to long-term support then consider organizing or joining a work crew to stay on Black Mesa from a few days to weeks. If you are able to, bring some tools for chopping wood, repairing sheds, shelters, cars and/or roads. Massage therapists and holistic health care is also welcome.


Make sure to check in with the support group ahead of time, as BMIS or others can make arrangements with families and act as guides for you on the back-country roads. If you do not have a vehicle or tools but would still like to organize a work party, arrangements can be made to accompany you. Come prepared. Bring your own food, plenty of water (enough for the duration of the work party trip is required, however there are wells located on Black Mesa to re-fill). There are also some helpful tips later in this packet as to what kinds of food are great to bring along since it is likely that your group may cook a meal or two together with the family you're staying with. It's important to eat good hearty cooked meals and to stay hydrated.


The elders and other family members may direct people in the community as to what is needed and how to go about doing things. Their leadership and decision-making process has worked for them for centuries. Do not come to their community and impose uour ideas of the right way to do things, even if they have been successful for other purposes. It is not the supporters' place to come in and make plans unless you've been asked to.


Many supporters come from an anti-authoritarian background. It is crucial to all supporters to accept and be comfortable with traditional Dineh leadership. Always remember that you are a guest here. Please be flexible in your schedule and willing to listen. Many Elders do not speak or understand English, so good listening skills and the ability to pay close attention and understand nonverbal communication is crucial. The ability to be humble and low-key is a must. Indigenous have been living under assault for generations and may have many reasons to be suspicious of outsiders so don't expect to be treated as "the great peace-worker to the rescue." Elders have been taken advantage of and hurt by well-meaning individuals and support efforts.


Due to lack of understanding, preparation, or communication, a supporter with truly good intentions can sometimes make big mistakes. Good intentions alone can fall short. The Dineh have many taboos, and something you may do that has no significance to you may be hurtful or be a huge taboo to them.


We are guests of the people here. We come here to work and do not expect anything in return. The Dineh do not need our emotional instabilities or problems adding to their crises. Coming to the reservation should not be an escape for your problems. Please do not bring them here. This is not the place for seeking knowledge of their religion and sacred ways.


Through work, prayer, and action we will continue to follow the lead of the people of Black Mesa to assure that no harm comes to them. Their pain, suffering, and weight of impending relocation is great. People who come and unselfishly contribute their time are recognized and appreciated. If you keep an open heart, come with good intentions, and are willing to work and learn, you are welcome here.



You will be needed to do everyday things such as: herd sheep, chop & haul firewood, haul water, cook, clean, take care of children and elders, repair homes, plant and harvest corn, and witness and document harassment. Massage may be much appreciated. Don't try to impress anyone while working. They know that many supporters don't come from a lifestyle like theirs, and it takes time to adjust. Don't be afraid to ask for help if you have little or no experience doing these things. Families and support organizations are here to help you with these things as well.


You should ask a resident how you should help, what kind of work you can do. Don't stand around and wait for someone to tell you what to do. It is GOOD to ask how to help and then do the job well and completely.


SELF MOTIVATION IS A MUST. Many times, and especially with the elders, they won't come right out and tell you what to do. Good listening skills will come in handy.


Use everything as sparingly as possible, use only what you need. Do not waste or be excessive. Be mindful of how much wood you are using for heating and cooking and chop wood for you and the family as well. Use wood as sparingly as possible. Chop wood only from a woodpile! (NOT a coral, fence, or any other area). If you have never chopped wood before, it's OK to ask how to do it or otherwise you will end up breaking a families' only ax or maul--a common uh-oh. Worse, you may end up hurting yourself. There are certain ways to chop wood that make it easier, like not cutting into knots in the wood, or how to place a piece about to be cut. Never take wood from or touch a tree struck by lightning. Do not disturb tree roots or cut live trees. Always ask first about these sorts of things.

Be polite, gentle, and well mannered at all times. Do not be intrusive, rude, or challenging in your actions or questions. Do not question peoples' reasons for doing things you do not understand unless you feel unsafe. There may be some religious significance that is not to be spoken about. Please refrain from asking personal questions. Most of the questions that are repeatedly asked can be answered by reading material that has been available for years. In most traditional societies, 'intelligence' is measured by ones' ability to learn and understand through observation, rather than ones' ability to ask 'smart' questions. Always wait until someone is finished speaking AND give a few moments of pause before you speak. DO NOT INTERRUPT. Your question may be answered before you know it. Listen more than you speak!! If you see another person acting out of line, pull them to the side and talk with them about it. Don't leave it for the family to have to deal with.


GREET EVERYONE WITH A VERY GENTLE HANDSHAKE and "Ya'at'eeh" (hello). Do not stare at people, especially straight in the eyes. Hugs and touching are rarely done, so don't initiate it and if someone hugs you, hug back lightly.


Don't wear excessively ragged or ripped clothing. Mend your clothing if you need to. Show that you have respect for yourself. Be modest and never go nude or partially nude. Cover yourself from your shoulders to your knees. (Tank tops do not cover your shoulders.) Men, do not take off your shirts or expose your chest even while working. Women, cover your shoulders and do not wear tight or revealing clothing. Always wear shoes, do not go barefoot, unless the family doesn't care, but watch out for thorns, cactus, etc.


PERSONAL HYGIENE IS A MUST. Keep yourself clean and well-groomed. Try to keep offensive body odor to a minimum. Take sponge/bucket baths whenever possible. Wash out your socks and clothes often. It is good t0 keep your hair brushed and tied back. If you have dreadlocks, keep them tied back or under a scarf if possible. With all due respect, please keep excessive facial piercing at a minimum and wear posts if you can.


Piercing can sometimes be a barrier to communication and to building relationships. Always wash your hands first thing in the morning, before handling food or dishes, after using the outhouse, etc. The hand wash is usually located right near the door. Once the water is murky, take it outside and disperse it on the ground so the animals do not drink the soapy water.


CONSERVE WATER! This cannot be emphasized enough. Families have to travel long distances on the back country roads to get their water. Water is very scarce thanks to Peabody Coal, and over-consumptive lifestyles. Water must be hauled continually, which takes time and resources. Many guests come from homes that have running water and tend to use much more than actually needed. Watch the families to see how they do it. Be especially aware of this if there is a group of you visiting families. Offer to either restock the water from existing barrels or replace it yourselves.


START YOUR DAY BEFORE DAWN -this is very important!! Please do not sleep in or be lazy! We come here to work and do not expect anything in return. Wake up, take the ashes out and start a fire. If you are in our own hogon or house, then your host family will see that you are staying warm by the smoke coming out of the stovepipe and won't worry about your wellbeing.


Respect your camp by keeping your space clean, cleaning up after yourself wherever you go, and taking care of your fire and your ashes (ash is taken out every morning to the ash pile outside before lighting the morning fire). Always put things back right where you found them. If you use water, refill it. Double check after others in your party to make sure that these things really are getting done.


Do not point your finger. Rather, point with your lips.


Do not use rude or foul language.


Have respect for everybody in the family, the elders, the middle-aged and the children. Treat everyone with kindness. Respect everyone and yourself by not yelling, arguing, or fighting with people.

If you are a couple and have been having relationship difficulties, please leave your problems at home. Do not argue or fight around the family. It puts too much strain on people.


Avoid gossip and don't participate in it. Disrupters often spread rumors to confuse and divide families. Keep in mind that the ever-increasing stress of loss of culture is starting to break down social structures and create disharmony between all relations. Do not contribute to it, and be objective- take rumors that people tell you with a grain of salt. Do not act on any rumors unless you know they have been confirmed.


Don't make a lot of noise or be obnoxious, especially at night, or other times such as in border towns, in stores, parking lots, at. Always ask before playing drums, guitars, stereos, etc., or play them out of earshot. Whistling, clapping, and playing wind instruments at night is taboo, so ask. Each family is different.


If you say that you are going to do something, follow through with it!! If you ask how someone's vehicle is running, then be prepared to help with the matter.


If you really feel compelled to take a picture, always ask beforehand. People may be uncomfortable having pictures taken of themselves, their homes, their sheep, etc. Never take pictures of drawings of shrines, ruins, ceremonial objects, anything relating to Dineh spirituality. Do not exploit them.

If someone shares traditional knowledge with you, about religion, personal stories, sacred ways, etc., it is for

YOU and YOU alone to know (unless otherwise specified).


Because of livestock impoundment's, familial relocation, and a loss of many aspects of traditional life, many Dineh can no longer be self-sufficient. For some who wish to remain with their parents on their ancestral homelands rather than living as far as hundreds of miles away, it may be necessary for them to work at Peabodys' coal mine to feed their families. Judge no one here.


Use the outhouses unless you're sheep herding or there is not one . Do not relieve yourself near or in front of people.


Be sensitive to the land around you. Walk gently on the land. Try extra hard not to trample plants or cause unnecessary erosion.


Use wood only from the wood pile, and only after asking permission to do so.


It's best not to arrive at someones' house after sundown unless you absolutely have to or if prior arrangements have been made. It's also easy to get lost.


Avoid traveling at night on the reservation. If you do, always bring a shovel and extra warmth with you.

It's taboo to leave your hair lying around. Bury it or burn it in the fire.


Avoid traveling through other peoples' camps or home sites.


HAVE FUN! Laughs are important for everyone.


Never bring or use alcohol on the reservation. Do not smoke around people, especially elders. Do not brag about your drug stories. Be careful of people asking you to get them alcohol or any alcohol-related products or drugs. Do not indulge them, even if you feel pressured. If someone shows up with alcohol wanting to share it with you, refuse it. Alcohol has been used as a very effective tool for destroying many, many lives and breaking down spirit and culture. It really upsets the elders when alcohol is used.


Most of us have been influenced by the society we evolve in. People of color have been targeted and living under centuries of oppression. The struggle on Black Mesa is but one example of a result of racism and continued racist policies. There are over two million people in prison in the United States and most are people of color. There are many racial disparities. For white people, many have privileges and learned racist thought patterns and actions that are not even considered to be such from their own perspectives. We must seek to stay continually devoted in searching for various ways of unlearning oppression and challenging racism that we may find in ourselves. For further information visit the BMIS web site regarding racism.


You may encounter resentment. It may only be a test of your character. Do not be sensitive or defensive about it. If you feel unsafe, leave the situation. Often because white people are frequently complacent about injustice that doesn't affect them directly, it can take anger or aggressive action to bring attention to a problem. Part of the harm that racism does is that it forces people of color to be wary and mistrustful of all white people, just as sexism forces women to mistrust all men. People of color faces racism every day, often from unexpected quarters. They never know when a white friend, co-worker, police officer, doctor, or passerby may discriminate, act hostile, or say something offensive. They have to be wary of all white people, even though they know that not all white people will mistreat them. They have likely been hurt in the past by white people they thought they could trust, and therefore they may make statements about all white people. One must remember that although you may want to be trustworthy, trust is not the issue. White people are not fighting racism to gain trust by people of color. Trust builds over time through your visible efforts to be allies and fight racism. Rather than trying to be save and trustworthy, one needs to be more active, less defensive, and put issues of trust aside.


Carry yourself according to the traditional laws. Listen and Respect what the people on the land tell you to do. If there is anything you are not sure about, ask an elder if it's O. K. If someone tells you not to do something or not to go to a certain place, even if you do not know the reason why, respect that. Even though you may think nothing of it, breaking a taboo can upset the family and may bring hardships.


Things that have been left by the ancestors such as pottery shards and ruins are left alone. Do not touch or disturb these any pottery shards you come across or disturb any ruins, abandoned structures, or shrines you encounter. Leave everything as you find it.


Do not touch bones, feathers, antlers, horns, claws, fur, or other objects that you may find, even if you think no one will know. When in Dine'tah, do as the Dineh ask, regardless of your personal desires, unless you feel unsafe in a situation.


There are certain animals here that are taboo. With respect to the culture, do not wear jewelry, clothing, etc., with these animals/objects: Bear, coyote, snake, lizard, owl, shape-shifters, bones, antlers, hooves, horns, claws, fur, etc. Do not involve yourself with these animals while you are here. If you have personal "medicine," such as fetishes, feathers, etc., be discreet with it, keep it tucked away.


Ceremonial sites, such as sweat lodges, , sun dance areas, and offering places are private and are not to be disturbed or entered unless you are in a ceremony with the family.


Women on your menstrual period: Do not participate in ceremonies, sweat lodges, etc. Do not go near ceremonial places ( , sweat lodge sites, Sun Dance arbor). Stay away from the cornfield while on your period. Be discreet about it. You can be around food and people but if there are people of other Native nations present, check in with a Dineh woman. This is not a prejudice, it is tradition and is very important to respect.


The hogan is the traditional Dineh house and ceremonial space. It is highly sacred, representing much about Dineh way of life. It is built with prayers, and though sometimes it may seem as only a living space, it is always a sacred space. The hogan should be entered as if entering a church. Be respectful of all that you do inside and how you treat the hogan. If you are asked to undertake a project involving the hogan, do it well and with consideration and do not abandon the project. Animals are not allowed inside the hogan. Keep this space tidy and offer to clean, sweep, wash and put dishes away, etc.


The Dineh religion is very private, very sacred, and is not talked about or shared freely. Do not come to the land expecting to learn spiritual teachings or participate in ceremonies. Do not ask questions about Dineh religion. If people wish to share, they will do so. When the family is having a ceremony, give them their space, so not to intrude. You may be asked to help cook for the ceremony. Women, if you are on your menstrual period, do not take the food over to the ceremony (have someone else take it) and first ask a Dineh woman if it's O. K. for you to help cook for the ceremony.


Be prepared to bring your own food for the duration of your stay. Usually families will make a trip to the grocery store within a couple weeks so you will be able to restock up on perishable items then. The Dineh subsist primarily off of meat (usually mutton from the sheep), potatoes, onions, fry bread, coffee and tea, eggs, veggies, fruit that can last awhile, and oats. Many times families will share their food, but may be struggling to provide for themselves and it is imperative to bring your own to lessen their burden. If you are vegetarian or have a special diet, likewise bring your own. (Raw foodists have been able to do it up here!) With many of the families you will eat meals together, sharing each others' food. Bring basic strong food to keep you healthy while working all day. Bring extra food to share with the family if you can. There are no refrigerators out here, remember that. Soy and rice milk tends to last about a week in winter, 4 days in the summer.*See suggested guidelines as to what food is good to bring with you later in this packet.

Most families really love eating vegetables and fruit, but it is more difficult to come by in this area. Bring good food to share whenever possible. Many people suffer from arthritis, diabetes, heart problems, and other diseases, which is largely caused by the extinction of a traditional diet and the imposition of a 'standard American diet'. Most people really benefit from eating a diet that consists less of store-bought meat, eggs, and dairy products, white flour, sugar, and fats (lard, shortening, heavily fried food), and more of traditional/healthy foods such as blue corn (which lowers cholesterol), mutton, beans, squash, brown rice, oats, veggies, fruits, etc.


Respect the family's space when butchering sheep. Do not gawk or make rude comments. If you are asked to help butcher and it strongly goes against your beliefs, you are not obligated to do it. Politely decline.

If you are offered food, take only what you will eat and finish it all. Do not waste food. Afterwards, give thanks. If you are offered meat and do not wish to eat it, refuse it politely. Do not impose your beliefs about vegetarianism or diet upon anybody. You are not required to eat meat or ever forced to eat something that you do not want to.


Do not stab food with a fork or knife (even while you are preparing it), use a sawing motion. Do not stir food with a knife either.


The Dineh believe the sheep/goats are a sacred gift given to them by the Creator, and they must be respected as such. Do not yell, get angry at, or hurt the animals in any way. Respect them as part of the family. Sheep herding is the basic duty of supporters on the land. They must be herded every day, rain or shine, which involves taking them out in the morning (before dawn in the summer time) and with many herds, walking with them until the afternoon/evening while they eat (5-8 hours per day, 4-8 miles per day). You must be very responsible with them and take care not to lose any sheep. When herding sheep, wear decent shoes or boots, if in winter, wool socks preferably, and bring some water, snacks, and a journal or book with you.


If you take a nap out there and are not paying attention, you may lose them and have to spend hours searching for for the sheep to bringing them home. Losing sheep really stresses the families out, because the sheep are the greatest source of wealth for the Dineh, providing them with food, wool, and money if they need it. Sometimes a few will wander off by themselves, so you must watch them carefully. They pretty much know where they are going, herding themselves. You are just guiding them in certain directions more then anything. It's a big no-no to run the herd (especially when their belly's are full). Remember, if you walk fast, they will walk fast! You can stay some distance behind, or around them. It's far easier on you if you watch the overall general direction of the herd than each one individually, however, know where the goats are, which ones tend to be in the front and which ones tend to be the laggers. After awhile you will get familiar with the terrain, (keep your head up, getting to know the terrain, the mesas, and other landmarks), you'll also get to know the herds regular routes. When it is time to go home, just circle way around them to turn them around. (Whatever direction you are in they will generally go the opposite.) The SHEEP will herd YOU home! It's good to study their chon' and footprints, knowing the fresh from hours or days old. This way if any are ever lost, you will know what to look for. Some also wear bells so you can hear them.


During lambing seasons (late fall, midwinter, and early spring), you must watch the pregnant mothers carefully and when they go into labor in the field, stay with them. If they are very pregnant, you may want to consider not taking them too far away from the homesite. Families will let you know. Tie something bright in the tree to mark where the birthing mother is as well as to keep predators away. You can tell she's in labor because she'll start laying down and getting up a lot, she'll go off by herself, and she'll be breathing heavy/having contractions. An hour or two after she's given birth (after afterbirth has come out and she's cleaned the baby), you must bring the baby back to the corral, with the mom following RIGHT behind you and the baby. Never touch the butt, above the tail, or head of the baby, nor hold it too close to you, as the mom will reject it. Carry it only by its legs or under its chest; let the mom sniff it now and again. (Possibly every 5 to 15 feet.) Make sure she can see her baby or she won't come with you. You may have to hold the baby away from your body. If she absolutely won't come, go home and get someone to help you.


Many families do not have pets. They have dogs to herd sheep and cats to catch mice. The animals stay outside and are usually not petted or played with. This will distract them from their duties. Observe the relationship people have with the animals and ask it it's O.K.'d before petting them. As for your pets, usually they will be tolerated, but they are not necessarily welcome. If your pet is well-behaved and the family agrees to let it stay, then it is all right. It may turn out to be a good sheepherder! Never let any animals in the house! If your dog attacks any livestock, it will have to leave or it may risk being shot.


Just like anywhere, sexual harassment can also happen on the reservation (and it is not exclusive to women). Understand that not all people out here carry themselves in a traditional manner, and some have been negatively affected by cultural breakdown and alcoholism. If you are confronted with sexual harassment, stand firm. Do not be afraid to speak out right then and there to stop it. Do not worry about being rude or offensive, they are the rude ones, and the elders would not approve of their behavior by any means. It is not the traditional way to disrespect each other in this way. If you feel uncomfortable, disrespected, or unsafe in any situation, listen to your gut. If you need to, leave. Not all supporters have a vehicle to leave, just speak with the family. Inform an elder and support group to prevent possible acts of violations in the future. BMIS focuses on safety for both the families and supporters. Often we will place supporters in pairs. Please contact the support group or individual who brought you.

Keep in mind these basic safety guidelines: It is best to come to the land with another person, or with a vehicle. However, many people over the years have come alone and without a vehicle. That's O.K.'D, don't let that stop you. In this case, we as a support group can try to pair you up with another supporter. Be as modest as possible at all times. Never drink alcohol. Giving hugs and touching is a sign of intimacy that some people take the wrong way. Be conscious of your body language. Never get into a vehicle with someone other than the head of the household. Even if a relative asks you to go with them, only do so after the elder or the head of the household that you are staying with gives the O.K.'D If you need to, tell them that the support group encourages you to feel safe. Never be afraid to say no to riding alone with others that you do not know. Avoid picking up hitchhikers or hitchhiking alone (besides being unsafe , it worries the elders). Come with a friend if you can. If you have any questions, contact BMIS and we will be glad to answer them.


Black Mesa is around 7,000 feet high. It is a high desert altitude.Winter months can include dry, freezing winds. Lots of layers are essential. IT SNOWS IN ARIZONA FOLKS! Boots are best but you can get away with tennis shoes. A scarf, wool socks, gloves, hat, long underwear, warmth!

The summers can be very hot, very dry, very dusty, and even buggy. During monsoon season (July and August) it can get very muddy--same with the winters. When the dirt roads get wet here, they are very muddy. The dirt turns into clay and vehicles sink right in! When the roads are like that, check in with families or other travelers in the area or, drive once the roads are frozen, either early in the morning before the sun comes up or late at night (but try to avoid traveling at night). (Don't be intimidated though!! There are so many amazing, calm days as well. Arizona is known for its' amazing skies and beautiful landscapes. Supporters are reading this from around the world and we want to make sure you are prepared, that's all. ) A sleeping bag/bedding is a requirement, though you will most likely sleep inside a house or hogan. Wear shoes that are not going to give you blisters and will keep your feet dry. Its convenient to have a pair of sandals or slippers to easily slip on for quick, middle-of-the-night trips to the bushes or outhouse!



You must come prepared, and bring everything you will need. There is no electricity, no central heating, and no running water. If you are able to, bring extra food and supplies to share. Bring a little extra money. It is always helpful to bring the following: Toilet paper, flash lights, the small Coleman-style propane tanks for lanterns (& mantles), and kerosene (& wicks). Again, if you are a traveler packing light, it's OK not to bring all these tools, etc suggested. If you have any questions please speak to the support organization.


GOOD CLOTHING AND GEAR. Bring warm clothing for cold weather and light clothing for the cold nights. Layers are important. It is important to wear long sleeves and pants that are light-colored and light for the days when we are working out in the sun. Besides that, covering your shoulders, mid-riff, and above the knees is courteous and appropriate. While it is the desert and the sunshine will make the days hot, the elevation is around 7,000 feet and it will still be cold at night. Bring a sleeping bag and pad. A tent and tarp are nice if you have them. Work boots and work gloves are VERY useful. A sun hat and sunscreen are essential! Lip balm with sunscreen is very precious in the desert! (Sunscreens that are natural are not carcinogenic). Jackets, sweaters, thermals, extra wool socks, warm hat, a scarf (really helpful on windy days), gloves, warm/weatherproof sheep herding boots, good sleeping bag, wool blankets, towels, etc. A tent and tarp are nice if you have them, although most likely you will be sleeping in a home. If you are with a large number of people, then it is encouraged to bring your tent, tarp, and sleeping mat. Bring gear to withstand rain and snow. Slippers or sandals are convenient for night-time trips to the outhouse! Especially if you are with a whole work crew, bring your own eating utensils. It wouldn't hurt to bring a pot or two per car but the families also have big pots.


PLENTY OF FOOD. Bring enough food for the duration of your stay, extra to share with your host family if you have the resources to do so. For groups, it is easiest to bring food that can be contributed to a community meal. (It is best to cook one large breakfast and one large dinner with others at the homesite you will be at. Examples: It's easy to potatoes and veggies with eggs in the A.M. and soups or stir-fries in the evening.) Suggested foods are: Potatoes, onions, eggs, beans, Braggs Liquid Aminos, oil to cook with, spices, oats, brown rice, peanut butter, cornmeal (for pancakes, flat bread, and hot cereal), polenta, grains, canned foods, fruit, vegetables, snacks for the duration of the day, etc. It is best to bring at least 5 gallons of water each. There are also sources on Black Mesa to replenish our water and group runs can happen.


TOILETRIES: Necessary: Soap,(Dr. Bronners liquid soap is great for washing your body, your clothes, and the dishes), toilet paper, pocket knife, matches and lighters,etc.


VERY USEFUL: A sun hat! Scarves, sun block, lip balm that has sun block in it, pots & pans are great, but most likely you can use the families, dishes, lanterns, candles, first aid kit, insect repellent (for when the gnat storms come in early summer) lotion for dry skin, duct tape, eating utensils, a cutting board, a can opener, work gloves and tools, a small bag or back pack to take with you while sheep herding, a water bottle, a calling card, a pen, paper, stamps, envelopes, extra gas money, flashlight and batteries, changes of socks, slippers, a

good book to read, and crafts.


TOOLS. Axes, shovels, pickaxes, hammers, handsaws, chainsaws, hoes, pliers, nails, rope, sledgehammer, construction tools, etc. If you have access to any of these bring them but not necessary. City folks: you break an axe, please replace it!


COMMUNICATIONS/DOCUMENTATION EQUIPMENT. Cameras, video cameras & tapes, and audio recorders & tapes. Cell phones do not always work. Figure out a back-up plan with your crew in case you need to contact each other and your cell phone has no service. Long distance phone cards are great for when you make the occasional trip to the store.


KID'S STUFF. If you are going where there are children, it might be nice to bring books, arts & crafts, crayons, pens, paper, beads, educational materials, toys, bikes, etc.


GAS MONEY: It is important to bring gas money. From Flagstaff, gas generally costs anywhere from around $35.00 to $55.00 to drive round-trip. If you do not have have it, talk to us in advance and we may be able to work something out. If we coordinate your arrival ahead of time, it is possible that another supporter will be arriving the same time and gas can be shared. Another possibility is that you can catch a ride with a family member who is already making the trip to Black Mesa from Flagstaff or another bordering town.


Guests are requested and we encourage you to come. Our commitment is to make sure that the people visiting families are not creating hardships. It is not recommended to find your own way to families homesites if you are unfamiliar with the territory. People get lost and the myriad of back country dirt roads. The coordination of arrivals, departures and maintaining the supply vehicles for visits and deliveries to the land continues to be a struggle we strive to properly manage. It's required that you communicate with us in advance about setting your arrival date! There is no available housing in Flagstaff (a town that is over 7,000 feet high -it gets cold!) and the hostels are not always vacant (especially on a moments notice and to Americans). In order to avoid these types of complications and extra costs it is crucial to communicate with BMIS in advance and agree on a date to make the trip.




BRINGING A VEHICLE IS GREAT BUT NOT NECESSARY. The reservation dirt roads are rough, and when muddy, incredibly slippery. Try not to drive when it has been raining a lot. If it is winter, drive early in the morning when the roads are still frozen solid before the sund comes up. Good, sturdy vehicles are useful for driving on the land, however, cars do it all the time. 4-wheel drive and high clearance is advised but not always necessary. Bring tire chains, jumper cables, extra motor oil, gas can (it's a long way to the gas station), coolant, a means to change a flat, and a shovel.


Homes are very far away from each other, there are not any paved roads, stores, or phones. If you do bring a vehicle, you may be asked to do some errands and folks might not have gas money either. If you are not able to, just be clear with your boundaries and discuss it if the situation arises. The roads are dirt for many miles, and often very rough. For some of the less traveled roads, especially the ones down in the canyons, high clearance and 4-WD vehicles are recommended (though not necessary). For people who bring cars, this is taken into account and it helps determine where you will be placed. Bring a gas can if possible--it is many miles to a gas station. And when preparing to leave the reservation, bear in mind that the gas stations in the area close at set times in the evening/night. (Ask a local for the closing times.) Bring a spare tire & jack always, as well as water and spare tools. A shovel is good if you are to get stuck in mud. It is up to you if you want to loan out your vehicle or other valuables. It is good to have a vehicle to communicate with others, and if a sticky situation arises that you need to get away from, having a vehicle is useful. Again, if you're coming without a vehicle, don't let that discourage you. With proper arrangements, there can be a ride for you.


Adjusting to the 7,000 ft elevation, the hot/cold, dry, dusty climate, and the change in diet and way of life can be hard on your body. Pace yourself. Remember to take care of yourself so as not to get sick. Sometimes vegetarians who come to the land get sick if they eat meat for the first time in a long time. If you decide to resume eating meat, start out with just a meat broth. Otherwise you're likely to feel ill. It is perfectly fine if you do not wish to eat meat.

Having a first aid kit is useful (we will be in the canyon lands, miles away from a hospital). EmergenC packets or a home-made electrolyte mix of equal parts sea salt, honey, lemon and a splash of baking soda works just as well. Bring a wash-cloth to stay clean! Bring soap (Bronners is versatile). It's useful to bring a first aid kit tailored for your own needs. Winter Sun has a nice herbal medicine collection at 107 N San Francisco St, Flagstaff, 86001. HELPFUL: pain relief, herbs for immunity, stomach/digestive troubles, diarrhea, cuts/wounds, bug bites, cold and flu medicines, and bandages for sprains and wounds.


RECOMMENDED HERBAL MEDICINES TO BRING: Peppermint, ginger, charcoal pills (all help stomach aches/digestive troubles); Echinacea (for immune and as an anti-inflammatory.) Licorice is good for sore throats; wild cherry bark for spastic coughs, blackberry root for diarrhea; vitamin C, and a good salve containing antibacterial and healing herbs for cuts, wounds, and infections (such as chaparral, calendula, tea tree oil, myrrh) is advised. Arnica salve and/or homeopathic pills help relieve sore muscles.

If you wish to bring the elders gifts, good things are cedar, white sage, and arthritis medicine. Many people out here suffer from sore muscles and arthritis. There is a great "Arnica Muscle-Easing Salve" made by a local herb company, Winter Sun, which you can acquire in Flagstaff. The elders LOVE it! Winter Sun also makes an "Arthritis Tonic" tincture that has been helpful to many people.


DO NOT BRING: Drugs, alcohol, and weapons are absolutely prohibited. This means zero tolerance! Drugs, alcohol, and weapons could jeopardize so much, affecting families far and wide. You will be asked to leave or escorted off of the land ASAP if you are found to have partook in any drug or alcohol use, or found to have a weapon or angry or out of line behavior. We've escorted people off the land before and will not hesitate in doing it again.


First of all, remain calm. It's good to take a camera with you, even a disposable one to document encounters-if you have permission from the family. Keep a paper and pen on you and write license plates, vehicle descriptions, badge numbers, names, and what took place. Save this information and report it to the family and possibly back to the support group, if this is what the family wants. You are not obligated by any means to give them your name or any information about yourself or anything. You should NOT give them any information about the family, any body else. Just herd the sheep and be on your way, if approached in the field. If a family is confronted, and with approval, stay with them, take pictures, be an outside presence. Remain peaceful and non-confrontational at all times--remember that your reckless/angry actions could bring down more harassment on the family in the future.


REPORT BACK- Please inform us how your visit went. Is there any specific info that we should know that may be more helpful to the family that you stayed with? Do you have any suggestions to add into this packet? If we know that a family is ill, needs medicine, or has been getting harassed, then those individuals may have priority with incoming support. It is also important for us to know how your visit has been so that we can help with supporter placement in the future, meeting the needs of families and of supporters.


PLACES TO STAY WHILE IN FLAGSTAFF: There are two great hostels downtown, with rooms for around $14.00 a night. The Dubeau Hostel: (928) 774-6731, and the Grand Canyon Hostel: (928) 779-9421. Also, Flagstaff is surrounded by National Forest, where you can camp anywhere for free (though be prepared for cold temperatures at night even in the summer and below freezing and heavy snow fall in the winter.) For specific camping information, call the United States Forest Service (928)774-1147.


Limited  English - Diné Dictionary with pronunciations


The following words as spelled here are pronounced phonetically.

A hyeh heh - thank you

Aden - gone;

Ashkii - boy

Asdzaan - woman;

At' ehd - girl;

Ateen - road

Azeh' - medicine;

Beso - money;

Che - grandfather (Shi Che is how you greet elder men);

Chitti - car or truck;

Ch'iyaan - food;

Chizh - wood; Shi - me, my; Ni - you, yours;

Daka - no Dibe' - sheep;

Dakon - lantern;

Da' o'san! - Time to eat!;

Deeh - tea; Gohweh - coffee;

Dibe bitsi' - sheep meat (mutton);

Doya' ashonda - It's bad, no good, or it's broken;

Gud - Juniper;

Haa go? - Where to? Where are you/we going?;

Ha'at'iish nezgai?; What hurts you?;

Haje - where;

Hanishchaad - carding wool;

Hosteen - man;

Hwola - I don't know;

K'at - now;

Kleh chon - dog;

Ko jeh - right here;

Kon - fire;

Masuna - grandmother (Shi Masuna is how you greet elder women);

Nanishkaad - sheep herding, sheepherder, I herd sheep;

Nezgai - it hurts

Nimasi - potato; Baah - bread; Nadaah - corn;

Nizhoni - it's nice, it's pretty;

Nlei jeh - over there;

Oh bah iih - It's dirty, it's bad;

Tsin - tree;

Tush cheen - blue corn mush or oatmeal;

Twoh - water;

Tyen' let's go

Yah'at'eh - hello, also means good; Oh' - yes





Black Mesa Indigenous Support

P.O. Box 23501, Flagstaff, Arizona 86002
 Message Voice Mail: 928.773.8086






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