The People—the Nnee (known today as Western Apache)—need to follow the lead of their great ancestors and fight for life
During my current journeys through Europe I have come upon many place of historical significance to the Nnee (like the Ndee, the Nnee people are known to English speakers as Western Apache). Although we have played a part in the formation of this world as we know it, many of our own Nnee don’t realize how much we have influence upon our beautiful Earth-Is-Woman. My trips abroad have given me occasion to reflect on the influence we have upon the world of the past, present and soon future.
In the past, as far back as the 1540s, the Nnee were making treaties of peace between the king and queen of both Castille and Aragon, or now current Spain. The Nnee women were being trafficked by beaver fur merchants as part of the bigger slave trade that was happening at this time. Slavery in the new world actually has it roots not in the black slave trade but the trading of our Nnee women to Spain and Europe as the Native slave trade that began in Caribbean spread west. We must also take into account the mining of gold, silver, and copper in our lands for the profiteering of the Crowns of Castille and Aragon after gaining permission of the Nnee. The influence of the Nnee language is seen worldwide with the proliferation of the word tatsa (basket in our language, cup in Italian, and container in Polish), and shi ta and shi ma (without the shi), which is used amongst most Spanish speaking countries meaning father and mother.
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To this day we still hold value and influence upon the body politic scene of the world. In 2015, The Apache Ndee Nnee Working Group, wrote a report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, for review of the Holy See, The Catholic Church and Vatican, for the disruption of our way of life through its Papal Bull Inter Caeterum of 1493. This Papal Bull or Pope’s Law was used in 1823 in a court case called Johnson v. M’Intosh, which eliminated aboriginal title of the Original Peoples in the eyes of the United States. This affected we Nnee only after 1848 when the United States and Mexico split our mighty nation, and imposed alien governance systems through patriarchy and patriarchal laws that reduced the power of our matrilineal forms of governance. But the dissolution of our power wasn’t their only motivation, either: Minerals and precious stones were being found in our lands. Greed seduced Americans and Mexicans to invade and encroach upon our homelands with war and conquest, which they then justified with the 1852 Gadsen purchase. The San Carlos and White Mountain Apache nations are categorized as “executive order” and “non-treaty” because of this seizure. The United States and Mexico stole our lands through illegal action even though our Nnee was already an international body politic to be reckoned with.
It is up to Nnee again, in these times, to chart our future. Decades ago, our land was contaminated by Agent Orange contamination, and the threat to us today is both real and hidden. We need to listen to what the land is saying to us. We also need to start caring about each other and about everyone else around us. What we don’t need is denial and fear. It is sad to see every week someone dying prematurely because of cancer and or some terminal illness; it’s worse to think that Indian Health Services, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the San Carlos Apache Tribal government and many others have known for years that we have been contaminated with the worst man-made chemical known, dioxin.
We have a future if you believe in it. We must do work in the Earth-Is-Woman to help repair and continue the good work of our ancestors which the Creator, Bik’ehgo’ihi’nan, gave us in the beginning. So, whomever you are in our Nnee communities, whether it’s in Mexico, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, or wherever you are found, it is time to get ready and start praying it up with the heart and not with money or whatever else that comes between yourself and Bik’ehgo’ihi’nan alone. Bik’ehgo’ihi’nan is the only way things will get better but we must pray without judgment upon anyone. None of us is clean but it’s time to stop the insanity of thinking it’s ok for The People to die off without saying anything or caring for ourselves and community, even if it’s our own people who are bent on perpetuating death. Remember, it takes an Ndee to get an Nnee. Remember also who you are as The People. Don’t be ashamed if you want to pray all the time in both the ways of the ancestors or in the new ways of Christianity. As for me, I am balanced to sing the Holy Ground Songs and pray in English to Yeshua HaMashiach (Christ the Anointed) without prejudice. So be free in all that you do and be in truth because it is the truth that sets us free. Let us start our journey together as one, undivided, for the sake of the generation of Nnee to come.
Michael Paul Hill is an enrolled member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe. He is a Spiritual, Legal and Human Rights Advocate in the tribal, national and international systems. His work has been cited in many publications including The Academy of Social Sciences for the People’s Republic of China, Cambridge University Press, The United Nations, and both local and national news outlets, just to name a few. Currently, he is traveling throughout Europe igniting the fire of truth and advocating on behalf of Earth Is Woman and the Creator.