Traditional Elders at Big Mountain Arrested for Holding Religious Ceremony

July 13, 2001

On Wednesday, Hopi Tribal Police arrested five elders at an intertribal religious ceremony on Hopi Tribal land nearBig Mountain, Arizona. They were charged with trespassing and holding a ceremony without a permit.

The arrests are the latest in a conflict over one of the largest coal deposits in North America. On one side are theU.S. government and mining companies, who say neither the coal nor the land belongs to the traditional people, and itshould be mined; on the other are the traditional Hopi and Dineh people, who say the coal is located under theirancestral lands, belongs in the earth, and that mining it would destroy both the environment and their way of life.

The Hopi and Dineh people have filed a federal lawsuit alleging that Peabody Coal Co. engaged in a conspiracy withthe Department of Interior to defraud the tribes and prevent the fair payment of coal royalties to the tribes.


  • Sharon Lungo, supporter of the traditional Dineh and Hopi People.
  • Robert Meyers, officer of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.

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