Elders and medicine people of the Navajo Nation have voiced their opposition to horse slaughter, saying the animals must be honored for their sacred role in Navajo cultural traditions.
The Nohooká Diné, Elders and Medicine People of the Diné, unanimously approved a resolution opposing any action that leads to the slaughter of horses.
The horse is sacred to the Diné and is a central part of the nation’s culture and tradition.
The resolution states in part: “The Great Horse Nation is a part of the Great Covenant, as a supernatural being, it possesses incredible power, it is inextricably tied to our spiritual way of life and our cultural traditions, when our children are born our families look to the horse spirit to see what they have delivered to us.If we fail to honor the place of the horse in our spiritual way of life and in our cultural traditions, then we jeopardize the very cycle that renews the life of our people.
“The horse must be given respect and honored for their sacred place within the Creation, as they possess the same fundamental right to Life as we, Five Finger Ones, do.”
This past week, a spokesman for the Navajo Nation administration affirmed this position.
During an interview on the radio program, Native American Calling, on September 12, communication director Erny Zah said: “Slaughtering is not a solution … As the Navajo Nation we are against slaughtering of these horses.”
Leland Grass, of the Diné for Wild Horses, said: “This statement from the Navajo Nation administration is more aligned with who we are as Diné people.
“We urge the Navajo Nation to formally adopt a moratorium on horse slaughtering and to only legally contract with horse buyers that agree not to sell horses for slaughter or not to slaughter the horses themselves.”
The people of the Navajo Nation were encouraged by Zah’s statement, Grass said, adding that there had been concern over past comments that have been made by Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly.
He once voiced concern that the horses were causing environmental damage. These claims appear to have been based on misinformation.
Grass said he was encouraged to see a shift toward conscious resource management.
The amount of money currently being spent to round up wild horses for slaughter was capable of feeding and watering those animals for years, he said.
Grass believes that the Navajo Nation “could use these animals to teach our children, we can care for them, we can sell them to people and organizations that don’t want to torture them”.
The Nohooká Diné resolution urges the Navajo Nation to be mindful of the foundations of their cultural and spiritual way of life.
It concludes by stating: “The Nohooká Diné strongly urges Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly, The Navajo Nation Council, The Navajo Nation Judicial Branch, US Department of Interior and US Department of Agriculture to stop the desecration and destruction of the Diné Way of Life and Spiritual Foundation by recklessly promoting and supporting the round-up and mass execution of our spiritual relative the Horse.
“We are sending the resolution to all legislators in Washington DC to show our support for the horse and to urge them to pass the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, currently pending before Congress,” said Grass.
“While it is important for protecting the horse within the Navajo Nation, a national bill is critical to ensure there is no incentive for horses to be taken from our lands or elsewhere in the United States for slaughter.”