Local band aids Navajos

For nearly two decades, Foothills acid-rock band Clan Dyken has tripped out local audiences with its psychedelic jams and politically conscious performances. At the same time, the earthy group has worked just as hard off stage, providing aid to a Navajo tribe in northeastern Arizona. The Dineh tribe has resisted forced relocation by local coal and uranium mining corporations since the 1970s. Their refusal to budge off the Big Mountain Reservation has earned them the sobriquet “the Resistors.”

“They’ve been suffering harmful effects from the mining for years,” said Bear Dyken, the band’s guitarist who considers himself Native American in spirit. “Now, the mining industry wants to drive them out of the Black Mesa for good.” If Senator John McCain has his way, the mining companies may succeed. McCain has proposed legislation that will amend the 1974 Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute Settlement Act, thus evicting the Dineh and other tribes from the Sage Hills along the Mesa. For the Resistors, who say land is life, the legislation is unacceptable.

Toxic dust and chemicals from mine blasting appear to have left the Dineh with bad lung problems, forcing many to move. Those left struggle daily with a water shortage caused by the mine’s operation. Clan Dyken leads two caravans a year to the reservation to supply humanitarian aid in the form of food and labor. “We help them fix their houses and plant corn and squash,” said Bear. “We truck over as much food as we can and we always spend Thanksgiving with them.”