The Lehigh Presbytery is part of the Presbyterian Church (USA), which has a membership of over two and one half million members. The Lehigh Presby has registered an overture to the General Assembly, which will meet in Long Beach CA. June 24 - July 1, 2000, noted as Overture #00-44.
For your perusal the Overture follows:
TITLE: Overture 00-44 to the 212th General Assembly of the
Traditional Dineh, (aboriginal Americans) living in the Black
Mesa (Big Mountain) area of
Arizona are denied human and religious rights. As a result, a fearful dimension of violence looms
in the conflict between the Traditional Dineh and the United States Government. The Lehigh
Presbytery of the Synod of the Trinity, agrees with the position of the United Nations Special
Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance, Abdelfattah Amor, and over 250 Non-Government
Organizations at the United Nations, that the human and religious rights of the Traditional Dineh
people are being violated. Therefore, the Lehigh Presbytery overtures the 212th General
Assembly (2000) to do the following:
1. Request the General Assembly Council;
a. Through its division directors to communicate with
related staff offices and committees,
expressing the churchs ongoing concerns regarding the human and religious rights being
denied to the Traditional Dineh people;
b. Communicate profound concern to our partner churches in the United States,
conveying this churchs commitment to pray and stand in solidarity with the Traditional
Dineh, as they have been victims of violence;
2. Direct the Stated Clerk to communicate with the President
of the United States, and the
Secretary of the Interior of the United States, urging these officials to;
a. Request that a Congressional Oversight Committee
be formed without delay, to
investigate the alleged violations of human and religious rights of the Traditional Dineh, a
b. To act swiftly and justly to guarantee the Traditional
Dinehs human rights, eliminate all
discrimination and violence perpetrated against the Traditional Dineh, and bring an end to
the desecration of Traditional Dineh sacred lands.
Without Justice, there can be no Peace.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has an honorable history of
commitment to all people
regarding human rights and has long engaged in advocacy for their individual human and
Among the many Authoritative Theological Statements of the
General Assemblies from 1943 to
present time, for brevity, only one is presented.
TITLE: A DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS (please see full document as revised)
Primary Reference: GA Minutes 1978:186-189
Denomination : PCUS
Key Words: Justice, Rights
The purpose of this declaration is to provide a basis for calling for basic human rights in all times
and in all places.
"We therefore affirm:
a. Human beings are created in the image of God
b. Every person is of intrinsic worth before God
c. Human rights are derived from God
1. Right to freedom of existence
2. Right to basic subsistence
3. Right to participation in community
4. Right to meaningful existence.
(End of Authoritative Theological Statements of the General Assemblies)
The Traditional Dineh in the Black Mesa (Big Mountain) area, a group numbering about 3,000,
have endured 25 years of inhumane hardships including contamination of water supplies from
mining operations and relocation. The Traditional Dineh encountered poisoning and confiscation
of livestock, destruction of their sacred land and sacred sites, burial desecration, armed
intimidation leading to depression, and conceivably death. These actions have initiated direct
disintegration of their families and culture.
A number of laws and regulations have been promulgated, which
the Traditional Dineh in the
Black Mesa (Big Mountain) area claim, violate their civil, human and religious rights. The
Traditional Dineh claim they have been forced to live under virtual martial law.
Traditional Dineh, living in the Black Mesa (Big Mountain)
area, have been offered monies to
relocate, but have continually refused the money, saying they do not want to relocate or allow the
land to be mined. Those Dineh who sign the agreement have been relocated-- many to the "New
Lands" near Sanders, Arizona which are heavily contaminated with radioactivity due to uranium
mine tailings. The Traditional Dineh who did not sign the agreement by December 31, 1999
were to be immediately relocated to the Sanders, Arizona site.
Access to the Traditional Dineh land in the Black Mesa (Big Mountain) area, has been given to
Peabody Mining Company to mine coal.
The government has spent over $350 million on the relocation
of the Dineh people, claiming that
the relocation will solve a Navajo/Hopi dispute, a dispute which the Traditional Dineh say never
A small group of Traditional Dineh in the Black Mesa (Big Mountain)
area, many of whom are
women elders, are defending their homes and sacred places. They have said they will not leave
the land and will not sign an agreement which requires them to leave their sacred lands. These
Traditional Dineh are not receiving any support by the government appointed official tribal
council or the agency of the United States governments, Bureau of Indian Affairs.
A United Nations Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance,
Abdelfattah Amor, issued his
findings in 1998, which supports the accusation, that the treatment of the Traditional Dineh on
Black Mesa constitutes a violation of their human and religious rights.
Therefore, as, our Lord said: Inasmuch as you did it
to one of the least of these, you did it to
me (Matthew 25: 40, 45);
May this promise be fulfilled:
Speaking for the Lord, Zephaniah, the Prophet gives us this
I will remove disaster from you.
I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech,
that all of them may call upon the Lord and serve him with one accord.
They shall do no wrong and utter no lies.
Then they will pasture and lie down, and no one shall make them afraid.
For Lehigh Presbytery
Elder Donald U. Noblett, Stated Clerk