Yellowman’s great-great-great grandmother was born on the eastern butte. Family members told him that her cradleboard, a traditional way to carry babies, was made from the pine trees on the butte. In the 1860s, Yellowman said, the U.S. government drove his ancestors from the buttes and later marched them to Fort Sumner, N.M., where they were imprisoned, part of a forced journey known as the Long Walk.
As a boy, Yellowman, who was born on a mesa in the northern part of the Navajo Nation reservation, often traveled with brothers and cousins to Cedar Mesa, a plateau near the base of the buttes, to chop and gather firewood.
He recalled driving past a uranium-ore processing mill one year that a Texas-based company had built on land leased from the Navajo Nation. It left him unsettled, especially as family members who worked in the mill began to fall ill and die. Today, toxic debris from the mill, which closed in the late 1960s, still litters the land.
One of the ways in which Trump’s administration and the GOP by extension are awful is that they take things that have already been fraught — what little land Native Americans can hold to, the experience of transgender people — and make it worse for no reason than to be small and mean. It’s just … mean. I run out of words for everyday atrocities frequently in part because, you know, we have the kids in the concentration camps too, but at the heart of it all is the meanness.
They’re just so damn mean.