July 22, 2011
Horse advocates are raising concerns about the Extreme Mustang Makeover and the organization's decision to hold its August, 2011 Makeover in conjunction with the Navajo Nation in Tsaile, AZ. These concerns took more definitive form as a result of a July 21 article that appeared in the Navajo Times.
The article entitled "Sacred symbols or 'rats'" discussed problems associated with free-roaming horses found on Navajo Nation lands. To be fair the Nation has limited resources and the horses found there compete with livestock and wildlife for forage. Furthermore permittees owning horses have let their stock multiply and exceed limits set by the tribe. However the concerns expressed by advocates surround the question, why would the Extreme Mustang Makeover locate its event where mustangs are routinely shot or trapped for slaughter and officials want to open a horse slaughter plant?
The Navajo Nation have eaten horses for centuries. According to the Navajo Times, most elders remember when slaughtering horses was a family affair. Every year, one or two would be butchered and the meat hung in strips to dry for the winter. There is a call to revive this custom. Meanwhile, most of the animals are taken across the border into Mexico where slaughtering horses is legal.
Roland Tso, a Navajo grazing official told the Navajo Times that he thinks the Navajo Nation should set up its own horsemeat-packing business. "It would be a good test of our sovereignty."
How the Navajo Nation addresses its horses is the tribe's business so long as the tribe follows the law. However it is puzzling that a mustang advocacy organization would hold an event where officials want to open a horse slaughter plant. The prospect is counterintuitive. Perhaps they plan to conclude the Makeover with a mustang barbecue.