My name is Bubba Jo and I have lived in Mohave County for more than 20 years with my family and other relatives.
Yes, my last name is being withheld to protect my anonymity. I believe there could be possible retaliation by our government since I am exercising my First Amendment rights. Please don’t forget what happened to cattle rancher Cliven Bundy and the overreach of federal government officials. Yes, I fear for the safety of my family, friends and me.
First off, I must tell you that I don’t have any formal education and I don’t know how to read or write. However, through my family’s oral history passed down from generation to generation, I understand the true meaning of a tough life, all about discrimination, know about the constant harassment by government officials, and that all of the above is still occurring continually on a daily basis.
My ancestors didn’t come to America onboard the Mayflower along with those making their pilgrimage from Europe looking for a better life in the New World.
They did however, come to the Americas on supply ships with the second voyage of Christopher Columbus and landed at Hispaniola in 1495. It is further rumored that two of my extended family first reached North America and may have been taken to Mexico by Juan de Zumarraga, a Spanish Basque Franciscan prelate and first bishop of Mexico in 1528. According to my family historians, Zumarraga requested in 1529 that more of us be sent in order to assist the native people, who had been branded and enslaved by the Conquistadores.
I know my great-great-grandfather and other ancestors did travel, at no choice of their own, during the great western migration or “movement.” I was told by my elders they really didn’t want to leave from where they had a good life and defiantly didn’t want to travel west along with the pioneer settlers. But because they had been tossed into servitude, they did not have a choice.
During the 1850s and 1860s, a new breed of pioneer emerged in the Arizona Territory – the miners who were looking for riches - and that’s just one of the two reasons why so many of my family “came into the picture.” Yes, life was tough for my relatives when they arrived in the Wild West. They had to carry heavy loads for their masters, work long hours and even had to help operate non-motorized machinery. They were forced into total servitude with no freedom in sight. There we go again, that nasty word – servitude, or better known as slavery!
Our own government was even a major contributing factor as to why so many of us are now living in Arizona, and that’s because of the Civil War.
You might not realize it, but the primary catalyst for the secession and split of the U.S. into north versus south was slavery, which my family members and I are fully well aware of.
The southern states were angered by the attempts of northern antislavery political forces to block the expansion of slavery into the western territories. Confederate Arizona was a territory claimed by the Confederate States of America during the Civil War between 1861 and 1865. Another fact is both Union and Confederate troops brought us along with them during the Civil War to help transport heavy supplies.
When the miners decided to head to the California Gold Rush and the military felt there was no longer a need for my family members, they released us to fend for ourselves. Granted, some of us had previously escaped captivity and the life of servitude, but those numbers, according to research, were extremely low.
OK, I know I got sidetracked with the above-mentioned history lesson about the plight of my family, but it is a necessary one that needs to be explained. It just wasn’t our fault we are now residing in Arizona.
A factoid about us is our family has never practiced birth control, probably dabbed in incest and that’s why there are so many of us now. I know it is wrong, but our parents never explained the facts of life to us and everything we needed to know about the birds and bees.
I am sorry to say there has been a constant oppression and discrimination against my extended family and about our numbers now living in Arizona, especially in Mohave County.
We feel as if we have historically been used, abused and discarded like yesterday’s trash that was kicked to the curb. Nobody needs us now and many folks, including government agencies, are trying to say we are a constant destructive problem.
I’ve heard that some federal government, state, county and city officials have said we are a major cause of accidents involving vehicles and that can honestly be no further from the truth. It has been documented time and time again there has been more accidents involving dogs, deer, elk and cows than what we have caused. Just during the last month, five cows belonging to Travis Holyoak in Golden Valley were killed by cars slamming into them.
Certain individuals have and will continue to make obnoxious and demeaning comments about my family. Oh well, everyone has their own opinion and I can't fault them if they choose to make them because I got "under their skin" by writing this opinion piece.
Some of my relatives have been lucky enough to be adopted and are now living the good life of being pampered and taken care of as they so justly deserve. Case in point is Levi who was adopted and lived a good life along Highway 68 for about 15 years. Levi was a local legend and throngs of people would stop by to have a photo taken with him, but he is now retired and resides with a very nice family in the southwest corner of Golden Valley.
There are many of us who are homeless and are resigned to the fact we have to beg to survive. No, we are not those you see each day on the corners of streets, accompanied by pets, panhandling for a handout and are actually healthy enough to get a job. Unlike us, many of those individuals are just lazy and would rather accept a handout and not be productive members of society. A local newspaper reporter interviewed a female who was panhandling on a street corner in Kingman. When asked, the female said, “Why should I get a job? I make about $300 each day begging on the corner and that’s tax free.”
Some of my relatives’ lives have slumped to the point that they have to “work the streets” in the tourist town nestled high in the mountains along Old Route 66. Each morning they show up in Oatman and beg for tender morsels just to have something in their stomachs. It is sad, but if it weren’t for the residents and tourists in Oatman, many of my relatives would die from hunger.
My family and I believe there are forces of darkness and evil attempting to eradicate us from the Earth and specifically Mohave County, especially since there have been reports in the newspaper that the government is considering sterilizing female members of our family.
The latest estimate (in 2018) puts the population at 7.12 million people residing just in Arizona and there were only about 10,800 of our Gypsy tribe trekking across the great expanse of the U.S. More than 1,100 of our relatives were captured by government forces and are now living in concentration camps throughout the western U.S. It is estimated that 4,800 of us currently reside in Arizona. Yes, we have a robust population and we are proud of our lineage.
The group of government agencies, non-profit organizations and civilians, who attended numerous meetings, set what they believed to be realistic population standards for us. They decided our population level in the Black Mountains would be kept at 478. Since it is estimated that our population was about 1,800 in 2015, our population has grown with leaps and bounds and it is now estimated to be more than 2,000 just in the Black Mountains. Either government officials can’t count or they have failed miserably with doing their job.
I understand some folks believe we are a destructive force and should be eradicated, but they fail to realize farmers, cattle and even other four-legged residents of Arizona cause numerous more problems. The farmers continually deplete the area’s aquifers causing many property owners’ wells to go dry, the free-range cattle and game animals gulp down native vegetation like there is no tomorrow. But because they provide an economic boost and an infusion of revenue into the local economy, they are allowed to continue their disruptive plight.
There is even one Golden Valley resident that has installed T-posts and a three-barbed wire fence to keep my relatives from trekking through his 2.35 acres. I guess 40 of my relatives stopped by his property recently for a snack. Sooner or later, no one will be able to travel the Wild West like the settlers of past times did without running into someone’s fence.
There was even a time when people went out, murdered us, cooked us up at a barbeque event and offered our burnt remains to the local citizenry. How barbaric can someone be?
Some people and government officials have even suggested that hunting licenses be issued so people can head out into the desert and kill us. And there are those who believe we should be captured, sterilized and then released back into the wild. What do they think we are - feral cats?
Instead of putting limits on us, I believe there should be limits imposed upon people and hunting licenses issued to thin out their herd and numbers. Life in general would be better off if there were less people on Earth.
Many have called me an ass for speaking out, but others have affectionately referred to me by my nickname of Jack. If I was a female called Jenny or Jennet, there would be another set of problems I might experience. If you haven’t read the recent news reports, you’ll not understand why my sisters are avoiding all contact with those outside our family.
Speaking of sterilization like the U.S. government wants to do to us, it’s a fact that Nazi Germany was not the first or only country to sterilize people considered aberrant or abnormal. Before Hitler, the United States led the world in forced sterilizations; between 1907 and 1939 more than 30,000 people in 29 states were sterilized. Many of them unknowingly or against their will while they were incarcerated in prisons or institutions for the mentally ill.
All we, the burro population, want to do is blend into society, be left alone and be able to live in peace and tranquility.
I hope you don’t think we’re asking too much.
(Note: Bubba Jo has discussed opening an exploratory committee for the possibility of running for U.S. Congress for Rep. Paul Gosar’s (R-Prescott) seat. He feels if elected, he can eradicate the servitude and injustice that has historically been and continues against his family and relatives. If he does choose to run for office, will you support his campaign?)