Archive for June, 2012

PRESS RELEASE: Hopi Tribe Endorses Historic Little Colorado Water Rights Settlement

While the following press release notes that the “Hopi Tribe” endorses the Little Colorado Water Rights Settlement, opinions and policies passed down from the Hopi Tribe do not reflect the opinion of all Hopi people or villages. Many Hopis are against SB 2109 and the Little Colorado Water Rights Settlement that Hopi Chairman LeRoy Shingoitewa proposes here. Keep an eye on this space, as Hopi responses are sure to follow.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact:
The Hopi Tribe, Office of the Chairman
Chief of Staff
Phone: (928) 734- 3106
Fax: (928) 734-6665

Hopi Tribe Endorses Historic Little Colorado Water Rights Settlement

Kykotsmovi, Ariz. (June 21, 2012) – The Hopi Tribal Council voted today to endorse a  proposed water right settlement for the Tribe’s Little Colorado River water right claims.  The  proposed settlement would end decades-long water rights adjudication and is the first step in  ensuring a dependable supply of clean water for the Tribe.  “I am greatly pleased by the  Council’s decision,” stated Hopi Tribal Chairman LeRoy Shingoitewa.  “For the first time since
our reservation was established we will be able to guarantee clean, reliable water supplies for our people.”

Council Representative George Mase, Chairman of the Tribal Council’s Water and  Energy Team, agreed with Chairman Shingoitewa’s assessment:  “After talking to the Hopi  people and hearing their concerns, it is clear that the people want a clean and reliable water  supply.  Our team negotiated for years to reach a settlement, and I am pleased that the Council  decided to endorse the settlement.”

The Hopi Tribe has claimed reserved water rights from four sources:  on-reservation surface water and groundwater, surface water from the Little Colorado River, and surface  water from the mainstem Colorado River. The proposed settlement would confirm the Hopi  Tribe’s rights to on-reservation surface water and groundwater, reserve a quantity of water from the mainstem Colorado River for a future settlement the Hopi Tribe’s mainstem water  rights claims, provide for the development of essential on-reservation water delivery infrastructure, and establish a framework for the sustainable management of the N-Aquifer  which is currently threatened by unmanaged pumping.  In return, the Tribe would waive its  claims to the Little Colorado River and its damages claims for injuries to water rights or water quality that occur before the settlement goes into effect.

“The Little Colorado River is by far the least reliable of our four potential water sources,” explained Councilman Mase.  “This is a fair tradeoff.”

Chairman Shingoitewa agreed with Councilman Mase’s assessment.  “We are confident the benefits for the Hopi Tribe outweigh the risks of continued litigation,” explained Chairman Shingoitewa. “The settlement proposal provides a path to ensure a lasting supply of clean water for both tribes. Hopefully the Navajo Nation will endorse the settlement as well.”

In order to become effective, Congress also must ratify the settlement and appropriate funds for the development of projects specified in the settlement.  The Hopi Tribal Council voiced its concerns about the proposed federal legislation, which was introduced before the agreement was reached.  The Council has previously instructed Chairman Shingoitewa and Water and Energy Team’s Chairman Mase to co-sign a letter to Senators Kyl and McCain asking for changes in their proposed legislation.  Specifically, the Tribal Council will be asking Senators Kyl and McCain to remove provisions related to the Navajo Generating Station and other items contained in the federal legislation.

“These provisions have nothing to do with our settlement,” explained Chairman  Shingoitwea.  “Therefore, we are asking Senators Kyl and McCain to remove them from the settlement legislation.”

The Hopi Tribe also will seek support for solutions to address water contamination at Moenkopi, First Mesa, and Keams Canyon.  “These are important outstanding issues,” said Councilman Mase.  “We aren’t waiting for the proposed Hopi Groundwater Project to get them resolved.”

Finally, if the proposed settlement is enacted, the Hopi Tribe will pursue its claims to mainstem Colorado River water to ensure a permanent homeland for the Tribe.  “Our claims to water from the mainstem Colorado River are not affected by this settlement,” explained Councilman Mase.  “We will pursue these once the Little Colorado River settlement is ratified by Congress.”

For more information about the settlement, visit the Hopi Tribe’s website at http://www.hopi-nsn.gov/, or call the Office of Chairman, at (928) 734-3106.
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Hopi chairman accused of “gross dereliction”

A message from Ben Nuvamsa….

Attached for your information and dissemination is a complaint we (the former elected leaders of the Hopi Tribe who endorsed Action Item H-065-2012) filed against Hopi Chairman Leroy Shingoitewa for his failure and/or refusal to sign a duly enacted Tribal Council Resolution H-072-2012 that was passed on June 15, 2012, at the Hotevilla Elderly Center.  This resolution opposes and rejects Senator Jon Kyl’s Senate Bill 2109, Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Act of 2012.  This Resolution was approved/passed by a majority vote of: 11 for; 4 opposed; 0 abstentions.  It represents the express will of our villages, village leaders and tribal members.

There was overwhelming objection to and rejection of Senate Bill 2109 by our villages and tribal members, yet Shingoitewa has purposely and deliberately refused to listen to the Hopi and Tewa people.  Instead, he signed Resolution H-073-2012 passed illegally on June 21, 2012 which endorses Senate Bill 2109 over our objections.  Action Item H-053-2012 was sponsored by Sipaulovi Village Representative George Mase to endorse Senate Bill 2109, which resulted in Resolution H-073-2012.  Resolution H-073-2012 is not the official position of the Hopi and Tewa villages and tribal members regarding Senate Bill 2109.

Even if Shingoitewa refuses, or otherwise fails to sign Resolution H-072-2012, he does not have the constitutional authority to veto a lawful action of the Hopi Tribal Council.  Therefore, this Resolution is in full force and effect, and has the force of tribal law.  If he continues to not sign this Resolution, by this letter, we have implored the Hopi Tribal Council by the attached complaint, to take immediate and appropriate action against Shingoitewa for contempt of tribal council action and for his failure to uphold his duty and obligation as presiding officer of the tribal council, including immediate removal.

A copy of this complaint has been sent to the Hopi Tutuveni for publication, and to other local and national news media.  We asked that this complaint be published in full, unedited text so that all tribal members and the general public can be informed of this matter.  Please disseminate copies of the complaint letter to your fellow tribal members.  Thank you.

Hopi Council shockingly approves Little Colorado settlement – Story by Rosanda Suetopka Thayer

Story to appear this week in the Navajo-Hopi Observer…

Hopi Council shockingly approves Little Colorado settlement
Chairman Shingoitewa breaks 7 to 7 tie vote
story by Rosanda Suetopka Thayer

In a move that was predicted since last Friday, June 15th at the public council meeting at the  Village of Hotevilla by Hopi community members, Hopi traditional leadership and Hopi village  board representatives after Hopi Chairman LeRoy Shingoitewa made the open public statement that  “Its not over.  I plan on bringing this settlement issue back up in council and I do plan on  getting approval.”

Hopi Chairman LeRoy Shingoitewa and his Water and Energy Team Chairman  George Mase, brought their own separate, opposing action item No. H-073-2012 to the Council floor on Thursday morning at the Hopi Council chambers on June 21st for a vote that has now approved and will endorse the proposed water rights agreement to the Little Colorado River for the Hopi Tribe.

The Shingoitewa-Mase approval on Thursday, June 21st comes despite heated public objections and formal
village proclamations against both the SB2109 and the settlement agreement for the LCR from every single Hopi village but Sipaulovi on Second Mesa.

Only one village endorsed the settlement.

Sipaulovi Village Board President, Kim Secakuku read into record, their village approval of the settlement act on Thursday at the Hopi Council chambers before the vote was taken.

Eleven of the twelve Hopi villages voiced their opposition on paper and several made formal in-person presentations to the Hopi council last week on June 15th against any more Hopi tribal government negotiation, waiver of water rights or sovereign water power in regards to the Little Colorado River water settlement and SB 2109 on Hopi’s behalf.

Last week’s action item sponsored by Ben Nuvamsa, Ivan Sidney, Vernon Masayesva all former Hopi Chairmen and four former Hopi Vice Chairmen, Clifford Qotsaquahu, Phillip Quochytewa, Col. Caleb Johnson and Todd Honyaoma had the endorsement signature of current Hopi Vice Chairman Herman Honanie.  Their eight signature joint resolution clearly had overwhelming Hopi public support which was witnessed by the huge public crowd that attended the Hotevilla council session.

The Nuvamsa group won their first round regarding the water settlement issue last week with a  vote of eleven in their favor and four against.  Many Hopis saw this  vote as a victory for Hopi people and their sovereign rights to their water.

But this weeks’ new vote on the Mase action item which is in direct opposition of what was approved  only a little over a week ago, was seven (7) to seven (7) with Shingoitewa breaking the tie, making  it a final vote of eight (8) in favor and seven (7) against the settlement agreement for the LCR.

To date, the Nuvamsa resolution approved and voted on last week, Friday the 15th has not been signed off by the Hopi Chairman or the Tribal Council Secretary Martha Mase, which is in direct violation of constitutional duties outlined for tribal officers once a resolution has been approved.

Nuvamsa tried in vain over the past week to get a final formal signed approved copy of his groups’  resolution but as of Friday the 22nd, it could not be found at the Hopi Tribal executive offices.

Voting to approve the Little Colorado River settlement against the wishes of the Hopi people and Hopi villages were Upper Moencopi representatives, Wayne Kuwanhyoima, Bruce Fredericks, Danny Humetewa. Sipaulovi representatives, George Mase, Cedric Kuwaninvaya, Alph Secakuku. Bacavi representative  Leroy Kewanimptewa.  Upper Moencopi representive Leroy Sumatzkuku was not present during the vote.

Voting against the settlement were Vice Chairman Herman Honanie, Kykotsmovi representatives Danny Honanie, Rebekah Masasyesva, Carlene Quotskuyva, Nada Talayumptewa.  Bacavi representatives Gayver Puhuyesva and Davis Fred Piqosa.

Chairman LeRoy Shingoitewa then broke the tie vote and cast his vote for approving the settlement making it a very slim win by an 8 to 7 final tally.

A large part of what makes this newest Hopi Council vote to approve the settlement is not just the fact that Hopi Chairman Shingoitewa as well as George Mase, who serves as Water and Energy Team Chair have made continuous public statements in news media that “we will not take any vote or make any decisions on the settlement until we have answered all questions and conferred with all villages on this topic” but that public disclosure is far from over.

Several villages are still waiting to have tribal materials presented at their villages and as more and more questions have been posed to the Hopi Chair Shingoitewa via letter and email, no answers have been provided.

Former Hopi Chairman Ivan Sidney said, “As an example, just one of the biggest problems with what  Shingoitewa and Mase did on June 21st is that they failed to rescind the other resolution that the Hopi Council approved last week.
You can’t have two completely conflicting resolutions especially with something like this that has so much impact on the tribe’s most important natural resource, water.   Our grassroots Hopi water groups’ resolution they approved last Friday is still  intact and valid. This just shows that our own Hopi Council doesn’t have a clue about policy development and control.  Their slowness in grasping what they have done really makes you question how well do they really understand what this water bill and agreement really means….if they can’t even correct a simple tribal council resolution process, are they really the ones who should be voting on  something this important?  I think not. Chairman Shingoitewa is in total defiance of the will of the the Hopi people.   I am shocked that we are at this point in Hopi history and government, where we are watching and experiencing subversive tactics by our own chairman and council against our people over a “sacred resource” like this.”

Former Hopi Tribal Chairman Ben Nuvamsa said, “This action by Shingoitewa and Mase is just another example of their total disrespect for their own people.  Shingoitewa does not respect the traditional powers of our villages.  Shingoitewa was elected to serve and represent the wishes of the Hopi people.  Shingoitewa’s action today will only be temporary because the Hopi will and shall have the final say.  This is how it should be. Shingoitewa has clearly violated the Hopi constitution because he is not delegated the power by the villages to waive over sovereign rights to water.  He has now also violated the resolution voted on and approved last week, so he is clearly in “neglect of duty.”  It will be the Hopi people who will hold him accountable.  Shingoitewa was not raised in the Hopi way, we all know this.  He does not understand what water means to us, our way of life, our Hopi culture.  Shingoitewa will go down in history as the chairman who not only tried to abolish our water rights but last year, he tried to  abolish our traditional village powers with his attempt to approve Draft 24A.  Shingoitewa has done a lot of harm to our people and has lost all Hopi public faith in his ability to lead.”

In a formal cover letter issued by Hopi Tribal Council Secretary Martha Mase, with attachment resolution H-073-2012 says,

“The Hopi Council on June 21, 2012 by motion and majority vote, approved Resolution H-073-2012. By passage of this resolution, the Hopi Council endorses the proposed settlement of its claims to the Little Colorado River and its sources, as provided in the March 8, 2012 settlement agreement proposal, such endorsement shall not extend to any modification required to conform the settlement to the  United States Senate Bill 2109 or any other enactment of the settlement by the U.S. Congress.”

The final approved resolution bears the signature of Hopi Tribal Chairman LeRoy N. Shingoitewa and attesting signature of Martha Mase, Hopi Tribal Secretary, citing the vote as eight to seven dated June 21, 2012.

Legal implications of Hopi Tribal Council vote on SB 2109

The following Memorandum was written by Hopi Tribe water rights attorneys Richard Monette and Joe Mentor. The Memo was submitted to the Hopi Tribal Council on June 15, 2012, the same day that the Council voted 11-4 to reject SB 2109 by adopting Hopi Tribal Council Resolution No. H-065-2012. The Memo outlines what they consider to be the legal implications for the Hopi Tribe if the Tribe endorses or rejects SB 2109. Click here to download the Memo as a PDF document. Used with permission.

LCR Water Rights Bill Rejected by Hopi – A Report to Hopi People

A message from Benjamin H. Nuvamsa…                            Sunday June 17, 2012

LCR Water Rights Bill Rejected by Hopi – A Report to Hopi People

Attached is a report to members of the Hopi Tribe and to the Hopi Tribal Council on the council meeting held last Friday, June 15, 2012, regarding our Action Item No. H-065-2012.  Our Action Item is to reject the Little Colorado River Water Rights Agreement, S.2109.  Please pass this information on to other tribal members.  Thanks to everyone, we defeated this dangerous bill introduced by Senators Jon Kyl and John McCain regarding our water rights to the Little Colorado River.

Despite this victory, this matter is not over.  Shingoitewa and Mase are still intent on continuing negotiations on this bill, despite what the action item, and now Resolution, No. H-065-2012, mandates.  In fact, Shingoitewa, Mase and Hopi attorneys are talking to and negotiating with Navajo’s attorneys.  Resolution No. H-065-2012 prohibits Shingoitewa, the Water & Energy Team and the Tribal Council from further negotiations on S.2109.  You should know that George Mase has an Action Item, No. H-053-2012, before the tribal council that “endorses” Senate Bill 2109.  But the council’s vote on June 15, 2012, killed Kyl’s and McCain’s bill and deems George Mase’s action item a moot issue; so it should not be addressed by the tribal council.  We are monitoring this matter and will advise you when the council may act on Mase’s action item so you can attend the council meeting.

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Below is the report that Nuvamsa refers to in his message. You can also download the report as a PDF document by clicking here

June 16, 2012

To: Honorable Members of the Hopi Tribe

Honorable Members of the Hopi Tribal Council

June 15, 2012, was an historic day in the history of our tribe. Hopi village representatives, traditional leaders and tribal members gathered at the Hotevilla Elderly Center and overwhelmingly rejected Senator Jon Kyl’s and Senator John McCain’s Senate Bill 2109, the Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Act of 2012. At the end of the long day, the Hopi Tribal Council voted 11 to 4 to pass Action Item H-065-2012 that was endorsed by three former Hopi tribal chairmen and four former Hopi tribal vice chairmen, and sponsored by Vice Chairman Honanie, to reject Senate Bill 2109.

Our Action Item, No. H-065-2012, does several things: (1) it rejects Senate Bill 2109; (2) it prohibits any further negotiations of Senate Bill 2109 by the tribal chairman, Water & Energy Team and the tribal council; (3) it requires the tribal chairman to report the Hopi Tribal Council’s rejection of Senate Bill 2109 to Senator Jon Kyl, to the Congress, Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and to the Department of Interior; (4) it requires that, if another water rights agreement comes before the tribe, that it will only be decided on by members of the Hopi Tribe through a voter referendum (not the tribal council) after a full and open consultation with and through participation of the villages and tribal members. The council vote also effectively killed the Agreement-in-Principle because without Senate Bill 2109, there is no Agreement-in-Principle.

Not one village, not one tribal member, and not one traditional leader supported Senate Bill 2109. Villages and traditional leaders provided written testimonies, in the form of letters, proclamations and resolutions, all opposing the Kyl/McCain bill. But despite the resounding opposition by the Hopi and Tewa people, there were four votes in opposition to Action Item H-065-2012, most notably by all three representatives from Sipaulovi.

The day did not start without controversy. First, tribal chairman Shingoitewa and Sipaulovi representative George Mase tried to surprise those in attendance by bringing George Mase’s Action Item, No. H-053-2012, to the council floor. But thanks to an objection raised by Kykotsmovi Village Representative Nada Talayumptewa and others, the matter was stopped. Action Item H-053-2012 proposes to endorse Senate Bill 2109.

Next, our request to hold the council meeting in larger facilities was not honored by Shingoitewa, but thanks to former vice chairman Qötsaquahu’s persistence, we forced a vote. After a unanimous vote, we moved the meeting to Hotevilla. Once we convened at Hotevilla, there was yet another attempt by Shingoitewa to exclude the news media. The news media was previously excluded by Shingoitewa in the morning session in council chambers. And again, at the insistence of Qötsaquahu, a vote was taken and the majority vote allowed the news media to stay. But Shingoitewa demanded there will be no recording of the proceedings.

At the outset of the meeting, we insisted that Shingoitewa and the council not control our presentations by limiting what we say and by limiting how long we take to make our presentations. But throughout the entire day, Shingoitewa consistently tried to limit and control our presentations. Because of his constant interruptions and time remaining in the day, many people who traveled from far away and took the time to speak, were not able to address the council. For this, I apologize to these people.

After the presentations, Vice Chairman Honanie made the motion, seconded by Rebecca Masayesva, to approve Action Item H-065-2012. It passed by a vote of 11 to 4. But after the meeting, Hopi chairman Shingoitewa was quoted as saying to the news media, “The tribe will continue water settlement talks with the Navajo Nation, and other industrial users including Peabody Coal and the Navajo Generating Station.” But passage of Action Item H-065-2012 is very specific in prohibiting Shingoitewa, the Water & Energy Team, and the Hopi Tribal Council from any further negotiations of Senate Bill 2109. This statement by Shingoitewa demonstrates his deliberate intention to disregard the voice of the people and would violate the new tribal law passed this day by the Hopi Tribal Council. If he does not abide by the mandate of the villages, traditional leaders and tribal members, and the tribal council, then it would constitute a direct violation of the tribal constitution.

Passage of our action item would now deem George Mase’s Action Item, H-053-2012, a moot issue. But Shingoitewa and Mase are intent on bringing this action item before the tribal council later this month. We encourage you to impose on your council representatives to require George Mase to withdraw his action item. We also encourage everyone to show up at the council chambers when this action item will be discussed and object to the council to act on this action item. Remember this right belongs to the villages, not the tribal council.

In closing, I want to express my deepest, heartfelt appreciation to everyone who participated in this very important issue. This includes all village governments and village leaders who took a stand by issuing proclamations, resolutions, letters; all traditional leaders who issued proclamations, the veterans, allottees, tribal members, and many more. In particular, I want to thank former tribal chairmen and vice chairmen who took personal responsibility to sign the action item and made very compelling arguments to the tribal council. We appreciate the Village of Hotevilla for offering their facility for the meeting. And finally, special appreciation goes to members of the tribal council who voted to support our action item. Your participation and stance against the dangerous Kyl/McCain bill will go down in the annals of our history.

Kwak’wha; Pai’lolmani, 

Benjamin H. Nuvamsa

Shungopavi Village, Bear Clan 

Former Hopi Tribal Chairman 

“Navajo Truth – STOP SB 2109″ A group worth following on Facebook

This morning I want to direct your attention to a Facebook group called “Navajo Truth – STOP SB 2109.” It’s a group that I regularly follow (even though I’m not officially on FB) to get updated information on the proposed legislation. If you have a minute, head over to their page and join the conversation. It’s a great resource for anyone interested in this topic. Here’s  the description about the group from their page: “Working to ensure accountability and transparency for the Navajo Nation. Calling our people and friends to ACTION.”

Hopi Tribal Council votes down SB 2109

Here’s the latest from Shelley Smithson at KNAU. Although this is a big win for those of us who are against the legislation, it’s not over yet. Expect a revised version of SB 2109 to surface in the near future. Kyl and his supporters will not give up that easily.


Copyright Notice

© Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert and BEYOND THE MESAS, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert and BEYOND THE MESAS with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

About the author

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert is enrolled with the Hopi Tribe from the village of Upper Moencopi in northeastern Arizona. He is an associate professor of American Indian Studies & History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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A Second Wave of Hopi Migration (History of Education Quarterly, August 2014)

Sun Chief: An Autobiography of A Hopi Indian by Don C. Talayesva, New foreword by Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert (Sept. 2013)

Marathoner Louis Tewanima and the Continuity of Hopi Running, 1908-1912 (Western Historical Quarterly, Autumn 2012). Winner of Spur Award for Best Western Short Nonfiction, Western Writers of America (2013)

“Hopi Footraces and American Marathons, 1912-1930″, American Quarterly, Vol. 62, No. 1, March Issue 2010 (Click image to download article)

Hopi runner Philip Zeyouma’s trophy cups featured on cover of American Quarterly

Education beyond the Mesas: Hopi Students at Sherman Institute, 1902-1929 (University of Nebraska Press, 2010)

Education beyond the Mesas – Introduction (click image to download)

“‘The Hopi Followers': Chief Tawaquaptewa and Hopi Student Advancement at Sherman Institute, 1906-1909″, Journal of American Indian Education, (Click image to download article)

The Indian School on Magnolia Avenue: Voices and Images From Sherman Institute (Oregon State University Press, 2012)

Arizona English Teachers Association highlights Hopi authors (click image to download)

Constitution and Bylaws of the Hopi Tribe (With all amendments, click to download)

Click to listen to KUYI On-Line

Matt’s Goodreads

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