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.

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2 Responses to “Hopi Council shockingly approves Little Colorado settlement – Story by Rosanda Suetopka Thayer”


  1. 1 Alejandro De La Garza June 26, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    This is distressing. I can’t believe some members of the Hopi community are starting to give into this mess.

  2. 2 Alejandro De La Garza June 26, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    Reblogged this on Chief Writing Wolf and commented:
    This is a distressing development. Looks like some members of the Hopi community are starting to give into the state of Arizona’s demands.


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© 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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