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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3 Responses to “PRESS RELEASE: Hopi Tribe Endorses Historic Little Colorado Water Rights Settlement”


  1. 1 Phil K June 30, 2012 at 10:16 am

    What do the Villages think?

  2. 2 mamasheri June 30, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    I am praying for you to keep your water. I’m a white woman, but in this I say…Damn the white man.

  3. 3 ngasta siva pahaana July 12, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    this settlement and the senate bill that makes it law was dreamed up by senator john kyle who used to work for the salt river project (they supply water and power to the metro phnx area) and in the negotiations the lawyer for the navajos is a guy who worked as an intern under kyl at SRP. the lawyer who represents the hopi is a big supporter of sen john mccain. these guys do not represent the hopi and navajo but rather their constituents in phnx and tucson and the water and power companies that provide their constituents with water and power at ndn expense.

    this bill/settlement is vociferously opposed. each of the hopi villages sent letters to the hopi tribal council opposing this, including the 4 villages that do not have representation on the council. in addition, the traditional village village chiefs and chiefs of the religious societies at those villages sent letters and in some cases testified in person at a hopi tribal council meeting that drew so many people that the meeting was moved to the large senior center in hotevilla. at this meeting, 4 former tribal chairmen and 4 former vice chairmen spoke eloquently against the settlement/bill. a former chief judge of the hopi tribe is also against the settlement as were the hundreds of tribal members in attendance. at this meeting a resolution was passed by the tribal council in opposition to the settlement.

    the hopi tribal chairman is misrepresenting the position of the hopi tribe and the majority of the hopi people when he sends out this stuff. the smart money at hopi is betting that he’s a one term chairman. that is if he lasts through his first term which is not at all certain.


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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.

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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

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