Archive for the 'Hopi self determination' Category

Hopi leaders demand stop to further negotiations on SB 2109

November 8, 2012

Honorable Hopi Tribal Council

We find it necessary to write this letter to you concerning Senate Bill 2109, “Navajo and Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Act of 2012”, to instruct you that you must immediately direct Hopi Chairman Leroy Shingoitewa, Council Representative George Mase, and certain members of the Hopi Water & Energy Team, to stop any further negotiation of S.2109 (and H.R. 4067) and the Settlement Agreement.

On June 15, 2012, at a duly constituted Hopi Tribal Council meeting held at the Youth/Elderly Center in the Village of Hotevilla, the Hopi Tribal Council voted, 11 for, and 4 against, to approve Action Item No. H-065-2012, which resulted in the passage of Resolution H-072-2012 (copy attached for your reading). Voting for passage were: Vice Chairman Herman Honanie, Davis Pecusa (Bacavi), Gayver Puhuyesva (Bacavi), Nada Talayumptewa (Kykotsmovi), Carlene Quotskuyva (Kykotsmovi), Rebekah Masayesva (Kykotsmovi), Danny Honanie (Kykotsmovi), Bruce Fredericks (Upper Moenkopi), Leroy Sumatzkuku (Upper Moenkopi), Wayne Kuwanhyoima (Upper Moenkopi), Danny Humetewa (Upper Moenkopi). Voting against were Alph Secakuku(Sipaulovi), George Mase (Sipaulovi), Cedric Kuwaninvaya (Sipaulovi); and Leroy Kewanimptewa (Bacavi).

Resolution H-072-2012 rejected S.2109; and directed Chairman Shingoitewa and the Hopi Water & Energy Team to cease any further negotiation of S.2109. The Resolution also directs Hopi Chairman Shingoitewa to formally notify Senator Jon Kyl and appropriate departments of the Federal government of the Hopi Tribe’s rejection of S.2109.

Our villages, traditional leaders and tribal members overwhelmingly rejected S.2109. They issued village proclamations and resolutions, and wrote letters stating their rejection of S.2109. We attach copies for your reading. At the June 15, 2012 tribal council meeting, there was unanimous opposition to S.2109 by our villages, traditional leaders and tribal members. Not one village, traditional leader, and tribal member spoke in favor of S.2109.

The mandate of the Hopi Senom is very clear, yet Hopi Chairman Leroy Shingoitewa, George Mase and certain members of the Hopi Water & Energy Team continue to negotiate S.2109 and its accompanying Settlement Agreement. Other council representatives are also supporting and are facilitating these negotiations. This is an outright violation of H-072-2012 and constitutes “gross neglect of duty” by Shingoitewa, Mase and certain members of the Hopi Water & Energy Team, and other tribal council representatives who are supporting Shingoitewa’s continuing negotiations.

As members of the Hopi Tribal Council, you are allowing the illegal spending of millions of the tribe’s money (our money) on attorneys on this illegal activity by your failure to stop Shingoitewa and Mase. You are allowing Shingoitewa, Mase and others to spend money illegally on their trips to meet with the Department of Interior officials and other LCR negotiating parties. All expenses beginning June 15, 2012, to continue negotiating S.2109 and the Settlement Agreement are improper and illegal.

The authority to negotiate village water rights under S.2109 is authority that is not granted to the Hopi Tribal Council by the Constitution & By-Laws of the Hopi Tribe. Thus, Leroy Shingoitewa, George Mase and certain members of the Hopi Water & Energy Team do not have the authority to be negotiating S.2109 and the Settlement Agreement. Moreover, Resolution H-072-2012 specifically prohibits Leroy Shingoitewa, as Tribal Chairman, and the Hopi Water & Energy Team from any further negotiations of S.2109.

We encourage you to study the attached Resolution H-072-2012, particularly the second recital. It points out your duties and obligations as tribal council representatives as mandated by the Hopi Constitution. Also study the By-Laws of the Hopi Tribe, at ARTICLE I – DUTIES AND QUALIFICATIONS OF OFFICERS, Section 3, where it requires you, as tribal council representatives, to “truly represent the people of their villages”.

We also remind you of the Hopi Appellate Court’s Final Answer to the Bacavi Village Certified Question. In answering Bacavi Village’s Certified Question, the Court spoke to the authorities of our villages. The Court said “(p)rior to the initial drafting and adoption of the Hopi Constitution in 1936 there was no central Hopi government. Rather, the people comprising the Hopi Tribe lived in 12 self-governing Villages, each of which retained its own aboriginal sovereignty”. The Court also said “the entire structure of the Hopi Constitution indicates that the authority of the central government rests on the bedrock of the aboriginal sovereignty of the Hopi and Tewa villages”.

The Hopi Tribal Council operates on the limited authorities granted it by the villages; and any authority not specifically included in the Hopi Constitution is authority retained by the villages. The authority to negotiate village water rights is authority that has not been granted the Hopi Tribal Council by the villages.

We are aware of meetings being held and attended by Chairman Shingoitewa, George Mase, certain members of the Hopi Water & Energy Team, and their attorneys. We are aware of the scheduled November 14, 2012, meeting with Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in Washington, D.C. We are also aware that certain representatives of the villages of Mishongnovi, Sipaulovi and Upper Moenkopi plan to attend this meeting in Washington, D.C.

We recently obtained a copy of proposed revisions to S.2109 that has been the topic of illegal negotiations by Shingoitewa, Mase and certain members of the Water & Energy Team. While the Navajo Nation Council committees shared this document with its constituents for their comment, Leroy Shingoitewa, George Mase and certain members of the Hopi Water & Energy Team found it convenient to keep this document secret and not share with Hopi villages and tribal members. You will recall we had to go to other sources to obtain a copy of the original S.2109.

It is clear that the Hopi Tribal Council does not have authority to negotiate S.2109 and the Settlement Agreement. And by majority vote in enacting Resolution H-072-2012, you directed Chairman Shingoitewa and the Hopi Water & Energy Team to cease any further negotiations of S.2109, but to date, they have defied your legislative mandate. Therefore, we want you to direct Chairman Shingoitewa, George Mase and the Hopi Water & Energy Team to stop any further negotiation of S.2109 and the Settlement Agreement. This is your duty and obligation to our villages and members of the Hopi Tribe.

We also want you to cancel Chairman Shingoitewa’s, George Mase’s, and certain tribal representatives’ trip to attend the November 14, 2012 meetings in Washington, D.C. Finally, we demand that you direct that letters be written to Senator Jon Kyl, Senator John McCain, Senator Daniel Akaka, and Representative Benjamin Quayle, to withdraw S.2109 and its companion bill, H.R. 4067, with copies of the letters to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

We fully expect that you will comply with our demands and respect the will of the Hopi Senom. Your failure will constitute your “serious neglect of duty”; and may require further legal action.

Respectfully,
/s/ Benjamin H. Nuvamsa
______________________________________, Former Hopi Tribal Chairman
/s/ Vernon Masayesva
______________________________________, Former Hopi Tribal Chairman
/s/ Ivan Sidney, Sr.
______________________________________, Former Hopi Tribal Chairman
/s/ Clifford B. Qötsaquahu
______________________________________, Former Hopi Tribal Vice Chairman
/s/ Phillip R. Quochytewa, Sr.
______________________________________, Former Hopi Tribal Vice Chairman
/s/ Todd H. Honyaoma, Sr.
______________________________________, Former Hopi Tribal Vice Chairman
/s/ Caleb H. Johnson
______________________________________, Former Hopi Tribal Vice Chairman
Attachments

cc: Honorable Senator Jon Kyl, United States Senate
Honorable Senator John McCain, United States Senate
Honorable Senator Daniel Akaka, Chairman, Select Committee on Indian Affairs
Honorable Representative Benjamin Quayle, House of Representatives
Honorable Secretary Ken Salazar, Department of the Interior
Honorable Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs, Kevin Washburn, BIA
Hopi Traditional Leaders
Hopi Villages
Hopi Tutuveni

Village of Hotevilla formally rejects SB 2109 – Story by Rosanda Suetopka Thayer

The following story by Rosanda Suetopka Thayer will be published soon in various newspapers. News of Hotevilla’s formal rejection of SB 2109 is very significant and I hope that other villages will make similar statements in the near future. The official Hotevilla Proclamation and Resolution on SB 2109 is included at the end of this post. PLEASE DISTRIBUTE WIDELY.

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Village of Hotevilla formally rejects SB 2109

Historical, unprecedented move by ” Hopi traditional” village a first in dissaproving LCR settlement

Story by Rosanda Suetopka Thayer

Exercising its aboriginal sovereignty rights, the “traditional” village of Hotevilla, 3rd Mesa has formally rejected the Hopi tribal approval of SB 2109, making it the first of 12 villages located on the Hopi reservation to formally notify the Hopi Tribal Council of its dissaproval of any further action or legislative movement on its village behalf.

In a formal village meeting held on May 21, 2012, at a regular meeting of the village community, Hotevilla adopted a Proclamation and Resolution directing and mandating that the Hopi Tribal Council reject Senate Bill 2109 – Navajo -Hopi Little Colorado River Rights Settlement Act of 2012 and that “failure” to honor the village directive “shall constitute gross neglect of duty as defined in the Hopi constitution and By-Laws, Article V, section 2.

This Hotevilla proclamation is consistent with the Hopi Appellate Courts Final Decision in the Village of Bacavi’s Certified Question filed in 2010 that traditional Hopi villages retain all aspects of “their inherent aboriginal sovereignty” and that those powers are “outside the scope of authority of the Hopi Tribal Council.

The discussion and approval of this village proclamation was a result of two separate village public meetings held at Hotevilla to educate its village membership on the water issue.

Public meetings were held on March 26th and April 13th, 2012.

The second public meeting on April 13th, the Hopi Tribes’ Water and Energy Team Chair-George Mase, along with Hopi Chairman Leroy Shingoitewa, made their arguments to the village in favor of the settlement agreement and “agreement in principle.”   This meeting was requested by Hotevilla village with the added special condition that no outside tribal attorneys be present and that the Hopi Chairman and his Water and Energy Team present their materials in the Hopi language solely on their own.

This proclamation asserts that the village of Hotevilla has the “inherent sovereign power” to maintain and exercise its rights and powers over all matters and resources belonging to the village and asserts that these rights and powers have “never been delegated to the Hopi Tribal Council.”

The Hopi Constitution and By-Laws does in fact, specifically “admonish” that the Hopi Tribal Council “shall not sell or lease tribal properties which includes water rights.”

Despite protests from Hopi Energy and Water Team Chairman-George Mase at the public meeting who said that “we cannot walk away from this agreement”, the Hotevilla Village Board of Directors, on behalf of its traditional village membership wholly reject SB2109 and “any form of agreement intended to waive, or extinguish our rights to our sacred waters” and directs the Hopi Council to reject the bill.

The formal 3-page village proclamation by Hotevilla is titled, “HV-102-2012″ and was signed off on May 21st.

Click to download the Hotevilla Proclamation and Resolution on SB 2109 (4 pages).

The Hopi Foundation 10-Day Cultures of Giving Online Donor Challenge

Click here for more information.

S.B 2109 and Potential Implications for Hopi

Please see below Benjamin H. Nuvamsa’s very informative PowerPoint presentation on the potential (negative) implications of S.B. 2109 for Hopi. Nuvamsa gave this presentation on March 12, 2012, out at First Mesa. Earlier today, two readers of my blog asked what they could do to help with Hopi attempts to prevent the passage of S.B. 2109. HELP SPREAD THE WORD. Let people know what’s going on. Also, many thanks to those readers who have already circulated my posts on S.B. 2109 via email, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks. Every bit helps.

Click to download PDF (45 pages)

“This bill is not good for Hopi”: Benjamin Nuvamsa on “S.2109 – Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Act of 2012″

February 20, 2012

To the Hopi Tribal Council

To the Hopi and Tewa Senom

On the 100th birthday of the State of Arizona, February 14, 2012, Senator Jon Kyl (R), former Salt River Project attorney, introduced Senate Bill 2109, the “Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Act of 2012”, which would approve the settlement of water rights claims of the Hopi Tribe (and Navajo Nation) and allottees of both tribes. The bill would “resolve litigation against the United States concerning Colorado River operations affecting the States of California, Arizona, and Nevada and for other purposes”. This bill is not good for Hopi.

Senator Kyl, in introducing his bill, said: “Legally, the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe may assert claims to larger quantities of water, but, as seen here, they do not have the means to make use of those water supplies in a safe and productive manner. Among water-law practitioners, the tribes may be said to have „paper water, as opposed to „wet water. Those claims are far reaching, extending beyond the mesas and plateaus of northern Arizona calling into question water uses in California and Nevada”. He continued: “In exchange for legal waivers, the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe will receive critical water infrastructure”. This means the tribes will be required to waive their aboriginal water rights, or Winters Rights, (and rights of individual allottees) in order to receive groundwater delivery projects. But funding for these projects is not guaranteed. In fact, the bill relieves the federal government from funding the operation and maintenance of the projects.

Senator Kyl would not have introduced this bill without first obtaining concurrence of the Hopi Chairman and the Hopi Water and Energy Team. In fact, Hopi Chairman Shingoitewa is quoted in recent news articles as saying “Were very happy that weve gotten to this point where we are able to get things done, and the benefit is for our people”. I disagree with Shingoitewa. This bill is a death sentence because it would forever waive and extinguish the Hopi Tribe’s aboriginal rights, Winters Rights, including the rights of allottees, in exchange for a promise for groundwater projects without guaranteed federal funding. The bill does not acknowledge Hopi’s rights under the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hildago.

It is no surprise that S.B. 2109 favors non-Indian water users such as the Arizona Public Service, Central Arizona Project, Navajo Generating Station (NGS), and Peabody Western Coal Company. In his presentation, Kyl said: “Importantly…(the bill) provides immeasurable benefits to non-Indian communities throughout Arizona, California, and Nevada”. Kyl, former attorney for the Salt River Project, will retire soon from the Senate and the negotiating teams are in a hurry to complete these agreements before he retires. The non-Indian water users need his continued support.

The bill ensures continued operation of NGS and Peabody Coal Company. It would give NGS about 34,000 acre feet per year of federal water rights that it currently does not own. The existing coal leases, brokered by the late John Boyden, already give Peabody exclusive subsurface rights to our water (Navajo Aquifer), coal and other and minerals. If this bill becomes law, NGS and Peabody would now have federal water rights to continue pumping water from the precious N-aquifer. And, Hopi and Navajo could lose all sovereign rights and authority over the coal leases and NGS operations.

Peabody and NGS damaged our environment, the N-aquifer, and our natural resources through almost 50 years of coal mining on our lands. Peabody pumped over 3.3 million gallons of pristine N-aquifer water each day to slurry coal to the Mohave Generating Station (MGS) until it was stopped by the tribes and MGS shut its doors in 2005. There is evidence now that the N-aquifer has, in fact, been damaged. The study by Dr. Daniel Higgins provides empirical evidence of water level decline at Kayenta and spring discharge decline at Moenkopi from excessive pumping. Our sacred springs are drying up and our drinking water supply is contaminated. But S.B. 2109 requires the tribes to agree to a “waiver and release of claims for water rights, injury to water rights, and injury to water quality from time immemorial and thereafter, forever…”

Our ancestors, Hisat Senom, occupied the Colorado Plateau and the Little Colorado River basin since time immemorial. When the federal government established the Hopi Indian Reservation, it set aside sufficient quantities of water to sustain our people. So, by the 1908 federal court decision in Winters v. United States, we have aboriginal and superior water rights over other water users. Yes, we need critical water delivery infrastructure. Yes, we need to quantify our Winters Rights. But these are aboriginal rights that we must not waive and give up. Water is sacred. It is central to our traditional ceremonies and our way of life. We have a sacred covenant to protect our resources and our Hopi way of life. Our forefathers and elders fought very hard to protect and preserve our sovereign rights. They fought hard to preserve everything that is Hopi. We cannot be forced to violate our moral conscience and abandon our religious rights guaranteed us by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The Hopi and Tewa People have not been consulted, nor have they been informed of the terms and conditions of S.B. 2109 by Shingoitewa and the Hopi Water & Energy Team, yet these officials apparently expressed agreement with the proposed bill to allow Senator Kyl to introduce this bill. We also do not believe the entire Hopi Tribal Council was consulted. And while many question the legal composition of the Hopi Tribal Council, Hopi and Tewa People must mandate the tribal council to immediately reject this disastrous bill. Finally, any agreement to settle Hopi’s water rights must be done only through the vote of the People. Hopi and Tewa People have already demonstrated their disagreement with this Administration’s legislative agenda when they defeated, by a referendum vote, the proposed revision to the tribal constitution.

Benjamin H. Nuvamsa

Former Hopi Tribal Chairman

The Hopi Foundation 2011 Fall Newsletter

Click image to download newsletter (6 pages)

Nuvamsa letter to Hopi Tribal Council and PowerPoint to “Water is Life” forum

Peabody Coal Leases PowerPoint / Nov 12, 2011 / Click to download (24 pages)

                                                                                               November 14, 2011

Honorable Hopi Tribal Council Members:

Enclosed is a copy of a presentation on Peabody Coal Leases that was presented at our recent “Water is Life” forum on November 12, 2011, held at the Hopi Veterans’ Memorial Center.

As you may know, the Hopi Tribe and Navajo Nation entered into three separate leases with Sentry Royalty Company (predecessor to Peabody Western Coal) beginning in the mid-1960’s. The Navajo Nation has a “Navajo Exclusive” lease (No. 8580) and shares another lease with the Hopi Tribe (No. 9910). Peabody pays 12.5% of monthly gross realization (royalty) on Lease 8580 to Navajo; and pays 6.25% monthly gross realization to both Hopi and Navajo under Lease 9910. The leases now provide for renegotiation every ten years, referred to as “Lease Reopener”. Lease 9910 has not been formally approved by Hopi although it was due for renewal in 2007. Navajo approved its portions in April 2011.

Coal from the Black Mesa Mine was dedicated to the Mohave Generating Station (MGS), but MGS shut its operations in 2005. Today, very little if any mining is occurring in the Black Mesa Mine area. Coal mined on the Kayenta Mine area is delivered to NGS and royalties are shared by the two tribes under Lease 9910 Lease; and Navajo receives all royalties under is lease, No. 8580.

Since the inception of the leases, Peabody Coal has not paid Hopi and Navajo at current fair market prices for the coal it mined and the water it pumped for mining operations. During its heyday, Peabody pumped over 3.3 million gallons each day from our precious Navajo Aquifer to slurry coal, over 275 miles from Black Mesa to MGS in Laughlin, Nevada. Since it began mining, Peabody mined over 400 million tons of coal from the Black Mesa and Kayenta mines.

If you review the leases, you will find the leases provided only for leasing of surface acres. No consideration was made on the value of the massive coal and water deposits that were the subject of the leases. No appraisals or valuation of the coal and water deposits were made to determine the fair market value of these resources. As a result, the tribes lost millions, if not billions, of revenues since the inception of the leases. Yet, by virtue of the leases, Peabody obtained exclusive subsurface rights to our vast deposits of coal and water without paying a dime for them. We (the tribes and the federal government) allowed Peabody to build a considerable company portfolio at our expense. This coal and water became an asset to Peabody that it would leverage for other business ventures. Tribal coal and water were “locked in” for the duration of the leases and tribes could not re-negotiate the terms of the leases, or could they leverage the resources. The leases effectively kept the tribes from diversifying their respective economies because the tribes lost control over the resources.

In a typical business scenario, a company would buy raw materials that it would use in manufacturing its products. Not so under the Peabody coal leases. The tribes received no upfront payments for the coal and water Peabody secured under the leases. Instead, tribes are compensated minimally (12.5% and 6.25% gross monthly realization) when Peabody sells the coal to NGS. Incidentally, the royalty rates were the subject of the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) which is a matter for later discussion.

Peabody and owners of NGS receive considerable benefits from the production and sale of electricity using our coal and water. Yet the tribes do not participate in the sharing of profits. See the Value Chain chart in the presentation. The chart depicts that owners of NGS (Arizona Public Service, Tucson Gas & Electric, Bureau of Reclamation, Salt River Project, Los Angeles Water & Power, and Nevada Power) are also “customers” of NGS.

Concerning tax revenues, while the Navajo Nation and the State of Arizona receive some tax revenues, the Hopi Tribe receives no tax revenues because it does not impose taxes on Peabody because of a reported covenant to not tax Peabody. In its 2005 report, Peabody reported that the Navajo Nation received over $82.9 million in various forms of taxes during the period 1986 to 2004, while the State of Arizona received over $67.5 million during the same period.

Payments made by Peabody are not commensurate with the profits they earn from our resources. Hopi only receives about $11.0 million to $13.0 million in royalties and other benefits each year from Peabody, very little, if any, of which goes to our people. But Peabody reported that its revenues rose 21% to a record $2.0 billion; and its operating profits rose 41% to $458 million for the Quarter ending June 2011. Peabody’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer alone received a salary of $11.9 million in 2009; and its Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer earned $4.1 million. And the Salt River Project recently reported a profit of over 26% in 2011.

After almost 50 years of mining, we have nothing to show how the mining of our coal and the pumping of our precious Navajo Aquifer has benefited us. Simply look around. We have dilapidated infrastructure, dismal housing conditions, limited water supply, contaminated drinking water, limited scholarships, limited or no jobs, etc. Our socioeconomic conditions remain dismal while Peabody, NGS and their holding companies make significant profits from our resources. It is time to make a change in the structure of the coal leases so that our tribe, our villages, and our people can all benefit from sale of our resources:

  • Demand upfront payments for coal and water that will be the subject of the leases on an annual basis at fair market prices.
  • Increase the monthly royalties to reflect current fair market rates (instead of a minimum 12.5% and 6.25%).
  • Demand that Peabody complies with the leases and find alternative sources of water, other than using the Navajo Aquifer; and reclaim and repair the area including damages to the aquifers.
  • Limit the leases to coal and water, and exclude other “kindred” products.
  • Enact a tax ordinance and begin imposing possessory interest taxes, business activity taxes, sales taxes, fuel excise taxes, severance taxes, etc. on Peabody.
  • Hold Peabody accountable for damage done to our resources, including damages to our archaeological resources.
  • If Peabody refuses to amend its lease and agree to these conditions, seek competition to find a more responsible and accountable lessee.
  • Develop alternative uses of our resources and transition to use of alternative energy.
  • And impose on the Secretary of Interior Salazar to declare that Material Damage has occurred on Black Mesa and the Navajo Aquifer. There is clear evidence of damages done to our resources.

Benjamin H. Nuvamsa

Shungopavi Village

Former Hopi Chairman

“Water is Life” Forum – Saturday November 12, 2011

Click image to download flyer

A message from Ben Nuvamsa…

We are at a Cross Roads!  Critical issues face the Hopi Tribe and the Navajo Nation concerning our tribal water, coal, environment, our culture and our economy.  We must become informed of the big issues that will affect our tribes for hundreds of years to come.  Our tribal councils are not informed of, nor do they understand the complex issues that lie before them.  As tribal members and stakeholders, we must become educated and informed of these issues so that we can educate the elected tribal officials to make the proper and informed decisions.  This is an opportunity for everyone to share their concerns and participate in setting a direction to addressing these important issues.  We will have common issues.  How do we work together to preserve and conserve our resources for our future generations? Come and learn about these issues and express your concerns.

The attached flyer announces our forum to be held November 12, 2011, at the Hopi Veterans’ Memorial Center.  Spread the word to Hopi and Navajo citizens. Everyone is welcome.  Tribal council representatives and delegates are especially encouraged to attend.  Traditional Hopi meal will be served.

One of the most important topics to be covered concerns the recent findings by Dr. Daniel Higgins of the impacts on the N-Aquifer from years of pumping by Peabody Coal.  We will also discuss the proposed Northeastern Indian Water Rights Settlement Agreement and what provisions it contains.  There are many other important issues facing our tribes such as the Kayenta Mine Life of Mine Permit.   What does all of this mean to you?  Come learn and express your concerns.

 

Kathy Helms of Gallup Independent on forum to address Navajo-Hopi coal, water issues

This just in from the Gallup Independent

Forum to focus on Navajo-Hopi coal, water issues

By Kathy Helms
Dine Bureau
Gallup Independent

WINDOW ROCK – The people of the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe are at a crossroads, according to former Hopi Tribal Chairman Ben Nuvamsa. The dilemma hinges on whether to continue accepting pennies on the dollar for their resources from outside entities, or take the bull by the horns and create “economic sovereignty” for themselves.

A public forum sponsored by the Inter-Tribal COALition to address tribal water, coal, environmental, cultural and economic issues affecting the tribes will be held at 6 p.m. Sept. 30 on the sixth floor of the Native American Community Building, 4520 N. Central Ave., Phoenix.

Presenters include Daniel Higgins, Ph.D., Sean Gnant of the Brewer Law Firm, Milton Bluehouse Sr., and Nuvamsa. Navajo Nation Council delegates, Hopi Tribal Council members, and interested members of both tribes are asked to attend the forum to learn more about their common issues.

“We believe that we are at the crossroads. Many of these entities are after our water and our coal. We kind of stand, so to speak, at the headwaters of all these resources,” Nuvamsa said.

Coal from the tribes is used to generate electricity so the people in southern Arizona, southern California and Nevada will have electricity in their homes. The massive Central Arizona Project depends on power from Navajo Generating Station so the federal government can deliver surface water to tribes and municipalities in southern Arizona, he said.

“The sad part is that these entities that are using these resources to provide these services to the people and generate profits are not paying us at the fair market value for our water and our coal,” while the tribal councils are prematurely agreeing to settlements without properly informing their people, he said.

“For example, the lease reopener that’s before the Hopi Council – there ought to be increased royalties. Instead of one-time bonuses, there ought to be annual bonuses. There ought to be higher scholarships – $85,000 (for Hopi) is nothing.”

In addition, provisions in the proposed Northeastern Arizona Indian Water Rights Settlement could hold Peabody Energy and others harmless for all past, present and future damages to the water quality. “I think these are the kinds of things that people need to know, that our tribal councils are agreeing to these things,” he said, adding that the companies should be held accountable for damages and the federal government should be held accountable for not enforcing the rules.

“Both nations ought to be able to say, ‘OK, we have this precious resource, we’re going to take all bidders,’ and be able to go out and compete for higher prices, not have it handed to Peabody Coal. We ought to be able to make those decisions ourselves. I call that economic sovereignty,” Nuvamsa said.

During last week’s meeting with U.S. Department of the Interior Deputy Assistant Secretary David Hayes on the proposed water rights settlement – which many have linked to the future survival of NGS and the Central Arizona Project – Shiprock Delegate Russell Begaye said a change of policy may be in order in terms of the use of Navajo resources by outside entities such as Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tucson and Los Angeles.

Begaye said Navajo historically has focused on “outsourcing” its minerals and water resources rather than looking inward to see how they can be used to benefit the Navajo people. He proposed that Navajo look at developing local community-based generating plants which produce up to 10 megawatts of electricity.

“The town of Shiprock where I’m the delegate – about 18,000 folks – we can probably use 2 to 3 megawatts to run the whole community, and the rest we could outsource and sell to outside entities or other communities on our land, using a combination of coal, wind and solar.”

Rather than building mega-plants to power up electricity in other places, if a company said, “’We want to come alongside you and develop those resources to light up your communities on the reservation, to give water to homes on your land, and be able to do it in such a way that these communities can start selling these sources to outside entities,’ then we’re really talking about a trust responsibility that builds the Nation first,” Begaye said.

“I think the focus needs to turn from Phoenix to the Navajo Nation, from Los Angeles to the Navajo Nation. That policy change, if it takes place, will resolve a lot of our issues. We are sitting on gold mines, but those gold mines are being used by outside entities.”

Navajos travel to major cities across the West and “dream about the days when we may have those stores and those manufacturing plants,” Begaye said, all the while knowing it is Navajo resources which made those developments possible. “Why not let’s turn that inward? Let’s change the policy of outsourcing, to using those resources to build a nation.” He asked Interior to help Navajo in that endeavor.

After Interior officials left, the work session turned from water to NGS and despite efforts by Duane Tsinigine and Nelson Begaye to keep the session open to the public, Nabiki’yati’ Committee voted to go into executive session.

Adella Begaye of Wheatfields, a member of Dine Care, said, “This is very sad because there is no accountability, there is no transparency. All these decisions are made without our consent, without our concern. We have been concerned about the water settlement because 36,000 acre feet is not enough for our Nation, and they are now even trying to settle for $400 million – which is nothing.”

She said it was wrong for Navajo and Interior officials to try to push through the settlement by saying there is just a small window of opportunity because Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., will retire next year and chances for a settlement after that are not likely. “Kyl is for Phoenix to get all the water they can. They’re not for the Navajo Nation.”

Tsinigine left the meeting when it went to executive session. “It’s only fair that all delegates are here to hear these issues, and some of these issues, in general, should be made public. In LeChee, Coppermine and Kaibeto, the majority of the men and women work at Navajo Generating Station and they want to be updated and make sure that the people hear what is at the negotiating table,” he said afterward.

“We’re leaving 75 percent of the Council out of it,” because they were given abrupt notice of the meeting and many had prior commitments, he said. “That’s not fair.”

Marshall Johnson of To Nizhoni Ani, or Beautiful Water Speaks, said the Interior’s visit to discuss their water rights was “like you see on television – a drive-by” that took in the president’s office, Legislative and the Hopi Tribe, but the people, “the original stakeholders,” were left out.

The state of Arizona is the beneficiary of any proposed settlement, he said. During a May hearing in Washington, Shelly and Hopi Tribal Chairman LeRoy Shingoitewa stressed the importance of NGS to the tribes. Johnson, who testified along with Black Mesa Trust Director Vernon Masayesva, opposed extending the lease.

“We told Central Arizona Project it’s about time they get self-sufficient. We’ve been feeding them. They have a $3.5 billion operation in industrial agriculture. We made it available for them. Navajo resources made it possible to push water 3,000 feet elevation uphill. They plant three times a year,” he said. “We have no net benefit from this operation.”

Information:http://beyondthemesas.com/2011/09/21/a-forum-to-address-tribal-water-coal-environment-cultural-and-economic-issues-affecting-hopi-tribe-navajo-nation-phoenix-az-sept 30-2011/

A Forum to Address Tribal Water, Coal, Environment, Cultural and Economic Issues Affecting Hopi Tribe & Navajo Nation – Phoenix, AZ, Sept. 30, 2011

A message from The Inter-Tribal COALition Sponsers…

Hopi and Navajo coal and water are a precious commodity that are the envy of the State of Arizona, Southern California, Nevada, federal government, Peabody Coal Company, Salt River Project, owners of the Navajo Generating Station, cities and towns in the Southwest, and the southern Arizona Indian tribes, among others.  These entities have competing and conflicting interests in our precious natural resources, yet they have not been willing to compensate our tribal nations for mining and pumping of our resources at fair market value. We are at a critical “Cross Roads” and time is ripe for us to exercise our sovereign rights to seek economic and environmental justice, yet our tribal councils have been agreeing to the demands of the federal government, Peabody Coal, Salt River Project, et. al., while compromising any leverage we may have to maximize economic benefits for our people, promote and require environmentally and culturally relevant operations in generating electricity.

Our resources make it possible for the federal government to meet its obligations with tribes in Southern Arizona under their water rights settlements.  Our coal and water make it possible to generate electricity for lift stations along the massive Central Arizona Project water delivery systems so that the tribes and municipalities can receive their surface water needs.  Our coal makes it possible for families in Arizona, Nevada and Southern California to enjoy the conveniences of having electric power in their homes.

Recently both Navajo and Hopi tribes agreed to settle the RICO lawsuits with the federal government, Southern Cal Edison and Peabody Coal (and hold them harmless for past violations) without consulting with tribal members.  A huge proposed water rights settlement agreement is now before the tribes for consideration.  There have been numerous lease violations at Black Mesa by the Peabody Coal Company which have gone unaddressed for years.  Recently, President Obama withdrew EPA’s proposed air emissions standards that would have affected the Navajo Generating Station and other coal powered power plants.  And while the federal government and Peabody Coal Company have been asserting that there are no damages to the N-Aquifer from Peabody’s excessive withdrawals of the N-Aquifer, there is a recent study that challenges these claims.

We invite you to come to this forum to learn about these issues and talk about what we, as tribal members and tribal nations, can do to address these issues.  Knowledge is power.  Learn about these complex issues so that you can hold your council members accountable for making informed decisions on your behalf.  Special invitations go out to Hopi and Navajo tribal members (reservation and off-reservation), and council members/delegates from both tribes.  Spread the word.

The Inter-Tribal COALition Sponsers


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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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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