Archive for the 'Hopi water rights' Category

Nuvamsa requests Secretary of the Interior to withdraw SB 2109 and HR 4067 from Congressional legislative process

November 8, 2012

The Honorable Ken Salazar

Secretary – Department of the Interior

1849 C Street, NW

Washington, DC 20240

Dear Secretary Salazar:

Mr. Secretary, I write this letter to you on behalf of our Hopi and Tewa Senom (People), our traditional leaders and our village governments concerning Senate Bill 2109, “Navajo and Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Act of 2012”. As you know, Arizona Senator Jon Kyl introduced S.2109 to the United States Senate on February 12, 2012. Arizona Senator John McCain co-sponsored this bill. And on February16, 2012, Arizona Congressman Ben Quayle introduced a companion bill, House Resolution No. 4067.

At a historic Hopi Tribal Council meeting on June 15, 2012, held at the Hotevilla Youth/Elderly Center on our reservation, the Hopi Tribal Council enacted Resolution H-072-2012 that formally rejected S.2109 by the Hopi Tribe. A copy of Resolution H-072-2012 is enclosed for your information.

The Hopi Tribal Council enacted this Resolution after our Hopi and Tewa villages, our traditional leaders, our village governments, and tribal members overwhelmingly objected to and rejected S.2109. Several of our past elected Hopi tribal leaders also objected to S.2109 and supported the enactment of Resolution H-072-2012. Enclosed are copies of proclamations and resolutions adopted by our villages and traditional leaders. Also enclosed is a copy of Action Item H-065-2012 endorsed by the past Hopi elected leaders which resulted in the passage of Resolution H-072-2012.

But, we understand Hopi Chairman LeRoy Shingoitewa and certain members of the Hopi Tribal Council will be attending a meeting at the Department of Interior, sponsored by your office, to discuss the proposed changes to S.2109. The Hopi and Tewa Senom vehemently object to this meeting and any attempt to revise S.2109 without prior consultation with us and without our concurrence.

Be advised that Chairman Shingoitewa, the Hopi Tribal Council and the Hopi Water & Energy Team do not have the authority to negotiate S.2109 and any amendments thereto. Resolution H-072-2012 specifically prohibits Chairman Shingoitewa and the Hopi Water & Energy Team from further negotiations of S.2109. This Resolution has never been amended or rescinded, so it is in full force and effect. Consequently, Chairman Shingoitewa does not have the authority to sign the Water Settlement Agreement on behalf of the Hopi Tribe.

The Constitution and By-Laws of the Hopi Tribe, adopted in 1936, is not like other typical Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) constitutions of other tribal nations. The Hopi Constitution acknowledges the traditional and inherent powers of our villages. Our traditional villages are autonomous villages that still maintain their “Inherent Aboriginal Sovereignty” and powers of self-government. Please refer to the enclosed copy of the Hopi Tribal Appellate Court’s Final Answer to Bacavi Village’s Certified Question of Law that addresses the traditional, inherent powers of our villages.

Our villages are the rightful owners of water rights. The authority to negotiate water rights is authority reserved to our villages; and is authority not delegated to the Hopi Tribal Council in the Hopi Constitution. The Hopi Constitution was a “boiler plate” constitution authored by and provided by the United States. As such, the United States already understands that any negotiation and agreement regarding our water rights can only be agreed to with full concurrence and approval of our villages.

Water right is a property right. It is a sacred right of our villages. Any action by Chairman Shingoitewa, the Hopi Tribal Council and other parties may be unconstitutional and may constitute a wrongful taking of property without just compensation under Federal and Hopi tribal law. The Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 prohibits any Indian tribe from taking private property for public use without just compensation. Thus, our villages would have legitimate claims for compensation for the unlawful taking of their water rights if the Hopi Tribe and other parties proceed with negotiating and pursuing the passage of S.2109.

Mr. Secretary, water is sacred and is central to our Hopi way of life. As Hopi Senom, we have a sacred covenant with our caretaker, Maasau, to protect our traditions, ceremonies and our natural resources. Important matters such as land, water and other natural resources are properly addressed by our traditional leaders and villages. Therefore, we respectfully request that you facilitate the formal withdrawal of S.2109 and H.R. 4067 from the Congressional legislative process.

With Respect,

Benjamin H. Nuvamsa

Village of Shungopavi (Hönwugnwa – Bear Clan)

Former Hopi Tribal Chairman

Enclosures

cc: Honorable Senator Jon Kyl, United States Senate

Honorable Senator John McCain, United States Senate

Honorable Daniel Akaka, Chairman, Senate Committee on Indian Affairs

Honorable Ben Quayle, Representative, House of Representatives

Honorable Kevin Washburn, Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs

Hopi Traditional Leaders

Hopi Villages

Hopi Tutuveni

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

THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC: “Hopi Tribe unfairly blamed in water-settlement collapse” by LeRoy N. Shingoitewa

The following letter is an opinion piece that Hopi Tribe Chairman LeRoy Shingoitewa published in The Arizona Republic on August 27, 2012. http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/opinions/articles/20120823hopi-tribe-water-settlement-collapse.html

Hopi Tribe unfairly blamed in water-settlement collapse

by LeRoy N. Shingoitewa

I was disappointed to see the Hopi Tribe’s position on the Little Colorado River water settlement so badly mischaracterized in a Viewpoints column written by U.S. Sens. Jon Kyl and John McCain (“An endless water fight,” Aug. 12).

The settlement would resolve the rights of many parties to water in the Little Colorado’s basin and was reached after 13 years of negotiations between the Hopi Tribe, the Navajo Nation, and numerous federal and state parties.

I am acutely aware of the need for water for our people. More than 40 percent of the homes on the Hopi Reservation have no running water or indoor plumbing. Many Hopi villages receive water with more than four times the allowable levels of arsenic. Water for another village is threatened by uranium pollution. We participated in the settlement negotiations to resolve these problems. There are no Hopi Tribal Council representatives who prefer litigation over settlement.

Despite our support for the settlement, the Hopi Tribal Council also voted to oppose certain provisions in Kyl’s implementing legislation that are extraneous to the water-rights settlement. Specifically, the Council objected to provisions requiring the Navajo Nation to provide water for the Navajo Generating Station or to renew coal-mining leases. Hopi negotiators did not participate in “crafting” these sections.

While these issues are very important, they are not related to ensuring an adequate, sustainable supply of water for our people. Combining these two issues was both unwise and unnecessary.

We informed Kyl of our objections when he joined these two issues. We also communicated the reasons for our position on the proposed legislation. Prior to his column, we submitted suggestions to make the legislation consistent with the settlement agreement. We asked him to remove provisions from the legislation that have nothing to do with the water settlement and to clarify ambiguities in the legislation to comport with assurances we received during the negotiating process. Unfortunately, we have yet to receive a response.

Kyl and McCain unfairly blame the tribes for rejecting the settlement, even though on July 5 the Hopi Tribal Council voted to approve the settlement. All the parties to the settlement negotiations are responsible for the outcome, not just the Hopi Tribe. The state and private parties, who spent millions of dollars on legal fees for the negotiations, will have to answer to their ratepayers and customers for what is now a failed settlement.

Unfortunately, it appears Kyl and McCain have given up hope of enacting legislation to implement the settlement. We are disappointed.

I suspect many of the private parties in northeastern Arizona — who negotiated long and hard for the certainty they desire — are equally disappointed that their interests were overwhelmed by the generating station. After all, none of the power produced by the generating station is consumed in our region. It all subsidizes the pumping of Central Arizona Project water to Phoenix and Tucson.

With all due respect to Kyl, if he had not insisted on including the generating-station issue, the water settlement would be final and on its way to enactment.

I thank Arizona’s senators for their efforts to promote the settlement. In recognition of his impending retirement, I’d also like to thank Kyl for his service to the people of Arizona and wish him well in future endeavors.

The Hopi Tribe stands ready to work with his successor and Arizona’s congressional delegation to solve our water concerns, as well as those of our neighbors. The generating station should be dealt with separately, however, in recognition of the fact that it is a separate issue.

LeRoy N. Shingoitewa is chairman of the Hopi Tribe.

THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC: “An endless tribal water fight” by Jon Kyl and John McCain

The following editorial by Senators Jon Kyl and John McCain appeared in The Arizona Republic on August 13, 2012. The article provides a brief history of Southwest Indian water rights. It also explains their reasons why the Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe rejected the Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Act, and expresses hope that the “Indian parties” will one day agree to a resolution that will provide the people with “wet” water instead of “paper” water.

———–

An endless tribal water fight

Navajos, Hopis opted to let a long-sought settlement slip away

by Jon Kyl and John McCain

“Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting.”
That aphorism, long popular among Western water folks, was the prevailing sentiment in the Southwest for the past century. From the riverbank to Congress to the courts, water users fought for water rights.
But victories were not always satisfying. The best one could hope for was a paper decree quantifying water rights. Especially for Indian tribes, what they really needed was not “paper” water but actual “wet” water.
As a result, parties began to negotiate settlements that not only resolved water claims but also included congressionally authorized funding for Indian water projects, upheld federal trust responsibilities and created certainty for non-Indian communities. Even when all the parties are working together, actually achieving a water settlement — particularly coming up with the funding — is usually very hard to do. We saw that recently with the failure of the settlement that included the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe.

We’ve been asked to provide some history, briefly describe the settlement provisions, and discuss the prospect of a congressional resolution to the decades-long dispute.

The U.S. Supreme Court laid the foundation for Indian water-rights claims in 1908, when it ruled that the United States reserved water for Indian reservations. The nature and extent of those water rights, however, remained unclear. Decades of litigation ensued, with tribes, the federal government, states and numerous other claimants fighting it out at the state courthouse. In Arizona, for example, Indian and non-Indian water users have spent more than 30 years trying to resolve claims to the Gila and Little Colorado rivers — expending millions of dollars in the process. Ongoing litigation has also stifled economic growth and development for communities throughout Arizona.
In recent years, those claimants have found a better way to resolve their competing claims. The negotiated water-settlement framework allows the parties to avoid the high costs and uncertainty associated with protracted litigation, while enabling them to define the extent of their water rights and, with legislation, secure funding to put that water to productive use.
Moreover, settlement affords parties the opportunity to proactively address complex and interrelated water issues in a mutually beneficial manner. They can tailor solutions to their specific circumstances by, for example, developing plans to prevent aquifer depletions or to protect sacred springs (two concerns of the Navajos and Hopis). This is why more than two dozen tribes have opted to settle their claims rather than cede that determination to state courts.
The most recent example of such a settlement involves the White Mountain Apache Tribe, which worked with stakeholders to craft an agreement that will provide its Fort Apache Reservation with a reservoir and drinking-water infrastructure while enabling non-Indian parties to better plan for their water future without the high cost of continued litigation against the tribe. The legislation implementing that settlement was enacted into law in 2010.
Likewise, the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe opted to negotiate with the federal government, Arizona and numerous state parties to resolve their water claims. The initial effort centered on both the Colorado River and the Little Colorado River. While we all would have preferred a settlement for both rivers, the Colorado portion ultimately proved too costly in this fiscal climate, so the settlement focused on the Little Colorado only.
The parties’ representatives negotiated both a settlement agreement and legislation that would have recognized and satisfied the tribes’ claims to the Little Colorado River, placed limits on non-Indian water uses, reserved 27,089 acre-feet of water for a future Colorado River settlement and provided more than $350million in funding for three drinking-water projects to serve the Navajo and Hopi people.
Unfortunately, both tribes voted not to proceed with the legislation. There seemed to be three reasons. First, some objected to the fact that we introduced the legislation before formal approval by the parties — but that is standard practice and was agreed to by the parties’ representatives. The object was to protect our place in the legislative queue pending formal approval of the agreement by each party. Given the limited time available this year to request hearings and move the bill, we believed this was prudent, and we assured the parties that formal approval by all parties — including the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe — had to occur before we would move forward in Congress.
A second concern centered on the inclusion of a provision involving Navajo Generating Station in order to provide the Navajo Nation the option of securing Central Arizona Project water for the significant population in and around Window Rock. Without that option, the additional water would not be available until the Navajo Nation resolved its claim to the Colorado River. We believed it was important to find a way to get water to Window Rock, and after a lot of work, the parties, including Navajo and Hopi representatives, crafted that provision. But their tribal councils identified it as one of the reasons they opposed the settlement legislation.
Finally, it appears that some believed the tribes would be better off litigating their claims in state court, notwithstanding the financial drain of protracted litigation and the fact that litigation produces no funding for projects to put the water to use.
While we respect the Navajo and Hopi councils’ decisions, we regret that they have closed the already narrow window of opportunity to pass legislation this year. With tight fiscal constraints in Washington, we see little prospect for settling their claims with supporting legislation in the foreseeable future. We will, of course, continue to work with all the parties. We particularly hope the Indian parties choose to pursue a resolution that will allow them to achieve not just water rights on paper, but to actually secure “wet” water for their people.
Jon Kyl and John McCain represent Arizona in the U.S. Senate.

“Navajo-Hopi water deal collapses” by Shaun McKinnon

Navajo-Hopi water deal collapses

Kyl unable to close deal before retiring

by Shaun McKinnon – Jul. 23, 2012 11:30 PM  The Republic | azcentral.com

The collapse of a long-sought Navajo-Hopi water settlement this month represents a lost opportunity for the tribes to secure reliable water supplies and for Sen. Jon Kyl to close one last tribal deal before he leaves office in January.

Native American water controversy

Navajo lawmakers voted July 5 to reject the agreement and Kyl’s enabling legislation, which would have authorized funding for water-delivery projects. The Hopi Tribal Council on June 21 narrowly approved the settlement but voted down Kyl’s bill, a necessary component of the deal. The settlement required the approval of both tribes to move forward.

Support for the agreement eroded after Kyl introduced the bill in February. Opponents framed the deal as unfair to the tribes, claiming its central component awarded groundwater that already belonged to the reservation communities.

They also seized on a provision that offered the Navajos extra water if tribal leaders agreed to extend the land lease for a power plant near Page.

The tribes could still try to salvage pieces of the settlement, but time has nearly run out to reintroduce it in Congress, where attention is focused almost exclusively on the election.

Once Kyl retires, the tribes will lose their strongest and most knowledgeable advocate and the driving force behind many of the state’s key water deals. Without a settlement, the tribes’ claims to water would be decided in court, an option that would offer no guarantee of water and no promise of federal assistance to build pipelines, leaving thousands of people with a future of hauling water across the sprawling reservations.

“It’s very disappointing,” said Kyl, R-Ariz. “They have a water right, and they should get it. We have a responsibility to try to get it to them. I would have liked to be able to do that for the people I represent. I’m afraid this might have been their last chance.”

The Navajos and Hopis represent the largest unsettled tribal water- rights case in Arizona . The failed agreement would have satisfied claims on the Little Colorado River and resolved disputes over groundwater aquifers beneath the two reservations. Claims on the mainstem Colorado remain mired in negotiations over funding and the availability of water.

Kyl, a water attorney before being elected to the Senate, has helped broker deals with other tribes, including an agreement with the Gila River Indian Community in 2004, the largest tribal settlement in U.S. history. The Navajo-Hopi deal would have been his last as a senator.

“He was always finding a way to break the logjam,” said Dave Roberts, water-rights manager for Salt River Project, whose rights on the Salt and Verde rivers make it a player in many tribal cases, including the Navajo and Hopi deal.

“We can work on the agreements here,” Roberts said, “but if we don’t have a strong advocate, someone with the knowledge to work on it in D.C., to educate others in Congress about how things work and what the long-term benefit is, we’d be stuck.”

Like most of the tribal agreements, the Navajo and Hopi settlement included a multitude of non-Indian interests. Among them were SRP, Flagstaff , water users on the upper stretches of the Little Colorado and the Central Arizona Project, which oversees some of the water available for tribal claims.

Although the Navajo and Hopi claims focused on the Little Colorado River, the CAP brought to the table 6,411 acre-feet of mainstem Colorado water if the Navajo Nation would work to extend land and coal leases for the Navajo Generating Station.

An acre-foot is 325,851 gallons, enough to serve two families for a year in urban settings but enough to serve significantly more people on the Navajo Reservation, where water hauling keeps use low.

Power-plant provisions

The power plant, on the Navajo Reservation outside Page, provides almost all the power to move water through the CAP Canal from the Colorado River at Parker to Phoenix and Tucson . The CAP buys the power at reduced rates and would be forced to charge more for water without the plant. Its leases expire in 2019.

Kyl said there would have been no agreement without the power-plant leases. But critics of the plant, who targeted the pollution and the coal mining, used the issue to undermine the agreement, filling the audiences at public hearings leading up to the votes.

Elsa Johnson, a Navajo activist who led some of the opposition efforts, said the Tribal Council’s vote showed that ordinary people could wield as much influence as the companies that own the power plant and the coal mine near Kayenta.

“We’ve been treated like an unwanted stepchild by these corporations and other entities for far too long,” she said. “They have profited in the hundreds of millions and billions off our resources while we endure health and environmental impacts.”

Supporters of a water settlement say they’re not sure what would happen if they tried to propose a deal without the power-plant provisions.

The extra water would be off the table, but tribal leaders might be willing to advance a measure based solely on the groundwater projects and Little Colorado River claims.

An earlier settlement proposal did not include the power plant. That version addressed claims on the mainstem Colorado and called for construction of a pipeline to deliver water from the river to the reservations. When the pipeline plan was dropped because of its high cost, the Colorado River deal also fell apart. The power plant incentives were then added to bring the extra water to the table and retain support from all the parties.

“It seemed like a good majority of the ‘no’ votes on the council were because of the power-plant provision,” said Leo Manheimer, a member of the Navajo Nation Water Rights Commission, which endorsed the Little Colorado settlement.

“I think if there’s ever an opportunity to go back and see what the council would do without these provisions, that would be something we would be willing to try to work on,” he said. “But our window of opportunity is small.”

When that window closes, so will many of the advantages of settling claims out of court, Manheimer said. The rejected deal would have secured water from the Little Colorado and protected the river from further development upstream. It would have placed limits on groundwater use by cities and other non-Indian entities near the borders of the two reservations, slowing the depletion of aquifers.

Congress also could have authorized money to build delivery pipelines to Hopi villages and Navajo communities where existing wells often fail to meet demand. In some areas on the southern Navajo Reservation, shallow alluvial wells dry up during a drought, Manheimer said.

Navajo President Ben Shelly said he was disappointed by the council’s votes to reject the agreement and the legislation. He said he would have preferred to see lawmakers amend the proposal to eliminate provisions they didn’t like, but he accepted the outcome.

“The people had the opportunity to learn the details about this complex issue from the day it was brought into public,” he said in a written statement. “We didn’t hide anything. I also stood by my promise to get water infrastructure to the people. We need to get them running water, and this settlement was a good way to do so.”

Although the Hopi Tribal Council rejected Kyl’s legislation, it endorsed the settlement, and tribal officials said they were willing to work on amendments to the bill, mostly to remove the power-plant provisions.

“Those provisions have nothing to do with our settlement,” Hopi Chairman LeRoy Shingoitewa said.

Kyl seemed especially disappointed that the Navajo council didn’t leave that same door open. He said he invited the tribe to help craft amendments, but the council simply voted to reject the bill, an approach that hurt any chance to reopen negotiations with the other state interests. Pursuing the claims in court, he said, “will cost a lot of people a lot of money.”

“There will be a court decree, the tribes will ‘win’ money, but then what will they have? They will have a piece of paper that says they’re entitled to so much water. They have that now,” Kyl said. “With a settlement, they actually get the money to build projects to get water to people. That’s not going to happen if it just goes to court.”

The Hopi Tribe Fact Sheet and FAQ on Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Agreement

Thanks to Micah Loma’omvaya, Chief of Staff for the Hopi Tribe, for sending me the following documents to post on BEYOND THE MESAS. Click images to download.

The Hopi Tribe Fact Sheet on LCR Settlement Agreement, July 10, 2012- Click image to download (2 pages)

Hopi Tribe LCR Settlement Agreement FAQ, May 1, 2012 – Click image to download (9 pages)

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.

————————–

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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© 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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