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 This Resolution has never been amended or rescinded, so it is in full force and effect.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


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.

/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

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

Important issues facing the Hopi Tribe

The following post was written and provided by Benjamin H. Nuvamsa….

There are several very important issues currently facing our tribe, but no one from the tribal administration is sharing them with our villages, traditional leaders, and tribal members.  These issues have potentially long lasting and devastating impacts on our tribe.  There are other issues that the current tribal administration is doing, or has done, but tribal members have no knowledge of them.  If you are interested and want to hear about these issues, come to the Hopi Cultural Center on Thursday at 5:00 p.m. for an evening of discussion and dialogue.  We are at a very critical juncture in the history of our tribe that I believe everybody should know what direction the current tribal administration is taking our tribe.  Some of the issues we will discuss include.

1.       Revised Senate Bill 2109 (and House Resolution 4067) “Navajo and Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Act of 2012”.  Despite the overwhelming rejection of this bill by our villages, leaders and tribal members, Leroy Shingoitewa & certain members of the Water & Energy Team are continuing to negotiate this legislation and the Settlement Agreement.  In fact, they are in Washington, DC this week in meetings with Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Navajo Nation officials.  We recently received a copy of proposed changes to S.2109 that Shingoitewa and his attorneys have been secretly negotiating without our knowledge and approval.  Secretary Salazar and some tribal officials have indicated they want to push this legislation for passage during the lame duck Congress (before the end of this year).  We, past elected tribal leaders, have written to the tribal council to direct Shingoitewa to cease the negotiations and comply with Resolution H-072-2012.  And I sent a letter to Secretary Salazar (with copies to Senator Akaka, Senator Kyl, Senator McCain, Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Washburn) that Shingoitewa and the tribal council do not have authority to negotiate and give away our water rights.

2.       Hopi LCR Water Rights Claim in the Apache County Superior Court.  There was a hearing recently in Phoenix on Hopi’s water rights claim to the Little Colorado River.  If Shingoitewa and his team continue with their negotiations of S.2109, any agreements on S.2109 by Shingoitewa may compromise the claim our tribe filed several years ago in the Apache County Superior Court (Little Colorado River Water Rights Adjudication).  What will be the impacts on our aboriginal rights, Spanish law rights, and Federal reserved rights; and what will we lose, if S.2109 is passed into law?

3.       Mishongnovi Case (Tribal Court No. 2011-CV-0023; Appellate Court No. 2012-AP-0002).  Recently the Hopi Appellate Court sent out invitations to villages and others to file Amicus Briefs in a case that may impact the traditional leadership and governance in our villages.  It is vitally important that village leaders are made aware of this issue and that they consider filing their respective Amicus Briefs on behalf of their villages.  You remember the Hopi Appellate Court issued its ruling on the Bacavi Certified Question  in February 2010.  This was an important and historic ruling for our Hopi and Tewa villages.  The Mishongnovi case could have even more significant impacts on our traditional villages.  It is really important that all villages, traditional leaders and others file their briefs to the appellate court before the deadline expires.

4.       RICO Lawsuit Settlement.  In June 1999 the Hopi tribe joined in the Navajo Nation’s lawsuit against Peabody Energy, Southern Cal Edison and Salt River Project for price fixing scheme against the tribes on coal royalties, and breach of coal leases under a law called Racketeering Influenced & Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.   Navajo Nation demanded a 20% royalty for its coal but ended up only with a 12.5% rate.  Under RICO, Navajo could potentially claim treble damages (three times) of up to $1.8 billion.  But in August 2011, the Navajo Nation agreed to a settlement for much less than its claim ($600.0 million claim originally filed).  Shingoitewa and Lyttle agreed to a settlement without the knowledge and approval of the Hopi tribal council and the Hopi people.  Questions remain as to: What happened to the settlement funds? What did Hopi give up by accepting the money? What were Robert Lyttle’s fees? Did Shingoitewa agree to certain waivers and release of claims against the Defendants (e.g. release of claims for over-pumping of the N-aquifer)?  The Shingoitewa administration have, so far, refused to answer these and other questions raised by Council Representative Becky Masayesva.

5.       Robert Lyttle.  The tribal council recently voted, by a secret ballot, to hire Robert Lyttle as In-House Counsel to the Hopi Tribal Council.  In doing so, they purposely overlooked a highly qualified Hopi tribal member who, along with others, applied for the job opening.  Robert Lyttle did not apply for the job but was selected by Shingoitewa’s supporters on tribal council in a secret ballot vote.  Back in May 2010, Robert Lyttle entered into a contract with Shingoitewa at a time when he was not admitted to the Arizona State Bar; and at a time when there was no “Law Firm of Robert Lyttle” (in fact, there is no Robert Lyttle Law Firm), and despite the requirement for a “law firm” in the contract he signed, and the Council Resolution the tribal council passed.  Since then, millions of the tribe’s money have gone to Robert Lyttle and his purported “law firm”.  The other attorneys who purportedly are partners or members of his “law firm” are members of other law firms.  How much money has been paid to Robert Lyttle?  What work did they perform?  Are there legal contracts between the Hopi Tribe (approved by tribal council) and all of Lyttle’s attorney friends who purportedly work in his “law firm”?  What funds were used to pay Lyttle?  We all have a right to have these, and other questions, answered by the Shingoitewa (and the Treasurer).

6.       Tribal Fiscal Year 2009 Audit.  The tribal council recently approved a Fiscal Year 2009 audit performed by Walker & Armstrong.   The audit firm has worked for the tribe for a long time and may have violated several auditing standards (rules).  They may have violated conflicts of interest rules by acting both as auditors and consultants.  In the audit report, the firm evaluated tribal investments, investment risks, investment quality, past and future investment performance.  This goes well beyond and outside the scope of the audit.  So the question is, did Walker & Armstrong violate Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, Generally Accepted Auditing Standards, and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)?  Walker & Armstrong was deeply involved in the former Treasurer Russell Mockta matter and tribal investments; and may have certain vested interests to continue working for (auditing) the tribe.

7.       Miscellaneous. There are several other issues, such as the APS Right-of-Way, Law & Order Code, Snow Bowl, Grand Canyon Escalade Project, Shingoitewa’s new effort to revise the Hopi Constitution, etc., that will be briefly addressed.

These are only a few issues that face our tribe.  We just want to share them with you for your information since this administration is not keeping us informed.   What you (we) do about them is entirely up to tribal members.  Thank you.

Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellowships in American Indian Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2013-2014

American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign seeks two Postdoctoral Fellows for the 2013-2014 academic year. This fellowship program provides a stipend, a close working association with AIS faculty, and assistance in furthering the fellow’s development as a productive scholar. Applicants should have an ongoing research project that promises to make a notable contribution to American Indian and Indigenous Studies. While fellows will concentrate on their research, they may choose to teach one course in American Indian Studies. Furthermore, fellows are expected to participate in the intellectual community of the American Indian Studies Program. One of the positions may be renewable for a second year.

Stipend and Benefits: The Fellowship stipend for the 2013-2014 academic year is $42,000, including health benefits. An additional $5,000 will be provided for the fellow’s research, travel, and related expenses.

Minimum Qualifications: Ph.D. or equivalent terminal degree is required. Candidates must have completed all degree requirements by August 15, 2013. Preference will be given to those applicants who have finished their degrees in the past five years. The one-year fellowship appointment period is from August 16, 2013, to August 15, 2014.

To Apply: Create your candidate profile through the University of Illinois application login page at and upload your application materials:

Candidates should submit a letter of application providing a thorough description of the research project to be undertaken during the fellowship year, a curriculum vitae, two samples of their scholarly writing, and two letters of recommendation.

Applications received by January 18, 2013 will receive full consideration. The review process will continue until the fellowships are filled. For further information, contact Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert, Chair, Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Committee, American Indian Studies: Phone: (217) 265-9870, Email:, or visit the Program’s website at

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is an Equal Opportunity Employer (