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).

“A GOLD MINE ON THE COLORADO PLATEAU” by Larry Hamana

The following letter by Larry Hamana of Upper Moencopi is one of the most well-articulated and convincing commentaries that I’ve read on Hopi water rights and SB 2109. His comment in the Preface is especially powerful:

S.2109 can be categorized as a form of genocide:  a conspiracy by outside interests and our present political leaders threatening the Hopi people’s aboriginal existence on and around the Colorado Plateau, as protected by the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo; and the unconscionable and devious taking of our water, as protected by the 1908 Winters Doctrine.

We Hopis will hopefully have an opportunity to vote on whether to accept or reject SB 2109. If given the chance I will vote to reject it. Once we give up our water rights, we will never get them back. Our indigenous rights (rights to water, land, ceremonies, self-government, etc.) form the pillars of our tribal sovereignty and self-determination. No amount of money- no deal by the U.S. Government – should ever convince us to abandon our rights as Hopi people.

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

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COMMENTARY

Larry Hamana, Hopi Tribal Member

(May 11, 2012)

‘A GOLD MINE ON THE COLORADO PLATEAU’

Preface

As present Hopi and Navajo political leaders and their respective Water & Energy Team, Navajo Nation Water Rights Commission and water attorneys continue to “pad and massage the pockets” of non-Hopi/-Navajo interest groups and boosting the “political egos” of AZ senators Jon Kyl and John McCain, co-sponsors of S.2109 – Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Settlement Act of 2012 – the grassroots Hopi and Dine’ people are now commanding “authentic transparency and accountability” of their leaders.

This outcry has gained momentum, been elevated and echoed throughout Hopi and Navajo country in recent weeks, gaining national and international attention in vehemently opposing S.2109.

In the meantime, Kyl’s and McCain’s version (S.2109) has advanced and been referred to the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and the House of Representative’s companion version (H.B. 4067) to the Subcommittee on Water & Power of the House Natural Resources Committee for review and action.

This proves Kyl and McCain are out to mercilessly ramrod their proposed bill while jeopardizing both tribes’ sovereignty and continued theft of their “superior” rights to water in the Little Colorado River and Lower Colorado River Basin systems while advocating for water rights of non-tribal interests in AZ, CA and NV.

Kyl and McCain are systemically working toward this end knowing they are circumventing established federal protocol for introducing proposed legislation to Congress, and against their own (Republican) Party’s ban on “earmarks”.

This upheaval is threatening the Hopi and Dine’ peoples’ livelihoods today and into the future and is tantamount to the U.S. government’s historical covert attempts to annihilate the Hopi people by providing our elders and ancestors with smallpox-infested blankets under the guise it was doing them a favor – to protect them from severe winter conditions.

As a result, hundreds of Hopis perished throughout the Hopi villages.  One example lies at the bottom of the Village of Old Oraibi on the northeast side of the mesa where a spot is evident to this day.

This spot below the mesa signifies where surviving villagers disposed of their loved ones’ bodies that passed from the dreaded disease, just to safeguard the remaining village population.

I can’t fathom the shock, sorrow and feeling of helplessness and imbalance that came with this experience.

S.2109 can be categorized as a form of genocide:  a conspiracy by outside interests and our present political leaders threatening the Hopi people’s aboriginal existence on and around the Colorado Plateau, as protected by the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo; and the unconscionable and devious taking of our water, as protected by the 1908 Winters Doctrine.

Brief Historical Perspective

A brief history lesson, through research, reveals that in 1863, the “Arizona Territory” was born.  Already, there were two basic overarching goals to be accomplished in order for the territory to achieve statehood and be admitted into the Union:  1) to “Americanize the territory”, and 2) finding ways “to secure water and electricity for its use”.

In 1900, when AZ was still awaiting statehood, Phoenix already had a population of 5,500, growing in leaps in bounds.

Finally, on February 14, 1912 (Valentine’s Day), the AZ territory obtained statehood facing a population boom of 12,000 residing in Phoenix, within only a 12-year time span.

And, Phoenix and the State of AZ had their sights on conquering and remaking the Colorado Plateau and desert to meet their future water and electrical needs.

During the post World War II era, Phoenix’ population had increased to 250,000; then to 3 million by mid-century.

Today, based on 2010 U.S. Census Bureau data (two year’s shy of a century), the metropolis of Phoenix now boasts a 6.4 million population.

So, since 1863, every farmer, freighter, broker, railroad agent, merchant, and others were posturing to control AZ’s untamed rivers; and representatives in branches of local, county, state and federal governments wanted to see that all rivers were regulated.

At one point, AZ legislators, regulators and industry – public and private alike – also entertained the idea of importing water for especially AZ’s urban industrialized centers (Phoenix and Tucson) from the Pacific Ocean to be transported by atomic-powered plants and delivery systems.

This created controversy among free market, county and state, and federal advocates on how all parties would come together to secure their water and energy needs.  As a result, an alliance among all non-Indian stakeholders came into being.

In the 1950s and ‘60s, the exploration of our natural resources on the Colorado Plateau had already revealed it ranked among the world’s best storehouses of huge deposits of high quality fossil fuels:  coal, oil and gas, oil shale and tar sands; and water.

Early on and in order to harness water and electricity supplies from Hopi and Navajo resources to serve central and southern AZ and southern CA and NV, Phoenix energy interests led by the Salt River Project (SRP) were heading up various consortia to build a coal-fired plant in northern AZ.  And, yes, you guessed it:  the Navajo Generating Station (NGS) was born to produce their electricity.

Around the same time, the Glen Canyon Dam at Page, AZ was built to help generate electricity for AZ, and southern CA and NV.  And, the Central AZ Project (CAP) completed construction of its canal system to channel our water to central and southern AZ for domestic and industrial uses.

The Central AZ Water Conservation District, an AZ political subdivision, was created to operate the CAP, and SRP and AZ Public Service (APS) became the initial operators and regulators of electricity for AZ.

The final ingredient to producing electricity was to mine and provide our coal on Black Mesa to transport and burn at the Mojave Generating Station (MGS) at Laughlin, NV and NGS at Page.

Hopi and Navajo coal and N-aquifer water would be used to generate steam in order to produce electricity.  N-aquifer water was also used to slurry pulverized coal from the Black Mesa Mine to the MGS.  In the 1960s, Peabody Western Coal Company was born, currently known as Peabody Energy.

All the ingredients were now in place, except for compensating the Hopi Tribe and Navajo Nation for past and present uses of their coal, water and generated electricity at fair market value.  This is still the case.

“The future of Arizona’s water supply will not be in the discovery or importation of new water, but in the management of our water supply.”

Karen L. Smith, Scholar and Author, 1987

Today’s Perspective

Before I continue, I ask our present Hopi political leaders, “Where did the burden of providing water and electricity to central and southern AZ, and southern CA and NV become the inherent responsibility of the Hopi Tribe?”

Because rural and urban centers throughout AZ continue to mismanage their water and electrical supplies via runaway industrial development and growth and associated population explosions, shouldn’t it be their responsibility to find solutions to their dilemma without imposing on our federal and 1908 Winters Doctrine reserved water rights?

Theoretically, if this scenario was reversed, you can be certain these outside interests would gawk at both tribes by stating, “’Go find solutions to your own problems, and don’t come begging to us to bail you out!”

These outside conglomerates and entities need to come to terms with themselves and publicly admit they have been “robbing” us of our precious water for the past 150 years while imposing price-fixing schemes on water and electrical users; and turning their backs on the Hopi Tribe and Navajo Nation by not compensating them for the cheap use of their coal, water and generated electricity at fair market value.

Today, as these opportunists continue to profit from our resources, both tribes still lack improved and sustainable programs, services and capital projects on their reservations.  And our water and the electricity generated at the MGS and Glen Canyon Dam continue to bypass both reservations subverting other benefits to the grassroots people, villages and communities.

This is a classic example of being swindled right under our noses with more to come, thanks to Kyl, McCain, and our Hopi political henchmen and their questionable water attorneys.

Original Hopi Tribe Statement of Claimant, First Amended Statement of Claimant, Comments of the Hopi Tribe on the Preliminary Hopi Hydrographic Survey Report, Second Amended Statement of Claimant

There are volumes of history addressing the Hopi Tribe’s pending adjudication case in the Little Colorado River (LCR) basin and recently negotiating the Tribe’s claims to water rights per S.2109.  In order to not confuse the Hopi people, I’d rather summarize the factual highpoints to our “water war”.

Since 1863, non-Indian interests in AZ have been engaged in this water war through 1978 (115 years later), when Phelps Dodge Corporation finally petitioned the State of AZ “to determine the rights of ‘all water users’ in the LCR basin”.

One year later (in 1979), this matter was transferred to the Apache County Superior Court, St. Johns, AZ and designated as “The General Adjudication of all Rights to Use Water in the Little Colorado River System and Source (Civil Case No. 6417), to be adjudicated by all registered claimants as required by the AZ Department of Water Resources (ADWR).

Federal court decisions from the past have determined that state courts are the proper forum for adjudicating all federally-reserved water rights, including Indian water rights.

Subsequently, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed water rights claims “for historic and reserved water rights to surface and groundwater in the LCR basin” including the rights of the Hopi Tribe, Navajo Nation, White Mountain Apache Tribe and the Pueblo of Zuni.

Each of the tribes also filed separate claims.  Since then, the White Mountain Apache Tribe and the Pueblo of Zuni have settled their cases.

In addition, the DOJ also filed claims on behalf of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service and National Park Service.  Altogether, 11,000 total claims were initially filed on behalf of some 3,000 claimants.

The Hopi Tribe ensued by filing its “Original Statement of Claimant” on November 3, 1986 (7 years from the time the civil case was transferred to the Superior Court); filing its “First Amended Statement of Claimant” on January 29, 2004; filing its “Comments of the Hopi Tribe on the Preliminary Hopi Hydrographic Survey Report” on June 30, 2009; and filing its “Second Amended Statement of Claimant” on November 13, 2009.

These collective statements and comments culminated in the Hopi Tribe’s official claims to water rights in the LCR basin.

 

All of the Hopi Reservation lies in the LCR basin.  The Hopi Tribe has purchased land within the LCR basin as provided in the “Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute Settlement Act of 1996”, as contained in the S.2109 language.  Asserting water rights in these lands is set forth in the 1996 settlement act.

Moreover, the Hopi Tribe’s pending case in the Apache County Superior Court is being “adjudicated” while S.2109 is being “negotiated” with certain non-Hopi/-Navajo claimants.

Together, along with the 1996 settlement act, they all have a real bearing on what direction the Hopi Council will take us while protecting, preserving and quantifying our comprehensive water rights into the future.

S.2109:  Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Settlement Act of 2012

The proposed S.2109 was introduced to Congress February 14, 2012 (Valentine’s Day) by Kyl and McCain, exactly “one century” from the time AZ obtained statehood.  What a coincidence!

The impetus to have Congress honor a settlement agreement and possibly legislate S.2109 come at the coattail of Kyl’s retirement from politics on January 3, 2013.  Another coincidence?

There are high suspicions by grassroots Hopis that the de facto Council, Water & Energy Team and their water attorneys have grossly failed to weigh the merits of especially the 40-page “November 13, 2009 Second Amended Statement of Claimant” and its exhibits against S.2109.

If they did, S.2109 would have never evolved, and we wouldn’t be even challenging dangerous provisos in the proposed bill.

Unfortunately for them, they went on their own tangent in entertaining S.2109, and as a result, they’re facing the consequences of their mistakes.

As professionals in our own right, we’re only pointing out the dangers of S.2109 hoping to get deserved attention, yet, we have not been directly invited into the circle to exchange meaningful dialogue and to shed light on certain harmful provisions detrimental to the Hopi people.

Recent and limited meetings conducted by Hopi Chairman LeRoy Shingoitewa, the Council and its Water & Energy Team with our people were only “token consultations”.  The information shared by their power point presentations only provided “half-truths” and didn’t provide the overall picture on all factors affecting our comprehensive water rights.

If S.2109 was to be enacted by Congress, with the support of the Council, it would forever extinguish and waive our present and future claims to our water rights in the LCR and Lower Colorado River Basin systems, water quantification/quality and tribal sovereignty; and threaten our culture, traditional values, ceremonies and religious secular affairs based on an infinite Hopi Calendar.

These aren’t the only important issues that would be impacted.  If the Council passes a resolution supporting S.2109, it would:

1)    Automatically and directly threaten and undermine the time (26 years), energy and costs spent on filing the Hopi Tribe’s “Original Statement of Claimant” in the Apache County Superior Court; and three years since the Tribe filed its “Second Amended Statement of Claimant”;

2)    Waive all liability for past, present and future damages of mined lands, destruction of the N-aquifer and impacts on the overall regional environment by the federal government, Peabody and NGS;

3)    Not guarantee a “direct congressional appropriation” for planning/designing, constructing, and operating and maintaining the proposed Hopi Groundwater Project.  That funding would be required to come through separate legislation, if Congress ever agreed to such terms;

4)    Coerce the Hopi and Navajo councils to agree that Peabody and NGS continue their operations while uncontrollably using N-aquifer water and coal from the Black Mesa and Kayenta mines, while both tribes and the federal government turn their backs to all past and ongoing destruction to Black Mesa and the surrounding environment with further destruction to the N-aquifer; and

5)    Not require the Council to prove a net benefit to U.S. taxpayers; not require the Council to undermine other programmatic funding already contained in the overall federal budget; and not require the Council to increase the national budget deficit.

Yes, and Shingoitewa and George Mase, chairman of the Council’s Water & Energy Team; Robert Lyttle, the Council’s questionable general counsel; and Joe Mentor Jr., the Council’s supposed and recently hired water attorney, are in a hurry to have the Council pass a resolution to enact S.2109.

The “proof is in the pudding”.

  • On the Hopi Tribal Council March 1, 2012 Second Quarter Session Agenda/9th Amendment, per Action Item #053-2012, Mase had already submitted said Action Item and an accompanying proposed resolution “to endorse the proposed settlement of its claims to the Little Colorado River and its sources”, which is currently pending Council action.  (Note:  The proposed resolution is poorly written and misleading, and needs a total overhaul to ensure that all Hopi rights and interests are protected.)
  • On March 8, 2012, Mentor, along with Navajo Nation water attorney Stanley Pollack and 30 other non-Indian claimants to S.2109, signed a letter addressed to Kyl and McCain confirming their support for S.2109.  In the letter, the 32 signees, as counsel and representatives of the respective claimants, also advised their governing bodies (i.e., Hopi Council) would be informed of their support for S.2109, and their support would be considered, subject to review and approval of its attached exhibits.  Furthermore, the governing bodies would still be required to conduct a final review of the settlement documents and make an independent and final decision.  Let it be known that Mentor does not speak for the grassroots Hopi.
  • Most recently, Hopi Vice Chairman Herman Honanie was willing to sign an Action Item to be included on the Council’s March 2012 agenda, that was received and date stamped April 3, 2012 by the Tribal Secretary’s Office.  Suspiciously enough, another date stamp indicated it was received April 16, then received and date stamped April 17 by the Office of General Counsel.

This Action Item recommended that Council: 1) explain to tribal members, including traditional leaders and practitioners, the terms and conditions of the Agreement-In-Principle and provisions of S.2109, 2) allow a forum for tribal members and practitioners to express and present their concerns to the Council relative to S.2109, 3) enact legislation that expresses the Will of The Hopi Senom, 4) prohibit any further negotiations by the Hopi Tribe, its Chairman and Water & Energy Team on S.2109 until a special hearing is conducted, 5) mandate that any and all further and separate negotiations of Tribe’s water rights be conducted with full and open disclosure and with full consultation with the Hopi Senom, and 6) not pursue further and separate water rights agreements without the formal vote of tribal members via a Voter Referendum.

It has now been 13 working days since Lyttle has sat on the Action Item signed by former chairmen Vernon Masayesva, Ivan Sidney Sr. and Benjamin Nuvamsa; and former vice chairmen Caleb Johnson, Clifford Qotsaquahu, Phillip Quochytewa and Todd Honyoama Sr.

There is absolutely no reason or logic, legally or technically, for Lyttle to hold up the Action Item from being placed on the agenda, considering it is coming directly from grassroots Hopi representatives opposing S.2109, not any tribal government arm.  Is he illegally tampering with the submittals?

Perhaps it is because he, Shingoitewa and Mase are conspiring and hoping Mase’s Action Item/resolution will be entertained and passed by the Council before the grassroots’ Action Item and resolution even come before the Council.

In any case, it is the Hopi villages that have the ultimate authority to act on water matters of this magnitude, not Lyttle, Shingoitewa, Mase, Mentor, Water & Energy Team nor the Council.  The Constitution and By-Laws of the Hopi Tribe and Hopi Tribe Ordinance 21, combined, prevent this.  In February 2010, the Hopi Appellate Court upheld the villages’ authorities, and has never been vacated.  The court’s decision was based on case law, and the rule of law.

“If you’re not at the table, you’re probably in the menu.”

Oren Lyons, Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy

11th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

New York City, May 2012

Our collective voices will no longer be suppressed by fly-by-night and arrogant Hopi politicians and attorneys, and their backers.

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SB 2109 and Sovereign Rights of Hopi Villages

Below is an email from Ben Nuvamsa, former chairman of the Hopi Tribe, that he sent to a number of Hopis (including myself) on April 25, 2012. Please note that the documents that Nuvamsa refers to are included at the bottom of this post. Many thanks to Mr. Nuvamsa for allowing me to publish his email on BEYOND THE MESAS.

Hello Everyone.

Attached is a copy of the tribal council agenda which contains Action Item No. 053-2012 and proposed council resolution that George Mase (Sipaulovi) endorsed as Chairman of the Hopi Water and Energy Team.  Also attached is a copy of the March 8, 2012 Agreement-in-Principle that attorneys for the parties have signed, including Joe Mentor on behalf of the Hopi Tribe.  Note that the Agreement says they will endeavor to support S.2109, subject to the review and approval of the governing bodies.

Remember, neither Leroy Shingoitewa, George Mase, the Hopi Water & Energy Team, nor the Hopi Tribal Council have the legal authority to commit to endorsing S.2109.  This is the sovereign right of the villages.  Only the villages have a legal and sovereign right to decide on this matter.  In addition, only four (4) villages are represented on the tribal council, leaving out the remaining villages.  None of the traditional villages are represented.

Impose on your representatives to require that Shingoitewa and Mase withdraw Action Item No. 053-2012 as it is not properly before the tribal council.  None of the villages have been consulted on this Action Item.  Also, we urge all villages to enact village resolutions or write letters to the tribal council to withdraw this Action Item as soon as possible; and instead to reject S.2109.

Signed Agreement in Principal (March 8, 2012)

Water Resolution (Action Item No. 053-2012)

Hopi Tribal Council March Agenda 2012 Second Quarter

Hopi Tribe’s Water Task Team to hold informational meetings on SB 2109

TO:  ALL  HOPI/TEWA  PEOPLE

The Hopi Tribe’s Water Task Team encourages you to attend scheduled

informational meetings regarding the Little Colorado River negotiations.

TEWA  VILLAGE  OFFICE

Thursday, April 12,  6pm

 HOTEVILLA  YOUTH/ELDERLY  CENTER

Friday, April 13, 6pm

VETERANS MEMORIAL CENTER

For Hopi-Tewa Member Employees

Thursday, April 12, 9am

Thursday, April 12, 1pm

BACAVI  COMMUNITY  CENTER

                                                                         MONDAY, APRIL 30,  6pm

Former Navajo Nation President Peter MacDonald on SB 2109

[UPDATE April 12, 2012: For a reason unknown to me, “This video has been removed by the user.” I’ve looked around on-line, but I’m unable to find the video through a different source. If anyone comes across the video, please let me know in the “Comments” section of this post]

Hopi and Navajo leaders respond to Senator Kyl’s editorial

To the editor:                                                                     April 5, 2012

We take this opportunity to respond to Arizona Senator Jon Kyl’s April 4, 2012, letter to the editor of the Arizona Daily Sun concerning Senate Bill 2109, the “Navajo and Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Act of 2012”, wherein he suggests that those who oppose this settlement are providing false information and leveling untrue attacks against the settlement.

The fact of the matter is that S.2109 is not an Indian water rights settlement act. It does nothing to quantify the water rights of the Navajo and Hopi tribal nations to the Little Colorado River and is in direct contravention of the Winters Doctrine. Rather, it is a backhanded approach to providing federal benefits and protections to entities that exploited the natural resources of our tribes for their own economic gain. It ensures that non-Indian corporate interests continue mining our coal and pumping our Navajo Aquifer to produce cheap electricity and deliver wet water to benefit southern Arizona, southern California and southern Nevada, under the guise of an Indian water rights settlement.

It requires the tribes to give Peabody Western Coal Company (Peabody) and the Salt River Project (SRP) and other owners of the Navajo Generating Station (NGS) tens of thousands of acre-feet of tribal water annually, without compensation. In other words, it gives NGS, a corporate entity, a federal water right. It also requires the tribes to extend the Peabody and NGS leases to 2044 without regard for past and continuing harmful impacts to our health, water supplies, water quality and damage to our precious Navajo Aquifer, as a necessary pre-condition to receiving minimal domestic water pipelines.

S.2109 requires the tribes to waive all protections against injury to water quality “from time immemorial and thereafter, forever”. It also requires the tribes to permanently waive all water rights to the Little Colorado River “from time immemorial and, thereafter, forever that are based on aboriginal occupancy of land by the (tribes) and Members of the (tribes) or their predecessors”. The settlement Senator Kyl is pushing is not “consistent with previous water settlements in New Mexico, Montana and Arizona”, as he claims.

We do agree that “it is time to set the record straight”. S.2109 is not a water rights settlement act. It is a license to continue the exploitation of our precious natural resources while threatening our tribal sovereignty. S.2109 is very dangerous for the Navajo and Hopi tribal nations and is not acceptable to members of our respective tribes.

Water is life. Water is sacred; it is central to our way of life, to our ceremonies and traditions. We must protect and preserve it for our future generations.

With all due respect,

Vernon Masayesva, Former Chairman – Hopi Tribe
Ivan Sidney, Former Chairman – Hopi Tribe
Benjamin Nuvamsa, Former Chairman – Hopi Tribe
Milton Bluehouse, Former President – Navajo Nation