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.
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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A message from Ben Nuvamsa….
Attached for your information and dissemination is a complaint we (the former elected leaders of the Hopi Tribe who endorsed Action Item H-065-2012) filed against Hopi Chairman Leroy Shingoitewa for his failure and/or refusal to sign a duly enacted Tribal Council Resolution H-072-2012 that was passed on June 15, 2012, at the Hotevilla Elderly Center. This resolution opposes and rejects Senator Jon Kyl’s Senate Bill 2109, Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Act of 2012. This Resolution was approved/passed by a majority vote of: 11 for; 4 opposed; 0 abstentions. It represents the express will of our villages, village leaders and tribal members.
There was overwhelming objection to and rejection of Senate Bill 2109 by our villages and tribal members, yet Shingoitewa has purposely and deliberately refused to listen to the Hopi and Tewa people. Instead, he signed Resolution H-073-2012 passed illegally on June 21, 2012 which endorses Senate Bill 2109 over our objections. Action Item H-053-2012 was sponsored by Sipaulovi Village Representative George Mase to endorse Senate Bill 2109, which resulted in Resolution H-073-2012. Resolution H-073-2012 is not the official position of the Hopi and Tewa villages and tribal members regarding Senate Bill 2109.
Even if Shingoitewa refuses, or otherwise fails to sign Resolution H-072-2012, he does not have the constitutional authority to veto a lawful action of the Hopi Tribal Council. Therefore, this Resolution is in full force and effect, and has the force of tribal law. If he continues to not sign this Resolution, by this letter, we have implored the Hopi Tribal Council by the attached complaint, to take immediate and appropriate action against Shingoitewa for contempt of tribal council action and for his failure to uphold his duty and obligation as presiding officer of the tribal council, including immediate removal.
A copy of this complaint has been sent to the Hopi Tutuveni for publication, and to other local and national news media. We asked that this complaint be published in full, unedited text so that all tribal members and the general public can be informed of this matter. Please disseminate copies of the complaint letter to your fellow tribal members. Thank you.
The following Memorandum was written by Hopi Tribe water rights attorneys Richard Monette and Joe Mentor. The Memo was submitted to the Hopi Tribal Council on June 15, 2012, the same day that the Council voted 11-4 to reject SB 2109 by adopting Hopi Tribal Council Resolution No. H-065-2012. The Memo outlines what they consider to be the legal implications for the Hopi Tribe if the Tribe endorses or rejects SB 2109. Click here to download the Memo as a PDF document. Used with permission.
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.
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.