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).

PRESS RELEASE – Former Hopi Leaders Want Disclosure

PRESS RELEASE

Former leaders of the Hopi Tribe Object to Senator Jon Kyl’s Bill and Introduce Tribal Legislation to Reject Senate Bill 2109, the “Navajo and Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Act of 2012”.

Contact: Benjamin Nuvamsa, (928) 380-6677

Vernon Masayesva, (928) 255-2356

Ivan Sidney, (928) 205-5504

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Vernon Masayesva, Ivan Sidney and Benjamin Nuvamsa, former Hopi tribal chairmen; and Clifford Qötsaquahu, and Caleb Johnson, former Hopi vice chairmen, have endorsed a Hopi Tribal Council Action Item that would require Hopi Chairman Shingoitewa to call a Special Tribal Council Meeting to listen to the testimony of the Hopi and Tewa People on the federal legislation introduced by Arizona Senator Jon Kyl (R) concerning tribal water rights. The former tribal elected leaders are echoing the concerns of tribal members over the provisions of the water settlement bill introduced by Arizona Senator Jon Kyl.

On February 14, 2012, Senator Jon Kyl (R), introduced Senate Bill, 2109, the “Navajo and Hopi Little Colorado River Rights Settlement Act of 2012”, that contains several dangerous provisions for the Hopi Tribe and which requires a permanent waiver of the Hopi Tribe’s rights to the Little Colorado River and possibly the Lower Colorado River, in exchange for municipal groundwater delivery projects for the Hopi villages.

Former Chairman Nuvamsa said: “We are in the fight of our life. Our tribal government is in the process of negotiating away what remains of our sovereignty, our precious water rights. The Hopi Tribal Council does not have the legal authority to permanently waive and extinguish our aboriginal and ancestral rights to our water. Those rights belong to our traditional villages. The aboriginal rights and powers of our traditional villages have never been, nor will they ever be delegated to the Hopi Tribal Council.”

Former Chairman Masayesva said “Hopi Chairman Shingoitewa and the Water & Energy Team are in the process of permanently waiving our traditional water rights without first consulting with, and gaining approval of our traditional villages and the Hopi – Tewa people.”

Former Chairman Sidney said “Arizona Senators Jon Kyl and John McCain are pressuring our tribal government to permanently sign away our water rights, in exchange for giving outside corporations and interests, exclusive life-of-mine leases to our remaining coal fields and all the free water they need to process the coal to make electricity and ensure the Central Arizona Project canal continues to provide water to non-Indian lands.”

Senate Bill 2109, when it becomes federal law, may permanently waive and extinguish Hopi’s rights to the waters in the Little Colorado River system and possibly the Lower Colorado River system; and will prevent Hopi from filing future claims for damages to water quality and quantity.

This means Hopi cannot file claims for damages to the Navajo Aquifer, for contamination of domestic water supplies, and for the drying of sacred Hopi springs.

“The bill contains empty promises for funding of groundwater delivery projects but exempts the federal government from liability if Congress does not provide funding for the projects. It heavily favors non-Indian interests and will give federal water rights to the Navajo Generating Station. It will ensure that Peabody Western Coal Company continue mining coal and pumping the Navajo Aquifer. If this bill becomes federal law, Hopi may permanently lose all sovereign rights or authority over its coal leases”, said former Vice Chairman Qötsaquahu.

The former Hopi tribal elected leaders said, “Water is sacred and is central to our Hopi and Tewa Way of Life; and we have a sacred covenant to protect our traditions, our ceremonies and our resources. Our ancestors occupied the Colorado Plateau, the Colorado River, and Little Colorado River basins since time immemorial so we have superior aboriginal, ancestral, federal reserved rights to the surface and subsurface waters in the river systems. We have aboriginal water rights under the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The Kyl bill could extinguish these rights. Water rights belong to our traditional villages. These rights have never been delegated to the Hopi Tribal Council so neither Chairman Shingoitewa, the Water & Energy Team, nor the Hopi Tribal Council have the legal authority to waive these rights.”

“We want Hopi Chairman Shingoitewa to honor this request and hold a Special Hopi Tribal Council meeting immediately so that our members can have a say in this important matter. If he does not honor this request, then he will be in direct violation of the Hopi Tribe’s constitution; and we will have no option but to pursue our remedies through our courts.

“We believe it should be our traditional villages and our people, the rightful owners of water rights, who should decide on this matter and not the Hopi Chairman, the Water and Energy Team, and Hopi Tribal Council.”

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Click here for the official press release.

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

February 20, 2012

To the Hopi Tribal Council

To the Hopi and Tewa Senom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Benjamin H. Nuvamsa

Former Hopi Tribal Chairman

Ivan Sidney voices concern over “S.2109 – Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Act of 2012”

IVAN L. SIDNEY
P.O. BOX 174
KYKOTSMOVI, ARIZONA 86039

February 15, 2012

Hopi Tribal Council
P.O. Box 123
Kykotsmovi, Arizona 86039

Dear Honorable Hopi Tribal Council Representatives:

I have to date, for several years, elected to refrain from writing to the Tribal Council for my own reasons and mostly to avoid political retaliations for voicing my opinions. I have read many documents of these retaliatory happenings and chose to continue my livelihood only to reflect on favorable memories of my many years of dedicated services to the Hopi People. I still believe and support the purpose of our Hopi Constitution and By-Laws as was understood by our Past Leaders and Traditional Village Governments. At the foremost was the support for our constitution due to its mandate that our tribal government’s authority is the Hopi People.

Also, included was the provision to mandate our Tribal Council Representatives to fairly and impartially represent the people. It further required the Tribal Council Representatives to inform the people of all matters before the Tribal Council. Today, I was informed of a bill introduced in the Congress of the United States to settle the long time Little Colorado River Adjudication. This is a very complicated case that for years have been primarily written to satisfy ranchers, municipalities, energy companies, industry, etc. What is offered to the Hopi and Navajo Tribes appears promising to resolve our need for future water but remain without adequate and guaranteed funding.

I read your resolution to approve the extension of your Legal Counsel’s contract based on this pending case. Some of us expected reports to the villages to informed the Hopi People of the status and details of the case. During the Hopi-Navajo Land Dispute, Chairman Abbott Sekaquaptewa and I were mandated by the Tribal Council to report to all the villages on a monthly basis. Today, reporting by the Elected Officials to the villages today is virtually non-existence. In my opinion, it does not excuse the Tribal Council Representatives’ from reporting on these important and complex cases.

I read the 157 pages of the bill only to have more questions and concerned for the immediate so-called resolution to our water rights. The introduction of the bill by Senator Kyle includes the statement, “Legally, the Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe may assert claims to larger quantities of water, but, as seen here, they do not have the means to make use of those water supplies in a safe and productive manner. Among water practitioners, the tribes’ may be said to have “paper” water, as opposed to “wet” water. Those claims are far reaching, extending beyond the mesa and plateaus of northern Arizona calling question water uses in California and Nevada”. What is meant by these statements and what is the understanding and position of the Hopi Tribe. What is of great concern is terminating forever, our aboriginal rights and title to our water on passage of this bill.

I write this letter to strongly and respectfully urge the Tribal Council to immediately schedule meetings in the villages to personally explain this bill. I would consider your understandings, explanations and recommendations as a Hopi member versus an Attorney who is supposedly only providing his opinion. I also recommend that you seriously consider a referendum to place this matter to the vote of the Hopi People. This would place the outcome of the vote in the hands of the people including its possible future ramifications. The outcome of the vote will be the will of the people and no longer will the blamed be solely on the Tribal Council. I trust that the Tribal Council remains the representation of the people and in that representation, you would seriously consider the contents of my letter. Some of us are members of villages that are not represented on the Tribal Council and must rely on your sworn duty to include reports to our villages. I will be available to answer any questions at anytime. I remain….

Sincerely,

Ivan L. Sidney Sr.
Former Chairman

Chairman Vernon Masayesva
Chairman Benjamin Nuvamsa
Chairman Wayne Taylor
Hopi Village Leaderships

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Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) introduces the “Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Act,” February 14, 2012

“S.2109 – Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Rights Settlement Act of 2012”

Click image to download (157 pages)

Hopi news of interest – February 9, 2012

Hopis apeal Snowbowl ruling – Navajo-Hopi Observer – Feb 8, 2012

Hopi Tutuveni is returning to newsstands – Navajo-Hopi Observer – Feb 8, 2012, See also: Re-Opening of the Hopi Tribe’s Newspaper, the Hopi Tutuveni – The Hopi Tribe – Jan 26, 2012

Tribes Rally to Save Petroglyph Site – Indian Country Today – Feb 3, 2012

HEEF to host annual art sale to benifit Hopi students – Navajo-Hopi Observer – Feb 1, 2012

Hopi students travel to capitol to learn about their government – Navajo-Hopi Observer – Feb 1, 2012

Hopi Tribe Sues U.S. Government – Arsenic in Drinking Water Causing Harm on Reservation – The Hopi Tribe – Jan 30, 2012

Hopi Tribe Appeals Snowbowl Ruling – Using Wastewater for Snowmaking Harms the Environment and Human Health – The Hopi Tribe – Jan 26, 2012

New ‘More than Frybread’ film features tribal member – Navajo-Hopi Observer – Jan 25, 2012

Hopi among lead characters in new film

A new film called “More Than Frybread” premiered yesterday at the Wild Horse Pass Casino in Phoenix, Arizona. One of the film’s leading characters was Jennifer Joseph from Hotevilla.

In her recent article in the Navajo-Hopi Observer, Rosanda Suetopka Thayer writes:

HOTEVILLA, Ariz.-If there is one food product that is deeply coveted, savored and present at pretty much any reservation family or tribal gathering that is a shared, universally tribally made item, it’s “frybread.”

You know, the round, hot, greasy, fluffy and puffy deep fried piece of hand-tossed secret-recipe dough, that can be eaten plain or all dressed up with fresh chili beans, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, or chunks of slow simmered pork, something to dip into your stew or even just sprinkled with powdered sugar.

It’s one of those Native food taste sensations that you eat just once and then probably crave the rest of your life.

And the stories surrounding the creation of each piece of frybread varies, from dough recipes that have been handed down from grandmothers, or learned from a Native dorm aid when attending a boarding school, or even a secret recipe from your mother in-law, each frybread maker has a distinct recipe story to tell.

A new film by Holt Hamilton Productions, “More Than Frybread,” by an independent filmmaker out of Flagstaff, will premiere on Feb. 3 at Wild Horse Pass Casino in Phoenix with two separate showings at 7 and 10 p.m. Tickets will cost $9 in advance and will be $13 at the door. The film centers on the storyline of 22 Arizona tribal bread makers vying for an Arizona state title of “Frybread Champion” who have the opportunity to advance to a national frybread contest in New York City for a countrywide final bread competition.

The Holt Hamilton production is the fourth of its Native film series that utilize both current professional Native actors, and up and coming undiscovered new talent like Hopi tribal member Jennifer “Jonnie J” Joseph of Hotevilla. Joseph decided to try out for the part on a whim.

Joseph, 50, is a first time actor who interviewed for the part of “Betti Muchvo,” the Hopi competitor in the state wide frybread contest in the film, who had the opportunity to work with Native comedic Navajo pair “James and Ernie;” Mary Kim Titla, Apache, former news broadcaster; and Tatanka Means, Sioux stand up comedian, all longtime public personalities. Several other new Native actors join the cast.

The “Betti Muchvo” character that Joseph portrays wants to win the contest so badly, since she is known in the movie role at her Hopi home community for her “bread” and “beauty contests.” Muchvo is completely involved with the “pageantry aspect” of the contest. She is so sure she will win, she has her own frybread crown made that she wears through a large portion of the movie.

Read Thayer’s entire article at the following link: http://navajohopiobserver.com/m/Articles.aspx?ArticleID=14216