Archive for the 'Hopi water rights' Category



Hopi chairman accused of “gross dereliction”

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.

Hopi Council shockingly approves Little Colorado settlement – Story by Rosanda Suetopka Thayer

Story to appear this week in the Navajo-Hopi Observer…

Hopi Council shockingly approves Little Colorado settlement
Chairman Shingoitewa breaks 7 to 7 tie vote
story by Rosanda Suetopka Thayer

In a move that was predicted since last Friday, June 15th at the public council meeting at the  Village of Hotevilla by Hopi community members, Hopi traditional leadership and Hopi village  board representatives after Hopi Chairman LeRoy Shingoitewa made the open public statement that  “Its not over.  I plan on bringing this settlement issue back up in council and I do plan on  getting approval.”

Hopi Chairman LeRoy Shingoitewa and his Water and Energy Team Chairman  George Mase, brought their own separate, opposing action item No. H-073-2012 to the Council floor on Thursday morning at the Hopi Council chambers on June 21st for a vote that has now approved and will endorse the proposed water rights agreement to the Little Colorado River for the Hopi Tribe.

The Shingoitewa-Mase approval on Thursday, June 21st comes despite heated public objections and formal
village proclamations against both the SB2109 and the settlement agreement for the LCR from every single Hopi village but Sipaulovi on Second Mesa.

Only one village endorsed the settlement.

Sipaulovi Village Board President, Kim Secakuku read into record, their village approval of the settlement act on Thursday at the Hopi Council chambers before the vote was taken.

Eleven of the twelve Hopi villages voiced their opposition on paper and several made formal in-person presentations to the Hopi council last week on June 15th against any more Hopi tribal government negotiation, waiver of water rights or sovereign water power in regards to the Little Colorado River water settlement and SB 2109 on Hopi’s behalf.

Last week’s action item sponsored by Ben Nuvamsa, Ivan Sidney, Vernon Masayesva all former Hopi Chairmen and four former Hopi Vice Chairmen, Clifford Qotsaquahu, Phillip Quochytewa, Col. Caleb Johnson and Todd Honyaoma had the endorsement signature of current Hopi Vice Chairman Herman Honanie.  Their eight signature joint resolution clearly had overwhelming Hopi public support which was witnessed by the huge public crowd that attended the Hotevilla council session.

The Nuvamsa group won their first round regarding the water settlement issue last week with a  vote of eleven in their favor and four against.  Many Hopis saw this  vote as a victory for Hopi people and their sovereign rights to their water.

But this weeks’ new vote on the Mase action item which is in direct opposition of what was approved  only a little over a week ago, was seven (7) to seven (7) with Shingoitewa breaking the tie, making  it a final vote of eight (8) in favor and seven (7) against the settlement agreement for the LCR.

To date, the Nuvamsa resolution approved and voted on last week, Friday the 15th has not been signed off by the Hopi Chairman or the Tribal Council Secretary Martha Mase, which is in direct violation of constitutional duties outlined for tribal officers once a resolution has been approved.

Nuvamsa tried in vain over the past week to get a final formal signed approved copy of his groups’  resolution but as of Friday the 22nd, it could not be found at the Hopi Tribal executive offices.

Voting to approve the Little Colorado River settlement against the wishes of the Hopi people and Hopi villages were Upper Moencopi representatives, Wayne Kuwanhyoima, Bruce Fredericks, Danny Humetewa. Sipaulovi representatives, George Mase, Cedric Kuwaninvaya, Alph Secakuku. Bacavi representative  Leroy Kewanimptewa.  Upper Moencopi representive Leroy Sumatzkuku was not present during the vote.

Voting against the settlement were Vice Chairman Herman Honanie, Kykotsmovi representatives Danny Honanie, Rebekah Masasyesva, Carlene Quotskuyva, Nada Talayumptewa.  Bacavi representatives Gayver Puhuyesva and Davis Fred Piqosa.

Chairman LeRoy Shingoitewa then broke the tie vote and cast his vote for approving the settlement making it a very slim win by an 8 to 7 final tally.

A large part of what makes this newest Hopi Council vote to approve the settlement is not just the fact that Hopi Chairman Shingoitewa as well as George Mase, who serves as Water and Energy Team Chair have made continuous public statements in news media that “we will not take any vote or make any decisions on the settlement until we have answered all questions and conferred with all villages on this topic” but that public disclosure is far from over.

Several villages are still waiting to have tribal materials presented at their villages and as more and more questions have been posed to the Hopi Chair Shingoitewa via letter and email, no answers have been provided.

Former Hopi Chairman Ivan Sidney said, “As an example, just one of the biggest problems with what  Shingoitewa and Mase did on June 21st is that they failed to rescind the other resolution that the Hopi Council approved last week.
You can’t have two completely conflicting resolutions especially with something like this that has so much impact on the tribe’s most important natural resource, water.   Our grassroots Hopi water groups’ resolution they approved last Friday is still  intact and valid. This just shows that our own Hopi Council doesn’t have a clue about policy development and control.  Their slowness in grasping what they have done really makes you question how well do they really understand what this water bill and agreement really means….if they can’t even correct a simple tribal council resolution process, are they really the ones who should be voting on  something this important?  I think not. Chairman Shingoitewa is in total defiance of the will of the the Hopi people.   I am shocked that we are at this point in Hopi history and government, where we are watching and experiencing subversive tactics by our own chairman and council against our people over a “sacred resource” like this.”

Former Hopi Tribal Chairman Ben Nuvamsa said, “This action by Shingoitewa and Mase is just another example of their total disrespect for their own people.  Shingoitewa does not respect the traditional powers of our villages.  Shingoitewa was elected to serve and represent the wishes of the Hopi people.  Shingoitewa’s action today will only be temporary because the Hopi will and shall have the final say.  This is how it should be. Shingoitewa has clearly violated the Hopi constitution because he is not delegated the power by the villages to waive over sovereign rights to water.  He has now also violated the resolution voted on and approved last week, so he is clearly in “neglect of duty.”  It will be the Hopi people who will hold him accountable.  Shingoitewa was not raised in the Hopi way, we all know this.  He does not understand what water means to us, our way of life, our Hopi culture.  Shingoitewa will go down in history as the chairman who not only tried to abolish our water rights but last year, he tried to  abolish our traditional village powers with his attempt to approve Draft 24A.  Shingoitewa has done a lot of harm to our people and has lost all Hopi public faith in his ability to lead.”

In a formal cover letter issued by Hopi Tribal Council Secretary Martha Mase, with attachment resolution H-073-2012 says,

“The Hopi Council on June 21, 2012 by motion and majority vote, approved Resolution H-073-2012. By passage of this resolution, the Hopi Council endorses the proposed settlement of its claims to the Little Colorado River and its sources, as provided in the March 8, 2012 settlement agreement proposal, such endorsement shall not extend to any modification required to conform the settlement to the  United States Senate Bill 2109 or any other enactment of the settlement by the U.S. Congress.”

The final approved resolution bears the signature of Hopi Tribal Chairman LeRoy N. Shingoitewa and attesting signature of Martha Mase, Hopi Tribal Secretary, citing the vote as eight to seven dated June 21, 2012.

Legal implications of Hopi Tribal Council vote on SB 2109

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.

KNAU NPR runs story on Hopi and SB 2109

Click image to read and listen to full story

Three Hopi villages now formally reject SB 2109

Rosanda Suetopka Thayer of the Navajo-Hopi Observer (NHO) recently reported that in addition to the leadership at Hotevilla, village leaders at Bacavi and now Shungopavi have officially notified Chairman LeRoy Shingoitewa and the Hopi Tribal Council of their disapproval of SB 2109. Momentum against SB 2109 is building back home, and I anticipate similar actions by other villages in the near future. See Thayer’s articles in the NHO:

Shungopavi religious leaders oppose Hopi Tribe’s claim to waive Hopi water rights (June 13, 2012)

Village of Bacavi formally rejects Senate Bill 2109 (June 12, 2012)

Village of Hotevilla formally rejects SB 2109 (May 29, 2012)

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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Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert (Hopi) is Professor and Head of the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Arizona.

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Revisiting the Hopi Boarding School Experience at Sherman Institute and the Process of Making Research Meaningful to Community (JAIE, 2018)

Education beyond the Mesas: Hopi Students at Sherman Institute, 1902-1929 (University of Nebraska Press, 2010)

Introduction to Education beyond the Mesas (2010)

The Indian School on Magnolia Avenue: Voices and Images From Sherman Institute (Oregon State University Press, 2012)

Foreward to Don Talayesva’s Sun Chief: An Autobiography of A Hopi Indian (2013)

Foreword to Kevin Whalen’s Native Students at Work: American Indian Labor and Sherman Institute’s Outing Program, 1900-1945

A Second Wave of Hopi Migration (HEQ, 2014)

Marathoner Louis Tewanima and the Continuity of Hopi Running, 1908-1912 (WHQ, 2012). Winner of Spur Award for Best Western Short Nonfiction, Western Writers of America (2013)

Hopi Footraces and American Marathons, 1912-1930 (AQ, 2010)

The Hopi Followers: Chief Tawaquaptewa and Hopi Student Advancement at Sherman Institute, 1906-1909 (JAIE, 2005)

Constitution and Bylaws of the Hopi Tribe (With all amendments, click to download)

Click to listen to KUYI On-Line

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