The following report by Hopi Tribe Chairman LeRoy N. Shingoitewa highlights his administration’s “major accomplishments over the past four years.” Click on the image to download the 10-page report.
The following report by Hopi Tribe Chairman LeRoy N. Shingoitewa highlights his administration’s “major accomplishments over the past four years.” Click on the image to download the 10-page report.
The following letter is an opinion piece that Hopi Tribe Chairman LeRoy Shingoitewa published in The Arizona Republic on August 27, 2012. http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/opinions/articles/20120823hopi-tribe-water-settlement-collapse.html
Hopi Tribe unfairly blamed in water-settlement collapse
by LeRoy N. Shingoitewa
I was disappointed to see the Hopi Tribe’s position on the Little Colorado River water settlement so badly mischaracterized in a Viewpoints column written by U.S. Sens. Jon Kyl and John McCain (“An endless water fight,” Aug. 12).
The settlement would resolve the rights of many parties to water in the Little Colorado’s basin and was reached after 13 years of negotiations between the Hopi Tribe, the Navajo Nation, and numerous federal and state parties.
I am acutely aware of the need for water for our people. More than 40 percent of the homes on the Hopi Reservation have no running water or indoor plumbing. Many Hopi villages receive water with more than four times the allowable levels of arsenic. Water for another village is threatened by uranium pollution. We participated in the settlement negotiations to resolve these problems. There are no Hopi Tribal Council representatives who prefer litigation over settlement.
Despite our support for the settlement, the Hopi Tribal Council also voted to oppose certain provisions in Kyl’s implementing legislation that are extraneous to the water-rights settlement. Specifically, the Council objected to provisions requiring the Navajo Nation to provide water for the Navajo Generating Station or to renew coal-mining leases. Hopi negotiators did not participate in “crafting” these sections.
While these issues are very important, they are not related to ensuring an adequate, sustainable supply of water for our people. Combining these two issues was both unwise and unnecessary.
We informed Kyl of our objections when he joined these two issues. We also communicated the reasons for our position on the proposed legislation. Prior to his column, we submitted suggestions to make the legislation consistent with the settlement agreement. We asked him to remove provisions from the legislation that have nothing to do with the water settlement and to clarify ambiguities in the legislation to comport with assurances we received during the negotiating process. Unfortunately, we have yet to receive a response.
Kyl and McCain unfairly blame the tribes for rejecting the settlement, even though on July 5 the Hopi Tribal Council voted to approve the settlement. All the parties to the settlement negotiations are responsible for the outcome, not just the Hopi Tribe. The state and private parties, who spent millions of dollars on legal fees for the negotiations, will have to answer to their ratepayers and customers for what is now a failed settlement.
Unfortunately, it appears Kyl and McCain have given up hope of enacting legislation to implement the settlement. We are disappointed.
I suspect many of the private parties in northeastern Arizona — who negotiated long and hard for the certainty they desire — are equally disappointed that their interests were overwhelmed by the generating station. After all, none of the power produced by the generating station is consumed in our region. It all subsidizes the pumping of Central Arizona Project water to Phoenix and Tucson.
With all due respect to Kyl, if he had not insisted on including the generating-station issue, the water settlement would be final and on its way to enactment.
I thank Arizona’s senators for their efforts to promote the settlement. In recognition of his impending retirement, I’d also like to thank Kyl for his service to the people of Arizona and wish him well in future endeavors.
The Hopi Tribe stands ready to work with his successor and Arizona’s congressional delegation to solve our water concerns, as well as those of our neighbors. The generating station should be dealt with separately, however, in recognition of the fact that it is a separate issue.
LeRoy N. Shingoitewa is chairman of the Hopi Tribe.
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.
A message from Benjamin H. Nuvamsa… Sunday June 17, 2012
LCR Water Rights Bill Rejected by Hopi – A Report to Hopi People
Attached is a report to members of the Hopi Tribe and to the Hopi Tribal Council on the council meeting held last Friday, June 15, 2012, regarding our Action Item No. H-065-2012. Our Action Item is to reject the Little Colorado River Water Rights Agreement, S.2109. Please pass this information on to other tribal members. Thanks to everyone, we defeated this dangerous bill introduced by Senators Jon Kyl and John McCain regarding our water rights to the Little Colorado River.
Despite this victory, this matter is not over. Shingoitewa and Mase are still intent on continuing negotiations on this bill, despite what the action item, and now Resolution, No. H-065-2012, mandates. In fact, Shingoitewa, Mase and Hopi attorneys are talking to and negotiating with Navajo’s attorneys. Resolution No. H-065-2012 prohibits Shingoitewa, the Water & Energy Team and the Tribal Council from further negotiations on S.2109. You should know that George Mase has an Action Item, No. H-053-2012, before the tribal council that “endorses” Senate Bill 2109. But the council’s vote on June 15, 2012, killed Kyl’s and McCain’s bill and deems George Mase’s action item a moot issue; so it should not be addressed by the tribal council. We are monitoring this matter and will advise you when the council may act on Mase’s action item so you can attend the council meeting.
Below is the report that Nuvamsa refers to in his message. You can also download the report as a PDF document by clicking here…
June 16, 2012
To: Honorable Members of the Hopi Tribe
Honorable Members of the Hopi Tribal Council
June 15, 2012, was an historic day in the history of our tribe. Hopi village representatives, traditional leaders and tribal members gathered at the Hotevilla Elderly Center and overwhelmingly rejected Senator Jon Kyl’s and Senator John McCain’s Senate Bill 2109, the Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Act of 2012. At the end of the long day, the Hopi Tribal Council voted 11 to 4 to pass Action Item H-065-2012 that was endorsed by three former Hopi tribal chairmen and four former Hopi tribal vice chairmen, and sponsored by Vice Chairman Honanie, to reject Senate Bill 2109.
Our Action Item, No. H-065-2012, does several things: (1) it rejects Senate Bill 2109; (2) it prohibits any further negotiations of Senate Bill 2109 by the tribal chairman, Water & Energy Team and the tribal council; (3) it requires the tribal chairman to report the Hopi Tribal Council’s rejection of Senate Bill 2109 to Senator Jon Kyl, to the Congress, Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and to the Department of Interior; (4) it requires that, if another water rights agreement comes before the tribe, that it will only be decided on by members of the Hopi Tribe through a voter referendum (not the tribal council) after a full and open consultation with and through participation of the villages and tribal members. The council vote also effectively killed the Agreement-in-Principle because without Senate Bill 2109, there is no Agreement-in-Principle.
Not one village, not one tribal member, and not one traditional leader supported Senate Bill 2109. Villages and traditional leaders provided written testimonies, in the form of letters, proclamations and resolutions, all opposing the Kyl/McCain bill. But despite the resounding opposition by the Hopi and Tewa people, there were four votes in opposition to Action Item H-065-2012, most notably by all three representatives from Sipaulovi.
The day did not start without controversy. First, tribal chairman Shingoitewa and Sipaulovi representative George Mase tried to surprise those in attendance by bringing George Mase’s Action Item, No. H-053-2012, to the council floor. But thanks to an objection raised by Kykotsmovi Village Representative Nada Talayumptewa and others, the matter was stopped. Action Item H-053-2012 proposes to endorse Senate Bill 2109.
Next, our request to hold the council meeting in larger facilities was not honored by Shingoitewa, but thanks to former vice chairman Qötsaquahu’s persistence, we forced a vote. After a unanimous vote, we moved the meeting to Hotevilla. Once we convened at Hotevilla, there was yet another attempt by Shingoitewa to exclude the news media. The news media was previously excluded by Shingoitewa in the morning session in council chambers. And again, at the insistence of Qötsaquahu, a vote was taken and the majority vote allowed the news media to stay. But Shingoitewa demanded there will be no recording of the proceedings.
At the outset of the meeting, we insisted that Shingoitewa and the council not control our presentations by limiting what we say and by limiting how long we take to make our presentations. But throughout the entire day, Shingoitewa consistently tried to limit and control our presentations. Because of his constant interruptions and time remaining in the day, many people who traveled from far away and took the time to speak, were not able to address the council. For this, I apologize to these people.
After the presentations, Vice Chairman Honanie made the motion, seconded by Rebecca Masayesva, to approve Action Item H-065-2012. It passed by a vote of 11 to 4. But after the meeting, Hopi chairman Shingoitewa was quoted as saying to the news media, “The tribe will continue water settlement talks with the Navajo Nation, and other industrial users including Peabody Coal and the Navajo Generating Station.” But passage of Action Item H-065-2012 is very specific in prohibiting Shingoitewa, the Water & Energy Team, and the Hopi Tribal Council from any further negotiations of Senate Bill 2109. This statement by Shingoitewa demonstrates his deliberate intention to disregard the voice of the people and would violate the new tribal law passed this day by the Hopi Tribal Council. If he does not abide by the mandate of the villages, traditional leaders and tribal members, and the tribal council, then it would constitute a direct violation of the tribal constitution.
Passage of our action item would now deem George Mase’s Action Item, H-053-2012, a moot issue. But Shingoitewa and Mase are intent on bringing this action item before the tribal council later this month. We encourage you to impose on your council representatives to require George Mase to withdraw his action item. We also encourage everyone to show up at the council chambers when this action item will be discussed and object to the council to act on this action item. Remember this right belongs to the villages, not the tribal council.
In closing, I want to express my deepest, heartfelt appreciation to everyone who participated in this very important issue. This includes all village governments and village leaders who took a stand by issuing proclamations, resolutions, letters; all traditional leaders who issued proclamations, the veterans, allottees, tribal members, and many more. In particular, I want to thank former tribal chairmen and vice chairmen who took personal responsibility to sign the action item and made very compelling arguments to the tribal council. We appreciate the Village of Hotevilla for offering their facility for the meeting. And finally, special appreciation goes to members of the tribal council who voted to support our action item. Your participation and stance against the dangerous Kyl/McCain bill will go down in the annals of our history.
Benjamin H. Nuvamsa
Shungopavi Village, Bear Clan
Former Hopi Tribal Chairman
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
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.”
Click here for the official press release.