The proposed compact would expand Hopi
claims to Navajo land, Nez said, and he predicted that
Hopis will use it to move Navajo people from their homes
Bobby Bennett Sr., 63, and Robert Begay, Sr., 75, echoed
Nez’s concern about the absence of any mention of the
Navajo Salt Trail.
On Aug. 1, Bennett, Begay and Goldtooth filed a 30-day
notice of intent to sue the Navajo Nation over the proposed
They cited the Salt Trail issue on Aug. 17, when they
filed a motion in Window Rock District Court seeking
a temporary restraining order against Shirley, Denetsosie,
and other key tribal officials.
The pair wanted to block the Navajo government from pursuing
approval of the proposed compact while they fight it in
Court grants delay
The tribal court issued the TRO, and Bennett and Begay
then accompanied a Navajo police officer to see it served
on Shirley, Denetsosie, Speaker Lawrence T. Morgan,
and Roman Bitsuie, director of the Navajo-Hopi Land
On Aug. 18, Denetsosie cancelled a scheduled meeting
to present the proposed settlement to the Tuba City
Staff at the Navajo Justice Department said Wednesday,
however, that the cancellation did not result from the
TRO. Instead they said the meeting had merely been postponed
until Friday, Aug. 25.
Meanwhile, tribal legislators also are voicing doubts
about the proposed settlement. On Tuesday, the Government
Services Committee voted 2-3 not to endorse it.
Committee members expressed similar concerns about Hopi
eagle gathering, the lack of a map showing the Hopi Salt
Trail, and the clear identification of concessions by
the Navajo Nation.
They cited uncertainty over whether the Hopi government
will approve the compact, and were bothered by the fact
that affected members of the public are not allowed
to view the entire compact.
The Hopis, citing religious concerns, have insisted
that some portions of the agreement be closed to all
eyes except for a limited number of top tribal officials.
Tsosie said the proposal was not provided to people
attending the chapter meetings about the compact because
of a confidentiality agreement between the two tribes.
Chief Legislative Counsel Raymond Etcitty said it was
also to protect Navajo and Hopi religious sties identified
in the compact.
The compact contains provisions in which each tribe
authorizes members from the other one to enter its lands
to gather materials used in religious ceremonies.
However, the two differ in one respect. The Navajos
are specifically prohibited from gathering materials
for sale or other commercial use, while the Hopi section
does not contain a similar limitation.
Last week Bennett and Begay briefed the crowd gathered
beneath the junipers at Sam Yazzie’s house on their
legal effort to derail the proposed Freeze settlement.
They said they plan to seek a permanent injunction
from the court as soon as the required 30-day notice
period is over.