— The Intergovernmental Relations Committee of the Navajo
Nation Council backed legislation Monday sponsored by
Delegate Hope MacDonald-LoneTree opposing the Navajo-Hopi
Land Settlement Amendments of 2005 sponsored by U.S.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
Nation is urging Congress to establish a blue ribbon
panel to study and review the negative effects of relocation
and the Bennett Freeze upon the Navajo people, the long-term
costs of the relocation policy, and to provide the resources
necessary to properly resettle the Navajo people and
address the negative impacts of the Bennett Freeze.
also is asking Congress to allow relocatees and other
affected Navajos to testify regarding "failure
of the relocation law" and specific problems which
would be encountered by the Navajo Nation and its people
as a result of passage of McCain's legislation, Senate
(Coalmine Canyon/Toh Nanees Dizi chapters) told IGR
members that Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr.
and the Navajo-Hopi Land Commission have already taken
a position of opposition against Sen. McCain's bill.
has already gone through the Senate, it has been heard
before the House, and this document will be the official
position of Navajo that we oppose that bill," she
McCain's trying to close the office of Navajo-Hopi Indian
Relocation (in Flagstaff) and seize the funding that
would be allowed to benefit those people who were affected
by the relocation act," MacDonald-LoneTree said.
Delegate Roy Laughter responded, "I know this is
a very controversial issue. I wish there was some specifics
on Senate Bill 1003. I know for people this has been
long, drawn-out, and the government, Sen. McCain and
other senators say they have spent millions of dollars
and it's not going forth.
areas of that Senate bill are we totally in opposition
to? Is there something we can work with? Are there areas
that we can mediate on and say, 'this is what is in
our best interest to our people'?"
said he was concerned about saying the Navajo Nation
is in opposition to the entire bill.
from working with the Navajo-Hopi Land Commission Office
some years back, a lot of our people are saying, 'No,
we're not going to settle.' But every time we have proposals
before us, nobody wants to settle. It seems they just
want to draw it out,"he said.
in 1975 or 1980, the settlement agreement only had 15
families. Now those families have multiplied, and now
one of the things is they want all of the offspring
to be compensated and get new housing.
I just want to know why and how we settle this and maybe
one day end this land dispute," Laughter said.
told him, "Sen. McCain's bill, S. 1003, is proposing
to close the office of relocation and shut down the
benefits. That includes all of the funding that was
available to that office.
McCain is complaining that millions of dollars have
been spent on this. Yet the families and the residents
of those areas know that that money was not spent on
them, but it was spent on the bureaucracy of much of
the office and the law.
why the Navajo Nation, through the land commission and
the president, are opposing Senate Bill 1003, because
all of those benefits have not yet been afforded to
the people who are remaining or need those benefits
out in the communities.
why the president testified before the House Resource
Committee opposing it, as well as the land commission,"
MacDonald-LoneTree told him.
said the topic could lead to further discussion. "I
guess Navajo, we've been dragging this out long enough.
I don't think our families, no one will be satisfied
with closing the office. So specifically, what areas
are we totally in opposition to and what areas can we
was my question, but other than that, I can probably
study more on it," he said.
the policy statement opposing McCain's bill, 7-0.
Chairman Ivan Sidney has said the Hopi Tribe would like
to see an end to the land dispute and that the tribe
is in favor of McCain's legislation.