"The Hopi Tribe opposes the draft House bill,"
introduced by U.S. Rep. Rick Renzi, R-Ariz., Sidney
said. "It is completely contrary to the interest
of the Hopi Tribe to reopen old wounds with the Navajo
and rehash the question of who suffered what as a result
of the land dispute.
"It is long past time to put all of this behind
us and allow both tribes to go on with their full attention
focused on the business of providing secure and economically
viable homelands for our respective people," he
The Hopi Tribe is supportive of Senate Bill 1003, the
Navajo-Hopi Land Settlement Amendments of 2005 sponsored
by U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, according to the
The Hopi Tribe previously testified in support of S.
1003 when it was before the Senate Committee on Indian
Affairs, urging timely closure of the Office of Navajo-Hopi
Indian Relocation and an end to the Hopi-Navajo land
"The Hopi Tribe supports the committee's efforts
through S. 1003 to bring to a close a difficult chapter
in the long struggle of the Hopi Tribe to protect its
reservation from encroachment and to regain full jurisdictional
control over Hopi lands," Sidney said.
"The current reservation is but a small part of
the Hopi's aboriginal lands and only slightly more than
60 percent of the land originally set aside for the
Hopi by President (Chester) Arthur almost 125 years
"Through a long history of action and inaction
by the United States, the Hopi Tribe lost 40 percent
of its reservation approximately 911,000 acres to the
Navajo Nation," which occupies more than 17 million
acres and completely surrounds the much smaller Hopi
Reservation, he said.
For more than 100 years, the Hopi Tribe has worked to
prevent the loss of its lands to the Navajo Nation and
to preserve the Hopis' right to control its lands against
intrusion, the chairman said.
Beginning in 1958, Congress enacted a series of laws
intended to lead to a final resolution of the disputes
between the Hopi and Navajo over the lands of the 1882
Hopi Reservation. The Navajo-Hopi Land Settlement Act
of 1974 authorized litigation between the two tribes
to determine their respective rights in the 1882 reservation.
The lawsuit resulted in a partition of the reservation
into lands held exclusively by the Hopi and lands held
exclusively by the Navajo. The 1974 act also provided
for the relocation of Hopi and Navajo individuals residing
on that part of the reservation partitioned to the tribe
of which the individual was not a member, Sidney said.
"Since 1974, the Hopi have waited patiently for
the relocation process to be completed and for the restoration
of our full jurisdictional authority over the Hopi Reservation.
We are still waiting. Perhaps we have been too patient
and too accommodating.
"All members of the Hopi Tribe who were required
to relocate off Navajo Partitioned Land completed the
relocation process many years ago. However, more than
30 years following passage of the 1974 act, we are still
waiting for completion of Navajo relocation off Hopi
land," Sidney said.
While the Hopi Tribe supports timely completion of
the relocation obligations of the United States and
eventual closure of ONHIR, it believes that the objectives
of S.1003 must be accomplished in ways that do not prejudice
the rights and interests of the tribe under federal
In 1995, the United States entered into a settlement
agreement with the Hopi Tribe under which the feds committed
to complete the relocation process by Feb. 1, 2000.
Congress approved the agreement by enacting the Navajo-Hopi
Land Dispute Settlement Act of 1996.
"That commitment has not yet been fulfilled,"
Sidney said, adding that S. 1003 should not become the
means for further weakening of the commitment.
The Hopi Tribe said termination of the Office of Relocation
is the ultimate goal, but that that goal should not
become a substitute for the United States to meet its
"The Hopi Tribe does not want to see an incomplete
relocation obligation pushed off onto an already overburdened
and underfunded Bureau of Indian Affairs," the
"Funding shortages produce staff shortages, and
the result is that some work is unavoidably shifted
to the very lowest priority and may in fact never be
"Given the Hopi Tribe's interests in obtaining
full jurisdiction over all of its reservation lands,
we would not want to see the work of completing relocation
drop into some black hole within the Interior Department,"
Another issue is whether the Bureau of Indian Affairs
is suited to carry out relocation responsibilities that
might have an adverse effect on either tribe.
"Will the BIA be willing to step into a situation
that it might view as a conflict of interest and perhaps
a breach of the federal trust responsibility it has
to both tribes?" Sidney asked.
He also questioned whether BIA could adequately carry
out any responsibilities remaining after 2008, the deadline
for the Office of Relocation to complete its work.
Chairman Sidney said the relocation issue can be fully
resolved "only to the extent that all Navajos potentially
qualifying for relocation benefits have an opportunity
to apply for those benefits.
"Making the certification deadlines unreasonably
short only opens up the possibility of legal challenges
and delays by those who believe their circumstances
were not fairly considered."
He urged adequate funding to carry out the relocation
obligations within the Sept. 30, 2008 deadline.
Plans for HPL
"There are six planned communities on Hopi Partitioned
Land," Sidney said. He asked that the Office of
Relocation continue to have discretion to use a portion
of the annual funding allocation to address the unique
burdens imposed on the Hopi and Navajo people.
"For example, when a homesite on Hopi land is
vacated because of relocation, that homesite must be
dismantled. In addition, all of these homesites are
associated with open solid waste dumpsites that must
be cleaned up," he said.
In past years, the tribe has contracted with ONHIR
to cover the cost of dismantling and cleanup of the
site. He asked that the funding continue to be made
The chairman said the communities planned for HPL to
provide opportunities for Hopi people to build new homes,
to accommodate a growing population and to move out
onto Hopi Partitioned Lands, which make up the bulk
of the Hopi homeland.