CONFISCATIONS SCHEDULED FOR 9 MARCH 2001!
HOPI TRIBE UNILATERALLY
by Carol Halberstadt
eve of Purim (the Jewish holiday that celebrates the saving of the
Jewish people from extermination in ancient Persia), begins this year on
the evening of March 8. The date that the Jews were to be killed was
turned into a celebration of life by the defeat of Haman's evil and
secret plot, which was exposed to public knowledge. Purim day is March
9, which is also the date the BIA has set as the day they say they are
obligated to launch confiscations of the Dine' livestock--including
Glenna's--and everyone who has not yet paid for their permit or who has
uncorraled "unpermitted" animals. The BIA says that they are
only carrying out orders. This is true. It is the orders that need to be
I have been asked to post this information to the BIGMTLIST by the family at Black Mesa, using only their first names. They are asking for help to avert a terrible injustice that threatens to take away their home and their livestock, their means of survival and way of life.
During this year's livestock permit allocation process, the Hopi Tribe unilaterally decided to discard a U.S. Justice Department ruling that recognizes the legal residency on HPL (Hopi Partitioned Land) of Glenna, a Dine' elder living on Black Mesa, and to disregard and deny the fact that her daughter Louise signed the Accommodation Agreement (AA) in 1997. Louise signed this inherently unjust agreement, which nevertheless is a law passed by Congress, because she was told that by signing it her family would be protected, would be able to live in peace on their homesite, and would not be evicted. As a consequence of the Hopi Tribe's action--without due process and without notification--Glenna and her daughter have been told that they are now illegal. In spite of the Justice Department, the U.S. Attorney, and the ONHIR recognition of their legal residence, the Hopi Tribe has decreed that "The [....] homesite has no permit and neither of her parents, [.... ], signed the A.A. The homesite is therefore treated as a non-signing homesite with no right to graze on HPL by the Hopi Tribe."
As a result, Glenna's annual sheep unit permit (set last year at 60 sheep units) was canceled. This year, she was given only an "interim permit" for 20 sheep units, which is well below minimum subsistence levels. Her daughter has been denied her right to reside on her homesite, to build a home, and to have her own livestock permit. Clayton Honyumptewa, the Hopi administrator of HPL, told me that the Hopi Tribe decided this, without giving any explanation or reason. He told the family that nothing can or will be done about this. He has in effect told them that they have no rights.
How did this situation arise, and what can be done?
SOME BACKGROUND ON THE LIVESTOCK PERMIT PROCESS: In 1996, as part of the Accommodation Agreement that became Public Law 104-301 passed by Congress, 2,800 SUYL (sheep units year long) were allotted to the HPL Dine', which were to be divided among the resident families. (A sheep or goat = 1 sheep unit; 4 sheep units = 1 cow; 5 sheep units = 1 horse.)
ROLE OF THE BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS (BIA): In a nutshell, the BIA conducts range studies to determine the carrying capacity of the range, issues the permits (but does not decide on them), collects livestock permit fees, and carries out regulations such as the confiscation of "unpermitted" livestock that are not corralled. This past year, the 2,800 units were reduced to 2,245 sheep units.
ROLE OF THE "D-DAY" OR "DDYL": This is a group about which I still know relatively little. But, again in a nutshell, I learned recently that for the past 4 or 5 years Lee Brooke Phillips, the attorney on the Manybeads case, and Betty Tso, as head of an organization called "D-Day" or "DDYL," have been negotiating livestock allocations each year with the Hopi Tribe. This organization developed out of and during the Accommodation Agreement negotiations. The Hopi Tribe and the D-Day/DDYL together decide who gets what livestock permits and how many "sheep units" are permitted each HPL Diné resident, ostensibly based on residency status and the capacity of the range.
This process started in 1997, when a contract called the "Peacekeepers Contract" for $95,034 was made between Lee Brooke Phillips and the ONHIR (Office of Navajo-Hopi Indian Relocation, in Flagstaff, which reports directly to the U.S. President). The BIA contributed to this funding. According to this contract, a group representing the HPL Dine' and Mr. Phillips were to negotiate livestock permit allocations directly with the Hopi Tribe. In the contract, it says that two of the reasons the group was formed was because the Navajo Nation opposed the settlement agreement [the AA], and the Hopi Tribe preferred to deal with "the Navajo families and their attorney directly..."
The contract states: "The tasks of the coordinator and staff would be to work with Mr. Phillips and the other parties (as appropriate) to: "(1) Assist the Navajo families in developing a grazing allocation system for the 2800 sheep units; ... (4) Inform HPL residents of significant developments and decision points in the implementation process and assist them in communicating their opinions and concerns to the Hopi Tribe, Navajo Nation and/or federal government as appropriate."
ROLE OF NAVAJO NATION: The Navajo Nation signed the "Agreement in Principle," which preceded the Accommodation Agreement, but did not sign the Accommodation Agreement itself. Roman Bitsuie, director of the Navajo-Hopi Land Commission Office, confirmed that the Navajo Nation is not involved in the livestock permitting process. He said that the Navajo Nation is supposed to be consulted, but has only been informed after the fact--after the permits have been allocated. He said that the Navajo Nation did not authorize or recognize the "DDYL"/"D-Day" group, but the Hopi Tribe recognized them. Mr. Bitsuie has said that the Navajo Nation is very concerned about the whole livestock permitting process in general and about what is now happening to Glenna and her family.
ROLE OF HOPI TRIBE: As of February 1, 2000, the Hopi Tribe took over jurisdiction of HPL. They are charged with carrying out what is stipulated and defined in the Accommodation Agreement. Yet, during this year's livestock permit process, the Hopi Tribe unilaterally cancelled Glenna's legal resident status and Louise's signer status, acting against the very law--the Accommodation Agreement--which they are bound to uphold in administering HPL. This is the law that is supposed to make life possible for the Dine' on HPL.
Clayton Honyumptewa, administrator of HPL, said on 2/26/01 that the decision about Glenna and Louise was made by the members of the Land Team, who are part of the Hopi Tribal Council, and nothing can be changed. He told Louise the same last week. I told him I wanted to be very clear and accurate in stating his position, because I would be posting this on the Internet. I asked him:
"So, the Hopi Tribe can unilaterally decide who did and did not sign the AA agreement?" His answer was "Yes." I asked: "And there's no appeal?" Mr. Honyumptewa answered, "Yes, that's it. On the Hopi side, it's pretty much a dead issue."
It is clear that Mr. Honyumptewa and the Hopi Tribe are not abiding by nor honoring the provisions of the Accommodation Agreement. In the Committee on Indian Affairs Report (1996), it states:
"In the Accommodation Agreement the parties have also agreed to procedures under which disputes between the Navajo residents of the HPL and the Hopi Tribe can be resolved. The Agreement provides that the Hopi Tribe agrees to meet with the affected individuals to discuss the concerns that gave rise to the dispute prior to the commencement of any formal proceeding. This dispute resolution process includes, at a minimum, providing notice of the dispute and an opportunity to be heard prior to the initiation of any formal proceeding" (Calendar No. 582, Report 104-363; 104th Congress, 2d session, Senate, September 9, 1996, p.12).
Neither Glenna nor Louise were ever provided "notice" or "an opportunity to be heard prior to" the unilateral decisions made by the Hopi Tribe about their status. Rather, they were told there is no need for notice and no possible appeal: "On the Hopi side, it's pretty much a dead issue."
The fact that the criteria for signing the AA were met by Louise was also pointed out to me by a U.S. government official who noted that the AA also provides for an appeal process via the Hopi Tribal Court (ibid. p. 52). Beyond the Hopi Tribal Court, individuals may turn to the federal courts. It was suggested that the Navajo Nation could be the most appropriate advocate for a Dine' who is a member of the Navajo Nation, and could represent Glenna and Louise in court. If any court action is undertaken, a request for a stay could be filed to prevent the confiscation of any of Glenna's livestock.
Glenna was visited by Hopi personnel recently and was told that "Window Rock"--the Navajo Nation--made the decision to declare her homesite as having "no right to graze on HPL." Yet, the Navajo Nation had no knowledge of this unilateral Hopi decision, nor did Glenna know anything about this until after the decision was made.
As a result of being declared nonsigners and illegal, Glenna's livestock permit for 60 sheep units was cancelled by the Hopi, and an "interim" permit for 20 sheep units was issued.
Lee Brooke Phillips wrote in an email to me when I asked how this happened: "Louis[e] ... did not lose her grazing permit. The [....] homesite has no permit and neither of her parents, [.... ], signed the A.A. The homesite is therefore treated as a non-signing homesite with no right to graze on HPL by the Hopi Tribe. The BIA has nevertheless agreed to issue the homesite a 20 SUYL interim BIA permit."
There was a meeting called by Roman Bitsuie for HPL Dine' residents at the Navajo-Hopi Land Commission Office in Tuba City on 2/27/01, to discuss this issue, among others. Glenna and one of her daughters attended. I was told that Betty Tso said at this meeting that she (Ms. Tso) did not support the Hopi action of taking people off the list of AA signers.
ROLE OF JUSTICE DEPARTMENT & ONHIR: In order to protect her family, Louise signed the AA in March 1997, at her home and in the presence of Katherine Hazard of the Justice Department, a high-level Hopi official, and Ray Russell, a representative of the Navajo-Hopi Land Commission Office, who was the interpreter. At the time she signed, she was told that: (a) her signing would cover the entire homesite, including her mother (Glenna) as legal residents; (b) the road to their homesite would be graded and graveled; (b) an AA signer's home would be built for her there with the standard AA acreage for the homesite, corrals, and farming; (c) she could have her own livestock permit; (d) her mother, Glenna, would continue to be issued livestock permits as an HPL resident (60 sheep units as of last year).
This status was confirmed by Betty Tso to Louise last year. Betty Tso told Louise that she could build a home when there was again money in the budget and could have her own permit for 20 sheep units. The ONHIR in Flagstaff has the family's legal resident status on record for 1997-1998. The Justice Department has this status on record and it is unchanged. Joe Lodge, the U.S. Attorney in Flagstaff has confirmed that Glenna and Louise are considered legal HPL residents by the Justice Department and there is no intention to place them on the eviction list. A Justice Department source also informed me that in a 1997 U.S. District Court (Phoenix) class action proceeding, the Court asked the Manybeads case plaintiffs and the Hopi Tribe to jointly file a report stating who had signed the Accommodation Agreement. In the joint filing dated May 2, 1997, Louise was listed as a signer.
WHAT IS HAPPENING: Nevertheless, as of March 9, the BIA says that according to the recent decision to cancel Glenna's permit and Louise's residency status, made this year, it must confiscate Glenna's uncorraled livestock in excess of 20. They say they are also obliged to start livestock confiscations against other HPL Dine' of "unpermitted" uncorraled animals.
How can the Dine' be gotten off the land? In the war of attrition that now seems to be the chosen strategy (instead of the embarrassment of physically dragging people out of their homes), their animals are taken away. Reduce the livestock to below subsistence and the people will be unable to survive on the land, and their entire way of life will be destroyed.
In order to reduce legal residents to totally unlivable numbers of livestock, they are declared illegal residents. As someone who is buying some Black Mesa churro wool recently said, "It is a quiet way of obliterating a culture." No due process. No hearing. No notification. A secret action, behind closed doors. Then they are told they are illegal. Then their animals can be taken away.
The eve of Purim (the Jewish holiday that celebrates the saving of the Jewish people from extermination in ancient Persia), begins this year on the evening of March 8. The date that the Jews were to be killed was turned into a celebration of life by the defeat of Haman's evil and secret plot, which was exposed to public knowledge. Purim day is March 9, which is also the date the BIA has set as the day they say they are obligated to launch confiscations of the Dine' livestock--including Glenna's--and everyone who has not yet paid for their permit or who has uncorraled "unpermitted" animals. The BIA says that they are only carrying out orders. This is true. It is the orders that need to be changed.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Please contact the appropriate officials about this latest move against the HPL Dine' and ask, "Who protects Glenna and her family?" Tell them you are outraged at this denial of due process, failure to notify, failure to allow representation, arbitrary denial of appeal, and the capricious and arbitrary overturning by the Hopi Tribe of Glenna's and Louise's recognized status. Tell them you want to know who gives the Hopi Tribe the authority to unilaterally decide on and/or arbitrarily change the residency status of HPL Dine' that is recognized by the Justice Department and ONHIR.
Ask them how the Hopi Tribe can take actions that violate the terms of the AA itself. Insist that: (1) Glenna's status must be fully restored together with issuance of a full grazing permit; (2) Louise's status must be fully restored with full rights as an AA signer; (3) The entire permitting process must be reexamined and reconstituted so that it truly represents all the HPL Dine', and unfairness, inconsistencies, and failures of communication are no longer allowed; (4) Call for an investigation of the ways in which not only the livestock permitting process but many other provisions of the Accommodation Agreement have been carried out since the passage of P.L. 104-301. To date, the AA has not worked. Navajo Nation President Kelsey Begaye has called these laws "harsh and terrible." It's time to reexamine them.
Insist that the basic human and civil rights of Glenna and her family must not be denied.
We must protect Glenna's livestock from confiscation on March 9 and thereafter. Glenna and her family are a major target. But many HPL Dine' and their livestock are at risk as of March 9. When you speak to the Hopi Tribe and U.S. government authorities, insist that no livestock be confiscated. Call for an investigation of the entire livestock permitting process--which has apparently been taking place without the knowledge or participation of many of the people concerned.
Express your support to the Navajo Nation for a reexamination of the entire livestock permitting process and urge them to advocate for Glenna and Louise.
Insist on a moratorium on any confiscations until the entire process can be examined in the light of day and justice.
Some people to contact: Wayne Taylor, Jr., Hopi Tribal Chairman P.O. Box 123 Kykotsmovi, AZ 86039 Tel: 520-734-3000
Clayton Honyumptewa, Director (responsible for administering HPL) Dept. of Natural Resources, Office of Hopi Lands P.O. Box 123 Hopi Tribe Kykotsmovi, AZ 86039 Tel: 510-734-3801 Fax: 520-734-3819
Kelsey Begaye, Navajo Nation President, Window Rock, AZ (Executive Assistant Jonathan Hale): Tel: 520-871-6352
Roman Bitsuie, Director, Navajo-Hopi Land Commission Office: 520-871-6441. Express your support of the Navajo Nation in reexamining the entire livestock permitting process and the AA in general, and urge the Navajo Nation to advocate for Glenna and Louise.
Gale Norton, Secretary of the Department of the Interior Washington, DC Tel: 202-789-0515
President George Bush Washington, DC Tel: 202-456-1414 Fax: 202-456-2461 Email: email@example.com
Vice-President Dick Cheney: firstname.lastname@example.org
Your senators and representatives in the U.S. Congress.
many thanks, Carol