KYKOTSMOVI, Ariz.—The recent action of the Hopi Tribal Council to return the office of the vice chairman to its constitutional role has given rise to some speculation about relations between the chairman and vice chairman, and has caused some uncertainty about how services will now be delivered to the villages.
The council voted 11-7 to return the vice chairman to his constitutional duties, taking his assignments from the chairman. The action was based on a recommendation by the special committee—a committee formed to deal with government reorganization.
Ivan Sidney, Community Service Administrator for First Mesa Consolidated Villages (FMCV), said he has received calls from Lower Moenkopi, Mishongnovi, Sipaulovi and Hotevilla from people who want more information on the vice chairman losing his powers and how government reorganization will impact their villages.
Vice Chairman Phillip Quochytewa addressed FMCV shortly after the council voted to change his role, and he agreed that government reorganization is a good idea. But, he said, it should have been implemented at the beginning of the next administration.
“There were a lot of assignments I was working on that I campaigned on that will have to go unfinished,” he said. “There was no reason to make this happen now, three quarters of the way through my term.”
Steve Youvella, council delegate from First Mesa, also questions the timing of the special committee’s recommendation, since their evaluation began in 1994. Although Youvella did vote for the measure, he says he would have preferred if the reorganization was implemented then. Youvella voted in favor of the measure because he felt he had to uphold the Hopi Constitution.
Youvella said he was aware of political differences between the chairman and vice chairman and indicated that there have not been good relations between the chairman and vice chairman because they don’t run on the same ticket. He added that since the vice chairman took office that he has taken some corrective actions that have upset people on the other side.
Todd Honyaoma Sr., council delegate from Sipaulovi, said some Hopi people have told him they have not seen the leadership they hoped for by either the chairman or vice chairman, possibly because of the discord between the two, and he hopes the latest action will improve communication between them.
“I don’t think they were getting along. They were not working together. I’m hoping this will bring them together,” he said.
Chairman Taylor has not returned repeated telephone calls to his office seeking comment.
For his part, Quochytewa does not feel that that the decision to return his office to its original role has been adequately explained. He said he asked the special committee for their minutes so he why they made the recommendation, but never received them. He said they did not have records of how many people voted for the recommendation.
“I have nothing to hide. People ask me what I did, but if I did anything they didn’t tell me,” he says.
Quochytewa said Hopi prophecies say the tribal council will destroy the government if they are not focusing on the Hopi perspective through the modern type of government they have in place.
Sidney said he would like to see even more communication between the government and the villages, communication that could ease some of the uncertainty about recent actions.
“We need to start working together with other villages so we will have a majority rather than working alone. I want to see what FMCV and other villages want,” he said. “This isn’t to see who is right or wrong.”
Sidney would like to:
*Invite the chairman and vice chairman to address First Mesa and other villages together.
*Invite the special committee to address First Mesa to discuss the actions they are considering before they take them.
*Have community votes on whether or not they support the actions taken by the special committee and the tribal council.