Recent events have compelled me to update and inform the people of Oraibi regarding issues and events that concerns all of us.
This past year, the Oraibi Interim Board submitted a village budget and received our allocations from the Hopi Tribe to administer to meet the needs and wishes of our people.
As soon as Caleb Johnson came into office, he froze our funds, which is a direct violation of our Indian Civil Rights Act, our tribal constitutional and civil rights. When the funds were approved by resolution, the Tribal Treasurer was directed to expend funds to Oraibi Interim Board as all proper requirements of the budget appropriations language were met. No directive from the Tribal Council was ever made which made Chairman Wayne Taylor Jr. and Vice Chairman Caleb Johnson in violation.
And the interim board being removed from the legislative building at the request of Johnson by Code of Ethics is a serious matter, which the tribal council has done nothing and should be a concern to all of us if they are to be our paid officials.
Their excuse was, “Oraibi was fighting and we had to cut off funding.”
The issues at Oraibi, most all know, is the maternal village to all Third Mesa Villages, and I’m sure most of us would like to see our mother village preserved and traditions maintained. There are many wants and needs of our people—most importantly is water and sanitation. Kivas, clan and traditional homes need restoration. Hazardous conditions are evident and have caused bodily injury. Retaining walls need reinforcements and existing structures need to be preserved.
Some of our elders want indoor plumbing, which is a personal choice. Some of the young women want homes of their own with the conveniences but [have] no place to build. Some want to open and establish their own personal businesses. So it is evident our people want change but they are denied these services by a simple fact that some of the elders believe it would destroy our traditional values and the beliefs.
[They say] that Oraibi is the last stronghold and should not accept outside monies; however, records prove these are contradictory. These warnings forbid some of the elders from accepting the monies from the Hopi Tribe and others such as federal dollars. By accepting outside funds, we would become materialistic and it would destroy our traditional form of life.
I believe we are all materialistic traditional or non-traditional and our traditional lives have changed. What we need is balance with “Bahan qatsi” (White men’s ways). That we will destroy our present traditional system—this was broken up in 1906 when Oraibi was split up from the Hostiles/Traditionalist.
I respect them for their thoughts and wishes. However, Oraibi has long been known to accept the Bahan qatsi, as records indicate. We have dictatorship at the village, and now they are being challenged and they do not like it.
On Oct. 30, a meeting was held between the opposing party and two reporters, Tanya Lee of the Tutuveni and Sandra Wilson from the Navajo-Hopi Observer.
This was requested due to a recent Tutuveni article on Oraibi funds, [which I feel was] biased. I attended this meeting because I felt the truth of the matter has to be told, so I voiced my knowledge on the history of Oraibi.
Certainly the tables have changed again listening to these people. From my perspective, [they say] we have done everything wrong, from breaking up our traditional “Mongwi” (leader) system to creating domestic violence.
Without much debate, I made comments to what is reality, starting from Mastieto, second resident after Masau and the establishment of Oraibi including land base by leadership role duties. Lastly, down to the three clans who arrived long after the establishment and who are proactive to opposing this change, from my teachings, which has been reconfirmed by many elders.
With the charges against the interim board by petition and letters we have yet to see if they will again be challenged. One is the referendum, which we think is vitally important in getting the voice of the whole village.
Another is the leadership of Oraibi. We know who should be our leader since Stanley Bahnimptewa has become incompetent per his physicians and lastly our Powamu Mongwi. Here I want to thank all the people who have encouraged us and provided technical assistance in addressing our concerns. “Qwak wai”
Should the referendum prove to be in our favor, I think our traditions and Mongwi will become our promenade figures until circumstances change. I want to remind everyone that we all have choices and we cannot let these “nay sayers” control our destiny.
Today our lives, thoughts and wishes have changed, and we need to follow our own instincts in doing what we know is right for us and our future generations. Our village needs to become established so we can move forward in planning and strategizing a new community. Again Oraibi is mother village to other villages so we all need to work together to provide the best opportunities to all of our people.
I have made it certain that we cannot let this issue die. We will never go back, but Oraibi must move forward. Now is the time to embrace our young with the Hopi culture and traditions, yet providing quality opportunities for future generations to come. Should anyone want to speak with me on these issues please feel free to do so.
(Harry Nutumya is chairman of the Oraibi Interim Board and owns a business in Oraibi.)