“Unfortunately, we’re facing a crisis later this year: The pending closure of the Mohave Generating Station,” he said.
The Hopi chairman said Hopi has diversified a large part of its economy, but despite these efforts there have been few economic development projects. Half the adults on the Hopi Reservation remain unemployed and the average household brings in less than $16,000 per year. He noted that many Hopis continue to live without plumbing.
Chairman Taylor stated that several Arizona tribes have prospered through gambling.
“The Hopi Tribe respects that, but that’s not the Hopi way,” he said.
Chairman Taylor said young Hopi men and women are leaving the Hopi Reservation because of the lack of jobs.
“This is having a severe impact on our culture,” he said.
The chairman said the Hopi Tribal Council’s goal is to see economic prosperity so the culture can stay intact.
Chairman Taylor said water remains important to Hopi as they need to have the means to deliver water to homes and industry on the Hopi Reservation.
“Our homeland is vast, but arid,” he said.
Chairman Taylor pointed to a recent study by the U.S. Department of Reclamation, which shows that Hopi has insufficient water to meet its needs for the next 100 years. He said continued reliance on the Navajo aquifer will have significant adverse impact on the Hopi streams.
“Our wells and springs are already drying up,” he said.
Chairman Taylor said another water source is needed to prevent the closure of the mines. He said another water source would mean more jobs for the 7,000 Hopis living on the reservation and could bring back many of the 5,000 Hopis who live off the reservation.
“Our problem is immediate and desperate. Hopi asks for your help,” he said.
Chairman Taylor said the Hopi and Navajo, as well as the owners of the Mohave Generating Station and Peabody Coal Co., have been meeting to see if they can bring water from the Coconino aquifer to Hopi and Navajo communities.
Chairman Taylor noted that it is also in the state’s interest to keep the coal operations going as the state gets $15 million annually from the operation. He urged the state to enter into talks about dual taxation. He noted that the state gets more money from the Peabody Coal operation than the tribe.
The Hopi chairman said Hopi is planting the seeds to grow an energy economy. He said if they could have their own coal operation that it could be used for
Hopi people, but it could also be sold to Arizona consumers.
Chairman Taylor said Hopi is also looking into biodiesel fuel, solar and wind projects.
He said the Hopi Tribe asks to receive the same services from the state that other communities take for granted. He invited the legislators to visit the Hopi Reservation.