Hopi Delegation to provides testimony before UN

UNITED NATIONS, New York City—The voice of the Hopi is expected to reach audience in the United States and Japan according to the United Nations Radio correspondent. On August 8, Cedric Kuwaninvaya, Chairman of the Hopi Tribe’s Land Team gave his first radio interview on UN Radio during the second day of the U.N. conference focused on racism.

Kuwaninvaya shared his thoughts and experiences in dealing with Navajo-Hopi land matters. "I wanted the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights to hear directly from the Hopi that it has inadvertently contributed to UN racism and discrimination against the Hopi. Several years ago, Special Rapporteur Abdelfattah Amor from the United Nations went to Big Mountain located on the Hopi Reservation to prepare a report on religious intolerance. He did not inform the Hopi that he was coming, nor did he invite the Hopi to be included in his "fact finding mission." Instead, he only met with the resisting Navajo and did not have the courtesy to inform the Hopi that he was meeting with them on Hopi land. As a result, his report is biased, and worse, has generated a visible amount of mischaracterization and discrimination against the Hopi in UN reports and policy," said Kuwaninvaya during his radio interview.

The Hopi delegation also testified before Ellisasavet Stamatopoulou, from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, that the Special Rapporteur who came to Big Mountain did not consult, according to UN policy, in good faith with the Hopi Tribal Government. "We are a government, not a non-governmental organization," explained the delegation.

Kuwaninvaya testified that so-called human rights observer, implying that they are sanctioned by the UN, have refused to recognize Hopi sovereignty, have openly disobeyed Hopi tribal laws and have referred to Hopi self-governance as nothing more then "puppetry."

"Outside agitators who do nothing more than stir the pot and raise tensions between the Hopi and Navajo are obstructionists to peace efforts between the two tribes. Their motive is to destabilize the Hopi government which goes against the very grain of what the United Nations is all about. Their most recent attacks against the Hopi have been under the guise of environmentalism which are simply attacks against the tribal nations to determine their own economic destiny," explained Kuwaninvaya, referring to the fabrications of a coal conspiracy by outside agitators.

"The allegation that the Hopi people are engaged in genocide and ethnocide against the Navajo is unfounded and categorically untrue. Such allegations generate unjustified racism and intolerance against the Hopi people. Who will hold these so-called UN human rights observers responsible? This is an injustice against the Hopi people who want nothing more than to assume full jurisdiction over what little is left of their land," said Rachel Sakiestewa-Scott, a member of the Land Team.

"What has been most misunderstood about the Hopi is our effort to live side-by-side in peace and harmony with the Navajo Accommodatees. This does not mean that we are willing to give up any more land to the Navajo . In fact, over 95% of Hopi ancestral lands now belong to someone else, including the Navajo. This has caused a great disruption to the religious practices of the Hopi and created uncertainty about the cultural future of the Hopi. We have witnessed over the past century, our ties to ancient home sites of the Hopi such as Chaco Canyon, Mesa Verde and Wupatki restricted more and more, paving the way for more legal and legislative challenges. We have been silent too long and have decided to make our voices be heard so that our perspective on these issues can be heard, understood and respected," stated Chairman Wayne Taylor before the UN.

"The Hopi are best suited to represent their own interests before any world forum including the United Nations and should be consulted in good faith. No individual or third party organization, no matter how well intentioned they are, can represent the Hopi," said Kuwaninvaya.

Said Sakiestewa-Scott, "We must do away with the colonial attitude that Indians are incapable, incompetent or of sub-human status who are unable to think for themselves. We can and we will determine our own destiny."

The Hopi delegation also participated in the planning of the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, scheduled for the year 2001 in South Africa.

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