Hopi & Navajo road teams reach historic agreement

KYKOTSMOVI -- The Hopi Tribe's Transportation Team and the Navajo Nation's Transportation Committee held simultaneous meetings to address joint use roads on the Hopi and Navajo reservations.

It was a unique sighting: Navajo Transportation Team Chairman Mark Maryboy calling a Navajo Nation Transportation Committee meeting to order in the Hopi Tribal Council Chambers! Seated next to him Hopi Transportation Team Chairman Davis F. Pecusa calling a Hopi Team meeting to order. A Hopi and Navajo Council Committee conducting a meeting simultaneously in The Hopi Tribal Council Chambers.

Welcoming the teams and encouraging cooperation were Hopi Tribal Chairman Ivan Sidney and Vice Chairman Todd Honyaoma Sr. along with Hopi Village Lt. Governors from the Village of Kykotsmovi, were joined by Hopi Tribal Councilors attended the opening session to show support for the teams efforts. Hopi BIA Superintendent Wendell Honanie, Omar Bradley, Deputy Regional Director for BIA's Navajo Regional Office, Navajo County Board of Supervisors Jesse Thompson, Bahe Jackson, Jeddito Chapter President, Daniel Peaches, CSA Leroy Lewis from First Mesa Consolidated Villages, Lyle Laban, Hopi High School and many other notables packed the council chambers as participants in this historic event.

Hopi Tribal Chairman Ivan Sidney welcomed and encouraged both teams to continue working together. Chairman Sidney congratulated Navajo Nation Transportation Chairman Mark Maryboy for his leadership in the road project and his compassion for the people needing the road on the Hopi and Navajo reservations. Navajo County Board of Supervisor Jesse Thompson received high praise for his instrumental efforts insuring the project became a reality. Jesse Thompson, Navajo County Board of Supervisors, Navajo Councilman Samson Begay and the Hopi Villages were also singled out for praise by the charismatic Sidney.

As the packed chamber watched in awe Chairman Sidney turned the committee meeting over to Hopi Vice Chairman Todd Honyoama Sr. praising the support of the Hopi Council and Hopi teams. Sidney took time to introduce the Hopi Tribal Council members in attendance to show support for the effort.

Hopi Tribal Councilman David F. Pecusa, Chairperson of the Hopi Tribes Transportation Team along with Navajo Transportation Team Chairperson Mark Maryboy brought both committees into formal session to discuss mutual issues concerning road repairs, maintenance and new road construction.

Discussion centered on the $1 million federal highway planning and design appropriation for the Polacca/Low Mountain Road utilized by the local schools. In an effort to streamline the acquisition of funds for the much needed road Chairman Sidney agreed to assign the Hopi share of funds for the project to the Western Navajo Agency. The Hopi Tribe's legal counsel Scott Canty prepared a Memorandum of Understanding for the transfer of funds for presentation to the teams, however, as the meeting progressed a new concept emerged.

The Hopi BIA Agency Superintendent Honanie and Western Regional Director Bradley reported the teams would still encounter delays in acquiring the funds regardless of which tribe agreed to transfer to the other. This resulted in Navajo Transportation Committee Chairman Maryboy suggesting the tribes exercise their "sovereignty" remove BIA from the equation and offered to name the Hopi Tribe as the recipient in the appropriation language. The Navajo Team offered to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Hopi Tribe thereby allowing the Hopi Tribe to contract with Navajo for the construction of the road.

The surprising commitment by Chairman Sidney and the Hopi Tribal Council Team agreeing to assign the funds to Navajo for constructing the Polacca/Low Mountain road appears to have created a "trust" relationship between the two delegations. The astonishing suggestion by Navajo Transportation Chairman Maryboy followed with the statement "We will transfer the funds to the Navajo agency so that the road can be constructed expeditiously" created an aura of respect and trust for the Hopi Tribal Council and their gutsy leader.

Equally astonishing were the words spoken at this meeting by Navajo Transportation Chairman Maryboy "our agency says the process will be too slow and cumbersome" therefore Navajo will offer to direct the appropriation of funds directly to the Hopi Tribe. This will allow Hopi to enter into a contract with Navajo to construct the road. Gasps of astonishment could be heard from the audience as Councilman Maryboy uttered the historic words. Navajo President Albert Shirley will be briefed by Navajo Nation Chairman Maryboy who will escort Chairman Sidney to the Navajo Nation Council meeting May 17th in Window Rock.

Hopi BIA Agency Superintendent Wendell Honanie said "This was a good meeting. It has the two tribes supporting the needs of the two areas. Both tribes trying to secure funding for projects needed by the Hopi and Navajo people. It is long overdue. Now is the appropriate time to address the needs through legislative appropriation. These meetings and agreements will show Congress the tribes resolution to address safety and health needs impacting both tribes."

Hopi Chairman Sidney will be joined by the Navajo Team in Washington, D.C. Chairman Sidney is traveling to Washington with the Chairpersons of each Tribal Council Committee the first week of May to meet with Arizona and NM Congressional leaders. The delegations will request the support of the delegations for the joint Navajo-Hopi road as well as other projects.

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