March 29, 2007
Another atrocity for the Hopi Tribe occurred on March 27 when the Hopi Tribal Council voted 10 to 8 to nullify the results of the 2007 Special Election when I was elected Chairman of the Hopi Tribe. The Tribal Council took this action based on false information presented by my opponent, certain members of the tribal council and others opposed to my candidacy. It is important to note that 8 of the tribal council members voted against the proposed resolution and I appreciate their support.
It is important for people to know that I fully satisfied the residency requirements and was duly certified by the Hopi Election Board on Jan. 10 as being eligible to be a candidate. This is a closed matter.
By taking this action, the Hopi Tribal Council usurped the authority vested in the Hopi Election Board, an independent tribal entity authorized to conduct and certify the results of the Special Election. In voting to nullify the results of the Feb. 7 General Election, the Tribal Council violated the electoral process and took it upon itself to blatantly disregard the will of the Hopi and Tewa people who voted for me. There are no provisions in the Tribal Constitution and by-laws that authorize the Tribal Council to take this action. Therefore, the Tribal Council exceeded its authority. In legal terms, this action is called an ultra vires violation. When this occurs the tribal council cannot be protected by its sovereign rights from immunity to a lawsuit.
The Tribal Council took this action despite the certification of the election results by the Hopi Election Board on Feb. 7. I was sworn into office by Chief Judge LaRance on March 1 at a duly called Tribal Council meeting and immediately assumed my role as Chairman of the Tribal Council. I also performed my duties as Chief Executive Officer of the Hopi Tribe.
Tribal members voted for me because they wanted a change in their government. They are outraged, and expressed their anger and their disappointment at a Tribal Council meeting held on March 28 in the tribal chambers. They expressed their lack of confidence in their tribal leaders and were angered that their votes were not considered by the Tribal Council.
I ran on a platform to establish a transparent and accountable tribal government by reinstituting the Code of Ethics, requiring drug testing and background checks on all tribal officials and improving fiscal accountability. My goal is to provide for a participatory form of government to involve tribal members in the governance of the tribe. My goal is to focus on strengthening our villages and communities, addressing the needs of our youth and elders, addressing the needs of our people living in off-reservation communities. I consider myself a "symbol" for positive change in our tribal government. I want to see a change in our government so that we have a government "for the people and by the people".
There is a resounding interest among the Hopi and Tewa people in my support of my fight for protecting the constitutional rights of our people to vote. Numerous letters have been filed with the Tribal Council Secretary by tribal members complaining that their constitutional rights have been violated by the Tribal Council.
In the final analysis, I find this action to be politically motivated by certain members of the tribal council and which essentially results in outright discrimination. Therefore, these members acted outside the scope of their authority as members of the tribal council and cannot hide under the cloak of tribal sovereign immunity. My constitutional due process rights have been violated in this process.
Ben H. Nuvamsa
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