An open letter to the Hopi people and Hopi Tribal Council

April 7, 2007

To the Hopi People and Hopi Tribal Council,

It is a very sad day when the wishes of the Hopi people are totally ignored by ten members of the Tribal Council for their own self-satisfaction and political gain.

This whole incident of the Tribal Council's removal of the Chairman demonstrates why we need a new Constitution for the Tribe. When one branch of government can simply and summarily invalidate the results of an election in violation of the Constitution, then democracy and fairness cannot thrive. Our government will forever be ruled by the will of the Tribal Council of the day. A system based on ever-changing rules and decisions with no written rules or laws which are followed invites chaos. If we're going to have a system of government based on a written Constitution, then we should update and improve the Constitution to build a system of checks and balances against abuses of power. No one group like the Tribal Council should be given all the power in the Tribe. No one group should be the source of all the delegated power in the Tribe. Government power should be shared among various branches of government and the villages to protect against abuses of power.

Like it or not, the Constitution of the Hopi Tribe is the governing document of the Tribe's government. The Constitution is a document that all persons, especially elected officials, must follow. The removal of a sitting chairman is governed by the Constitution which allows removal only for serious neglect of duty or conviction of a crime. There have been no charges that Mr. Nuvamsa has committed either one of these offenses.

The proper time to challenge the election according to the laws of the Tribe was during the election process. Whether or not Mr. Nuvamsa properly resided on the Reservation was a matter that should have been challenged prior to the certification of the election results, and certainly not a month after his certification.

The challenge period for the election lapsed with seemingly no successful challenges, the elections were held, and a winner was certified. Whether or not you're a Ben Nuvamsa supporter, every Hopi citizen should be alarmed that the Tribal Council has now asserted the unbridled power to invalidate the popular election of the Chairman of the Tribe-the People's choice. We will likely now see whether the Courts system of the Tribe will have the courage to rule against the Tribal Council's action as a violation of the Constitution, and what action the Tribal Council might take in face of such a Court decision. Our principals of government and the stability of our government are now in serious jeopardy. The only real solution to this problem is for the People to demand the right to vote on a new Constitution.

I am not surprised by the votes of Caleb Johnson, Clifford Balenquah, Jerry Sekayumptewa, Leon Koruh and the First Mesa Representatives. But I am very disappointed that Davis Pecusa and Phillip Quochytewa chose to ignore the law of the land, The Hopi Tribal Constitution.

I truly believe it is time for the Hopi people to hold our Tribal Council accountable for their actions and behavior. I wonder if the prophecies are true, that we have come to the time when our leaders are going to forget about the people they lead and do things that are only beneficial to them as an individual.

LeRoy Ned Shingoitewa

Moencopi Village


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