February 12, 2007
To My Fellow Hopi and Tewa People:
A terrible atrocity occurred on Feb. 5, 2007 when four members of the Hopi Tribal Council held what turned out to be a "hearing" in an attempt to disqualify me as a candidate for the Office of Tribal Chairman of the Hopi Tribe. The "hearing" was held under a false pretense of a Special Council Meeting. Also, an important matter, which affects each one of you was disclosed by the four council members. It is a document they obtained improperly that shows how each one of you and your relatives voted to amend the tribal constitution.
By holding this hearing, the Council members violated my rights under the Constitution of the United States of America, the Privacy Act, and the Indian Civil Rights Act. They also violated the rights of all Hopi and Tewa people by revealing voter information. I tried several times to stop the meeting from proceeding so that this would not happen but I was not acknowledged.
Council members Clifford Qötsaquahu, Caleb Johnson, Jerry Sekayumptewa and Leon Koruh obtained personal information on me that had no bearing on the Special Election and attempted to use this information to disqualify me as a candidate. I understand the Tribal Council Secretary, Harry Nutumya and Valjean Joshvema assisted in gathering this information. I also learned that the actions of the four Council members were not endorsed by the Tribal Council. In other words the Council members acted on their own, therefore, they cannot hide behind the cloak of tribal sovereign immunity.
It is important for you to know that the four Council members went beyond their roles as members of the Tribal Council. They also went beyond the responsibility of the Tribal Election Board in obtaining this information. In this process, they violated tribal and federal laws. As I write this letter, I am receiving reports that these individuals are still attempting to gather additional information not related to the Special Election to damage my integrity and character-even after the election is over. I also understand Harry Nutumya is going house to house with a petition to circumvent the results of the General Election by coercing people to sign his petition. It appeared that he was being escorted by Bureau of Indian Affairs police and tribal rangers. This action by Nutumya is not provided for in the election ordinance and at a minimum, is outright illegal.
Very important to every Hopi and Tewa voter is the fact that the four Council members obtained information on how each person voted in the last amendment to the tribal constitution. Again, this information has nothing to do with the Special Election, but they used it to harass other council members. Voter information is a very sacred document that must not be made available to anyone. Imagine if they obtained information on how you voted in the last and previous elections? They would have information on who you voted for as Vice chairman and Chairman. This is a serious constitutional violation that affects each one of you, your parents and grandparents. How was this information obtained and who obtained this information?
These actions have only strengthened my resolve to investigate how this information was obtained and to see to it that tribal and federal laws are enforced in the appropriate judicial forums. We need to take action so that we are not subjected to this kind of behavior by our tribal officials ever again.
You are aware that my campaign was conducted in the utmost professional manner, giving due respect to my opponents and to the general public. I focused only on issues important to the welfare of our tribe. At no time did I engage in open debates not related to the campaign. At no time did I make public statements about the character and integrity of any of my opponents. And, at no time did I, nor my campaign committee members, solicit personal and confidential information on or about other candidates with the intent to damage their character and integrity.
Unfortunately, the campaign of my opponents has been quite to the contrary. I was subjected to public ridicule by certain candidates during the public forums and through print media. My opponents inquired, solicited and obtained information on or about me (not related to the Special Election) from tribal members, tribal staff and even with outside organizations with the clear intent to damage my character and integrity. They also relayed false information about me to the Hopi and Tewa people to have them change their votes.
I believe in proper conduct and behavior in any campaign. I also believe that as our elected tribal officials, they must conduct themselves in the utmost professional manner. Unfortunately, that is not the case with the four Council members and others.
I do not believe the Hopi and Tewa people should continue to condone this type of behavior from tribal officials and those involved as candidates in any of our tribal elections. This behavior is not the Hopi and Tewa way. This is precisely one of the reasons why people want a change in their government. In my public statements, I have always stated that we must have utmost respect for one another as we proceed through the electoral process. My reputation and integrity has been damaged and it is time to see to it that justice prevails. Thank you for your time.
Ben H. Nuvamsa