A statement by Hopi Councilman Quochytewa
The eleven Hopi Tribal Government officials named in a suit by Ben Nuvamsa filed documents May 24 seeking to have the Hopi Appellate Court set aside the extraordinary writ and temporary restraining order issued on May 17. The ten Council members and the Tribal Secretary have asked the Court to set aside the order on numerous grounds, including the fact that the named Tribal officials act for the Hopi Tribal government and are thus protected from suit by sovereign immunity and because the order is outside the jurisdiction and authority of the Appellate Court. The group has also filed a motion today in the trial court, requesting that the Nuvamsa suit be consolidated with two other cases challenging Mr. Nuvamsa's qualifications to serve as Chairman.
On Friday, May 18, after receiving a copy of the Appellate Court's writ, the Hopi Tribal Council convened a meeting. In a majority vote, the Council reaffirmed its position that the 2007 Special' Election was null and void pursuant to Hopi Resolution H-036-2007. The Council further voted to direct Vice Chairman Todd Honyaoma to issue a memorandum to Mr. Nuvamsa, reiterating the Council's position that Mr. Nuvamsa was not the Chairman and asking him to vacate the Tribe's offices. Mr. Honyaoma delivered the memorandum as directed by Council on May 18.
As a result of the memorandum, the Appellate Court issued an Order to Show Cause and a warrant for Mr. Honyaoma's arrest on Monday, May 21. Though counsel for Mr. Honyaoma argued that the Appellate Court lacked the jurisdiction and authority to issue the order which Mr. Honyaoma was accused of violating, the Court nevertheless found that Mr. Honyaoma was bound by the order. He was released Monday afternoon, on the condition that he agree to abide by the order.
The eleven Tribal Government Defendants will be filing a motion to dismiss Mr. Nuvamsa's complaint at the trial court level. The council members and the Tribal Secretary will challenge the trial court's jurisdiction to hear the matter, based on the law of sovereign immunity. Other challenges will also be identified.
Since being named in the suit, Council members and the Tribal Secretary have been diligently working to fulfill their respective duties and responsibilities, without interruption. The named Tribal Government Defendants continue to be concerned regarding the complications and confusion Mr. Nuvamsa's suit is causing for tribal employees and local community members. The group hopes that the suit can be heard by the trial court and resolved as quickly as possible, so that the Hopi Tribe can move forward.
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