Letter: Hopi Tribe continues to struggle for rights

To the editor:

I am a very frustrated, worried and concerned Hopi tribal member living on the great Hopi Reservation in northern Arizona. I have been trying to deal with the recent and past action of the Hopi Tribal Council - illegal or legal - and wonder when the turmoil will ever end. Why? Because I care about my people and the mental, physical and financial abuse we are experiencing with our tribal government. Although my village does not have representation on the council, we do have a village Board of Directors and a Community Service Administrator (CSA) who receive funds for our village.

I am unemployed, disabled, a parent, grandparent, farmer, writer, photographer and member of the press. I was shocked, saddened, but not surprised that some Council members voted to shut down the official Hopi tribal newspaper, Tutuveni, because the paper was deemed "ineffective."

The newspaper is very independent, interesting and important and should not be controlled by the Council. Those who voted to shut the paper down are denying the public the right to information and this is against the law.

The Council took an oath to uphold the Hopi Constitution and to protect, promote and act in the best interest of the Hopi people. This harsh comment is a slap to the faces of the entire Hopi Tribe, young and old, rich or poor, and living on or off the reservation. This comment also applies to others who utilize the paper to invite, inform and invest.

Why were my people cut off from a very important source of information? Is it because the former editor did a great job of covering the past actions of the Council? At one point, he wrote about being heavily censored and having to comply with the Council's directives. Just six months ago, the Tutuveni was threatened with an immediate shutdown. Now, the newspaper is gone as is the editor, marketing manager, secretary, contributing reporters and all others who helped keep the community informed about serious issues. It has been very frustrating to see an empty office with no movement, greetings or communication.

Councilman Sinquh and others who voted have put the lives of every Hopi citizen in danger, especially after the declared state of emergency snowstorm in January. This is a blatant disregard for the people's emergency needs. What will happen if we have another major disaster? How will we be able to communicate effectively? I was stranded at home and since I live without electricity, I was totally unaware of the storm.

Thanks to Barbara Poley and the Hopi Foundation staff for the creation of our Hopi radio station KUYI, some of us were saved with wood and coal for the cold weather. To my knowledge, some families did not receive any help at all.

On behalf of the Hopi Tribe, a big thank you goes out to the Hopi Emergency Repsonse Team (HERT) for saving 400-plus Hopi families who needed that extra help.

It is also still cold and some people don't have coal or wood. Things have gotten so bad lately that fathers are against daughters, mothers are against sons, neighbors are against neighbors and friends are against friends. This is not Hopi. What happened to the days when we all helped each other out? What are we now doing to each other?

Our youth and elderly are being overlooked. Where is U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke? It is springtime already - didn't he promise to visit Hopi then? We have homicide, suicide and other serious cases that the Council should be worried about.

The darkest day on Hopi happened on April 6 in the heart of Hopi land regarding Peabody that will probably not be divulged. Stay tuned and you will read about it, hopefully.

At this time, I am challenging the Hopi Tribal Council to being back the Tutuveni to the Hopi people. Restore our rights to express our opinions and our rights to view and comment on public information. Respect the peoples' voice and the peoples' choice. As of Feb. 11, the people have spoken.

Respect the Appellate Court's decision on the Tribal Council ruling. Face the facts, rules are rules. Let's move on. When will the spending, abuse and damage ever end?

Esther Kootswatewa Honyestewa

Hotevilla, Ariz.

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