Hopis dissatisfied with new leaders

Community petition circulating to express disappointment in Hopi leadership

HOPI RESERVATION, Ariz. - A political petition is being circulated on the Hopi Reservation directed at new Hopi Tribal Chairman LeRoy Shingoitewa and Vice Chairman Herman Honanie.

In the opening paragraph, the petition states, "We, the Hopi and Tewa Senom, write this letter to you out of sheer frustration ... With all due respect, many of us who voted for you ... feel betrayed because so far, we do not see the changes that we were expecting when we elected you ... We are very disappointed that you have not demonstrated the leadership we expected and you said you had."

The petition does not ask for either Chairman Shingoitewa or Vice Chairman Honanie to step down or resign, but it does speak to specific campaign promises that both candidates made during the public forums prior to the Hopi general election in November 2009.

At least four separate copies of the two-page petition are being circulated to collect as many signatures as possible before the end of February.

One copy is being kept at Hopi Fine Arts Gallery in Second Mesa, which is owned by Alph Secakuku, current President of the Hopi Organizational Political Initiative (HOPI), a political watch-dog organization formed several years ago by community members concerned about their tribal government.

According to Secekuku, one of the biggest frustrations is that Chairman Shingoitewa was the former chairperson of the last Hopi Constitution Revision Task Team. Secakuku recalled that the Hopi Constitution had undergone 24 separate revisions, but that none had been formally revised by certified tribal referendum.

"So Leroy should know the constitution inside and out," he said.

Secakuku added, "Leroy knows full well that in the Hopi Constitution there are no provisions for 'appointed village representatives,' but he just recently allowed the seating of several appointed representatives ... [from] First Mesa, Sipaulovi and Mishongnovi ..."

He even said [during his campaign] that Kykotsmovi Representative Phillip Quochytewa acting as the Presiding Officer of Hopi Council was illegal. But Leroy has done nothing to correct this violation. Chairman Shingoitewa has not honored our Hopi constitution and according to his campaign promises to the people, someone must pay the price," Secakuku concluded.

The petition also discusses the actions of the alleged illegal Hopi council created in 2009 under the leadership of Quochytewa and its 11th hour moves to restructure the Hopi tribal government by creating a new position of Chief Executive Officer, moving both executive budget and legislative authority away from the office of the Hopi Chairman and Vice Chairman just before they were sworn into office.

It states that the Hopi community did not vote for this new CEO position, nor authorized its authority to govern the Hopi people.

The petition also questions why Shingoitewa and Honanie have not taken any action about removing current Hopi General Counsel Scott Canty, who many Hopis - including Secakuku - feel is directly responsible for the current political turmoil at Hopi, and also immediately removing Public Information Officer Tina May.

George Mase, one of the contested elected representatives from Sipaulovi added that the Hopi Appellate Court and the Peabody issues are also at the top of the list of complaints from the community.

"There is no question from the community members who the village authority is at Sipaulovi and that is Lorena Charles. There is only one process to authorize a leader and she is the choice of the appropriate village clan to be designated. There is no alternative to this process and Gerald Numkena, who is claiming he is the authorized Sipaulovi leader knows this too," Mase said.

He added, "Chairman Shingoitewa needs to start following the Hopi Constitution ... Only then will this mess with our Hopi Council be cleaned up ... Once that happens, then we can start working on other issues of importance, like going back to our original Hopi appellate court and ... reinstating them so we can start making progress on our natural resource concerns that are impacting the Hopi people and its long range goals."

The final paragraph of the petition stated in part, "We hope you take our concerns very seriously and start making changes and correct past wrongs. If you don't, then the election and our votes have been wasted. Year 2009 was filled with actions of the illegal council, many people have been hurt. We deserve better. We expect results ..."

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