KYKOTSMOVI, Ariz. - Hopi Tribal Chairman LeRoy Shingoitewa has formally requested that the appointed Tribal Council representatives from the Villages of Mishongnovi and First Mesa step down from their council seats at the request of their respective villages.
Chairman Shingoitewa opened the second quarter meeting of the Hopi Tribal Council by acknowledging the "final answer" from the Hopi Appellate Court and with letters sent from Sichomovi, Tewa and Mishongnovi Villages. The letters cited several violations of the Hopi Constitution and also stated the village members, as a whole, did not have a voice in how their representatives were chosen; that no elections were held and therefore not in line with the Appellate court decision of involving the villages.
At the heart of the matter was the "Final Answer and Opinion" of the three-judge Hopi Tribal Appellate Court which was released on Feb. 11.
Chairman Shingoitewa stated to the Council members from Mishongnovi and First Mesa, "I ask you to go back to your villages. It is not up to the council to make decisions for the villages. It has to be the village, as a whole, to decide. It is up to the representatives of those villages to go back to the village to work this out."
The representatives asked to step down include:
From Mishongnovi: Archie Duwahoyouma, Emma Anderson, Leon Koruh and Owen Numkena. Jr.
From First Mesa: Dale Sinquah, Celestino Youvella, Alvin Chaca and Leroy Lewis.
Chairman Shingoitewa reminded the Council that this final answer from the Appellate court came as a result of the Tribal Council, because it was the Council who didn't allow the village of Bacavi to exercise their authority to remove their Council representatives.
"The villages, as a whole, have a right to decide how they want to represent themselves," he said. "Letters have come in ... I'm asking the council members to step down and go back to your villages to address this."
Vice Chairman Herman Honanie, in strong support of the Chairman's position on the Appellate Court's Decision stated, "Here's what I want to say ... We are elected by you all, every last one us should be, that we speak for the people, that we work for the people not just one individual within the community but the whole village."
Chairman Shingoitewa again asked the representatives from First Mesa and Mishongnovi to step down and go back to their villages and include their people in how they would choose to be represented.
However, the representatives who were asked to step down refused to comply, which prompted the Chairman to call a recess until March 22. The Chairman further stated that these Council representatives will not receive a salary or compensation. They will not be authorized to travel or act in the capacity of a Tribal Council representative or represent the Hopi Tribe in any manner.
In refusing to step down, several representatives stated that this was an unwarranted change in government. Dale Sinquah stated, "Government in the hands of the grassroots people is not good."
The villages of First Mesa have had elections, but the elected representatives were removed by a village leader and replaced with appointed representatives, which has been contested by the village members.
The village of Mishongnovi also had elections for representatives at one time, but has since not been allowed to hold elections by their village leader, which has also been contested by the village members.