Letter: Attend forums to cast an educated vote Jan. 27

To the editor:

The final official count of registered voters for the Jan. 27 federal secretarial election on Draft 24A stands at 1,488. It is mystifying what that percentage represents of the total eligible voter population.

Including this date, 21 days remain before the scheduled election. By now, for non-residents that have registered, they should have received their absentee ballots by mail.

Since Aug. 4, when the Hopi Tribal Council passed resolution H-053-2010 to charge the Secretary of the Interior/BIA to conduct the election, there has been poor communication on the part of the Hopi Tribal Operations Office.

For example, the Hopi-Tewa public wasn't reminded about the registration deadline for the election until Dec. 27, one day before registration packets were due to New Mexico by 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 28. How would anyone expect the packets to arrive by the deadline when notified only one day prior to the deadline.

Then to compound the problem, Hopi Chairman LeRoy Shingoitewa and Robert Lyttle, Interim General Counsel to the tribal council, refused to voluntarily come forth with their reasons supporting the passage of Draft 24A. This has been the case since.

Because of this, the grassroots Hopi-Tewa people came together at an initial Flagstaff meeting on Nov. 13 at the office of attorney Gary LaRance to entertain and arrive at a consensus on a "course of action" to oppose Draft 24A. This initial meeting was called by LaRance, Ben Nuvamsa and me, and supported and coordinated by others.

Fifty of those who attended this meeting were willing to travel distances from as far as Phoenix and the Hopi Reservation, including tribal members from Flagstaff. The significance of this meeting was the entire group agreed to temporarily set aside their differences for the primary purpose of agreeing on supporting one another on an approach to opposing Draft 24A.

This became the impetus to the grassroots movement, on several fronts both on and off the reservation, to educating the Hopi-Tewa people on concerns regarding Draft 24A.

Since then, several public forums have been conducted. From the outset through today, LaRance and Nuvamsa have produced and conducted power point presentations on behalf of the movement, supported by abstracts and matrices, in Flagstaff, Phoenix, Hotevilla, Upper Village of Moenkopi and the Hopi Veterans Memorial Center. As of this letter, additional forums have been scheduled for Jan. 12 at First Mesa and Jan. 14 at the Lower Village of Moenkopi. We're hoping other villages will invite the presenters. It is strongly encouraged that voters attend one of the scheduled forums in order to cast an educated vote on Jan. 27.

In addition, press releases have been published in the Navajo-Hopi Observer, Gallup Independent and Indian Country Today. The power point presentations along with the abstracts and matrices have also been shared via the internet, and providing the same information for the villages and posting flyers reservation-wide.

Draft 24A has been deemed to be fundamentally flawed throughout its content. This "cookie cutter" work of Lyttle is a disgrace to the Hopi-Tewa people and must not be adopted. A proposed Fourth Branch of the Hopi central government to include all 12 villages is a direct insult especially to all traditional and contemporary village authorities.

This provision in the proposed Draft 24A, if passed, will strip the villages of their inherent and pre-constitutional sovereignties and self-governing powers, and will compromise our forefather's - the framers of our present constitution/bylaws - legacy of balancing our traditional and cultural values and laws with more modern principles.

Larry Hamana

Advocate for Hopi-Tewa Civil Rights and Justice

Metro-Phoenix

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