In response to the recent discovery of water contamination on Hopi Partitioned Lands (HPL), the Hopi Tribe's Office of Range Management has capped several water wells and fenced off windmills as a public safety measure, including some used by trespassing Navajo tribal members who have not signed Accommodations Agreements (AA) to reside on HPL.
Water contamination was among the issues discussed earlier this month during a Navajo AA Permittees meeting held on HPL on behalf of the Navajos who have signed a 75-year AA. These AA Navajo families legally reside on HPL with grazing permits recognized by the Hopi Tribe.
"Many of the issues they're having on not only HPL, but the Navajo Partitioned Lands (NPL), are because Navajos who have not signed the Accommodation Agreement are illegally trespassing, cutting fences and bringing in their own livestock in the middle of the night," said Hopi Tribal Councilman Cedric Kuwaninvaya, from the village of Sipaulovi and chairman of the Hopi Land Team. "One would expect this to be a problem of Navajos against the Hopi, but it's not; it's Navajos against Navajos."
Present at the Navajo AA Permittees on HPL meeting, Councilman Kuwaninvaya said he had the opportunity to speak and asked if there were any delegates from the Navajo Nation [government] at the meeting and the answer was none. "Only one representative from the Navajo grazing committee from the area was present and no one representing the Navajo Nation Council. I would have liked to have seen one of their representatives, as we have issues on both the HPL and NPL sides that we need to address as tribal governments."
Though Navajo permittees have signed an AA, some may still require assistance from their own Navajo Nation government.
"The safety of anyone on Hopi land, not just Navajo and Hopi people, is of utmost importance to us," said Clayton Honyumptewa, Director of Hopi Department of Natural Resources. "The capping of water wells on the HPL was due to the fact that they were contaminated with uranium and arsenic, an obvious threat to anyone who was to drink it."
"Our Windmill Crew will actively work to repair broken or malfunctioning windmills on the HPL," he said. "We continue to work in keeping the lands, water wells and windmills as originally intended and urge those whose lands are being infringed upon to notify us of any wrongdoings and repairs needed."
The meeting was sponsored by the Hopi Tribe's Office of Range Management and was attended by the Hopi windmill repair crews, Office of Hopi Lands, Hopi Resource Enforcement Services and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, in addition to the Navajo-Hopi Relocation Commission, Councilman Kuwaninvaya and a staff member from the Hopi Chairman's office.
About Hopi Partitioned Lands:
The U.S. Congress partitioned the disputed 1882 Executive Order Hopi Reservation in a 1974 Congressional Act with parcels given to Navajo and Hopi Tribes resulting in the forced relocation of both Hopi and Navajo families. Forty-nine Navajo families signed a 75-year Accommodation Agreement to reside on HPL and all Hopi families voluntarily relocated from said disputed lands. Meanwhile several Navajo families continue resisting relocation from HPL to this day. The Hopi Tribe is working to restore the HPL with guidance from Hopi stewardship values and practices.