Removal petition for Hopi Chair Shingoitewa continues to move forward

KYKOTSMOVI, Ariz. - In the third public meeting held in Kykotsmovi village, which was labeled as an "open public" meeting by Kykotsmovi Village Gov. Antone Honanie, both information sharing and the topic of removal of Leroy Shingoitewa from the Hopi chairman's office is proceeding successfully, according to Silent Majority organizer and co-petition author, former Hopi Vice Chairman Phillip Quochytewa.

Though there are questions about the supporting documents that Quochytewa says will substantiate the petition charges that Shingoitewa has "engaged in serious neglect of duty" by exceeding his limited authority as Chairman of the Hopi Tribal Council, as defined by the constitution and bylaws of the Hopi Tribe. The petition also says Shingoitewa has wrongfully usurped and exercised power and authority reserved only to the Hopi Council under the Hopi Constitution and wrongfully usurped and exercised power and authority reserved to the villages of the Hopi Tribe under the Hopi Constitution. According to the petition, it was obvious that quite a few members of the tribe who were in attendance at this last meeting have never seen or read the support petition documents.

Quochytewa made four copies of a 200-page document authored by suspended employees for the community to look at during the meeting. However, it was difficult for anyone to have a real chance to read each page and see the supporting financial or administrative directives that started this community's controversy over Shingoitewa's leadership during the three and one-half hour meeting last week.

It's a lot of paper material to absorb in a short time to fully understand how serious the charges are. Hopi community members were encouraged to visit the Hopi Tribal Secretary's Office to obtain their own 200-page copy or else ask their own village community office to provide them with an office copy to read at their village administration.

This lack of public education surrounding the petition support documents will be one of the bigger challenges for the Silent Majority group as they take their removal petition through the entire 12 villages over the next month.

Quochytewa, Mary Felter and Jerry Sekayumptewa of the Silent Majority group say they are confident that when they take the supporting documents along with the petition for signatures with them and show Hopi and Tewa community members where Hopi constitutional violations have occurred, and how financial policies have been violated and that Hopi money has been spent without authorization from Hopi Council by Shingoitewa and his finance director without following proper financial channels that there will be overwhelming community support to remove Shingoitewa as tribal chair.

The charges listed in the removal petition are such:

The first charge claims that Chairman Shingoitewa has violated the Hopi Constitution and bylaws of the Hopi Tribe, Article III. Organization, Section 3 and article III section 4. which states, "each village shall decide for itself how it shall be organized.

Until a village shall decide to organize in another manner, it shall be considered as being under the traditional Hopi organization and the Kikmongwi of each village shall be recognized as its leader."

First Mesa Consolidated villages and the Village of Mishongnovi are currently governed under the traditional form of Hopi village government according to the petition and though in the past, numerous letters have been received by the Hopi Council informing the council of their village organization and identifying who is their recognized leader/kikmongwi is. There is currently no documentation on any changes in the traditional form of government at these two villages. The Hopi Council is bound to adhere to the existing form of governance at the villages, which is still considered "traditional."

The petition charges that Shingoitewa has failed to respect and abide by the requirements of Article III, Section 3 and Article III, Section 4 of the Hopi Constitution by acting without authority and in complete disregard on the above provisions of the Hopi Constitution and on his own, removed four First Mesa Consolidated Representatives and four Mishongnovi Village representatives from the Hopi Council on March 1, 2010.

The petition also states that the "damage" to the Hopi Tribe by Shingoitewa's act has been

"devastating and destructive to the Hopi Tribe." They also charge that Shingoitewa has created a situation where two traditional villages have now been left without representation on the Hopi Tribal Council.

By this lack of formal tribal representatives, they also feel the Hopi Council has been reduced to such a small number that it can no longer be said that the current Hopi Council is truly representative of the entire Hopi Tribe and that the current Council seating does not speak for the Hopi Tribe.

Charge two claims Shingoitewa has violated the constitution and bylaws of the Hopi Tribe, article IV Powers of the Hopi Tribal Council, Section 1(b) and the Fiscal Management Policies of the Hopi Tribe, Section I, 1. Fiscal Management Roles and Article VI, Section 1 (b) to employ lawyers, the choice of lawyers and the fixing of fees to be subject to the approval of the Secretary of the Interior so long as required by federal laws.

On May 26, 2010 the Hopi Tribal Council approved Resolution H-024-2010, which authorized Shingoitewa to enter into a contract on behalf of the Hopi Tribe to employ and supervise a law firm, attorneys in good standing and licensed to practice law in any state, to provide interim general counsel services for 180 days or until a successor is named.

The petition charges that Shingoitewa acted outside the scope of his authority as authorized by Hopi Resolution H-024-2010 for approval. Shingoitewa has authorized his finance director to pay legal fees from tribal funds that exceed the $60,000 dollar limit set by Hopi Fiscal Management policies for the tribe in contracts approved by the chairman and not requiring council approval.

The petition also claims that Shingoitewa has engaged in misappropriation of tribal funds including but not limited to:

• The purchase of Head Start buses at $500,000 with funds that were not in compliance for such purchases.

• Purchase of new accounting software.

• Without authority of the Hopi Council, Shingoitewa has authorized payment to in-house general counsel from the Hopi Tribe's Contingency Fund, which is reserved exclusively to Hopi Tribal Council approval. Only council may disperse said funds, which are reserved for use of the tribe's programs/departments through a formal request to the Hopi Tribal Council for approval.

Finally, the petition requests that the Hopi Tribal Council immediately set a date and time certain for a formal hearing to be held within 60 days following the reading of the petition into record at the Hopi Tribe, in which the charges will be heard and a decision made to remove LeRoy Shingoitewa as Chairman of the Hopi Tribal Council.

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