VILLAGE OF BACAVI, Ariz. - The Village of Bacavi's Gov. Alfred Lomahquahu hand delivered a letter of formal village disapproval of SB 2109 and the Navajo Hopi Little Colorado River (LCR) Settlement Act along with a directive to the Hopi Tribal Council to "not proceed with SB 2109 or Action Item No. 053-2012" on June 8. Item No. 053-2012 was authored by Sipaulovi Council Rep. George Mase, who also serves as the Hopi Tribe's Water and Energy Team Chairman.
No. 053-2012 asks for the Hopi Tribal Council to "approve" the LCR settlement agreement and asks that the Hopi Council endorse forward movement towards formal federal legislation.
The action item has been at the Hopi Council's Secretary's office for over a month with formal placement on the Hopi Tribal Council agenda. Both Hopi Chairman LeRoy Shingoitewa and Mase have publicly stated in several public forums that "they are still going to go to each village to educate and allow tribal member input and concerns to be considered about the LCR issue."
The Bacavi Village document states that, "the Hopi Tribe must give every opportunity to educate and inform the Hopi and Tewa people in 'layman's terms' the specifics of the settlement and also that the Hopi Tribe must be completely transparent in both their current and past negotiations regarding the LCR Settlement and that the Hopi Council, along with its Water-Energy Team and Hopi Chairman must give every tribal member the opportunity to express their concerns on the settlement agreement." The document further states that the "Hopi Tribe's legislation must provide every Hopi and Tewa member a chance to have a voice in their water rights issue."
Gov. Lomahquahu signed the Bacavi Village document as its official representative along with eight of their nine village board signatures supporting him. Signing along with Lomahquahu, were Gayver Puhuyesva, Leroy Kewanimptewa, Davis Fred Piqosa, Nancy Fred Piqosa, Dianna Shebala, Ethelene Jenkins, Ruth Kewanwytewa and Kerri Shebola. Board member Marilyn Fredericks was on travel and not present to sign.
Of the 12 Hopi villages, there are now two villages who have formally rejected the LCR settlement agreement and the SB 2109 by consensus.
The first formal disapproval was from the Village of Hotevilla, who rejected the bill and directed the Hopi Council to cease all further negotiation activity on behalf of the Hopi Tribe three weeks ago, stating that based on both Hopi Aboriginal rights and Winters Rights, that the "neither the Hopi Council nor the Hopi Chairman have any authority to negotiate, settle or waive Hopi water rights as those authorities were never delegated to the Hopi Council or Chairman by any village and that the Village of Hotevilla still retains those water rights as a sovereign autonomous village."
Another shift in how the Hopi Council will deal with the current turmoil of the LCR settlement at the Hopi village level, will be a time certain presentation set for an action item and resolution authored by Ben Nuvamsa, former Hopi Tribal Chairman, signed off with seven former Hopi officials endorsement to "stop all LCR settlement negotiations and legislation as the Hopi Council or Chairman do not have the authority to negotiate these rights." Nuvamsa will make the presentation along with his grassroots water rights support group at 9:30 a.m. Friday, June 15, at the Hopi Council Chambers.
Signing off with Nuvamsa on his action item and proposed resolution against SB 2109 and the LCR settlement are former Hopi Tribal Chairmen Vernon Masayesva and Ivan Sidney and four former Hopi Tribal Vice Chairmen - Clifford Qotsaquahu, Phillip Quochytewa, Col. Caleb Johnson and Todd Honyaoma.
This Nuvamsa-authored action item and resolution also carries the endorsement signature of current Hopi Tribal Vice Chairman Herman Honanie of Kykotsmovi Village.
"Its really important that Hopis and Tewas fully understand what is in this water legislation and I don't feel that the Hopi Tribe has really done enough to help the local community members understand the technical terms or the legal wording in the bill. There just hasn't been enough open information from the tribe, Chairman or Water-Energy Team and they have had adequate time to go from village to village to help us know what this is," said Lomahquahu. "This issue is so important and it's only fair that the chairman and the Hopi Council be completely open with the legal information and education materials. This hasn't happened so far. As tribal people, we must look out for our resources and water is one of the most important ones."