Photo by Loretta Yerian.
Herman Honanie is from the village of Kykotsmovi.
Why do you feel you’re a qualified candidate to run for chairman of the Hopi tribe?
I had four years as vice chairman and I’ve been the chairman for the last four years. The chairman and vice chairman experience have both prepared me for the position. I know it’s the difference between being a chairman and vice chairman, but once you become a chairman, you assume a much greater role and responsibility. My experience being a chairman, I believe qualifies me pretty well to be able to continue in this position. I feel I’m qualified — I’m experienced. I’ve carried out the role of being chairman to the best of my capabilities and been exposed to all facets of being in that office. That means locally, county wise, state wise and national levels and my relationship with other tribes throughout the state.
In your opinion what are the two biggest issues facing the Hopi Tribe?
Right now our revenue is declining because of the Navajo Generating Station (NGS) issue. That’s obviously a big issue that we need to deal with. The closure is slated for 2019, which then puts the stress and pressure on us to then come up with ways of filling that void in respect to revenue. Economic development and bringing in revenue is really a big challenge.
Right now we’re entertaining proposals in regard to what can be done with our coal. We have vast amounts of coal, which need to be looked at, and how we can be able to extract other ways of energy. I think we need to be able to determine if there is going to be buyers out there and how we can transport that. There are certain elements within the Hopi people that really need to be discussed. There is a big challenge of what’s going to be the best use of our coal and then what steps we take to get to that point. That’s just looking at coal only. There could be other areas we need to look at … there’s always this picture of gaming. We have not come to the point to really actively pursue gaming. We are up against the stigma with regard to gaming and its effect or impact on Hopi beliefs and culture. We need to really fully vet that out and see if gaming is going to be a viable form of bringing in revenue as well.
The second issue is right now we’ve been having a lot of discussions on the education picture for Hopi. We have seven elementary schools and one high school on the reservation. There’s various perspectives on the state of our education system here on Hopi, so obviously we need to have a lot of discussion and work to pull everybody together and come up with a system that’s going to be sound and effective in a sense that everybody’s on the same page. Then, of course, having our high school ascend to a level that can really, really prepare our kids for post high school educational pursuits.
If elected, what are two specific objectives you want to focus on during your time in office and why?
That would have to be the economic development matter, the challenge of being able to see how we can bring in the revenue and a combination of various topics that I want to devote and put a lot of focus and attention to — education, health, justice services … there’s a plethora of activities on the plate that we need to focus on —domestic violence, drug use, youth enhancement, social services, a lot of things. When asked what two things … it makes me realize, gosh, there’s various activities that qualify for that question. There are a lot of issues on the table.
I’ve been here for four years and four years is a really short amount of time to accomplish many things. In these four years I’ve been exposed to many challenges and continue to represent the Hopi people and work on behalf of them. I feel another four years is justified for me to be in this position to continue my work and carry out and accomplish these things. Whether I accomplish them or not, I’d like to feel that I can be able to carry out and further these issues and these goals/objectives toward fruition or completion. I’m going to need to depend on everyone — the council, government and the people to be able to accomplish these things. It’s always been that I am trying to represent the people in the best way possible. It has been an honor to serve my people in this capacity. I really thank the people who have given me this confidence and knowing what to do to carry it out. I would certainly like to see them re-elect me to this post to have me continue to represent them.