Photo by Loretta Yerian.
Tim Nuvangyaom is from the village of Mishongnovi.
Why do you feel you’re a qualified candidate to run for chairman/vice chairman of the Hopi tribe?
There’s a lot that I’ve been through in my life — education wise. I have a degree in management, I’ve got real world experience and I’ve worked in debt recovery in the finance industry for quite some time. I’ve dealt with a lot of western civilization situations. I’ve also traveled down a road that taught me a lot — in my battle with alcoholism. I live in the now. These are real world situations that I’ve been able to grasp and I know how to deal and cope with a lot of these things. Just life, I think, has prepared me for this position.
On my return back a couple years back, I began volunteering with a lot of these different programs, including Hopi radio. As a volunteer DJ, we do a lot of traditional things. Our program is done mostly in Hopi. With that it’s generated a lot of community response to the topics we hit on. Even through humor, that brings a lot of issues out and it really touches a chord when you hear from elders and they’re speaking honestly with you these emotions — wanting better not only for our community but our young ones. Being a volunteer with them and other organizations — veterans, children, youth groups — you get uncensored information from them about what they want for Hopi and the kids and in general. Hearing all that it pushed me to a position to not thinking too much about this but maybe it is my calling. I have to do something here. I have to jump in and let the people know they have somebody listening to them. So I go into this with not any self-gain in mind, this is a position where the people vote someone in to try and lead them for the next four years. I’m a community member first and I’m asking the same exact questions. They deserve answers and it’s important for me to let them know what is being done here and what kind of direction we’re going, both good and bad. We have a lot of knowledgeable people in our community that we need to start involving in these solutions. I want everybody to be part of these solutions and not be part of what’s keeping our momentum from going forward. With all that I think it gives me some of the qualities and qualifications that it takes to run our government here.
In your opinion what are the two biggest issues facing the Hopi tribe?
First, we’ve got some financial issues. Culturally we are rich. Our heritage, culture, planting, our ceremonies, our traditions — we still have that. Some of it is dying out, though. I’m true to Hopi. Hopi’s path was laid out to us a long time ago and we have to keep that in mind and integrate that with the society we’re in now. We have to find that balance. Unfortunately a lot of that is connected to the financial structure that enables us to move forward.
Second, our community, we’re in a way separated and we need to find that relationship with one another. In numbers you build strength and I think if our community comes together again and we’re able to complete our circle again we can move forward and progress in a way that, I think, everybody is looking forward to doing. I think building relationships among our community and our financial issues are a lot of the big things we have to address.
There are some solutions that are already taking place. We’ve got non-profits showing up and I commend them for taking on the task of doing it. It’s not easy looking for grants to help your organization stay afloat. Financially you’ve got these things that are probably shouldering some of the things that the government should be shouldering themselves. So we look at these departments —are we duplicating something here? Are we not as effective as what’s popping up here because they feel there’s a need in this community and they’re doing it on their own.? Do we shift some of that tension over here and relieve some of our monetary issues that we’re having here and maybe move some of those employees into a program that’s need that strength, momentum and manpower?
I’d like to get back with the villages. We have to be more involved with them at that level. We have to start building trust and integrity back into our tribal government.
If elected, what are two specific objectives you want to focus on during your time in office and why?
It has to reflect back to building relationships with one another and other tribes. We’re all in a situation now where I look at the bigger picture in Washington D.C., things are unstable, from my viewpoint. Native America seems to be struggling with the government we have in place right now so I think that’s a big thing. We need to empower ourselves, empower our reservations and building relationships with other tribes is key here. I think we can find that relationship — we can build a stronger Native America.
I really want to focus on Hopi. I’m big on trying to get some economic development out here. I want villages to be a little more self-sustainable. There’s a lot of issues at the village levels that they’re trying to overcome. I want to get in there and try to help them get over the hump that they’re dealing with. If we can get them over that hump, stabilize villages, I think they can make some pretty good choices in how they want to invest their money to be a little bit more self-sustainable at their help out at the village level as well.
They (Hopi/Tewa people) are electing somebody here. This is who they are choosing to put into the tribal government to lead them in a positive direction. Their voices need to be heard. They need to be part of our tribal government also. They deserve the right to know what’s going on within our tribal government. So when you look at all the candidates, pick somebody who’s going to do that for you. It doesn’t necessarily have to be me if you see somebody else who is going to take you in that direction, I want them to know that this is their choice. They are voting somebody in. Don’t be manipulated by somebody else’s decision. Vote from your heart and look at who’s going to do something for you. Who’s going to do something for the future of our kids?