Hopi Realty office wants to help as virus numbers continue to increase
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Micah Lomaomvaya, realty officer for the Hopi Tribe, said while the pandemic has changed the way his office does business that several projects are in the works.
Lomaomvaya said CARES Act funding, the federal program to help states and tribes, has provided funding for small projects for new tribal buildings and residents.
One is the new water well at Old Oraibi, where the tribe is working on plans to put in the infrastructure for water lines from the well. Lomaomvaya said he is not sure about the timeline for the waterlines.
“The well has been completed. We need the pump and well house,” he said.
Lomaomvaya said a right-of-way crossing will be needed to bring power across Highway 264. The tribe is working with Arizona Public Service to put the right of way lines under the highway.
“We will also work with the village on it,” he said.
Lomaomvaya said the Tawa’ovi project is moving forward. Land has been set aside for years at Tawa’ovi, which is located 15 miles north of the Hopi Cultural Center.
“The community team has moved forward to install office modulars and use existing water wells,” he said. “They are using diesel generators (for electricity).”
Right now, there are at least eight tribal buildings, including offices for natural resources, social services and health programs at Tawa’ovi. Tawa’ovi is a planned government, commercial and residential community for Hopi.
“They eventually will have larger buildings for tribal government programs,” he said.
Lomaomvaya said the CARES Act has paid for most of the buildings and sewer and waterline at Tawa’ovi. He said the tribal buildings there are small, but the workers are practicing the pandemic protocols including social distancing.
Lomaomvaya has been trying to work with all the villages.
“We are trying to assist the villages with powerlines for connections with homes,” he said. “The villages now see the need for land use planning. There is a scramble to adapt to the situation (with COVID).”
As a former natural resource planner, Lomaomvaya emphasized the need for land use planning.
“It’s important to know where to plug in projects for the land you have,” he said.
There are only three employees, including Lomaomvaya, in the Hopi Realty office, as they rotate in and out of the office for social distancing. They are tribal employees but work in a BIA office because the funding is through a federal contract. The building has been closed to non-essential employees, meaning they no longer accept walk-ings. Business is done by phone, email and scheduled appointments.
Some of the work that needs to be notarized must be done in person.
“A lot of the Hopi public don’t have scanners, laptops or emails,” he said. “People struggle to get out. There aren’t many notaries out here and that’s part of the process we cannot control, but impacts our work.”
Since the office is funded by federal contract, the Hopi Reality office is not impacted by the tribal budget.
Lomaomvaya said because of the pandemic, his office wants to work more with the villages on infrastructure and getting utilities to business or residential sites.
“We want to help with the processes for subleases,” he said. “But right now, most projects are tribal projects that are reacting to the emergency (pandemic).”
Lomaomvaya said during the next year, he hopes to work more with business development projects since the funding is needed because of the loss of Peabody Coal royalty. One consideration is developing Hopi land along the I-40 corridor. He said this could inject more funding into the Hopi Tribe and create job opportunities.
“We want to help the tribe replace that funding,” he said.
Lomaomvaya said the Hopi Realty office will be at the forefront of business and commercial development.
“We’re here to make sure the tribal government is prepared. We want to help for the future of the Hopi people on land whether its business, residential or other needs,” he said.
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