Navajo – Hopi Land Dispute
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The initiating of the land conflict started by the appearance of Mormon settlers in the Hopi villages. The Indian agent there found he could not remove the Mormons legally for the Hopi had no reservation, therefore; President Chester A. Arthur responding to the agent’s dilemma issued an executive order of 2.4 million acres "for the use and occupancy of the Moqui (Hopi) and other such Indians as the Secretary of the Interior may see fit to settle upon".1 This phrase was the main cause of the Hopi – Navajo Land Dispute.2
At this time, there was no exclusive reservation for the Hopis, for the phrase, "other such Indians" included other tribes as long as the Secretary of Interior gave his approval. The Navajos in the 1882 Executive Order Reservation during its signing were already inhabitants of the region and planned to stay.3
The Navajo Tribal Council through the years has interpreted the phrase "other such Indians" as including them. The Hopi Tribe on the other hand has interpreted this as not specifically stating Navajos and that all the 1882 Executive Order Reservation is theirs.
2. The Historical Hopis
The history of the Hopi is very interesting. According to Qua Toqti (The Eagle’s Cry), the Hopi newspaper, "The Hopis are a remnant of the western branch of the early house-building race which once occupied the southwestern table lands and canyons of New Mexico and Arizona. Before 1300 A.D. and perhaps as far back as 600 A.D., the ancestors of the Hopis occupied the area between the San Francisco Mountains and Luchachukas."4
Qua Toqti going on … "No Indians in this country has a longer authenticated history than the Hopis. As early as 1514, a detachment of the Spanish Conqueror, Coronado, visited the region and found the Hopis living in mesa villages, cultivating adjacent fields, and tending their flocks and herds."5 In fact, Old Orabi, the capital of the Hopis dates back to 1150 A.D. and is known as the oldest continuously inhabited town in the United States. Ruins of their ancestors are as far back as Salt Lake City, Utah and mostly cover regions in Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.6
"In 1692, another Spanish officer, Don Diego De Vargas, visited the area where he met the Hopis and saw their villages. American trappers encountered the Hopis in 1834. In 1848, by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, this area came under the jurisdiction of the United States."7
6. Original Hopi Land
According to Hopi tradition, the east boundary of Hopi land separating them from the Navajo is deep into the now exclusive Navajo Reservation. This boundary line is just west of Ganado, Arizona, parallel to the east side of the 1882 Executive Order Reservation and some distance north of the north side of the 1882 Executive Order Reservation.8
The agreed traditional boundary was solemnized by the delivery of an Indian "tiponi" by the Navajo to the Hopi as a reminder to the promise. A Hopi witness produced the tiponi before the Claims Commission.9
The anthropologist, Gordon MacGregor, in a report to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs in 1938 stated as follows: "The First Mesa or Walpi people made an agreement with the Navajo some time about 1850 establishing a boundary line. The Navajo were to cross it only on condition of good behavior. As a sign of good faith, the Navajos are said to have presented a feather shrine or symbol, which First Mesa still preserves. A pile of rock some distance west of Ganado and on the old road once marked this line. First Mesa, of course, would like to see this line form the eastern limit of the reservation."10
The Indian Claims Commission held that this land was once exclusive Hopi in 1882 and includes considerable more land than encompassed in the line drawn in the Steiger Bill which was defeated."
7. Hopi Land Growth
In 1882, with the signing of the executive order by President Chester A. Arthur, the Hopis received a 2.4 million acre reservation, This land was not only for them though, other Indians that the Secretary of Interior would approve would be placed there. During that time about 300 Navajos resided on this land and a handful of Paiutes.12
In 1891, reacting to hostility between Navajo and Hopi over land use, the Secretary of the Interior designated some 300,000 acres of the 1882 Executive Order Reservation for exclusive Hopi use.13
On April 24, 1943, the exclusive Hopi Reservation was enlarged to 630,000 acres and was now know as District 6. The one hundred Navajo families living with in the boundaries were forced to relocate at this time.14
On September 28, 1962, on the court case of Healings versus Jones (named by the attorneys of each tribe) which involved the Hopi Council suing the Navajo Tribe. The Arizona District Court declared that the Hopi Tribe were owners of the exclusive use area known as District Six, defining its limits by April 24, 1943.15
8. Hopi Land Versus Navajo Land
Another historical factor that has bearing upon the question now being presented is the executive intent regarding the Navajo Reservation as gleaned from executive orders promulgated by various Presidents of the United States.16
One claim is that of the Executive Order of October 29, 1878 and the Executive Order of January 6, 1880. The Executive Order of October 29, 1878 signed by President R.B. Hayes extended the Navajo Reservation to the west, as shown upon exhibit, withdrawing the land from sale and settlement "as an addition to present reservation for Navajo Indians." The Executive Order of January 6, 1880 signed by the same president further extended the Navajo Reservation "as an addition to the present Navajo Reservation in said territories." It is noted by the Hopi Council that both of the Executive Orders describe land east of the 1882 Executive Order Reservation as being set aside for the Hopi Tribe.17
Another claim made by the Hopi Council is that of the Executive Order of May 17, 1884. President Chester A. Arthur withdrew this land from public domain just north and west of the 1882 Executive Order Reservation. The Hopi Council said that this land was not originally made a part of the Navajo Reservation. The language employed was "withheld from sale and settlement and set apart as a reservation for Indian purposes."18
Another claim made by the Hopi Council is that the language of the 1934 Act gives them an interest in the entire Navajo Reservation in Arizona. The 1934 Act known mostly as the Arizona Boundary Bill was passed on June 14, 1934 and defined the exterior boundaries of the Navajo Reservation in Arizona. Part of the 1934 Act said: "All vacant, unreserved and unappropriated public lands, including all temporary withdrawals of public lands in Arizona heretofore made for Indian purposes by Executive Order or otherwise within the boundaries defined by this Act, are hereby permanently withdrawn from all forms of entry or disposal for the benefit of the Navajo and such other Indians as may already be located thereon." To the Hopi Council’s understanding "and such other Indians meant that the Hopi Indians could claim this land also as theirs legally. The Navajo Council on the other hands says that this applies to only those Hopis that resided on the land by June 14, 1934.19
9. Hopi Power – Whiteman’s Tactics
The Hopi Council has very aggressively used whiteman’s tactics inorder to get land for the "progressive" Hopi. According to MacDonald: "It was the Hopis who first employed a Whiteman’s public relation firm to defend their position and it is the Hopis who has commercialized their ceremonial dances to the outside including their sacred kachina dolls."20 The Department of Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Mormon Church all seem to be working for the Hopis.21 To me what the future holds for both tribes depends in what the settlement of the land-dispute brings. If it is settle unjustly, there can be a deep resentment of Navajos upon the Hopis and United States government.
10. Mormon – Hopi Alliance
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has had a close association since the 1890’s with the "progressive" faction of Hopis. Mormons were the first missionaries to be allowed to preach on the Hopi mesas after the Spanish friars were driven off. Many "progressive" Mormon Hopis have sat on the tribal council in the past 40 years and right now, the predominate Hopi religion is Mormonism,22 not the Native American Church.
The locus of Hopi policy has been in Salt Lake City, 500 miles from Hopi mesas. Their attorney, John Boyden (a Mormon), public relation firm (Evans and Associates), and Representative Wayne Owens, a Mormon whose Bill (H.R. 10337) the Hopi Council support, are all located and headquartered in Salt Lake City.23
Through their Mormon allies, the Hopis have developed allies in the world of industry and government.24
11. Manufactured Range War: an Evans and Associates Production
Since the land dispute was brought to Congress again around 1970, the Hopi Council has done so much deceiving inorder to get the land.
The Hopi Council has tricked Congress and most of the nation into believing that there was a "range war" about to break out. During 1970-1972, few papers in the southwest escaped having a Sunday feature on the "range war" about to break out between the two tribes.25
It is now a well known fact that Evans and Associates, public relation firm representing the Hopi Tribe, virtually stage-managed a range war on the borders of the Hopi Reservation.26
By calling Evans and Associates, a TV crew often could arrange a roundup of trespassing Navajo stock. Occasionally when a roundup was in progress, southwestern newsmen would be telephoned by Evans and notified of the event.27
A print reporter could arrange a tour of the disputed area in a B.I.A. pickup truck driven by the ranger.28
Interviews with then Hopi Chairman Clarence Hamilton could also be arrange through Salt Lake City. But they were only granted when a B.I.A. officials could be present and the officials usually answered the questions. At the height of the "range war" tribal officials apparently lost whatever control they had to Salt Lake City.29
Reporters who visited Window Rock, the capital of the Navajo Nation, got a less effusive welcome. They had to make their own way over 50 miles of unmarked dirt roads to the Navajo side of the disputed area. There they were often assumed by the local people to be bill collectors of B.I.A. officials. Little information usually came from such an all day adventure.30
So most stories that resulted from the "range war" opened with a description of Navajo encroachment and ended with Navajo threats of violent retaliation, that the range was about to be set aflame by Navajo bellicosity.31
Although I have to say there were element of truth there, it was not widespread. What had happened was only between a handful of people and was something that could be settled by them. But to say to partitition the land and relocate as many as 8,500 for things that were mostly exaggerated is hard to believe.32
Evans and Associates simply went out and manufactured a "range war", fabricating for newsmen what they could not find in reality.33
12. Evans and Associates Over Black Mesa
While Evans and Associates were representing the Hopi Tribe, they also represented a trade association called West Associates. This association was engaged in building power plants and strip mines in the Four Corners area.34
Why did the B.I.A. permit a company that represented utilities buying Hopi coal to represent the Hopi? A B.I.A. spokesman said that while attorney’s contracts generally require approval, the Hopi agreement with Evans did not.35
However, the Secretary of the Interior, or the B.I.A. Commissioner did have to approve the coal leases. Fine, except that the secretary was also one of the buyers of coal. The Interior Department, through the Bureau of Reclamation owns 25% of the largest Four Corners power plants.36
When Navajos and Hopis wrote to stop the stripping of the sacred mountain, Black Mesa, they were sent a brochure prepared and published by the Peabody Coal Company.37 This is the company that is stripping the sacred mountain in the joint use area under a contract approved by the Interior Department.38
13. John Boyden: Ruthless and Efficient?
John Boyden is a very effective attorney for the Hopis. He has done a good job of spreading lies and ethnic slurs among the nations’ lawmakers.39 Boyden has portrayed the Navajos as "a cruel and vicious people" and has pleaded with Congressmen to divide the joint use area in the name of humanity.40
One women, named Mrs. Tsinigine, a Mormon living in the "joint use area" was at a hearing in the Senate Interior and Insular Affairs Committee on the Owens Bill. After the hearings Mrs. Tsinigine rushed up from her seat to speak with John Boyden. The results … Mrs. Tsiningine said: "It made me mad when he said that Navajos are mean and cruel. I don’t know where he comes from. He must not even read his Book of Mormon. It really made me mad, and I asked him why. I said to him that I never knew you hated us. All he said was … Now don’t worry, this bill might not even pass!"41
Evelyn Roanhorse from the joint use reservation also becomes angry at herself when she thinks of a charge John Boyden made. "Boyden tells Congress that the Navajos are aggressive people, bullying the poor, peaceful Hopis. I really get upset, just look at these people at Coal Mine. They are the ones that are poor, they are the ones that are peaceful. And it is a few Hopi ranchers that are bullying them, pushing them about. These Hopis want to enlarge their range lands so they can increase their herds and get richer and they couldn’t care less about what happens to the Navajos who live here now."42
14. B.I.A. Goal: Construction Freeze and Livestock Reduction
Henry Zah, member of the Low Mountain Chapter speaks: "Since 1963, we have not been allowed to build on the land in the joint use area. No new wells have been dug. The roads get steadily worst. We have no permanent hospitals or clinics. We cannot even bring in electricity for our homes. Now if the Owens Bill is passed, we will have to move again … There is no more open land for the sheep on the Reservation. What will we do? Where will we go? This move will destroy our livelihoods, and probably our lives. The older people will not recover. The younger people will not like it. They may fight not to go. The Hopis do not need the land. They do not use the land they took in 1943. Is Democracy forcing people from their homes and leaving the land to the tumbleweeds and coyotes. The Owens Bill is wrong. It did not come from the people, either Hopis of Navajo. We plead with the Senators to defeat the bill and leave us our lives."43
The Arizona District Court in 1963 instituted a "freeze" of construction in the joint use area. These things included the drilling of wells, school facilities, roads, utilities, home improvements, hospitals etc.44
The general idea is that B.I.A. has "frozen" construction, including well drilling was a way to make the joint use area uninhabitable and thus forcing the Navajo people off the land.45
But this hasn’t happened, according to Samuel Pete, Director of the Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute Commission. "The Navajo people were born there and their ancestors lived and died there. Even though they could barely eke out a living, they stayed. They refused to break their ties to the land."46
Instead, many Navajos since 1963 have simply drove their stock to water inside the Hopi exclusive use area.47
But the Hopis hired a ranger, a white former rodeo cowboy to patrol their fenceline. He was to impound Navajo stock inside the border and arrest the herder. Some local Navajos did threaten the range and there were occasional shots fired as pressure and the Navajo herdsman mounted. On the one hand, their sheep were dying from lack of water and forage, on the other hand, they were arrested and their flocks were impounded if they drove them to water and grass.48
By October 14, 1972, the District Court in Arizona ordered that the Navajo Tribe reduce livestock herds in the joint use area without any type of provisions in the order saying how to do it. The Navajo plan was voluntary reduction, but no one did it. On May 29, 1974, the Navajo Tribe was found in contempt of court for failure to abide by court order, and was being penalized $250 per day.49
Since then the Department of Interior has been commencing the reduction of livestock in the area.50
Samuel Pete has indicated that the Navajo joint use residents have been showing a willingness to cooperate with livestock reduction but are concerned about maintaining themselves after reduction.51
"The people fell that the land dispute is like a sickness, and in the Navajo way when a person is sick his family must make sacrifices to help bring about a cure."52
Bureau of Indian Affairs officials at the Hopi Agency at Keams Cayon, Arizona say that land given up by Navajos will be used by "progressive" Hopis to raise beef cattle for market. The establishment of a beef industry among the traditional agricultural Hopis is a B.I.A. goal that goes back 100 years.53
Already this is happening. Rena McCabe, a joint use resident at Coal Mine Mesa about 2.5 miles from district six has her story. According to her, about 5 years ago Abbott Sekaquaptewa, Chairman of the Hopi Tribal Council, started bringing his cattle around Rena’s camp. Rena says that Sekaquaptewa’s huge herd monopolized the range, leaving little for her sheep and cattle. Because of this she and her husband had to move about 2 miles farther west, away from Sekaquaptewa’s herd. A corral for Hopi cattle now stands next to Rena’s old sheep corral. "Abbott wants this land," Rena says, "He wants us to leave here so he can bring in his cattle and increase the size of his herd."54
15. Congress and Court Orders
Since the establishment of the 1882 Executive Order, the Hopis have been claiming a right to the entire 1882 Executive Order Reservation and the Navajos have been claiming a right to live there by the clause, "and other such Indians".
To solve this dispute, Congress stepped in on July 28, 1958 and passed legislation, Public Law 85-54. This gave the right that "chairmans of the tribal council and United States to initiate claims against each other or against any other tribe asserting an interest in the disputed land". This resulted in a special 3 judge court to decide the rights of the two tribes in the Executive Order Reservation "as may be just and clear by law and equity".
By this Public Law, the Hopi Council sued the Navajo Tribe claiming that the 1882 Executive Order Reservation was theirs. The case was brought in front of Arizona District Court on September 28, 1962 and was called "Healings versus Jones" by the name of the attorneys for each tribes.
The Arizona District Court on September 28, 1962 declared55 that:
During the next ten years negotiating committees from the two tribes met numerous times seeking to resolve their differences. But all attempts to negotiate a settlement of the joint use land ended in failure.56
16. Legislative Proposals
Congress fearing possible bloodshed by the fabricated "range war" produced by the Hopi Council and its relation firm, Evans and Associates, saw a need to settle this almost century old dispute in the very near future.57
Republicans and Democrats most from the states of Arizona and New Mexico had brought up many different types of proposed legislation in the 1970’s inorder to solve this conflict in interest.
The following is a review of their legislative proposals:
Sponsored by Congressman Sam Steiger (R-AZ). This bill called for the legislative partition of the 1882 Executive Order Reservation and awarding more than 1,100,000 acres including the Moencopi area to the Hopi Tribe. Between 6,500 and 8,500 Navajos would be driven from the land on which they and their ancestors have lived.58
Co-sponsored by Representative Manuel Lujan Jr. (R-NM), Harold L. Runnels (D-NM), and John B. Conlan (R-AZ).
This Bill supported by the Navajos would transfer Hopi occupied land on the Navajo Reservation to the Hopi Tribe, but would not provide for the transfer of land occupied by members of one tribe to another. Such property interest which Hopis have in Navajo occupied land would, it not conflict with Navajo use, be recognized as easements and, if in conflict, be paid off in case.59
This Bill as seen by the Navajo Council would provide a solution without evicting either tribe from its dwellings. This measure, continuing the land usage practices of both tribes through the centuries, would provided the Hopis with continuing access to the land they have utilized. The Navajos would keep the disputed land for livestock grazing and pay the Hopi Tribe a maximum $18 million (the assessed land value) for the rights to the land.60
Introduced by Representative Lloyd Meeds (D-Wash). This bill would let the controversy be solved by negotiation ad arbitration.61
The Navajos and Hopis have attempted to negotiate a settlement right after the Healings versus Jones decision for ten years but without success. The Navajos have indicated their willingness to continue negotiations and accept binding arbitration if necessary, while the Hopis have rejected mediation and insist the Steiger and Owens Bill as the only solution.62
Sponsored by Senator Josept Montoya (D-NM), Peter Domenici (R-NM), and Frank Mose (D-Utah)
This bill would authorize a commission to resolve the issues of the dispute. The Commission would be called the Navajo-Hopi Development Commission. This commission, composed equally of Navajos and Hopis, would undertake a study of the lands involved and determine which lands were used solely by each tribe, in terms as which lands were used by Navajo for homesites, and also which were used by Hopi for wood and coal gathering, religions ceremonials and huntings as of July 22, 1958. On this date Congress authorized a judicial determination of the right and interest of Navajos and Hopis in the joint use area.63
The land occupied by either tribe by those above reason by July 22, 1958 would be retained by that tribe. By this the Hopis would be able to gather timber and coal for ceremonials shrines and huntings. The Secretary of the Interior would be authorized to loan to the Navajo Tribe $18 million to be paid to the Hopi Tribe for any land occupied by Navajos in excess of half the joint use area. This Bill was supported by Navajo Tribe.64
Sponsored by Senator James Abourezk (D-SD). This Bill would direct the establishment of a Navajo-Hopi Development Commission to plan, organize and implement social and economic efforts to improve the lifestyle of tribal members residing on the Navajo and Hopi Reservation. Federal departments and agencies would also cooperate with the Commission to improve lifestyle of joint use victims.
The Abourezk Bill would also authorize a judicial partition (by the courts) of the joint use area and the transfer of approximately 35,000 acres in the Moenkopi area to the Hopi Tribe.
The Abourezk Bill would further direct that following the partition of the joint use area a census would be taken to determine the number of all adult Navajos residing on land partition to the Navajos.
Any person, Navajo of Hopi enumerated by the census who has resided since his birth in a section of the joint use area partitioned to the other tribe would be authorized to remain on the land for the remainder of his life. This is called the Life Estate concept. Any adult who moved into the area from another area (anyone not born there) would be authorized to reside in the joint use area for a period equal to his prior habitation.
Guarantees to displace heads of households would include that his property would be purchased in accord with federal guidelines, and that his total reimbursement would equal the cost of a suitable dwelling to replace the one he previously owned. Both Navajo and Hopi tribes area guaranteed fair annual rental payments for use made by respective members of the other tribes land.
Both the Hopi and Navajo Tribes had opposed the bill.65
Sponsored by Representative Wayne Owens (D-Utah). This bill would authorize Arizona District Court to divide the 18 million acre joint use area equally between the Navajo and Hopi Tribes. The Bill would also transfer to the Hopis 243,000 acres in the Moenkopi area.
The Owens Bill would direct the Secretary of the Interior to remover all Navajos living in land to be transferred to the Hopis, and all Hopis living in land to be transferred to the Navajos. The removal would take place over a period of 5 years from the date of partition by Arizona District Court, with about twenty percent of the Navajo occupants to be removed each year. The bill authorized $28 million for this purpose.
The bill also authorized $10 million for the immediate reduction of livestock in the joint use area down to an acceptable range capacity determined by standards established by the Secretary of Interior, also $300,000 would be appropriated for the costs of surveying the boundaries for partition.66
The Navajo-Hopi Bill is the Bill that passed the House of Representatives on December 10, 1974 and passed the Senate, December 2, 1974.
The Navajo-Hopi Bill was originally the Owens Bill that passed the House of Representatives on May 29, 1974. When the Owens Bill went into the Senate though and was passed December 2, 1974 it came out a new bill. Therefore, it had to be pass by the House of Representatives again, which occurred on December 10, 1974.
Here is a listing of what is contained in the Navajo-Hopi Bill:
With this bill with it’s added provisions, the Navajo Nation will be in a much better shape than with the Owens Bill.
17. A Summary
I appreciate this opportunity to bring forth the words of truth about the Navajo-Hopi land controversy.
This is a complicated and deeply emotional issue. Both the Navajos and the Hopis consider the land to be theirs. Each had valid justifications. The controversy resulting from these conflicting claims presents what has been characterized as "the largest and the most vexing title quiet action in the western United States, perhaps of all time."
Please consider the one grave aspect of the matter. We are dealing with the lives of 8,500 Navajos who have lived on the land for generations. We are dealing with some of the poorest people in the country and instead of doing something to improve their lives, the federal government is going to expend millions of dollars just to move them around to pay for their moving expenses, to tear down their homes in one place and build new ones elsewhere.
The Navajos are to be uprooted from their homes, not to make room for other homeless people – NO, the Hopis, after all, will continue to live in their villages. The Navajo families will be uprooted merely to let a few "progressive" Hopis expand their livestock and have more grazing areas available to them. This cannot possible be what the Congress wants to do.
The people who are to be moved will be the sheepherders. There is, unfortunately, no room for them on the Navajo Reservation. If no rangelands are found for them, their herds will have to be liquidated, and these former sheepherders, who have no other skills, will be unable to fit in anywhere. They will be displaced skills, will be unable to fit in anywhere. They will be displaced and dislocated. The damage of the move will affect not only the present generations but surely the next generations as well.
I submit the land dispute is not a land dispute between tribes. It is a dispute of two tribes with our trustee, the federal government. The federal government, as usual, instead of admitting its shoddy conduct over the centuries, has assisted in setting up the Navajo Tribe and Hopi Tribe against each other. This is wrong. The Navajos and Hopis should long have gotten together and insisted the United States government cure its own mistake.
If we look at this dispute in a fair and object manner, what we see and what the court in Healing versus Jones found was that the United States had settled both the Navajo and Hopi people on the same land.
The United States government, unwilling to admit its mistake, unwilling to correct the wrong which had been done to both tribes, would have the Navajo people pay by the relocation of as many as 8,500.
Also, another notion which has somehow been advanced is that the Executive Order of 1882 established and exclusive Hopi Reservation. HOG-WASH!!!! The Executive Order did not establish a Hopi Reservation, it established a reservation for the Moqui "and such other Indians as the Secretary of the Interior may see fit to settle there on". The court in Healing versus Jones also conceded that Navajos had lived on the Executive Order Reservation from long prior to the creation of the reservation in 1882.
There had been some difficulty caused by the fact that livestock stray across the line between Navajoland and Hopiland. Unfortunately, line can be drawn more clearly on maps than they can on the ground. And it is particularly difficult to get livestock to respect such a line.
My plea to you, is to consider these problems, the social and moral consequences of each tribe before you take sides.
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