It has been the elders that were the focus of surprise livestock roundups by heavily armed Hopi government rangers and U.S. Interior Department Bureau of Indian Affairs law enforcement that started on Hopi Partition Lands in the middle of October.
Navajo Council Delegate Dwight Witherspoon, who is a member of the Council’s Navajo Hopi Land Commission, called for a special meeting of the NHLC to address the livestock impoundments.
Witherspoon successfully added legislation to the NHLC’s agenda which asks the Hopi Tribe to cease all impoundments of livestock belonging to Navajo families living on the HPL for 150 days in the spirit of government-to-government respect, which allows the Navajo Nation government to work with the Navajo families.
NHLC Office Director Raymond Maxx is reporting to the NHLC. Maxx is explaining the historical impact of the Navajo-Hopi-US land dispute. He said that when it comes to strategy that the Navajo Department of Justice recommended that the NHLC go into executive session.
Maxx said that some of the families would like to make recommendations and they are Colleen Biakeddy, Blackrock, Veda Blackrock and Carol Tohannie.
NAVAJO HOPI LAND COMMISSION OFFICE DIRECTOR RAYMOND MAXX
A coople of weeks ago as I was driving to Window Rock, Ariz., from Tuba City, Ariz., I saw a convoy of Hopi police and when I arrived at the Navajo Hopi Land Commission office in Window Rock, Ariz., i asked staff to find out what was happening. And soon we started getting calls from families living on Hopi Partition Lands. The Hopi police and rangers were arriving early in the morning, barricading Navajo families in their homes, barricade road entrance so no one could come or go, and anyone who raised objections or asked questions would be arrested on the spot.
and in several cases, the Hopi police and rangers pulled weapons on elders. They are fully armed in military SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) gear.
hopis say that this is how their law enforcement deals with people across the board but we don’t see this directed against Hopis. the hopis say they provide interpreters but navajo families say they don’t have interpreters. hopis try but not proficient. so communication problems. and in dealing for months with hopi tally counts and orders to reduce, families can’t reduce livestock because hopi rangers want to witness families taking livestock off HPL to sell and the hopis want proof of ownership so it is difficult to reduce livestock. they are citing people for non-compliance but hopi regulations make it difficult for the families to reduce livestock.
NHLC OFFICE STAFF THOMAS BENALLY
we all kow that when things happen on the HPL it can escalate into greater issues and concerns. now we also must understand that there is difference between how we interpret western law and how Navajo people see life. there is difference. i talked with consultant and i said that i as native american can tell you how it is to be native american but you won’t understand because you don’t live like i do or what my grandparents taught me. That is what is happening with livestock impoundment. we agreed to western document on how to live on HPL. I and wife agreed to relocate. that was my choice. another relative decided to stay and fight. my children have no right to plot of land on HPL because we agreed to relocate. and those families that live on HPL have to abide by document and yes, we don’t like it but that is the way it is.
the federal court ruled that this land hopi and this land navajo. there are two issues facing navajo families on HPL.
the hopis say they also do livestock impoundments of hopis but they are “racial profiling” navajo families by arriving at the homes of navajo families with ten officers.
and so they are using these tactics to pressure navajo famiies off the Hopi Partition Lands.