Secakuku: Hopi are Stewards of the Land, Despite the Coup
by Alph H. Secakuku,
Sipaulovi Council Representative, Village of Sipaulovi, Second Mesa, AZ, Hopiland
September 30, 2009:
The Hopi/Tewa people have always considered themselves to be the best environmentalists in the world.
We made a sacred covenant with Maasaw, our Supreme Being, to be good stewards of the Fourth World we live in today.
We, as people, all have the responsibility of being Caretakers of Mother Earth. You care for it and take from it only what you need, and it will provide for you.
I never thought I would see the day when being “Hopi” meant being anti-environment, pro-big corporate energy, and actually promoting pollution and global warming in favor of dollars/money.
This is the new world image of Hopi, thanks to Scott Canty, Nada Talayumptewa, Phillip Quotshytewa, Mary Felter, Ivan Sidney, Sr., and the rest of the illegally constituted Hopi Tribal Council…in essence, a coup.
It is a sad day for Hopi/Tewa people, and I am disappointed.
We, the Hopi/Tewa people, have worked closely for many years with our allies from the environmental community to protect sacred lands from development and to stop uranium mining from poisoning our water. Water is life, therefore, it is sacred.
We will continue to work together—tribal communities and other clean energy jobs advocates—to bring green economic development to our lands that respects our air and water.
Together with our partners in the environmental community, we are working to secure long term solution to energy, health and water issues in northern Arizona by cleaning up dirty coal plants and promoting solar and wind projects on the reservations. The time to transition from dirty old coal plants to clean energy from the wind and the sun is now.
We see a positive future ahead with results like the Navajo Nation’s recent unanimous green jobs resolution and will continue to support clean energy projects with Navajo and Hopi communities.
We all know that climate change is predicted to bring hotter and drier conditions to the Colorado Plateau, an area which may see even greater temperature increases than the rest of the country. This threatens our water supplies and livelihoods.
Working together to stop global warming pollution from coal-fired power plants is vital to future generations. Now is the time to look forward and plan to transition existing coal plants to cleaner power.
Hopi Organizational Political Initiative (H.O.P.I.) is a united, strong, clear, organized and non-partisan voice made up of members of the Hopi/Tewa community both on and off the reservation. It is there to serve as conduit for the Hopi/Tewa people to effectively raise concerns and resolve issues that affect the Hopi/Tewa people. It promotes issues and emerging concerns primarily within the Hopi tribal government, but also with the local state and federal governments. As such, we support all political candidates who seek public office who will address the concerns of the communities. H.O.P.I. mission is to insure that we impact policy regarding the issue of concern and quality of life to our community and future generations.
Chairman Benjamin H. Nuvamsa and Vice-Chairman Todd Honyaoma, Sr., both resigned on December 31, 2008. Hopi Tribal Constitution, ARTICLE IV, Section 1—mandates the “Hopi Tribal Council shall consist of a Chairman, Vice-Chairman, and Representatives from various villages.” Without a chairman and vice-chairman, there can be no constitutionally authorized council to conduct meetings.
The Hopi Bylaws, Article 1—states “The Chairman shall preside over all meetings of the Tribal Council…” Clearly the delegated authorities do not include designating a member of the council to be the “Presiding Officer”. In fact, it expressly forbids it. This was a form of check and balance to prevent council from taking complete control of the government as is happening now.
It does not take a legal expert to interpret what the above Article means. It simply means that no legislative sessions can be conducted in the absence of the Chairman and Vice-Chairman under the current Hopi Constitution and By-laws. The council cannot legally conduct business, appoint people to run the so-called “interim government,” expend tribal and federal funds, or accept federal grants and contracts.
ARTICLE V, Section 2—mandates that filling vacancies in the office of the Chairman and Vice-Chairman that may occur for any reason, “shall be filled for the rest of the term in the same manner as those officers are ordinarily chosen.” This mandate does not allow for any discretion on the part of the council. Council has no authority to decide that it simply is not convenient to hold an election to fill the vacancies. Yet, this is precisely what they have done.
Had the illegal “interim council” not interfered in the activities of the Election Board by refusing to allow them to conduct a special election, the objective of this Article would have been fulfilled and the current vacancies of our top officials would have been filled and the people would have had new duly elected leadership in office by the first week of April 2009. This would have met the Constitutional requirement and we would already have a legitimate fully functional government.
On December 28, 2008, the illegally functioning Hopi council enacted Resolution H-007-09 setting up an interim tribal government. The rhetoric of the resolution was carefully crafted to create the illusion of a legitimate justification for illegal acts. The illegal council used the resolution as a deliberate and illegal way of reviving outdated practices established in the original 1936 Hopi Constitution which has since been formally amended to eliminate those practices.