PO Box 40319 Flagstaff, AZ 86003

April 11, 1997

We the undersigned represent over 45 resisting communities consisting of 2,000 - 3,000 people. We were never told by the Navajo Nation about S. 1973 "The Navajo - Hopi Land Dispute Settlement Act of 1996" and were never afforded the opportunity to a public hearing to voice our concerns although we are directly affected, We were never told about a hearing is the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs September 25 concerning Closure of the Relocation program although we are directly affected The US, government has spent over 300 billion dollars in an attempt to get us to relocate. We do not want the relocation money.

What we want is to be free to live on our aboriginal home land.

We who are directly affected by this legislation are in total opposition to it. At Rocky Ridge School, June, 1994 a vote against the Agreement-In-Principle, predecessor of the proposed Accommodation Agreement rejected it by a vote of 250 against and 1 for May 29, 1996, Cameron Chaptei of the Navajo Nation passed a Resolution supporting the resisters 33-0. Our organization has signatures from over 250 people on various petitions opposing the lease agreement and S. 1973. We are all united in our opposition.


The proposed Navajo-Hopi Settlement Act of 1996 violates fundamental constitutional rights guaranteed to all United States citizens:

We the Navajo families are subject to the jurisdiction of a government the Hopi Tribal Council, in which we are denied representation or participation.

We will be living under Hopi jurisdiction, subject to all present and future laws issued by the Hopi Tribal Council, and will be given no opportunity to be represented on the Hopi Tribal Council or to participate n the election of any of its members.

We will be subject to the legal jurisdiction of Hopi Tribal Courts, in which we do not have the right to participate except as defendants. The Bill of Rights guarantees criminal defendants the right to a trial by a jury of our peers.

The Hopi Tribe is to receive over $25 million if it obtains our signatures on lease agreements from 85% of the families. Instead of allowing us a means of expression in which we would be protected, such as a closed ballot referendum, the bill places the families under the legal jurisdiction of an institution which stands to profit almost 5120,000 from each signature it can obtain. This situation invites harassment, intimidation, coercion, and the most extreme violation of our legal and human rights.

A Brief History of the Land dispute

On the 3Ist of March, Navajo (Dineh) families faced their last opportunity to sign the Accommodation Agreement or face forced eviction and relocation from their ancestral lands. Many of the Dineh families believe the Accommodation Agreement (the latest attempt at mediation) is an unacceptable solution of the twenty-three year old "Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute." This "dispute" has been orchestrated by the U. S. government, the Department of Justice, the BIA and the Hopi Tribal Council and does not represent a conflict between the traditional Hopi and Dineh people. In actuality, the dispute stems from the greed of energy corporations, federal interests, and the Hopi Tribal Council to exploit vast coal reserves in the Hopi Partition land.

The 1962 revision of the 1882 Executive Order Reservation created the Joint Use Area, separate from the Navaho reservation and District Six (the Hopi Reservation The resulting Joint Use Area was to be shared between the Hopi and Navajo people in accordance with their traditional cooperative land use habits. However, the non-traditional tribal councils were not satisfied with the1962 revision's stipulation of joint development of natural resources within the TUA. In an attempt to gain access to the valuable Black Mesa coal Congress the Senate, and president Gerald Ford signed PL 93-531, (the Relocation Act), into law. Traditional Dineh lands within the JUA became Hopi Partition Land (HPL) and warranted the relocation of 10,000 Dineh and 100 Hopi people

This land is the traditional home and sacred site of the Dineh people, being surrounded by the few sacred mountains that anchor their religion. The Dineh people have lived on these lands since before the arrival of Columbus. Some families can trace their ancestry on the land back over twenty-five generations. The Dineh resistors represent one of the last self-sufficient Native people living traditionally in the U.S.

Throughout the dispute, heavy handed tactics have been used to pressure Dineh residents into accepting relocation. The Bennett Freeze, enacted in 1972, outlawed housing construction and repair for people living in the HPL area. Dineh who relocated under these pressures were moved to the "New Lands", sight of the 2nd largest uranium spill in U.S. history. Twenty-five percent of the relocates have die as a result of toxic exposure and loss of their cultural connection to their land. The "New Lands" residents were never informed of the radioactive dangers, and some even built their new homes out of irradiated materials. In addition the Dineh's freedom of religion was disregarded and disrupted by the seizing of sacred sites in the HPL. These are some of the human rights abuses executed by the U.S. government and the Hopi Tribal Council are an act of genocide against the Dineh people.

Despite this intense harassment by the Hopi Tribal Rangers and BIA law enforcement, including the impoundment of livestock, many Dineh have remained on the land in resistance The Manybeads Lawsuit of 1988, based on First Amendment religious freedom issues, mandated mediation between the Dineh resistors and the Hopi - Tribal Council. The Accommodation Agreement is the final product of this mediation. Et advocates an unacceptable resolution to the dispute. Among other issues, it requires permits for religious ceremonies, leaving them unrepresented in government affairs and does not allow the land to be passed on to the Lounger generation- as tradition dictates.

What happens now?

Residents will be served with Federal eviction notices of 90 days. A relocation house must be built for any individual who has not signed the agreement. It will be a minimum of 90 days to a maximum of 3 years, for forced relocation of Dineh resistors to begin.

Why don't the Big Mountain resistors want to sign the Accommodation Agreement?

In signing the agreement;, they are allowed to inhabit their ancestral land for just 75 days. During that time they lose their civil and First Amendment rights and face a life under Hopi jurisdiction without representation There are severe restrictions to the free practice of the traditional Dineh land based religion that would require the Dineh resistors to apply for permits for the simplest religious ceremonies. Most difficult of all is that their children lose the rights to the land and mining will commence unchecked, with little regard to Dineh sacred sites.

Has the Hopi Tribal Council listened to the concerns of the Big Mountain resistors?

The March 31st signing deadline has been set and` maintained by the Hopi Tribal Council. They have refused to extend the deadline, although The Navajo Nation Council, Judge Earl Carroh (who conducted the Fairness Hearings of the issue of the AA), and US Attorney General Janet Reno all publicity requested an extension to allow the Judge more time to reach a considered decision. The Hopi have refused to discuss any religious concerns with the Dineh resistors, although most Dineh maintain they would consider the Accommodation Agreement if it adequately addressed their concerns. Most troubling of all, is the outright refusal of the Hopi Tribal Council to meet with the Navajo Nation Council under any circumstances.

Where will they be relocated to?

Called the "New Lands", it is located on the Rio Puerco, downstream from Church Rock NM, the site of the 2nd largest radioactive spill in this nation's history (1979). With large uncleaned tailings Piles, taxpayers'dollars were used to Purchase the knowingly uranium contaminated "New Lands".

Who will enforce the relocation?

Federal Marshals under the direction of the Department of Justice

Is this an intertribal land dispute? 

No, this is a dispute between corporate interest and Native Heritage. In 1973, a public relations' team was hired by Peabody Coal Co. to fabricate "rang-war" between the traditional Hopi and Dineh people, who, had been living in harmony for over one hundred years. In order to avoid this so called "range-war" congress passed P.L. 93-531 in 1974. This law divided the joint we area into Hopi and Navajo partitioned lands, and the Hopi Tribal Counsel, in collusion with mining interests and the U.S. government, took control of the ancestral home of the Dineh Resisters.

*The Hopi and Navajo Tribal Councils do not necessarily represent traditional interests.

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