Hopis on board to renegotiate terms of water rights settlement

By Marley Shebala
Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, October 18, 2012

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T he Hopi Tribe supports U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar's plan to revive the Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement and get it approved by the Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe.

Hopi Tribal Chairman LeRoy N. Shingoitewa thanked Interior Deputy Secretary David Hayes in an Aug. 31 letter for his "continued persistence in seeing the LCR settlement to fruition.

"I couldn't agree more regarding the importance of the settlement to the Hopi people and I appreciate your acknowledgement of the Hopi Tribal Council's efforts to approve the settlement," Shingoitewa stated.

The Hopi Tribe's Aug. 31 letter was provided to the Navajo Times by an anonymous source on Wednesday.

In his two-page letter to Hayes, Shingoitewa also listed several reasons for his support and amendments to the settlement.

Two of his reasons specifically named the Navajo Nation.

"Finally, we are most gravely concerned about any implications that the right of the Hopi people to have clean and reliable water depends on the tender mercies of the Navajo Tribe toward the Hopi people," Shingoitewa stated. "We know of no other tribe in the country whose rights to water hinge upon, and may be held ransom by, the political machinations of another tribe."

He added, "Finally, we seek a change in the legislation and the settlement to explicitly reserve the Hopi's Upper Colorado River claims, as both documents do regarding Navajo. These changes are consistent with assurance we received from your staff about the intent of the draft legislation (SB 2109)."

Shingoitewa noted that Hayes' "explanation" of provisions in the settlement regarding Navajo Generating Station "reinforces" the Hopi Tribe's "conclusion that these provisions should have no bearing on the Hopi Tribe's water settlement.

"That is why we asked Senator (Jon) Kyl to remove these provisions from his proposed legislation," Shingoitewa stated.

He recalled that the Hopi Tribe sent their proposed amendments to the Little Colorado River settlement to Kyl and were "disappointed" that "Kyl failed to acknowledge, as you have, the Hopi Tribe's efforts to support the settlement."

According to Shingoitewa, the Hopi Tribe's "suggested changes" are a request to Kyl to remove a couple of provisions from the settlement.

Shingoitewa added that the Hopi Tribe is also asking for the removal of "any ambiguity" in Senate Bill 2109, which is Kyl's Senate legislation that contains the Navajo Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement, and for clarification of "conditions for post-enactment reconciliation of legislation and settlement."

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