Hopi trespass charges dismissed


The Hopi Tribe has lost its criminal trespass case against five Navajo women who
participated in last summer's Sundance ceremony on the Hopi Reservation. 

Hopi Chief Judge Gary LaRance dismissed the charges, ruling that Hopi prosecutors
had failed to prove that the women entered an enclosed, fenced or cultivated area
without authorization. 

The ceremony took place at Camp Anna Mae, a closed area of the Hopi
Reservation. Prosecutors alleged the women did not seek permission to hold a
gathering in a close area. 

The women -- Joella Ashkie, Ruth Benally, Louise Benally, Elvira Horseherder and
Pauline Whitesinger -- were represented by attorneys Joe Washington and Robert
Malone. The dismissal came after two days of testimony by witnesses for the Hopi

In a press release issued by the tribe, Hopi Chairman Wayne Taylor Jr. called the
dismissal a "technicality" and not a vindication of the women's claim to have a right to
be at Camp Anna Mae. 

Further, Taylor noted that the judge declined to hear testimony on allegations that the
arrests violated the defendants' religious rights. 

"Dismissal of this case in no way sanctions the holding of any future gathering on Hopi
land without the expressed consent of the Hopi Tribe, regardless of the purpose of
the gathering," Taylor said.


2002, by The Arizona Daily Sun.

Reprinted under the Fair Use doctrine of international copyright law.