Hopi Offer No Apology for Sun Dance Destruction
HTC pledges to evict resisters


Posted: August 22, 2001 - 12:00AM EST
by: Brenda Norrell / Today Staff / Indian Country Today

KYKOTSMOVI, Ariz. -- The Hopi Tribe responded to Navajo President Kelsey Begaye's stern reproach and refused to apologize for destruction of the Big Mountain Sun Dance grounds, stating that Navajos resisting relocation will be evicted.

"There will be no apology," said Cedric Kuwaninvaya, chairman of the Hopi Land Team. "These people are trespassers and they will be evicted."

President Begaye warned the destruction of the Sun Dance grounds at Big Mountain damaged the relationship between Navajo and Hopi tribal governments.

Demanding an apology, Begaye said the destruction of the Sun Dance tree and arbor was a violent act.

"The actions of the Hopi government have cast a long shadow over all the Navajos who reside on the Hopi Partitioned Lands, as well as put chilling effect on the relationship of our two nations," Begaye said.

Kuwaninvaya said Hopi have received no apologies and would issue none.

"When a Hopi was arrested for carrying out his religious duty of eagle gathering by the Navajo police a couple of years ago, there was no apology from the Navajo Nation leadership.

"When a shrine was destroyed by Navajos during a Hopi pilgrimage, there was no apology. When Hopi pilgrims were fired on by the Navajo, there was no apology.

"There will be no apology from the Hopi now.

"Apologies are appropriate only when a wrong has occurred and from the Hopi point of view the wrong
is on the hands of the Navajo resisters and their non-Hopi supporters.

"To them we say: leave Hopi land. It is irresponsible to undermine and risk tearing down the pillars of
the 1996 Peace Accord for the sake of political expediency."

However, President Begaye said the action of bulldozing a ceremonial site was too extreme.

"The Hopi government appears to be persecuting these families for their religious beliefs, as well as for
their heartfelt desire to stay on their ancestral lands and to continue their traditional ways."

Responding to Begaye's statement that tribal relationships have been damaged, the Hopi Tribe said
Navajos who chose to sign 75-year-lease accommodation agreements with the Hopi Tribe need the
support of the Navajo Nation in order for it to work.

"The Hopi and Navajo people who chose peace offered by the accommodation have the support of the
Hopi, they need the support of the Navajo Nation.

"The 1996 Navajo-Hopi land Dispute Settlement Act needs the support of the Navajo Nation
administration. Without this support, the message becomes very clear -- crime and irresponsibility

Kuwaninvaya said Hopi have entered into peaceful negotiations with Navajo to resolve the land dispute.

"No single issue has consumed more valuable time and irreplaceable resources than the century-old dispute between the Navajo and Hopi over Hopi ancestral land.

"In spite of the turmoil, the Hopi have been steadfast in their belief that peace between our two people can best be achieved through mutually agreed upon solutions and agreements.

"Our actions have repeatedly borne this out. The Hopi Tribe is a small tribe whose history speaks volumes of its patience and dedication to peace and harmony."

Kuwaninvaya said the Hopi Tribe offered a peaceful solution in 1991 to the Navajo-Hopi Land dispute through the accommodation agreement to Navajo families desiring to stay on Hopi Partitioned Lands.

He said Navajo families that remain on Hopi Partitioned Lands who did not sign the 75-year-lease agreements would be evicted.

"These people are trespassers and they will be evicted.

"The Hopi will never again tolerate a situation where our lands are stolen, our people abused and our laws ignored.

"When so-called religious ceremonies become little more than political rallies, both the Hopi and the Navajo lose. The actions of the resisters do not support peace between the two tribes."


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