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BIA Propaganda

The 10 Most Asked Questions
About the Navajo - Hopi Land Dispute

Question: What exactly is this so-called dispute about?

Answer. The history of the dispute spans more than 100 years and involves numerous pieces of Congressional legislation and court cases. In essence, it the 1880's the federal government set aside 2.2 million acres, or roughly 3,450 square miles of an area larger than the State of Delaware, for the Hopi Indians and such other Indians as the government might settle thereon. At that time, the Navajo Reservation was many miles to the east. Over the years, Navajos moved westward and the Navajo Reservation was enlarged several time until it surrounded the Hopi Reservation and encompassed more than 15 million acres, or 23,500 square miles or and area the size of West Virginia or Ireland. (The Navajo Reservation is larger than many European countries such as Switzerland, Belgium and Denmark.) The Navajos began to use the Hopi Reservation almost to the total exclusion of the Hopi Tribe. Beginning in 1958, Congress passed legislation authorizing the Hopi Tribe to adjudicate its rights in the land in the federal courts. Ultimately, the courts determined both tribes had rights in the land and that the best solution to the competing claims was to "partition" or divide the land between the two tribes. The land was divided into the Hopi Partitioned Land (HPL) and the Navajo Partitioned Land (NPL). Thus, the dispute over ownership to the land has been resolved. The remaining dispute is how to move the Navajos living on the HPL onto Navajo lands. (Few Hopis lived on the NPL and those that did voluntarily move to the HPL after the land was partitioned.)



Here, the BIA is counting on those who read its response not knowing the history of the Dine'h, because they are not telling the whole story. Important key information has been omitted from their version of the story. Refuting this response requires a brief look at history. Once the history is known, it becomes obvious that the BIA response above is a half truth, not a lie, but clearly a deception geared at portraying the BIA as benevolent and kind and the Dine'h and Hopi as being ungrateful and childish. When all the facts are known, a completely different picture emerges. 

The truth is, when explorers first encountered the Hopi and Dine'h (Navajo), they were living at the four corners area and occupied much of what is now New Mexico and Arizona, extending into what is now Colorado and Utah. From the 1500s to the 1800s, the Hopi and Dine'h coexisted peacefully in the area that the BIA says is now the center of conflict between the two tribes.

The first discord in Dine'h and Hopi territory was with the Spanish, who tried to take over the area but were driven out by the Hopi and Dine'h. The subsequent U.S. Mexican War concluded with the Treaty of Guadeloupe Hidalgo, in which Mexico ceded the Southwest, which it did not rightfully own to cede, to the U.S., which agreed never to remove the Native peoples.

The next crisis for the Hopi and Dine'h came with the California Gold Rush, when the U.S. declared war on the Navajo because they were, in essence, in the way of the greedy prospectors and settlers hoping to strike it rich in California. On the heels of the Civil War, in 1863-64, Colonel Kit Carson, on contract with the U.S., destroyed Dine'h crops and livestock and forced all captured Dine'h on the infamous 400 mile trek known as "The Long Walk" to Fort Sumner in New Mexico. Thousands died in on the walk and the survivors were held in captivity in concentration camps whence Hitler received his inspiration for the Nazi concentration camps where so many Jews were tortured and murdered.

It was Carson's intention to annihilate the Hopi and Dine'h, but starvation and intolerable conditions forced the Dine'h to agree to the 1868 Navajo Treaty, whereby the Dine'h were released and "given" a 3.5 million acre reservation in northwestern New Mexico--a fraction of the size of their original homeland.

Afterward, in 1871, the U.S. moved the department of "Indian Affairs" from the War Department to the Department of the Interior and changed its tactics of dealing with Indigenous Americans from worthless treaties and open genocide to education. The logic was to educate the culture out of the First Americans. Dine'h and children of other Indigenous Nations were forcibly removed from their homes and placed in "Indian Schools," where they were forbidden to speak their native language, wear their hair as they pleased, practice their religion, or do anything connected with their traditional culture. If the U.S. government could not kill the Dine'h physically, then it would kill them spiritually. The Dine'h resisted.

Between 1878 and 1882, the Dine'h gained back a portion of their original homeland when the U.S. government, to accommodate the growth of the tribe and respond to their grazing needs, expanded the Navajo reservation into Arizona. However, as the Navajo were expanding and gaining back some of their traditional homeland, the Hopi, who had never signed a treaty with nor surrendered to the U.S. government,  were beginning to suffer at the hands of the U.S. government.

In 1882, President Chester A. Arthur signed an Executive Order proclaiming that an area of one degree latitude by one degree longitude in northeastern Arizona would be the Hopi Reservation of approximately 3.5 million acres, which did not correlate with Hopi occupancy. In 1884,  Hopi religious leaders wrote to the President challenging his authority to prescribe any boundaries on the Hopi. This action placed many of the Hopi sacred sites outside the U.S. government imposed Hopi boundaries. Likewise, it put many Dine'h sacred sites inside Hopi boundaries, making them, by U.S. standards, inaccessible. Dine'h and Hopi ignored, to some extent, the U.S. government imposed boundaries which had resulted in many Dine'h living on what the U.S. government considered Hopi land and many Hopi living on Navajo land.

As the Dine'h and Hopi were dealing with this newest twist of the knife, the search for oil, gas, and other natural resources began. Between 1905 and 1923, geological surveys revealed the wealth of natural resources on Dine'h and Hopi land. Mining companies pressured the U.S. government to grant them the authority to negotiate contracts and leases with the Dine'h and Hopi so they could exploit the vast resources. In 1923, at Standard Oil Company's bidding, the United States government,   through the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and against the will of the Dine'h people, formed the first "Navajo Tribal Council." The only action that the council was allowed to take was to authorize an Indian Agent to sign mineral leases in the Navajo Tribal Council's name.

Thus begins plans by the BIA and mining companies to create a diversion and fabricate a "land dispute" between the Hopi and Dine'h in order to give the government an excuse to step in and settle a conflict that only existed between the Hopi and Dine'h on the Tribal Council level, not among the Hopi and Dine'h people. The Hopi and Dine'h were crying out in protest; but the protests of the people were directed at the BIA and the mining companies, not among themselves. They had always shared the area as their home and sacred lands,  it was no different at this time; but the gears of the U.S. government and the mining companies were in motion, and there would be no stopping them.

In response to the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act, Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes formed the Hopi Tribal Council amid the strong resistance of traditional people. With Ickes' establishment of nineteen grazing districts on the Hopi and Navajo reservations, he declared that District 6, an area immediately surrounding Hopi villages, was exclusively Hopi. Seven years later, in 1943, District 6 was enlarged to 631,000 acres, and Dine'h within the new boundaries were forced to move.

Between 1946 and 1951, the Hopi people had boycotted the puppet Hopi Tribal Council out of existence; but it was reinstated in 1951 by Peabody attorney, Hopi Tribal Councilman, and former Mormon Archbishop, John Boyden. From 1952 to 1957, attorneys Boyden and Normal Littell (Navajo Tribal Council attorney) petitioned the Secretary of the Interior to partition lands outside District 6.  In the meantime, Kerr-McGee opened a uranium mill on Dine'h land.

In 1962, a federal court upheld the 1943 Hopi boundaries, saying that only Congress has the power to partition land. The court ruled that the balance of the reservation established in 1882 had to be shared equally by the Hopi and Dine'h. This became the Joint Use Area (JUA).

In 1963, Vanadium Corporation bought the uranium mill from Kerr-McGee. Approximately 1.5 million tons of ore were processed and left in contaminated waste piles covering 72 acres next to the San Juan River near Shiprock, NM. Two years later, Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall begins work on a plan to develop water and mineral resources in the Southwest.

In 1966, ignoring the objections of Hopi traditional and spiritual leaders, the Hopi Tribal Council grants 35 year lease to Peabody Coal Company to develop Black Mesa.

Between 1971 and 1974, the Navajo-Hopi Land Settlement Act (PL93-531) became law. Several Arizona Congressmen and Lawyers convinced the rest of Congress that the "Land Dispute" had become a bloody "Range War." This came as a shock to Navajo and Hopi on the JUA, but Congress trusted its Western Colleagues and they signed into Law the Navajo-Hopi Land Settlement Act, dividing the JUA into Navajo and Hopi halves and ostensibly, solving the problem.

There followed a 50/50 partition of the lands, with the boundary to be confirmed by District Court, 90% livestock reduction; and a   Relocation Commission to implement removal of Indians living on the "wrong side of the fence" was established. This also represented the beginning of home repair and home construction freeze.

It is a widely held belief that the Dispute was contrived by Government-sponsored and styled tribal council and influential energy interests whose sole intent was to clear up coal and water rights on the JUA, and open the way for more rapid energy development. Vast quantities of oil, uranium and coal were involved.

For the timeline of these developments, see the chronology at:





Question: I have heard that there really is no dispute, that the Navajos and Hopis get along just fine with each other. Is this true?

Answer. There are individual Navajos and Hopis that get along with each other just as there are Irish Catholics and Protestants and Palestinians and Israelis that get along. Such isolated personal relationships, however, don not mean that there is no dispute in Northern Ireland or that there is no Arab/Israeli dispute or that this is no dispute between the Navajo and the Hopis. The tribes have profound religious, political and legal differences.



I am unfamiliar with the religious beliefs of either the Hopi or the Dine'h nation. However, I do know that both tribes are, by nature, peaceful people. I also know that, for hundreds of years before the U.S. government or the BIA existed, and for hundreds of years prior to European contact, the Hopi and Dine'h lived together in peace in the Southwest, in and around the four corners area. The rather lame argument that the reason for the so-called "land dispute" is that "The tribes have profound political and legal differences" does not stand up under close scrutiny. In fact, though there probably are some differences in the spiritual beliefs of the Hopi and Dine'h, there are as many similarities. For example, almost every Indigenous American nation on the continent believes that the earth is our Mother and Creator is our Divine Father. We share the belief that Creator put each of our nations on this Turtle Island in the particular places that were best suited for each of us. We share the belief that we were put in our particular homeland to be caretakers of that land, and that is the way Creator intended for it to be. Those common beliefs, no matter how their other beliefs may differ, are exactly why the Hopi and Dine'h were able and willing to co-exist in the same area for so many centuries.

The beliefs of the Lakota probably differ from the Hopi and Dine'h beliefs far more than the Hopi and Dine'h beliefs differ from each other; yet each year since it began, the Lakota and other tribes have been allowed to come to Hopi and Dine'h land and perform the Sundance ritual. In spite of the vast differences among the three cultures, the Hopi and Dine'h recognize the profound spiritual commitment and power that are involved. They realize and accept that the differences among them fade into insignificance compared to the faith and commitment to Creator that the rituals demonstrate. To each person, truth is revealed in a way that he or she can best understand it and in ways that are best suited to his or her nature. The Dine'h and the Hopi understand that. If, then, they are tolerant of a people who are as different from them as the Lakota are, how much more tolerant would they be toward each other who have so much in common. Among their common religious beliefs is the recognition that certain places in their homeland are sacred. The Hopi and Dine'h respect each other's holy places and, from what I have learned from various sources, even hold some sacred sites in common.

The only "land dispute" is that illusion of dispute that was created by the U.S. government through puppet tribal councils that the U.S. itself created. The Hopi and Navajo Tribal Councils were not created by or in the interests of the Hopi or Dine'h people, as my earlier rebuttal clearly explains.

This matter is one of common sense more than documentation. The entire BIA comment is ludicrous.



Question: Isn't this merely another attempt by the government to take land from the Indians?

Answer. The United States was not a party to the litigation to partition the land. The litigation was brought by the Hopi Tribe against the Navajo Nation and the land was divided between the two tribes. The federal government gained no land from the litigation. In fact, the federal government has given the Navajo Nation 250,000 acres of "new land" and provided funding to the Hopi Tribe to acquire up to 150,000 additional acres of land.



bigshot.jpg (23177 bytes)
Black Mesa Coal Mine
(from: http://www.solcommunications.com/)

THIS Is What The U.S. Government    Wanted With the Land At Black Mesa


The petition for partitioning of the land was not a matter of Hopi vs. Navajo. In 1947, attorneys Boyden and Littell were hired as claims attorneys for the Hopi and Navajo Tribal Councils respectively. Boyden, at the time, was also an attorney for Peabody Coal Company. It should be noted that Boyden first sought employment with the Navajo Tribal Council; but Littell was chosen for that position, so Boyden was hired as the Hopi Tribal Council's attorney. It was the two attorneys together who petitioned federal courts to partition the Hopi land. Together, they convinced Congress that the Hopi and Navajo were engaged in a bloody range war and that partitioning (fencing) the land was the only solution to the problem. It was the BIA, remember, who was formulating strategies and  pulling the strings. There was no range war, and the only protests were those raised by both Hopi and Dine'h against the BIA and the two tribal councils for displacing them. The hidden agenda was to give Congress the illusion of a conflict over the JUA, get control of the area turned over to the BIA and the Tribal Councils, then, on the ruse that it was in the best interest of both tribes, sign the mineral rights over to Peabody Coal Company. It worked, and the Hopi and Dine'h people have been paying the price ever since.

If the United States is not a party to the litigation to partition the land, then where did PL93-531 in 1974 and the Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute Settlement Act of 1996 come from? The facts of the matter are that the Congress of the United States created both the Hopi and Navajo Tribal Councils and they were created for ONE purpose only: to sign over mineral rights to the Hopi and Dine'h lands, not for the land itself, but for the mineral deposits in the land.  It was also the United States Congress that formulated and passed the Navajo-Hopi Land Settlement Act (PL93-531) in 1974 and the Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute Settlement Act of 1996. It was United States Presidents who signed both bills into law. It was the BIA and rangers from the puppet Hopi Tribal Council who ordered the fencing off of the HPL. It is the BIA, a department of the United States government, that is trying to force the Dine'h off their land and onto the "new land," which the BIA fails to mention is contaminated with uranium waste that is giving off radiation at levels up to 100 times maximum safe levels.




Question: If the Navajos have to move off Hopi lands, where are they supposed to go and what provisions have been made to assist them?

Answer. The Navajo Nation is more than 15 million acres and the federal government has provided an additional 250,000 acres specifically for relocation purposes. Many Navajos have chosen to relocate to the main Navajo Reservation and many have moved to the "new lands." Some Navajos has chosen not to move to the "new land" and have been relocated to communities in the surrounding area or out of state. Before any Navajo moves, the federal government provides them with water, electricity and a new home. Thus, far, the federal government has spent over One-half billion dollars to assist Navajos in relocating.



The "new lands," as I have pointed out, are contaminated by uranium tailings, "one of the most toxic substances known to man," as the narrator points out in the video VANISHING PRAYER Genocide of the Dineh. Levels of contamination have been measured at 100 times the maximum safe level. Not only is the land itself contaminated, the water of nearby streams is contaminated, as well. Of those who were first relocated to "new lands," 25 percent died within the first six years. Since moving to "new lands," the birth defect rate among those people has risen to twice the national average.

The Dine'h at Big Mountain are not just being told to move. They are being told to move from their sacred ancestral homeland onto land that is so polluted from uranium waste that it will literally kill them. Death by radiation related disease is sometimes slow, but it is always fatal and always agonizing. If the Dine'h do not move, they are denied water and electricity, and are forbidden to repair or rebuild their homes. So much for the BIA's benevolence.



Question: What happens to those Navajos that don't want to relocate?

Answer. The Hopi and Navajo residents of the HPL have spent years in federal court ordered mediation negotiating "Accommodation Agreements," whereby the Hopi Tribe has agreed to accommodate the continued residence by Navajos on the HPL. In essence, these Accommodation Agreements are long term leases (75 years) with an option to renew at the end of the 75 years.



The "Accommodation Agreements" were created by the BIA run Tribal Councils, not by the Hopi people. The Dine'h are being told to sign leases to allow them to remain on ancestral sacred land given to them by the Creator. The question is, how can the U.S. government, through its puppet tribal council, impose a lease on land that was given to them by the Creator?

Another fact that the BIA fails to mention in this response is that there is a catch to this Accommodation Agreement. After three infractions, the lease is broken and the offender can be forcibly removed with no compensation whatsoever. For more details about what constitutes an infraction, read Bahe's Big Mountain Update "BIA Smoke and Mirrors: Illusions Exposed The Truth About Accommodation Agreements."



Question: I have heard that the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is stealing or impounding Navajo sheep. Why is the BIA doing this?

Answer. As part of the litigation in the Navajo-Hopi dispute, the BIA was ordered by the courts to maintain the range and ensure that it is not being over grazed. Many Navajos had historically over grazed the range and severely damaged it. Several years ago, the BIA initiated a purchase program whereby it purchased excess Navajo animals. Thereafter, on an annual basis, the BIA has issued grazing permits to the Navajo HPL residents. These permits specify how many animals each Navajo family can graze on the HPL. If a family is grazing animals in excess of their permit they are notified of this fact and asked to remove the excess animals. If they are not removed with a reasonable time, the BIA must impound excess animals in order to ensure that the range is not over grazed and to comply with the orders of the court.



Isn't it odd that, for hundreds of years before coal, oil, uranium, and other exploitable natural resources were discovered and Peabody Coal Company and the U.S. government came into the picture, the Dine'h have grazed sheep on that land and have done very well at it all by themselves. Then, when the mining companies wanted the land and the U.S. government created the Hopi and Navajo Tribal Councils, the Dineh suddenly forgot everything they ever knew about caring for their flocks and the land that sustains them, making it necessary for the U.S. government to step in and take over range management. You must remember, too, that the BIA's reference to Hopi is in reference to the Hopi Tribal Council, not to the Hopi people themselves. The Hopi successfully boycotted and dismantled the Hopi Tribal Council once. It was the BIA who resurrected it to protect the mining interests, not to help the Hopi people.

The first question that comes to mind in regard to impoundment is: If Dine'h livestock are being impounded because of overgrazing, then why does the BIA turn around, after the impoundment, and offer to sell the animals back to the rightful owners? These practices are tantamount to kidnapping and extortion and bear little resemblance to range management.



Question: Are Navajos allowed to graze animals if they have signed an Accommodation Agreement?

Answer. Yes. After years of negotiations the Hopi Tribe and the HPL Navajos agreed that the HPL Navajos were entitled to graze 2,800 sheep units on the HPL, which is approximately 2 times the number previously permitted. (Sheep units are a way to measure use of the range. For example, a cow eats approximately 5 times as much as a sheep. Thus, one cow equals five sheep units. Navajos can graze a variety of animals as long as the total does not exceed 2,800 sheep units.) The HPL Navajos decide among themselves how to allocate their grazing rights.



The fact is, the entire concept of range management was created and implemented by the BIA controlled Hopi Tribal Council. The BIA is being deliberately misleading in referring to the actions of the Tribal Council as being those of the "Hopi Tribe." As document upon document written by eyewitnesses to the unfolding saga will attest, there is no conflict between the traditional Hopi and the Dine'h traditional people. A look at the history of the Hopi and Navajo Tribal Councils; the protests of the people at the BIA's creation of these puppet, nonrepresentative councils; and the chain of events that followed the results of geological surveys will make clear just who is controlling the situation, what the ulterior motives of the BIA are, and the truth about why the Dine'h livestock are being impounded, mistreated, starved, and held for ransom at the BIA impoundment yards.



Question: If the Navajos have signed Accommodation Agreements why is the BIA presently impounding Navajo animals?

Answer. The Accommodation Agreements authorize the HPL Navajos to graze 2,800 sheep units. They were, however, at the beginning of the year grazing in excess of 3,600 sheep units. In addition, the HPL is an arid area and is currently experiencing a dryer than normal year. As a consequence the carrying capacity of the range has been reduced to 2,300 sheep units. In dry times, prudent range management requires a reduction in the number of livestock grazed. In this case, there has been a pro rata reduction in the number of animals that both the HPL Navajos and members of the Hopi Tribe can graze on the HPL.



The Black Mesa area is, indeed, an arid area. There is little water to be had and every drop is precious to all flora and fauna living in the area. Situations such as these are why federal laws, on paper at least, forbid mining companies from using nonreplenishable water sources for mining purposes unless the mining company has the ability to replace the water that it uses.

The reason that the Black Mesa area is experiencing dryer than normal seasons is because Peabody Coal Company continues to run its 270 mile slurry line to the Mojave Generating Station, draining billions of gallons of pristine water from the aquifer that lies beneath Black Mesa, the only source of water for the Hopi and Dine'h living at Black Mesa.

Rather than punish Peabody Coal Company and demand restitution for violating federal mining laws, the U.S. government has responded by capping the wells of the Dine'h at Black Mesa and forbidding them to draw water from them. Without water, the ability to maintain their sheep is diminished dramatically. Water in the nearest streams is contaminated by toxins from the mining process, which has killed many of the Dine'h sheep.

In the grand scheme of things, the U.S. government has no intention of punishing Peabody Coal Company or stopping it from using the nonreplenishable water from the aquifer. Peabody's mining operation is closing in on the Big Mountian area, where the Dine'h live. It wants to clear the way so it can strip mine Big Mountain and destroy yet another Dine'h sacred site. It is the BIA operated Hopi Tribal Council, and NOT the Hopi people who are trying to remove the Dine'h, whether they have signed an Accommodation Agreement or not. To accomplish this task, the BIA has begun harassing them, threatening them, and confiscating their livestock, saying that they are overgrazing when they are not.

For testimony about livestock impoundments, visit L.I.S.N at:




Question: Is it true the Navajos have been threatened and assaulted in order to try and make them sign an Accommodation Agreement or move from the HPL?

Answer. There are no documented instances of Navajos having been threatened or assaulted. Some non-Indian supports of the HPL Navajos allege that explaining the law to the HPL Navajos constitutes threats and intimidation. In recognition of the sensitive nature of relocation, as part of the mediation process leading to the Accommodation Agreement process Navajo tribal members agreed to make contact with the HPL Navajos to explain the terms of the Accommodation Agreements and to answer questions. The process has been very successful as the majority of the HPL Navajos have signed the Accommodation Agreement. The only people that have, in fact, been assaulted and injured have been BIA and Hopi tribal employees.



Rena Babbit Lane
(from: http://www.solcommunications.com/)
Rena Babbitt Lane, who lost livestock in a
confiscation on Monday, February 22, had her
hand broken when she tried to stop a previous

As the photo clearly shows, there have, indeed, been assaults on the Dine'h, and a policy of terrorism and threats is very real and it continues today. Aside from assaults on Dine'h,  those who try to prevent the impoundment of their livestock, the Dine'h have been terrorized and mistreated in a number of other ways:

Wells have been capped, firewood and wood cutting tools have been confiscated and the Dine'h have been forbidden to gather firewood or even break a green twig. The Dine'h have also been threatened with exclusion orders, had eviction notices nailed to their doors, forbidden to repair their homes or build any shelter. One Dine'h had his hogan bulldozed to the ground by the BIA. Assualt and threats can take many forms, and the Dine'h have experienced most of them at the hands of the BIA, aka the "Hopi Tribal Council," aka the "Navajo Tribal Council."

For in-depth articles, written by eyewitnesses to the BIA's brutality and underhanded tactics against the Dine'h at Big Mountain, click the "BACK" button below to go back to SENAA's Newsletter page. Click on the links to the various articles and see what eyewitnesses saw. Learn for yourself the truth about the BIA's part in this tragedy and what they don't want you to know about what is REALLY going on at Black Mesa at the BIA's hands.



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