POLITICAL DOMINATION OF NATIVE AMERICANS:
A CASE STUDY OF HOPI AND NAVAJO TRIBES
B.A. Metropolitan State College, 1984
A thesis submitted to the
Faculty of the Graduate School of the
University of Colorado in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
Department of Political Science
This thesis for the Master of Arts degree by
has been approved for the
Mascarenas, Oneida (M.A., Political Science)
Political Domination of Native Americans: A Case Study of the Hopi
and Navajo Tribes
Thesis directed by Assistant Professor Lawrence J. Mosqueda
There is no question that Native Americans have faced a
multitude of crisis since the arrival of the white settlers. Thus,
it is not surprising that hundreds of books and articles have been
devoted to the topic of Native Americans, and thousands of commenta-
tors have offered analysis and insights. This paper does not deal
with this entire body of thought, but does hope to add to the under-
standing of problems of contemporary Indians.
First, this paper provides a historical framework whereby we
are able to see the implementation of federal policies instituted to
maintain the political-economic domination of Indians by the United
States government. Second, an examination of a more contemporary
conflict provides a prime example of continuing U.S. domination. In
choosing the Hopi and Navajo as subjects of study, the manipulation
of federal policies can be seen more clearly. Third, the history of
Indian activism and the role activists currently are playing in
challenging the domination of the United States are discussed. And
fourth, a number of strategies and tactics used by the Indians to
gain economic and political independence are examined. Such strate-
gies which call for the severing of all ties with commercial energy
activities and the federal government are suggested, and those which
call for the rebirth of cultural expression and a renewed interest
in customs and rituals are explored.
In conclusion this information suggests that many Indians
are no longer looking for the "right" government policy to provide
self-sufficiency. Rather than looking vertically, to the United
States and Corporate America to resolve their problems, Indians are
looking horizontally, to each other, and most particularly to the
traditional philosophies of Native Americans for clues in solving
Human existence flourishes when people share their goods with one
another, when individuals consciously give away more than they
take. To have more than what one needs is an embarrassment, not
a sign of success.
A thesis is rarely completed solely by the graduate student.
In my case I had numerous individuals assist me. I am deeply
grateful to my committee members. Dr. Mosqueda and Dr. Cummings
returned my thesis to me with constructive suggestions, more times
than I dare mention. Juanita Ramirez, who not only patiently taught
me how to use the computer, but also gave generous portions of her
time, knowledge and wit, I thank. Patty Mosqueda, who for no reason
but out of the kindness of her heart spent numerous hours reading
and editing, I hope to repay. In addition, there were many of my
friends who I had little time for. One particular friend, Jeffrey
Ross rode the tumultuous waters with me and was there when few
people understood the emotional drain a thesis can deliver. In this
sense this experience truly has been a collective endeavor, one I
I. INTRODUCTION................................................ 1
II. HISTORICAL ANALYSIS................................... 5
Removal and Relocation.................................... 6
III. FROM TRADITIONAL TO MODERN FORMS OF GOVERNMENTS...... 28
Indian Reorganization Act................................ 29
Hopi Tribal Government................................... 35
Navajo Tribal Council.................................... 4l
IV. THE LAND DISPUTE........................................... 51
The Navajo............................................... 52
The Hopi................................................. 57
Myths or Truths?......................................... 6l
Land Settlement Act...................................... 65
Those Who Revolt......................................... 66
V. CONSEQUENCES OF REMOVAL.................................... 78
VI. CONTEMPORARY INDIAN ACTIVISM.............................. 101
The Resistance.......................................... 103
New Indian Activism..................................... 110
Bringing the Resistance Back Home...................... 113
VII. ALTERING THE DESTINY OF MANIPULATION...................... 124
VIII. CONCLUSION................................................ 135
In the United States political domination of certain groups
of people through the manipulation of federal policies is not a new
phenomenon. What is forever changing, however, is the specific
policies used by the United States government to insure the
continuation of this domination.
While Blacks, Chicanos, and women have suffered severely
from certain policies, it is clear that Native Americans have been
greatly affected by policies implemented for the sole purpose of
maintaining the political-economic power structure. Many groups
struggling for equality view assimilation as the solution to the
problems of political domination. Many Indians, on the other hand,
see their oppression as deeply rooted in governmental policies.
Therefore, while Blacks, Chicanos, and women often demanded
integration into the established structure, later to question the
desirability of that goal, Indians for the most part see integration
as resulting in cultural suicide. The' revamping of the entire
political-economic system and the deliverance of natural resources
into Indian hands is seen by progressive Indians as a more viable
solution to the problems of inequality.
Before examining the problems Indians face in today's
society, a historical account of federal policies is needed. The
historical analysis in Chapter II will suggest that a number of
policies were instituted to deal with the "Indian problem," but few
of these policies effectively benefited Indians. What these
policies did was to maintain power in the hands of the federal
government, keep Indians in a subservient role, and reinforce
Indians' dependency on the United States for piecemeal reforms.
In most cases the reforms initiated during the early part of
American history were little more than cosmetic or marginal in
nature. During this period the federal government passed policies
which relocated Indians from their land, attempted to assimilate
them into mainstream America, originated a form of self-government,
promised to "free" the Indians from their colonial master, and
finally sought methods of self-determination. These reforms,
considered radical in their time, actually worsened the relationship
between the United States and the Indians.
A major policy, passed with the intention of easing some of
the problems which existed between the United States and the
Indians, was the evolution of the tribal government, to be discussed
in Chapter III. Whether a village, a league of tribes, or a simple
hunting band, groups of Indians looked to customs and precedent in
resolving their differences and problems rather than one body of
people such as the tribal government. These tribal governments did
not ease the conflict which had developed between the U.S.
government and the Indians but did organize all tribes so that the
federal government could easily control them.
The controversy surrounding the Relocation Bill of 197^.
discussed in Chapters IV and V, requiring the massive removal of
thousands of Indians in the Big Mountain, Arizona area, provides a
prime example of modern federal policies resulting in tragedies
similar to policies of the past. This case study reflects that the
misrepresentation of tribal government, coupled with the reality of
manipulation of government policies to increase energy development,
is another method whereby the U.S. maintains its political
Chapter VI, suggests that there has been a re-emergence of
Indian protest. This activism has taken a new direction, one that is
no longer limited to national concerns, but one which has linked
national and international goals thus providing a larger base of
support and recognition. From the perspective of this new movement,
problems that perpetuate the socio-economic situation of American
Indians are examined., including suggestions which call for the
immediate halt to all commercial energy activity by outside
corporations, thus allowing Indian communities to develop their own
socio-economic policies. The mechanics used by different tribes to
control energy developers, and some strategies to keep cultural
expression alive while gaining independence from U.S. bureaucracy,
are additionally discussed. Whether or not these initiatives will
remedy the economic problems on the reservations and lead to self-
sufficiency continues to be an important question considered in
In conclusion, this study does not purport to be an
exhaustive history of Native Americans' interactions with the United
States government. Rather, it focuses on major interactions to
reveal that little has significantly changed. Access to both
literary contributions and Indians themselves provide the necessary
data to discuss the historical and current dilemma of American
Indians. The viewpoints of Native Americans, often ignored or
minimized in much of the literature regarding their own history, is
supplied in this study which is a unique mixture of traditional and
non-traditional, and Indian and non-Indian sources.
Persons interviewed include individuals who work for the
Relocation Commission, past and current members of the Hopi and
Navajo Tribal Councils, and scholars, Indians and non-Indians, who
have performed in-depth research on Native Americans.
In almost every case, individuals were selected who not only
have extensive knowledge on this topic but also share a desire to
see that the history and the future of Native Americans are
discussed in an honest manner. These scholars, activists, and/or
Indians trace the historical process of federal policies and the
strategies utilized by Native Americans in their attempt to alter
patterns of domination.
American Indians are a diverse group of individuals. It is
important, therefore, to understand their unique cultural
expressions, origins, and traditions which are in some cases as
diverse from tribe to tribe as between whites.and Indians. A major
complaint about much literature written about Indians is that it has
been written largely from the non-Indian point of view and generally
treats Indians as a monolithic group. Therefore, in order to
understand American Indians in their contemporary setting, a good
understanding of these distinctions and those interactions which are
deemed significant between Indians and European colonists must be
In most cases, interactions between the United States
Government and the Indians were developed through treaties. These
treaties or bills, still used by the government as a procedure to
resolve conflicts with Indians, were used as early as the l6th
century by the Spaniards. Early white settlers believed treaties
brought about an air of civility and legitimacy in relations with
the Indians. This civilized method of negotiations became the
government's method of acquiring Indian land.
The first treaty between the tribes and the government was
in 1778. During the next century, the United States entered into
six hundred treaties and agreements with the Indians of North
America. Many of these treaties were broken or misinterpreted by
The following historical examination is divided into five
periods and discusses some of these agreements and other policies
implemented by the government in an effort to resolve Indian
problems. This is by no means an exhaustive analysis. Rather, it
is a synopsis which will discuss only those significant initiatives
implemented by Congress which have a direct effect on the treatment
of Indians in today's society.
Removal and Relocation
Much of the legal history underlying the political
relationship between the Indians and the European colonists was
shaped by events during the 19th century. In 1823, for example, in
the case of Johnson v. McIntosh, Chief Justice Marshall suggested
that discovery (recognizing Columbus as the true discoverer) did
indeed give title of the land to the Spaniards. It was Marshall's
interpretation of discovery which allowed the Europeans to refuse
Indians the right to their land. Marshall's definition in effect
set the groundwork for land disputes to be defined as a landlord-
tenant relationship between government and tribes. The Chief
Justice not only appointed the federal government as the ultimate
landlord with the power to end Indian occupancy on the land, but
also gave the landlord the power to control and regulate land use.3
This case set a precedent on how the government and Indians were to
interact in the years to follow.
It was not long thereafter that the State of Georgia called
upon Judge Marshall once again to interpret which political power
controlled the land. In order for the State of Georgia to acquire
new resources, thousands of Creek and Cherokee Indians would have to
be removed from the western and northern portions of the state. The
end result of Cherokee Nation v. Georgia was that the federal
government held legal guardianship over Indian affairs. In
addition, if the state needed the land, the state was authorized to
remove the Indians.
Despite the court decision, there were Indians who refused
to leave. Therefore, under the pretense of protecting both the
tribes and the state, Congress passed the Indian Removal Act (IRA)
on May 28, 1830. Interestingly enough, just six days later, gold
was discovered in the Cherokee land. Relying on the IRA as a means
of removing the Indians, the state of Georgia declared that the
gold rightfully belonged to the state and began relocating Indians.^
By 1835 the Cherokee Nation Cases contained two basic
thrusts on the status of Indian tribes: (1) they were under the
protection of the federal government--ward and guardian
relationshipand (2) tribes possess a certain amount of sovereignty
to shield themselves from any intrusions by the states.
Additionally, it was the federal government's responsibility to
ensure that this sovereignty was maintained.
One of the fundamental weaknesses with these cases, was
that the United States government was not capable of protecting
tribes from state intervention. Deprived of any real protection
from invasions, tribes were, therefore, forced to initiate treaties
with statestreaties which would protect them from destruction but
which essentially became a major cause of losing their land.
During the next decade Judge Marshall was determined to
strengthen the definition of the Indians' relationship to the U.S.
Government as that of "ward to guardian". The following statement
reveals his determination:
They look to our Government for protection; rely upon its
kindness and its power; appeal to it for relief to their
wants; and address the President as their great father. They
and their country are considered by foreign nations, as well as
by ourselves, as being so completely under the sovereignty of
the United States, that any attempt to acquire their lands, or
to form a political connection with them, would be considered by
all an invasion of our territory and an act of hostility."^
Marshall established the framework upon which much of the
idea of federal responsibility over Indian affairs is built.
Despite the unfairness to Indians of the use of treaties to settle
disputes between Indians and whites, this method was the norm until
the 1870s. Not until I87I when Congress declared that Indian
Nations would no longer be recognized for the purpose of making
treaties, did the era of treaty-making end. Paying little
attention to Congress, the Utes signed the last major treaty in
1914, 33 years after Congress' declaration.
As mentioned earlier, the Indian Removal Act of 1830 opened
new possibilities for white settlers to acquire occupied Indian
territory. The 16,000 Cherokees who walked of the "Trail of Tears"
were not the only Indians forced to move to western reservations.
The Choctaw Indians gave up 10 million acres east of the Mississippi
and also moved west.^ On March 6, 1864 as many as 8,500 Navajos
were removed from their homelands and relocated to the banks of the
Pecos River in New Mexico.
Removal and relocation of Indians was not performed solely
as a means of gaining access to resources. Isolating the Indians
on reservations ensured, to' some degree, that whites and Indians
would be separated, thus preventing any real understanding of each
other's cultures. The increase in American technology, unfamiliar
to most Indians, widened the. separation between whites and Indians
even more. And discovery of gold spurred industry to follow the
Indians as they moved West, requiring more removal and more
It was during this time, around the 1880s, that the federal
government altered its policies in dealing with Indians. Rather
than continue the path of relocationseemingly impossible because
land was needed for railroads, new communities and industry--the
government opted for a new approach to the Indian problem,
During the period between 1887 and 1927 Indians saw
themselves confronted with a series of new problems. They now had a
choice, either they could live in small communities as they were
accustomed to doing, or they could accept small allotments of land
and become citizens of the state. When they refused to live on
these small allotments of land, their alternative was to move
further west in hopes of finding land they could settle without fear
Since removal and relocation efforts were losing popularity
with white settlers, because they believed that through relocation
the Indians still acquired too much land, President Chester A.
Arthur suggested in l88l that assimilation was the key to the
"nagging Indian problem." He believed that "to introduce among the
Indians the customs and pursuits of civilized life and gradually to
abs.orb them into the mass of our citizens", was the answer.^
Therefore, Congress passed the General Allotment Act of 1887 (GAA) .
There were two main ideas behind the General Allotment Act:
(1) Communal land was savage. White individual ownership
would create pride, self-interest, and healthy selfishness,
leading to Christianity and civilization.
(2) This act would make it easier to acquire individual
Indian land than from a tribe." This Act contributed to the
reduction of Indian land from 138 million acres in I887 to
48 million by 1934. ^
In I89I an amendment to the GAA resulted in Indians losing
additional land. In this amendment the Secretary of Interior was
given the right to lease the land of anyone who, in the secretary1s
opinion, "by reason of age or other liability" could not "personally
and with benefit to himself occupy or improve his allotments or any
part thereof." 0 This gave the Secretary of Interior dictatorial
powers over the use of the allotments.
In an attempt to bring about assimilation many amendments
and statutes were passed during this period; two major ones stand
out: The Indian Citizen Act passed in 1924 gave citizenship to all
Indians who had served in the first World War, and the Act of July
31, 1882 designated army posts and barracks as places to train
"nomadic tribes having educational treaty claims upon the United
States."^ This latter act demonstrates a commitment on the part of
the government to provide education for Indian children.
There were several attempts by the Europeans to instill
their methods of education upon Indians prior to the Act of July
31, 1882. For example, as early as 1744 a treaty was negotiated
with six Indian tribes where the leaders of Virginia offered to
educate one Indian youth from each tribe. The results of this offer
were disastrous. In a letter rejecting the program the spokesman for
the Indians stated the children who had been educated in a white
man's schoolroom returned to the tribes as:
Bad runners, ignorant of every means of living in the woods,
unable to bear the cold or hunger; they knew neither how to
build a cabin, take a deer, or kill an enemy; spoke our
language imperfectly; were therefore neither fit for hunters,
warriors p. or counselors; they were totally good for
The chiefs then offered to take some of the white boys and educate
them in their culture and "make men of them."
In many cases education was a tool used by certain religious
groups as a means of imposing their religion on the Indians. The
first recorded formal attempt to educate Indians occurred in 1568
when the Jesuits established a school in Florida for the Florida
Indians. Although the Jesuits did not remove the children from
their villages, they did set up small communities to introduce the
whole collective to a "better way of life." This procedure was not
accepted by the Indians any more than future boarding schools were
History suggests that no matter what procedures were used
to educate Indians, there has not been a major emphasis to maintain
the culture of Indians nor to accommodate them. Attempts to
assimilate the Indians into the white culture range from total
exclusion to annihilation. In the l880's, arguing for legislation
which later become the General Allotment Act, Senator Pendleton of
They must either change their mode of life or they must die.
We may regret it, we may wish it were otherwise, our sentiments
of humanity may be shocked by the alternative but we cannot
shut our eyes to the fact that that is the alternative, and that
these Indians must either change their modes of life or they
will be exterminated. .In order that they may change their
modes of life, we must change our policy. .We must stimulate
within them to the very largest degree, the idea of home, of
family, and of property. These are the very anchorages of
civilization; the commencement of the dawning of these ideas in
the mind is the commencement of the civilization of any race,
and these Indians are no exception. u
Throughout the history of interaction between the United
States and Indians there have been numerous attempts by the
government to shape policies to end the nagging Indian problem."
Again, the period of assimilation instituted by the United States
had problems similar to the earlier period of removal and
relocation. Indians did not desire to become part of mainstream
America. In an attempt to devise a better relationship between
Indians and the federal government, the government sought new
methods which would solve some of the Indian problems and continue
to promote programs which pushed Indians into the mainstream of
American life. During the period of 1928 through 19^5 there were
several studies, reports, reforms, and Congressional responses on
the Indian issue, all of which did very little to solve the problem
but continued to have adverse effects on traditional Indian life.
With the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the inception
of the New Deal came new legislation which addressed the Indian
issue and sought reforms. "The Meriam Report" of 1928 thoroughly
documented the plight of the Indians and offered policy
recommendations. The report made no apologies in stating what it
found to be the conditions of Indians in the United States. "The
poverty of the Indian and their lack of adjustment to the dominant
economic and social systems produce the vicious circle ordinarily
found among any people under such circumstances," the report began.
The investigation called for the creation of "increased
appropriations to improve the diet of children in boarding schools,
the creation of new positions in the fields of health and education,
the construction of more Indian day schools, the repair of Indian
Service buildings," and more.
John Collier, an avowed advocate of Indian Rights who was
appointed Commissioner of Indian Affairs by the Roosevelt
Administration, presented "The Meriam Report". Although Collier's
major goal, like that of his predecessors, was assimilation, his
tactics were slightly different in that he sought the assent and
active cooperation of the Indian peoples. While Collier's heart may
have been in the right place, he failed to realize the basic errors
of most of the initiatives implemented during the New Deal period.
First of all, Collier assumed that all Indianseven if given the
right to form a governing body consisting totally of Indianswould
prefer to assimilate.
This was not true. While some aspects of
assimilation occurred in certain tribes, other tribes chose to
retain a strong political and social sense of Indian identity.
Secondly, there was a familiar assumption that all Indians were
essentially alike. Collier's experience was with the tightly
organized Pueblo people. Neither his background, nor the background
of many reformers working on programs for Indians, prepared him for
the diversity of Indian interests and preferences. Third, the New
Dealers thought that if given the opportunity most Indians would
organize themselves and operate by majority rule. But most North
American Indians were unfamiliar with the white system of governing;
instead tribal governments exhibited enormous complexity unfamiliar
to many whites.^
It is difficult to generalize about traditional forms of
tribal government because there was such a variety of Indian social
groupings. There were theocracies, such as the Pueblos of New
Mexico and the Hopi of Arizona, who organized their political and
social life around a religious ceremonial year. The Cheyenne
government, on the other hand, is similar to western traditions.
Their tribe is governed by a civil council of forty-four chiefs,
consisting of five priestly chiefs, two doormen and thirty-seven
others. The most highly developed tribal government was that of
the Iroquois. The central decision-making body of the Iroquois has
fifty seats divided into three separate bodies: the older brothers,
the younger brothers, and the keepers of the fire. Certain
accommodations were made to ensure the participation of all five
nations in the Iroquois Confederacy. The Onondagas received 14
seats, the Mohawks 9. the Senecas 8, the Oneidas 9 and the Cayugas
Since many of these governments were unfamiliar to the
United States government, the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA), also
known as the Wheeler-Howard Act, was implemented after Collier
presented "The Meriam Report", in an effort to make it less
difficult for the United States to control these diverse tribes.
The Act also ended the allotment policy, stating: "no land of any
Indian reservation shall be allotted in severalty to any Indian.
This Act however, did not eliminate the Secretary of
Interior's jurisdiction over the use of land. Rather, it increased
the secretary's power by authorizing the right to negotiate when it
was deemed necessary for economic purposes. It also provided a
revolving credit fund from which the secretary could make loans to
tribally chartered corporations for the purpose of economic
development. D Thus, these policies were shaped to allow for
economic development on Indian land while hoping to minimize
opposition from tribal members.
The major thrust behind the IRA was to divert the power away
from the Department of the Interior and the Office of Indian
Affair's and onto the reservation governments. The formal tribal
government now would be the governing body. Rather than allow each
tribe to negotiate with the federal government, a revision under the
IRA called for an election of councils representing the tribes.
Before the IRA could be implemented, however, the tribes had to vote
to accept it. During a two-year period set as a deadline for tribes
to accept the IRA, 258 elections were held. One hundred and eighty
one tribes voted to accept the IRA provisions. The remaining 77
tribes rejected it, including the large Navajo tribe of 45,000
people. For some tribes, attempts to organize under the IRA brought
disruption and heightened intratribal factional disputes; for a few
it brought organization, a revival or establishment of tribal
government, tribal courts and police, and an improved economic
position. Yet while some tribes believed the IRA would help Indians
gain some form of self-government, other tribes viewed the IRA as
just another tool used by whites to impose their form of governing
on the tribes. Some Indians saw the IRA as immoral because it took
the place of their own form of government, and others saw it as
unreasonable and dictatorial because it gave power to a few Indians
appointed by the federal government.^
In the end "all tribes were eventually administered under
IRA regulations, since the Bureau felt it too cumbersome to operate
under an IRA manual for some tribes and a non-IRA manual for
Just as quickly as Roosevelt had gained control of the White
House and began implementing new Indian policies, the Republicans in
1952--after winning the presidency--began a reversal of those
programs and attempted to "free" the tribes of their colonial
master.^ In other words, massive cuts in federal programs for
health, education and housing were initiated.
In June of 1953 Representative William Henry Harrison of
Wyoming introduced House Concurrent Resolution 108 which stated "at
the earliest possible of times, all of the Indian tribes and the
individual members thereof located within the States of California,
Florida, New York and Texas, should be freed from Federal
Supervision and control and all disabilities and limitations
specifically applicable to Indians." This resolution was accepted,
passed both houses of Congress and set the stage for the government
to begin cutting the umbilical cord. Thus, the Termination period
In August of 1953 Congress passed Public Law 280 (67 Stat.
588). This law gave certain state governments the jurisdiction over
civil and criminal activities on many Indian reservations, thus
limiting Indian power. Even though the system of tribal government
was still an important part of negotiations which transpired between
the United States and Indians, and seemed to signify a shift of
power to the Indians, Public Law 280 significantly diminished Indian
authority. Although Resolution 108, introduced by Harrison, was
short-lived, it did encourage many people in Congress and in the
general public to take a good look at what termination and these
additional proposals did to the Indians.^
Arthur V. Watkins, a leading congressional proponent of
termination was firmly convincedout of good faith and ignorance
that if the Indians were set free they soon would become "productive
citizens." Watkins believed that through termination the people of
America would begin to treat Indians not as Indians but as fellow
American citizens. In other words, treat them exactly like everyone
else. Watkins' article entitled "Termination of Federal
Supervision: The Removal of Restrictions Over Indian Property and
Person," written in 1932 (several years before Resolution 108 was
proposed), adequately depicts termination as the best choice for
Congress and the general public in dealing with the Indian problem.
This new choice by Congress, however, delivered much confusion, in
some instances disasters, and in most cases Resolution 108 provided
a decade of controversy and Indian protests.^
From the very beginning of the termination period there were
a number of individuals who opposed termination before Congress and
in the press. A New York Times editorial suggested that the
government's responsibility to the Indians had special
characteristics that should not be lightly disregarded. These so
called privileges were given to the Indians in exchange for their
land. The article warned the American public not to be misled into
thinking Indians were being set free. Rather, the public should
view termination as robbing the Indians of the few services they
Oliver LaFarge, an author and a member of organizations
designed to assist Indians, outlined two alternatives in dealing
with Indian problems. First, he said, was to quickly break down the
special status of Indians, through termination, and immediately
integrate them into mainstream America. This he cited as being
hasty, impatient and often ill advised. The other, he stated, was
that of allowing the Indians to maintain tribal integrity and
special rights until the Indians, themselves, decided to terminate
Although there were many Indian tribes which viewed
termination in the same manner as LaFarge, those who did not were
pressured into voting for it. On June 20, 1953. after a brief visit
from Senator Watkins, with less than 10 percent of the tribe voting,
169 Menominee Indians of Wisconsin voted for termination while 5
voted against it. The Menominee understood Watkins to be saying
that the government would terminate them regardless of what they
wanted. The irony of the Menominee situation is that they were one
of the few tribes which had managed to fight off allotment during
the General Indian Allotment Act of I887, only to face the
possibility of losing land through another U.S. policy some 70 years
The controversy which mounted during this period was the
main reason for the demise of Resolution 108. Many white liberals
and Indian Nationalists branded the termination policy as a great
evil. The support these opponents received was overwhelming.
Articles in the press encouraged Congress to review the possible
consequences of termination. The public response apparently worked;
less than a decade later, in 1958, Secretary of the Interior Fred
Steton announced no tribe would be terminated without its consent.^
The impact of the termination upon those tribes which consented to
this policy was significant. In their book The Evolution of the
Termination Policy, Charles Wilkenson and Eric Briggs discuss the
basic consequences of Resolution 108:
1) There were fundamental changes in landownership patterns.
2) The trust relationship (between government and Indians)
3) State legislative jurisdiction was imposed.
4) State judicial authority was imposed.
5) Exemption from State taxing power was ended.
6) Special federal programs to tribes were discontinued.
7) Special federal programs to individual Indians were
8) Tribal sovereignty was effectively ended.37
Fortunately for the Indians, this policy was not implemented to the
extent that Watkins desired. Presidents Kennedy and Johnson never
activated the policy. However, it was not until President Nixon
entered the White House that the Indians' fears of termination could
be alleviated. On July 8, 1970. President Nixon delivered a speech
confronting the errors of termination:
Because termination is morally and legally unacceptable,
because it produces bad practical results, and because the mere
threat of termination tends to discourage greater self-
sufficiency among Indian groups, I'm asking the Congress to
pass a new Concurrent Resolution which would expressly renounce,
repudiate and repeal the termination policy as expressed in
House Concurrent Resolution 108 of the 83rd Congress.3
Prior to the Nixon years, the 1960s witnessed a new
direction in the treatment of Native Americans. From i960 to the
1980s a different approach to the formation of policies regarding
Indians was being developed. While the termination period seemed to
have destroyed a portion of Indian culture and encroached
substantially upon Indians' attempts to remain Indian, through the
development of federal policies Indians were still able to see
slight improvements in education and health services and gain some
control of their destiny.
With the aid of the Johnson Administration proposing "a new
goal for our Indian programs; a goal that ends the old debate about
termination and stressed self-determination,"39 the Indians were
able to participate in the programs of the sixties. These programs
emphasized a greater need to wipe out a defined portion of the
American population known as "the poor." Public assistance played
an increasingly important role in the lives of poor people during
this period and an even larger part for Indians because they were
subjected to more than their share of poverty.
The Area Redevelopment Administration Act is one example of
the type of acts which permeated the minds of the executive branch
in the early '60s. This act stressed the importance of allowing
Indians a chance to develop their resources while still not severing
their tie to the federal government. Another act, the Economic
Opportunity Act (EOA), passed in 1964, provided Indians with a form
of self-determination through community organizing. The EOA, an
anti-poverty program, stressed the importance of allowing Indians to
create and implement community activities with minimal interference
from federal agencies. Although many reservations still are badly
in need of housing, education, health services, economic
development, and manpower assistance, the mere presence of the
Indian Community Action Program (a branch of the EOA) indicates the
desire for tribal councils to adopt resolutions which could curtail
federal supervision and allow the tribes themselves to produce
constructive projects to change the poverty most reservations
During the self-determination period three pieces of
legislation, among many written in the '60s and early '70s, stand
out as portraying the change in policies set forth by the federal
1) The Indian Education Act of 1972: Provided for special
training programs for teaching Indian children, and pro-
vided a base for moving more Indian participation on a
2) The Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance
Act of 1975: Directed the Secretary of the Interior to
confer with the tribe to plan, conduct, and administer
programs. In other words, the act permitted the tribe,
not the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) or any other
branch of federal government, to decide if Indians
wished to participate in any given program.
3) American Indian Policy Review Commission of 197^:
Authorized two-year commission to review existing
federal, policies and make recommendations for position
Since the passing of these three pieces of legislation very
few initiatives have been proposed to improve the Indians lifestyle.
Most of the legislation has often hampered the lifestyle of Indians
while increasing the need for more federal bureaucratic involvement.
Realizing federal involvement was still very much a part of the
Indian way of life, proponents of self-determination were, willing to
accept this intrusion temporarily. Until certain institutions are
provided and until tribes gain the capabilities for self-governing,
the impact of sudden "freedom" could be disastrous for the tribes.
Obviously, efforts to provide more viable institutions and a greater
ability among Indians to exercise their independence must be
combined with a gradual expansion of self-determination.
Even though the threat of termination no longer exists and
even though the main philosophy of the federal government has taken
a complete turnabout since the termination period, the pace of
change remains slow during the 1980s. Looking back over the
historical analysis provided and reviewing the predominant mind-set
of "ward-to-guardian", it is no wonder Indians had difficulty in
knowing what to do with this new independence. The BIA's inability
to encourage or help prepare Indians for this new period and the
policy of waiting until all components were synchronized with one
another added to the slow implementation of "independence". To wait
until all Indians have a certificate granting proof of capability or
to wait until all institutions are viable was viewed by progressive
Indians as a mistake. A dominant attitude among Indians and non-
Indians, heavily influenced by the termination period, seemed to
suggest the pace of change needed to be accelerated; waiting for the
right government policy to provide true self-sufficiency may not be
The previous information demonstrates that the United States
government developed a number of vigorous policies in an effort to
deal with Indian problems. If a policy of removal and isolation was
impossible to bring about, if Indians could no longer be pushed
westward to avoid contact, and if it is inhumane to conduct wars of
extermination against them, then an alternative was assimilation.
When this option also failed to bring about the desired effects,
Congress tried other approaches. It is only within the last twenty
years that it appears as though Congress and presidential
administrations have run out of alternatives.
While presidents set the tone for their administrations,
their main interest was to solve the problems of the larger society,
and if that meant adverse effects to Indians, so be it. In some
instances, if the president was perceived as being favorable to
Indian causes, as was Lyndon Johnson, then the remainder of the
executive branch reflected this positive attitude. At the same
time, there were presidents, like President Jackson during the
Cherokee-Georgia fiasco, who failed to protect Indians, and no
branch of government intervened.
Unfortunately, rather than initiate new policies, almost
always the president relied heavily upon previous acts of Congress
for his authority. Still it does not appear as though either branch
of government cared significantly about Indians. In most cases,
this uncaring attitude opened the door for politicians to champion
bills favorable to America's economy but disastrous to Indians. At
the same time there were individuals like John Collier who were
sympathetic to Indians but who did not have the power to implement
While the manipulation and suffering of Indians may not have
been a conscious goal of most administrations, the environment and
competitive nature of American society fostered policies which in
effect increased the inferior position of Indians.
Although this chapter has briefly mentioned the development
of tribal governments, the following chapter discusses the
formation of these governments in detail. This formation
perpetuates the effort of the government to tighten its grip on the
economic life of Indians by propping up a form of self-government,
and therefore, cultivating a method for destroying Indian values
'"Vine Deloria Jr., and Clifford Lyttle, American Indians,
American Justice (Texas: University of Texas Press, 1983), p. 3-
^Felix Cohen, Handbook of Federal Indian Law. (Albuquerque:
University of New Mexico Press, 19^2), p. 52.
^Ibid., p. 2.
^Grant Foreman, Indian Removal: The Emigration of the Five
Civilized Tribes of Indians. (Norman: Univeristy of Oklahoma
Press, 1953). P* 21.
^Cohen, p. 83.
"^Deloria, p. 30.
Cohen, p. 62.
^Foreman, p. 99 *
Lawrence C. Kelly, The Navajo Indians and Federal Policy.
(Phoenix: University of Arizona Press, 1968), p. 6.
^Foreman, pp. 19~5^.
Deloria, p. 8.
^Ibid., p. 10.
^Cohen, p. 129
^Murray L. Wax, and Robert W. Buchanan, Solving "The Indian
Problem:" The White Man's Burdensome Business. (New York: New York
Times Book, 1975). P- 114.
^Cohen, p. 130.
^Deloria, p. H.
LOSar A. Levitan, and Barbara Hetrick, Big Brother1 s Indian
Programs. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1971). P- 30.
2^Paul W. Gates, The Rape of Indian Lands. (New York: Arno
Press, 1979). P* 11.
2^Vine Deloria Jr., and Clifford Lyttle, The Nation Within:
The Past and Future of american Indians Sovereignity. (New York:
Pantheon Press, 1984), p. 44.
22Gates, p. 11.
2^Deloria, American Indians, American Justice, pp. 8O-85.
2^Wax, p. 37.
2^Deloria, Nations Within, p. 144.
2^Deloria, American Indians, American Justice, p. 15.
2Cohen, p. 47.
2^Wax, p. 40.
3^Cohen, p. 171.
32Gates, pp. 47-49.
33The New York Times. 4 April 1954.
3^Gates, p. 45.
3^Ibid., p. 269.
3^Deloria, American Indians, American Justice, p. 20.
3^Ibid., p. 20.
3Jack D. Forbes, Native Americans and Nixon, (New Jersey:
Printice-Hall, Ltd., 197*0, P- 37*
^Levitan, p. 195.
^Wax, pp. 136-138.
^ ''Cohen, p. 192.
FROM TRADITIONAL TO MODERN FORMS OF GOVERNMENT
As demonstrated in Chapter II, the lives of American Indians
have been closely intertwined with that of the federal government.
Initiatives for self-government and self-determination partially
loosened that connection, but the Indian way of life was still
predominantly influenced by the United States government and its
Prior to the Indian Reorganization Act of 193^ (IRA), the
government exercised direct control. With the arrival of the IRA
came certain initiatives of the federal government to introduce a
method whereby tribes could have more of a voice in their destiny--
even though those decisions had to be sanctioned by the United
Many tribes already had advanced forms of government, but
since they were different from European and the United States
systems, the United States failed to recognize them as legitimate.
The 193^ Act granted the tribes an opportunity to form a governing
body which would negotiate major decisions with the' federal
government. On the one hand, these tribal governments made it
possible for the federal government to become less directly
involved, but on the other hand appears to have made it more
difficult for tribes to be truly represented. Hence, the concerns
underlying the IRA basically was to implement a system which the
United States could understand and control.^
One of the major problems facing American Indians today is
the claims of transnational corporations to the uranium, coal and
gas resources which lie under several Indian reservations. Since
these claims have developed during negotiations between various
tribal councils and transnational corporations, it is important to
look at the governing bodies representing the tribes and determine
to what extent they were representative of the Indians. Many
Indians believe the tribal leadership has become more concerned with
appeasing the federal government than serving the people they
The discussion which follows provides an account of two
tribes' initial experience with tribal governments. The differences
between the Navajo and Hopi tribes reveal different strategies
adopted by the two tribes in an effort to recapture some control
lost by tribal members to the tribal governments and tribal energy
Indian Reorganization Act
The inability of many Europeans to understand other cultures
and traditions is not a new phenomenon. Ethnocentrism and
xenophobia have played a major role in the treatment of other
nationalities as well as North American Indians. Harold Driver, a
leading author on Indian history, states that many Indian
governments, contrary to the beliefs of many whites, were highly
complex and often very democratic.
Contact with white settlers
did, however, begin to alter these governments. In order to deal
with the commercial and political relationship which developed
between Indians and Europeans, the Indians' form of government began
to take on certain European characteristics. This transition from a
wholly traditional tribal government, "which basically performed a
quasi-judicial function, to the modern tribal council, which
performs predominantly executive and legislative function," were not
as easily accepted as proponents of the I.R.A. suggested they would
be.^ Governments which portrayed a quasi-judicial function soon
evolved into the modern tribal council of today.
As mentioned earlier, under the provisions of the IRA tribes
voted on whether to accept the tribal governments. The vote in fact
had very little to do with whether or not the tribes accepted the
tribal governments; eventually all tribes were forced to accept a
council which would represent them before the federal government.
Included in those tribes which rejected the IRA provisions was the
large Navajo tribe.
On June 11, 193^, The Albuquerque Journal analyzed the
results of the 193^ election. Its analysis of the vote suggests
that the Navajos believed their original Treaty of 1868 (which gave
the Navajos exclusive use of 4 million acres) gave them adequate
protection. In addition, Navajos believed their form of government
already provided self-government. Other analysts of the vote cited
the earlier sheep-reduction efforts by the federal government as the
main reason for Navajos' rejection of the provisions.^
Sheep-reduction, indeed, may have been a major factor for
the refusal of the IRA provisions. The first attempt by the federal
government to reduce livestock on the Navajo reservation was met
with hostility. John Collier, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, had
defended the need for stock reduction as a means of soil
conservation. Through his survey of the condition of the Navajos
and their land in "The Meriam Report", he proposed that the best
method to restore the range would be through an intensive campaign
to reduce the number of sheep.^ Should a family have more than the
designated number of sheep, federal agents impound the excess stock,
or re-route the stock's water supply forcing the animals death.
Regardless of the Navajos' rejection of the IRA provisions and
despite their objection to stock reduction, both of these programs
were implemented and continue today.^
The Navajos' experience with the IRA is not an isolated one.
A Hopi man who opposed the tribal council recounts the voting
procedures used by the BIA in 193^ to get the provisions accepted:
Just before they had that vote, they took all the vote,
they took all the educated Indiansmostly Hopi and Navajo but
some Pima, Papa joand put them in a camp up at Cameron. They
tried to get me up there, but I didn't go. I knew something was
up. They turned them all loose on these villages with ballot
boxes. On the ballots there was a circle and a cross. No
writing. The people didn't know what was going on. They told
them, "If you want to keep your land, choose the cross; if you
choose the circle, you might lose it." Now the Hopi has a
symbola circle with a cross in it; the circle means continuous
life, and the cross is the four points of life, and on this
paper, the two were separate, so he knew something was wrong.
Most of the people didn't vote.^
When the votes came in, the crosses had wonmeaning the Hopis had
adopted the provisions of the IRA. Collier reported 519 voted "yes"
while 299 voted "no"reflecting a voting population of 8l8. While
The Interior Department indicates the Hopi population in 1935 was
2,538 and in 1936 it was 3.4^4, it does not indicate how many
eligible voters there were. Other studies suggest the Hopi tribal
council was formed with only 14 percent of the Hopi potential
Much could be said about the methods used to get John
Collier's suggestions adopted by the different tribes. For the next
16 years after Collier's vote, the Hopi ignored the government's
appointment of a tribal council by refusing to acknowledge its
presence.^ In 1951. however, the BIA campaigned to encourage the
Hopi people to recognize the Hopi Tribal government. In order to
get the Hopis to work with the U.S. government through the tribal
council, the BIA told Hopis that their only chance in retrieving
land lost to the Navajos (because of Navajo encroachment) was
through the tribal council. The BIA succeeded in increasing Hopi
participation. Still, in 1955 Commissioner of Indian Affairs Glenn
Emmons conducted interviews with Hopi villages to see if these
villages recognized the tribal councils as representative. Although
the results showed that an overwhelming majority opposed government
policies and the tribal councils, the government, nevertheless,
chose to recognize the Hopi Tribal Council as the exclusive
representative of the Hopi people.
These two examples, which reveal the Hopi and the Navajo
Indians' experience with the initial acceptance of the IRA clearly
demonstrate the difficulties the federal government faced in
implementing IRA provisions within the tribes. The IRA became
important because it provided the new government with sufficient
authority and powers to represent the tribe in a variety of
political and economic ventures. Felix Cohen, author of Handbook of
Federal Indian Law, noted that "the act of June 18, 193^ had little
or no effect upon the substantive powers of tribal self-
government... [It] did bring about the regularization of procedures
of tribal governments and a modification of the relations of the
Interior Department to the activities of tribal government."
In addition to terminating the destructive allotment system
discussed in Chapter 2, the IRA afforded tribes an opportunity to
organize for their common welfare. Administrative centralization was
replaced by decentralized power in tribal governments. This,
however, led to additional problems. Many procedures or problems
which had formerly been handled by community consensus were now
formalized and required tribal resolution. In the Hopi case, where
consensus has been a practice in many of the villages, this shift to
one tribal government, which was manufactured to represent one Hopi
view, has presented insurmountable barriers in decision-making. In
fact, it is not unusual for the Hopis to remain deadlocked for
several months over many issues which divide the villages--such
issues as the legitimacy of the tribe, the leasing of coal and other
resources, or the relocation of Navajos which was the impetus for
the recognition of the tribal government in 1951*^
The Navajos, on the other hand, have developed a somewhat
more harmonious relationship with their tribal government. History
does suggest, however that there has been corruption in both Navajo
and Hopi tribal governments (discussed in the next chapter).
Officials were suspected of selling land which rightfully was not
theirs, or negotiating deals with energy development corporations
without the knowledge, or at least the approval, of the tribe as a
whole. Additionally, these new governing bodies often consisted of
younger, less traditional Indians who were not as sensitive to
several issues as older, more traditional Indians were.
Because the tribal governments imposed by the federal
government are relatively new organizations they are plagued with
problems of acceptance. Traditionalists, often slow in accepting
change, continue to view them as a "white" institution, and in many
cases do not vote on issues the tribal governments present. On the
other hand, there are some tribal governments which have made
attempts to represent the interests of the majority of the tribe,
often excluding the interests of the traditional people. For
example, the Sioux in South Dakota work closely with corporations
seeking development of resources on Indian land. A later chapter
discusses how these negotiations often are directly opposed to
traditional Indian values.^
While the Navajo and Hopi councils are not substantially
different from each other, a useful method for understanding the
different governments is to observe the categories provided by the
National American Indian Court Judges Association:
REPRESENTATIVE: Here the tribe elects a governing body that
operates under a constitution which the tribal members have
approved (Ute, Jicarilla Apache).
REPRESENTATIVE/TRADITIONAL COMBINATION: Under this system,
governmental officials are elected by tribal members, but some
governmental positions are reserved for traditional leaders by
virtue of their traditional lineage. The officials operate
under a written constitution voted on by the tribal members (Red
Lake Band of Chippewa and the Warm Springs Tribes of Oregon).
GENERAL COUNCIL: The tribal membership adopts by-laws which
govern and control the tribal officers, but these tribal
officials have no substantive authority. When a substantive
issue arises, officers call a General Council meeting of the
tribe and the members vote on the issue (Crow Tribe of Montana).
THEOCRACY: Both the civil leaders and officers of the tribe
are selected by the religious leaders. This is the most
To this day it is difficult to ascertain just how
representative tribal governments are. As indicated earlier, the
initial formation of tribal governments in 193^ was not easily
accepted by certain tribes, especially the Navajo and the Hopi.
Many of the elders on the reservation harbor resentment towards the
United States government for imposing a tribal government. At the
same time there is a younger generation of Indians who view the
tribal government and the provisions of the IRA as progressive and
liberating. Those favoring the new governments view cooperation
with the federal government as necessary in order to preserve Indian
society.^ The following statement was made by a council supporter
in 1955 to an investigating team sent to the Hopi reservation by
Glenn Emmons, Commissioner of Indian Affairs:
(1) We, the younger generation of the Hopi who are not
baptized into Hopi customs, have chosen the civilized
method of democratic government in dealing with others
for the welfare of our people, and hope that someday we
will realize the fruits of our efforts.
traditional form of tribal governments
Pueblos by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo).
Hopi Tribal Government
(2) The old Hopi government is not a democratic form of
government. The Hopi form of government is a Monarchy
[sic] government which intends to dictate and intends
to drive the people. . In the old days when the Hopi
government was intact only those that belonged to the
royal group had a right to the better things. Those
of us who are common in the tribe, did not have as
much fertile land to farm. .Anything the Kikomongwi
[village chief] says we are servants unto him. He
stays in command. Springtime comes, all the people
plant his fields. .Our Constitution is patterned
after the constitution of the United States Government.
None of us would have any rights if the Hopi way of
government still existed. I think we are fortunate to
be one of those conquered by a nation who has this form
Although the Hopi Tribal Council is a foreign and imposed
form of government, its existence and support can be attributed to
those few (usually younger) Indians who see it as their only vehicle
for some form of self-government. As long as the tribal council had
a quorum the federal government was not concerned if not all
villages were represented, nor if Hopis maintained a completely
different ideology on what their relationship should be in regards
to the United States and its initiatives.^
Yet the conflict surrounding tribal governments cannot be
totally attributed to the lack of concern by the federal government.
A large portion of the traditional Hopi who reject the Hopi Tribal
Council and view it as a bad and evil tool of the white man appear
to have good reason to do so. In 1961, the Secretary of the
Interior, acting on a request by Attorney John Boyden on behalf of
the tribal council, authorized the council to lease Hopi land. The
Hopi Constitution, designed in 1935 by anthropologist Oliver LaFarge
at the request of John Collier, created the "Constitution and By-
laws of the Hopi Tribe, Arizona.
This Constitution was adopted by
the Hopi in a referendum at the same time the IRA provisions were
accepted. Although LaFarge left it up to each village to decide how
it shall be governed and allowed these villages to "draw up a
village constitution specifying the manner in which council
representatives shall be elected," he also included a clause which
permitted the Secretary of Interior to delegate to the tribal
government whatever powers he saw fit. One specific clause
authorized the tribal council to "prevent the sale, lease,
encumbrance or disposal of tribal lands."
This incident clearly states the tribal governments have the
right to stop the leasing of land. In addition, it shows how the
Secretary of Interior's actions may have used the powers given to
him by LaFarge's creation in 1935 to lease Hopi land without the
consent of the people. From this ambiguity, confusion exists as to
which party has the power to lease Hopi land.
The Hopi Council used its perceived authority to lease land
owned by the Hopi people. By 1963 the Council had allowed $3
million worth of oil and gas exploration leases; had invested money
in a disastrous industrialization venture which would construct an
undergarment factory for the Western Superior Corporation on Hopi
land; and had given Attorney Boyden $1 million for his eleven years
There were many problems which stemmed from the opening of
the undergarment plant. The plant was portrayed by the BIA as being
a good source of employment for the Hopi. Attorney John Boyden
presented the package to the council, and the council accepted.
Much of this occurred without approval or knowledge of the tribe.
In addition, there came promises of employment for the Hopi men
first, followed by Navajo, and then other tribes, in that order.
Day care centers were to be provided; on-the-job training for all
Indians hired; and the corporation would pay the council rent
amounting to not less than 5 1/2 percent of the council's initial
$1.6 million investment. In 1970 less than two years after its
operation began, the factory only had 70 or 80 Hopis employed, out
of a work force of nearly 200. Employees were not happy receiving
$1.60 an hour wage; the factory had not paid one cent of its $88,000
annual rent, and the rest of the promises were generally ignored.
This investment was an expensive lesson learned by the
Hopis. In his book Toward Economic Development For Native American
Communities, David Aberle notes the reasons why this $1.6 million
investment and other forms of industrialization may not be
particularly advantageous for Indian reservations: "The lack of
control by the Indians over the industries invited to operate on the
reservation. The operational needs of these large corporations are
basically determined without much concern over the long-term future
of the Indians.
The largest economic development that the tribal council
became involved in was the leasing of a portion of the Joint Use
Area (JUA). This area of the Hopi Reservation is to be used by both
the Hopi and Navajo. According to a federal court decision of 1962,
both tribes have "undivided and equal interests" in the land. Sixty
five thousand acres of the JUA were leased in i960 to the Peabody
Coal Company for more than 10 years. Hopis expected to receive $14
million in royalties, and the Navajo should have received
approximately $58 million. ^
The negotiations with the Peabody Coal Company provide a
prime example of how the diversity of interests within a tribe is of
little importance. One group of Indians, the traditionalists,
opposed these negotiations but are rather powerless. Another group
the tribal council, which is more powerful and whose goals are more
closely identified with those of the federal government, agreed with
This example depicts how federal jurisdiction over the Hopi
and the nature of the reservation system brought economic and
administrative forces together to "separate the Hopi and Navajo from
their land in a manner as tactful, painless, unpublicized and well-
planned as possible.Alvin Josephy, a leading Indian historian,
suggests that the Peabody Coal Company's leasing on the land held
jointly by Hopis and Navajos was a scheme largely unpublicized. By
this he does not necessarily mean unpublicized to those outside the
reservation (although this well may have been the case), but rather
the details of the lease were not common knowledge to the Hopi
themselves. D When these uninformed individuals discovered the
leasing contract, a spokesman from the Hotevilla Village issued a
letter to the Hopi Tribal Council:
Your exploitation has come to my attention that you have
committed very serious and dangerous move, as in the past,
again, without informing the leaders of the Hopi Nation. . .
Your organization was founded only yesterday, 'illicitly' a tool
designed by the government to disrupt our cultural ways of life,
rob us of our land and resources for industrial developments of
our land, to live like white man's way, snare into financial
difficulties, a scheme to claim our land by means of
foreclosures. Without sufficient fact weighing you have blund-
ered most dangerous positions, our land is in jeopardy and the
generations to come. . '
The chiefs from four of the villages, who contributed this letter,
hired a lawyer to draw up a suit against Rogers C. B. Morton, the
Secretary of Interior, and Peabody Coal Company. Their efforts were
joined by 58 individuals from all villages. Their suit alleged,
among other things that:
1) The Secretary of the Interior went beyond his
jurisdiction or authority to negotiate the mining
lease with Peabody Coal Company,and specifically did
so without the observance of procedures required by
2) The strip mining of Hopi lands violates the most
sacred elements of traditional Hopi religion, culture
and way of life.
3) According to the Hopi constitution the tribal council
did not have the power or authority to approve the
lease. Rather, the constitution states the tribal
council is supposed to "prevent the lease of Hopi
land." In addition, out of the 18 seats on the
council, only 11 were filled and of those 11, five
were not certified in accordance with the Hopi
Unfortunately, Peabody Coal Company, joined by 23 power companies,
was victorious. The judge ruled against the Hopis.^
Despite the weakness of the tribal council confronting
multinational corporations, it still is a powerful influence on the
destiny of the Hopis. Exploitation of coal on Black Mesa (in
Northern Arizona) through leasing arrangements is only one example
of many developments that have little regard for Hopi
It was not the Hopis as a tribe who negotiated
these mining leases, but a combination of private enterprises and
governmental agencies who favored increased industrialization on
reservations and the ability to make large profits.
The revitalization of the tribal council in 1955 occurred
because Hopis were under the impression that this governing body
could reclaim land which they had lost to the Navajo. In reality,
revitalization of the council appears to have accomplished quite the
opposite. Since its inception, the tribal council, rather than
claim land, has decreased the original land base of the Hopis
through negotiations with Peabody Coal Company and other energy
corporations.^ The consequences of the Hopi Tribal Council's
involvement with Western Superior and Peabody Coal Company, proved
to be devastating to the Hopi culture.
Navajo Tribal Government
Similar incidents which occurred with the Peabody Coal
Company, the Western Superior Company, and the Hopi Tribal Council
have also occurred with the Navajo Tribe. Although the relationship
between the Navajos and their tribal council has not been nearly as
tumultuous as with the Hopi, there are circumstances when the tribal
council negotiated deals with the federal government which were
clearly not in the best interest of the Navajos.
One of the the first indications of the Navajo tribal
council not sensitive to tribal needs developed during the 1930s
with John Collier's initiatives of stock-reduction. Although a
third of the council objected to Collier's stock reduction plan,
the council agreed to reduce the livestock by 10 percent. In
exchange for the reduction the government promised to supply funds
for dams, wells, roads and schools on the reservationmost of which
did not materialize.
Then, as well as now, Navajos have been plagued with "too
many sheep and not enough land." Since the Navajo traditional way
of life is centered around sheep, the reduction program meant a
cultural transformation as well as an economic one. By 19^5,
through the use of grazing regulations devised by the Navajo Tribal
Council and enforced by the Secretary of Interior, wage work had
begun to replace sheep raising as a means of earning a living.^
The council which agreed to stock reduction was the same
council which the United States government created to represent the
tribe in mineral leases. This council was not voted into office by
the tribe, but was hand picked from prominent tribal leaders by the
federal government. This was the beginning of the Navajo Tribal
Council/U.S. government and its long series of oil, natural gas, and
helium leases. Since that time, energy development has provided the
major source of income for the Navajo Tribal Council.
There are estimated 100 million barrels of oil, 23 billion
cubic feet of natural gas, 5 billion tons of coal and 80 million
pounds of uranium. Sales from these resources could support the
Navajo population well into the future. But rather, these numerous
negotiations with energy developers, have contributed to the
impoverishment of the Navajo reservation. One of the major reasons
for this contradiction is the lack of knowledge Nava j os have
regarding industrial development.
An experience similar to the Hopi in their involvement with
the Western Superior Company was also felt by the Navajos. In the
1960s when Peabody Coal Company originated contracts with the
Navajos, an unspecified number of jobs along with other benefits
were promised to the Navajos in return for these contracts. Of
course, similar to the case of the Hopi, these promises never
materialized. Through an interview performed by scholar Lynn
Robbins it was revealed that the council knew very little about the
value of coal, how much coal was on its land, or that the Hopi could
raise their profits through competition and bidding.J
Ignorance was not the only reason for poor decision making.
Often the tribal council had very little time to make sound
judgments about contracts and leases. Even though some council
members may have perceived some deception on the part of company
officials, the majority of those who approved the mine leasing
believed the revenues and increased employment promised in the
contracts would outweigh the consequences.^5
In any event, Indians have not usually benefited greatly,
and have repeatedly lost out in negotiations with energy developers.
Legally, however, there is little the Navajo or other tribes can do
about the give-away-prices of coal. A large portion of the Navajos
believe contracts should be renegotiated, but as of yet, the Navajos
have not entered into any renegotiating of the past contracts,
partly because they have their hands full trying to receive a
marketable price for their current resources, and partly because it
is costly to renegotiate.
In anticipation of future negotiations, Navajos are taking a
closer look at past involvements with energy developers to the point
of resisting. Prior to 1978, most of the outcry generated by the
Navajo was over the low prices for which tribal members were willing
to sell precious resources. In 1978, however, the situation seems
to have changed. Resistance grew by the more traditional members to
the impersonal, high-technology energy industries whose activities
have sent millions of gallons of radioactive water through several
Since this new resistance has developed, negotiations with
energy corporations can no longer occur without confronting a strong
anti-development position taken by many Navajo people. Similar to
the Hopis, the Navajo also are fairly powerless when it comes to
stopping initiatives set forth by a tribal government whose
relationship with the United States government is symbiotic.
Therefore, rather than stop energy development, this new opposition
is cautioning the Navajo Tribal Council to reconsider contracts
which normally would have been negotiated without collaborating with
the people or without understanding the consequences of those
These responses by local residents demonstrate that the
Indian people are aware of the methods by which they are exploited
and abused. One community, Dalton Pass, passed the following
resolution protesting the effects of uranium mining: "danger to the
health and well-being of humans and livestock from air, water, and
land contamination; unwanted influx of outsiders; stress on local
services and facilities; disrespect toward Navajos and their culture
by non-Indians; and possible destruction of Navajo sacred sites."3^
Similar types of grass-roots dissension has surfaced in many
areas of the reservation. A petition bearing the signatures of 40
members requested that the Navajo people and the tribal council be
given all information regarding energy development on the
reservation. The petition asserts that the tribal council has been
negotiating projects without consulting local Navajosoften to
achieve its own ends such as selling land without the tribes
consent. In addition the petition requested tax programs favoring
the Navajo Nation and a renegotiation of all leases to include
better environmental safeguards.39 One local Navajo resident
described the protesters as follows:
When the oil companies first came, the people were told that
they didn't have any choice in allowing the drilling to start.
The people were uneducated and did not know any better. They
were told that it wasn't their land, but the federal
government's. Now people know better and are starting to fight
back. We are standing up for the first time and speaking for
ourselves. And the young people and the old people are working
together; they are united in fighting the company. .At night
we sit around together and the old people tell how many of the
problems got started. u
Since the Navajo people currently are less willing to
endorse projects than in the past and are able to exert pressure on
the council members, the tribal government has developed more of a
protective stance towards the people it represents and towards the
land it so easily gave away. An indication of the tribal council's
making more of an effort to work in the interests of the people can
be seen in Tribal Chairman Peter MacDonald's statement before the
Senate Economic Development Subcommittee in March 1976:
The Navajo Nation will assess its position on energy-
developments only after the following four commitments are made
by the federal government:
1. Energy development is for the benefit of the Navajo
people and it conforms with Navajo goals, needs and
2. Sufficient water will be made available without hurting
other uses, uses such as agriculture, livestock and
3. Products of energy development will be made available
for use within the Navajo Reservation by Navajos.
4. We will be given opportunities to participate in and
control energy developments.
Although Chairman MacDonald was relieved of his chair
responsibility for four years by Peterson Zah he was re-elected
December of 1986. Whether or not he still sees these commitments as
viable solutions to some of the conflicts Navajos experience with
corporations, is yet to be seen. The Navajo people have learned to
be cautious in their negotiations with energy developers and the
tribal government seems to support the Navajo people more directly
than previously. This, however, is meaningless unless tribal
officials, company officials, and federal representatives listen to
the Navajo people and their request for self-determination.
The previous information reveals the different strategies
adopted by the Navajo and Hopi people when dealing with tribal
governments whose goals differ significantly. As noted earlier, the
goals of tribal government can be very different than tribal
members. Therefore to offer one solution for problems within all
tribes is to follow a similar path taken by the federal government
the assumption that all IRA provisions would provide self-
sufficiency for all Indians equally.
Furthermore, the definition of self-sufficiency by Indians
themselves differs greatly. For example, the information provided on
the tribal governments indicates Hopi traditionalists refuse to
acknowledge not only the white man's system of government and its
policies but also the imposed tribal governments. By Hopis ignoring
both agencies, which often work hand in hand, the Hopis' culture and
traditions have been severely threatened. It is not until recently
that the Hopi people, in order to maintain their traditions, have
been forced to shed their oath of silence and speak out against
energy development. On the other hand, the Navajo Tribe, whose
land now produces millions of tons of coal annually, is one of the
tribes willing to continue leasing their lands as long as certain
stipulations are met.
These two examples show that strategies of tribes often
differ according to the goals of the tribe. Therefore, when
negotiations develop with energy corporations on land held jointly
by two diverse goal-oriented tribes, it is only logical that
additional complications would arise. The following chapter
discusses the problems which developed when all parties involved,
including both tribal councils, both traditional groups, leasing
companies, federal officials, state officials and all other parties
with vested interests, failed to recognize these differences, or
possibly chose to ignore them. The federal government propped up
pseudo self-governments as a symbolic gesture of good faith.
If we look closely, however, we notice that political and economic
forces continue to dominate contemporary Indian societies.
^Cohen, p. 147-
Harold E. Driver, Indians of North America (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1975). P* 300.
^Deloria, American Indians, American Justice, p. 96.
^Albuquerque Journal, 17 June 1934.
5Kelly, p. 165.
^Richard 0. Clemmer, "Black Mesa and the Hopi," Report by
The Anthropology Resource Center (Cambridge: 1978), p. 25.
Marc Sills, "Relocation Reconsidered: Competing Explanation
of the Navajo-Hopi Land Settlement Act of 1974," Journal of Ethnic
Studies, 14 (1986), 72.
^Clemmer, p. 27.
^Cohen, p. 147.
^Clemmer, p. 27
Personal interview with Roberta Blackgoat, Navajo Tradi-
tionalist, 19 Nov. 1986.
^9Jane McGregor, "Indians Turning to Private Enterprise,"
The Dallas Morning News, 26 Jan. 1987. Sec. 8C, p. 20.
10Deloria, American Indians. American Justice, pp. 108-109-
^Richard 0. Clemmer, "Hopi Political Economy: Industrial-
ization and Alienation," Southwest Economy & Society, 2 (Winter
1977), P. 16.
l8Ibid., p. 17.
^9Ibid., p. 18.
2^Clemmer, "Black Mesa and the Hopi," p. 25.
Clemmer, "Hopi Political Economy," pp. 4-18.
223Clemmer, "Black Mesa and the Hopi," p. 20.
23Lynn A. Robbins, "Energy Developments and the Navajo
Nation," Report by The Anthropology Resource Center (Cambridge:
1978), p. 35-
^Clemmer, "Black Mesa and the Hopi," p. 23.
2^Alvin M. Joshepy, "The Murder of the Southwest," Audubon.
75, No.4 (1973) P- 68-92.
2^Clemmer, "Hopi Political Economy," p. 24.
28Ibid., p. 25.
2^Ibid., p. 26.
^Clemmer, "Hopi Political Economy," p. 24.
3^Kelly, p. 160.
32Ibid., pp. 196-197.
33Robbins, p. 42.
3^Ibid., p. 43.
^Harris Arthur et al., "Native Americans and Energy
Development," Report by The Anthropology Resource Center,
(Cambridge: 1978), p. 2.
3^Robbins, pp. 44-45*
38"Wherever There Is Energy Developments, There Seems To Be
Grassroot's Opposition," Navajo Times, 15 June 1978, p. B-17.
39Robbins, p. 46.
^Navajo Times, 13 April 1978, pp. 2-5-
Navajo Times, 18 March 1976, pp. A-l-3.
THE LAND DISPUTE
Navajo and Hopi people have experienced numerous changes in
land, customs and lifestyles because of certain policies enforced on
local and national levels. Few of these changes were desired by
Indians, and many of them occurred against their wishes.
The following section discusses the redistribution of land
between Hopi and Navajo. The participation of so many individuals
in this process and the legislation pertaining to the portion of
land in question have become a work of vast complexity involving
morals and obligations often ignored by people in Congress.
The Relocation Act of 197^ was instituted in hopes of
resolving a dispute which Congress claims exists between the Hopi
and Navajo. This policy specifies the removal of thousands of
Navajo from the land designated as belonging to the Hopis. Because
this policy greatly benefits energy developers and very few Indians,
the validity of this issue as actually being an intratribal land
dispute has come into question. As is often the case when a
conflict arises and two tribes are involved, the government has a
tendency to label this an "Indian war" rather than recognize the
problem as a direct result of poor decision-making on its part. In
other words, rather than accept responsibility for unjust policies,
the federal government has shifted the core of the problem back onto
the politically dominated groups themselves.
Unquestionably the Navajo would not have wandered onto Hopi
land had they had enough land to live on with some dignity. The
Navajo admit they have encroached on Hopi land. What they and
several Hopi refuse is to accept blame for the poor decisions of
Congress on this matter.
The Navajos have a long history of being relocated. Land
has been given to them, taken away, only to be returned. The Treaty
of 1868, referred to by the government as the "old paper",
originated when Fort Sumner, an internment camp for the Navajo, was
unable to contain them. In 1868, under the provisions of the
treaty, the U.S. government gave the Nava j os a portion of their
original land back, provided that they agree to sign a peace treaty.
The Navajo agreed. The land, however, later proved to be inadequate
and the Nava j os soon began to move beyond the designated
According to the 1868 Treaty, the provisions limiting Navajo
occupancy are very vague, "the tribes (give up) all rights to occupy
any territory outside their reservation. .but (still have) the
right to hunt on any unoccupied lands (near) the reservation."
According to this passage the Navajos lost their right to live off
the reservation. Although this is what the treaty stated, the
provision was never enforced. Before long, Navajos and their sheep
wandered onto land outside the original boundaries and onto Hopi
land. This expansion is what many people recognize as the beginning
of the "land dispute" between the Hopi and Navajo people, although
the Hopi did not make an official complaint to the President until
1882 (discussed in a later portion of this paper).
The vagueness of the treaty continues. Another portion of
the treaty implies that the Indians are powerless in keeping
outsiders, especially the U.S. government, from building roads,
powerlines, and other infrastructure: "the Navajos will not oppose
the construction of railroads, wagon roads, mail stations or other
works of utility or necessity which may be ordered or permitted by
the laws of the U.S."^ This provision, too, is ambiguous, because
the tribe has been able, to some degree, to stop certain works of
utility from being built. The tribal governments does have the
authority to curtail construction providing these decisions have
been sanctioned by the Secretary of Interior.
One final point which demonstrates the treaty's ambiguity is
"no future treaty for the cession of any portion or part of the
reservation. .shall be of any validity. .unless agreed upon
by at least three-fourths of all the adult male Indians. ."^
This might mean the reservations are safe from being taken away
(this has not been the case); or that three-fourths of the adult
males have a certain amount of power. Since the males did hold more
powerful positions than women in most traditional forms of
government, it may appear that they had more power than women; yet
this could be challenged since women held other positions not
recognized as powerful by whites.^ In any case one thing is clear
to most Indians today: the U.S. government made the treaty. .the
U.S. government is the only government which can change the laws.
However, since 1868 the governing body which can change the
laws has been altered slightly. Land added before 1918 had been
added by executive order. In 1919 Congress took this power away
from the President. Today only an act of Congress can change the
boundaries of Indian land.
Even though Congress changed the boundaries and added new
land to the Navajo Reservation of 1868 several times, the large
Navajo tribe and their sheep continued to spill over the official
lines. This spilling over, however, did not seem to present much of
a problem until 1933* Prior to this, the Navajo were encouraged by
the government to take their stock to better grass, set up winter
camps or move to an area which generated a better life style. Later,
in 1938 when "The Meriam Report," a report analyzing the Navajo
conditions, was released, Washington began to worry about too much
livestock ruining the land, and imposed stock reduction programs.^
The concerns of John Collier, sponsor of the "The Meriam
Report", and the United States regarding land erosion were not
without cause. The Navajo tribe had grown quickly. The 10,000
Navajo who spread over the land in 1869 had grown to 20,000 in 1900,
and 40,000 by 1930. As the Navajo Tribe expanded, so did the
livestock. In 1930 the Navajo country contained nearly 1,500,000
head of livestock. The scientist appointed by Collier reported that
the land could adequately maintain 500,000.
Charlie Yellow, a Navajo medicine man of the Mary Goats Clan
from Kayenta, remembers stock reduction and describes it as follows:
Their sheep, the horses, and the cattle grew to great
numbers, and the ground became bare like the floor. Now people
speak of that time as: 'The time the horses die of
starvation. What was left grew again and again to great
number. Then John Collier came running with his stock
George Blueeyes, born in 1900 and living in Rock Point,
Arizona, believes plants will not come up unless there are sheep and
horses. The ground is hard, he says, and when it rains the water
just flows. Blueeyes attributes agricultural fertility to sheep
walking on the manure and breaking up the land so the water is able
to soak into the earth, thus making it more fertile.
Scientists and their methodology and medicine people and
their spirituality did not agree about whether the conditions
necessarily dictated stock reduction. The reality was that the
consequences of stock reduction were more severe than just the death
of animals. It was difficult for anglo Americans unfamiliar with
certain customs and rituals to measure the dependency Navajo had on
sheep. The implementation of stock reduction diminished the
Indians' food supply, limited their supply of wool needed for
clothing, and more importantly, forced them to abandon the
spiritual feeling attached to the possession of sheep.^
Many controversies existed regarding Collier's stock-
reduction plan in the 1920s. Laws governing religious rights, stock
reduction, boarding schools for Indian children, health services,
and other services all may have been devised with good intentions.
These policies, however, often confronted and sometimes infringed
upon the right of Indians to maintain their culture and traditional
During the early part of the 1930s, the reservation was
confronted with additional problems other than those caused by stock
reduction. In 1930, the reservation was just beginning to feel the
impact of the Great Depression.
These two experiences contributed heavily to the Navajo
opening their land to oil explorations. Prior to 1915 there were no
indications that oil was under the land which the Navajos occupied.
Although oil had been discovered in California and Wyoming in 1909,
the Hopi and Navajo Reservations seemed relatively safe from
prospectors seeking minerals. All of this was due to change,
however; during the depression Navajos began to experience America's
quest for energy resources. Navajos, like other tribes, began to
look to mineral leasing as a possible solution to their
deteriorating economic conditions. It is interesting to note that
while the conditions seemed to have been ripe for energy developers
to move swiftly onto the land with the discovery of oil in 1923,
the Navajos withstood contract offers with oil companies until the
Unknown to most tribal members, however, the U.S.
government had already begun making plans for a council composed of
tribal leaders to represent the tribe in approving mineral leases.
This ploy made it difficult for the established form of tribal
government to challenge those leaders who were appointed by the U.S.
government. Hence, over the years mineral leasing became the
accepted method for Navajos to supplement their income.^
Agreements with mineral leasing companies, however, did not
prove to be the answer to the Navajos' deteriorating conditions. In
fact, these resources have often brought more problems than
benefits. A large factor regarding the current debate over the land
in the Big Mountain area is the vast resources under it. There is
a high probability that the Navajos would not be facing relocation
if the land they occupy were barren. One Navajo woman has stated
that people are standing in line to see who gets the wealth on their
land after their removal.^
While the Navajos have entered into leasing agreements with
mineral companies, the Hopis have not. Part of the reason for this
is that the Hopis have been able, to some degree, to minimize
penetration of U.S. policies. Since they are not sheepherders like
the Navajos, they have been virtually exempted from the effects of
stock-reduction, and therefore were not in the same predicament as
the Navajo to consider mineral leasing as a means of curing their
economic problem. In addition, Hopis were determined to keep their
culture alive and realized early that government and corporate
penetration would have adverse effects on their lifestyle.
Throughout the history of the Hopi there are several
incidents which reveal the rejection of federal policies by the
Hopi. For example, private ownership of land is foreign to the
Hopi: therefore, when the General Allotment Act of 1887 was passed a
large portion of the tribe looked upon this act as ridiculous and
immediately rejected it. Another example is the imposition by the
government of boarding schools as a means of education. Although
the government instructed Hopi to send their children to the
boarding school, many refused and viewed those Hopi who cooperated
with the program as opportunists.^
The friction which developed over the rejection and
acceptance of federal policies among the Hopi led to some severe
splits in the tribe. Between 1896 and 1906 a rift developed in the
Hopi villages. Some Hopi thought they might be better off to
accommodate certain policies of the white man; others rejected this
notion. In addition, those Indians who attempted to encourage other
Hopi to reject federal policies were labeled by the government as
"hostile", and the U.S. government sent troops into the villages to
seize these "hostile" people and send them to prison.0
Ninety Hopis were sentenced without a trial to a year in
prison "until he has fitted himself by acquiring enough knowledge of
English to be able to speak and understand fairly the language of
the Government of our country and the laws, for the instruction and
guidance of the people he aspires to rule."^
By 1935 U.S./Hopi relations had deteriorated considerably.
Because of this unfriendly relationship the government was eager to
construct a council it could negotiate with. Several of the
villages were labeled progressive, while others became increasingly
hostile to government influence. This made it difficult for the
United States to form one governing body which adequately
represented all factions. By forming one representative body the
government eliminated contact with villages which did not agree with
the federal government, or with each other.
As shown earlier, the circumstances surrounding the election
of the IRA provisions were controversial. Even though the U.S.
recognized the council as a legitimate body, many Hopis had little
use for the council, the U.S. government, or the American economy.
This deteriorating relationship, coupled with a limited land base,
contributed to the unwillingness of Hopis to cooperate with energy
The determination of the Hopis to stop the penetration of
U.S. policies as well as of energy developers has been instrumental
in subduing the expropriation of their resources. The United States
and energy developers, however, were just as determined to extract
those resources. Although only limited mineral leasing on Hopi land
had occurred during the 1960s, corporations such as Peabody Coal
Company could not be held off for long. The following negotiation
describes the very problem Hopis were hoping could be avoided.
In 1961 the Secretary of Interior authorized the tribal
council to lease Hopi land. This appears to be the first recorded
instance where Hopi land was leased. This negotiation occurred
without the tribal members' knowledge. This particular lease was an
agreement with Peabody Coal Company, negotiated by both the Hopi
and Navajo tribal councils. Hence, the aggravation of sharing land
by the two tribes was now coupled with the sharing of leases.
This contract with Peabody Coal Company generated protests within
both tribes. Hopi and Navajo people opposing the decision of the
tribal council saw the potential destruction Peabody's development
on Black Mesa would contribute and joined forces to file suit
against the large corporation.
The Indians lost control of 65,000 acres of land, 40,000 on
the Navajo reservation and 25,000 on the Joint Use Area (JUA).
Interestingly enough, this transaction was understood by only a
handful of tribal members. Few members were aware that Peabody's
plans would degrade the air and the land quality, and contaminate
the water and earth. Environmental concerns were very much at stake
in the Black Mesa area.
Congressman Ken Hechler of West Virginia, a supporter of
strict environmental policies, especially on strip mining, describes
the effects of the project as follows:
From the tribal lands of the Hopi and Navajo to the rugged
hills of Appalachia, giant forging machines are ruthlessly
ravaging the land to get at valuable seams of coal close to the
surface. When a supercolossal. .earthmover. .picks up 325
tons at one gulp, a jumble of topsoil, rocks, small trees,
flora, fauna and wildlife habitat are chewed up and spewed out
with awesome results. The scalping and decapitation gives the
land the look of the surface of the moon. 4
Although there were years of protesting and lawsuits against
Peabody Coal Company, many environmentalists wonder how Peabody got
away with such a large mineral leasing action. Historian Alvin. M.
Josephy explains how these negotiations are able to penetrate the
reservations even when members are somewhat organized:
All the planning, testing, negotiations, and lease and
contract signings associated with the different elements of the
huge power complex were carried out so quietly that they provide
a classroom example of how serious has become the lack of
accountability by government agencies working hand-in-glove-
with industry in the United States today. '*
An historian such as Josephy clearly understands the
capabilities of the federal government and its agencies. While
Josephy and many other informed citizens comprehend how this "high
power complex" operates, many Americans continue to look at the
present problems of the Indians as a conflict of interests among
tribes, rather than a conflict which developed over time with the
contributions of such external forces as Peabody Coal Company and
the federal government.
As is often the case, however, this dispute is merely one
piece of a complicated puzzle still in need of a solution--a
solution which could benefit both tribes rather than contribute to
their problems. In 197^ the federal government devised the
Relocation Act in hopes of curtailing the friction which existed
between the two tribes. This act specifically calls for the removal
of 10,000 Navajo and Hopi from the JUA. The following pages will
attempt to unravel the alleged land dispute and discuss how this
explanation has been selected to define the problem, rather than to
expose the true reasons of the dispute. These reasons conveniently
lie buried beneath the public controversy.
Myths or Truths?
Although the Navajo had been living near the Hopi mesas
intermittently since 1829, it was not until after 1868 that their
presence began to be felt by the Hopis. In 1876, 1878, 1880 and
again in 1882 Hopis wrote to the Commission of Indian Affairs asking
for an exclusive reservation to protect them from the increasing
presence of Mormon and Navajo settlers. D
On December 16, 1882 President Chester A. Arthur agreed to
the Hopi request, and signed an executive order creating a
2,472,095-acre reservation for "Hopi and such other Indians as the
Secretary of the Interior may see fit to settle thereon.
It is important to note that at the time of this signing
three to six hundred Navajo and 1,800 Hopi occupied the land
designated as the 1882 Reservation. This land did not have fences
or lines drawn to indicate where one reservation ended and another
began. Therefore it was difficult to enforce the boundaries even if
the Secretary of Interior had desired to do so. Nevertheless, the
Hopi and Navajo continued to co-exist until the 1950s. At this time
the government intervened once again to ensure Hopi had full use of
all their land without Navajo interference.
The Navajo and Hopi Rehabilitation Act of 1950 was intended
to address economic conditions on the reservations, as well as
bring the two tribes together in a common effort at development.
This act provided for range conservation programs, agricultural and
business development, schools, housing, hospitals and road
conditions. While the act did bring about some improvements, it did
very little to alter the economic conditions on either of the
reservations. In addition the act did even less to quiet the
grievance of Hopis over the continuing encroachment of the
The 1950s were a significant period in the history of Native
Americans. In 1958 Congress passed legislation which authorized the
Hopi and Navajo to enter into a lawsuit, thus allowing a federal
court to determine what portion of the 2.5 million acres belonged to
The discovery of coal and oil on the land, however, proved
to complicate matters. The media launched its story about the land
dispute and the discovery of the mineral bonanzathus exacerbating
the situation even more. A paper in Arizona described the fiasco
This is Indian countrya land made famous by Zane Grey,
Hollywood movies, and color photographs; a land that holds the
traveler enthralled with vast, lonely distances, the buttes and
mesas and the Navajo with their sheep and Hopi with their
This picturesque surface covers a rich treasure house below
ground. Eons ago geological god of plenty spread here in
profusion beds of anthracite coal, uranium, pools of petroleum
and pockets of natural gas.
Geophysical surveys by major oil and uranium companies have
indicated that the disputed land caps one of the last great
store houses of natural resources in the U.S.
These companies are now awaiting the outcome of the
trial, ready to tithe the victor millions of dollars for the
privilege of looking for the hidden minerals. The tribe who
holds the land stands to gain millions through leases, bonuses,
Because of these newly found treasures and because tribes
now had the authority to sue each other, the Navajo and Hopi council
agreed to let a U.S. court intervene and determine reservation
lines. Therefore, in i960 three judges in a federal court
determined just what the boundaries would be. They decided District
Six (designated District Six in 1936 in the first direct move to
partition the land) would be all Hopi land and that the rest would
be called the Joint Use Area (JUA) which the Navajo and Hopi would
share 50/50* After 1936 District Six was expanded without the use of
a survey. In 1965. after the 1962 ruling to partition the land, the
Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) completed a survey and discovered
that the boundaries for District Six actually should include an
additional 20,000 acres. This new survey indicated that
approximately 100 Navajo families were living on Hopi land. They
would have to relocate outside District Six.Some of these same
families would face relocation a second time in 1986.
Although the ruling in 1962 specified the JUA as being land
both tribes could use, the Hopis believed they were still being
infringed upon by the Navajos. An important aspect of this ruling
was that the federal court had no authority to partition land
desired by two tribes. Congress, therefore, was the only place this
controversy could be settled.
In effect the 1962 Ruling did little to resolve the land
issue. After forcing 100 Navajo families to move, the ruling merely
set the stage for the battle of the JUA to continue another 12
years. At the same time, the Hopi continued to work to gain access
to their half of the land. The events which transpired between 1962
and the 1974 Land Settlement Act generated accusations of
trespassing by both tribes.
In an attempt to prevent the Navajo from using Hopi land,
the Hopi utilized the courts. Those Navajos who failed to understand
the meaning of boundaries were soon confronted with an ordinance
declaring that any Navajo stock on Hopi land would be impounded.
These types of tactics continued to irritate the Navajos, but did
not keep them from encroaching onto Hopi land. The arrest of a 97~
year-old Navajo heightened tensions. The lawyer representing the
elderly Navajo summed up the tension in this way: "I can't help but
notice that Hopi police, particularly the non-Indian rangers,
delight in making trouble for the Navajos".33
Finally, feeling as if the ruling of 1962 was meaningless,
many Hopi came to believe that the only way to enforce the ruling
would be to partition the land equally and relocate several
thousand Navajo. In order to do this, they elicited the support of
the Supreme Court.
Land Settlement Act
In 1974 the Hopi requested the Supreme Court to resolve the
land issue. The issue was taken up by Congress and resulted in the
Navajo-Hopi Land Settlement Act. This act awarded the Hopi with
900,000 acres of land. Unfortunately this land, located in Big
Mountain, was largely occupied by Navajos. A fence was built
separating the two tribes, partly to keep the Navajo out of the
prohibited area, and partly to improve the range. The Navajos
living on the wrong side of the fence could voluntarily relocate,
with federal assistance. Those who refused would face forcible
relocation, presumably by 1986. One hundred Hopi also faced
relocation because they lived on the designated Navajo land.-* This
act was Washington's attempt to finalize the century-long land
A key provision of the act established a three-member Navajo
and Hopi Indian Relocation Commission. These members, appointed by
the Secretary of the Interior, submitted to Congress a plan for the
relocation of those Indians living in the wrong area. Part of the
plan included finding adequate housing for all the relocatees. By
the end of 1979 the commission had reportedly relocated 166 families
from the JUA. These 166 relocated families took advantage of the
government's offer to provide the family with a certain amount of
money towards a new home and as an added incentive, those families
who decided to move during the first year of the relocation period
received $5,000. For every year that passed, the bonus dropped
One important aspect of the act included a provision for the
Secretary of the Interior to be in charge of livestock reduction in
the JUA. An additional provision was to provide Navajos with
250,000 acres of land planned as the relocation site.3^ Hence,
Navajos once again were faced with stock reduction as well as
relocation. However the act failed to provide guidelines about what
the commission was to do with those Navajos who refused to comply
with the ruling.
Those Who Revolt
Some Navajo who chose to stay on the land and not take
advantage of the $5,000 bonus, nor the promise of a new house,
claimed energy interests were in favor of the partition of the JUA.
The Northwest portion of the JUA, which the Hopis would receive, is
filled with rich oil and gas reserves. The Navajo say the Hopis
wish to control this area with specific plans of leasing it to
mining corporations. In 1972, Marshall Tome, a Navajo tribal
official, told the Navajo Times. "It will give them bases of control
to future development of some of the richest potential oil and gas
formations anywhere." He went on to claim that there appeared to be
some type of payoff somewhere, or "why else would deception of this
The deception Tome was suggesting may have been the
involvement of Harrison Loesch. Loesch was instrumental in shaping
the Interior Department's propartition policy in 1972, and was also
influential concerning the land dispute legislation in 197^ by being
minority counsel for the Senate Interior Committee. Loesch later
went to work as an executive for Peabody Coal Company in 1976.3^
Loesch has denied any connection between his role in the
partitioning of the land and his present position as Peabody's Vice-
President for government relations. According to the provisions
listed under U.S. Code, title 18. Chapter 11, esp. Sect. 207 (PL87-
8^9, PL95-521) it appears as though Loesch got away with the
Whoever, having been an officer or employee of the
executive branch. .after his employment has ceased, knowingly
acts as agent of attorney for, or otherwise represents any other
persons. .in any formal or informal appearance before. .any
departure. .of the United States. .in connection with any
judicial or other proceeding. .involving a party. .in which
the United States. .is a party or has a direct and substantial
interest, and in which he participated personally and
substantially is an officer or employee. .shall be fined not
more than $10,000 or imprisoned for not more than two years, or
Another person similar to Loesch was Jerry Veckler. Veckler
was staff director of the Senate Interior Committee in 197^ and
later became the manager of the government affairs office of Texas
Eastern Transmission Company in Washington. During most of 197^.
WESCO, a consortium of Texas Eastern Transmission Company and
Southern California Gas, was negotiating with the Navajo Tribe to
construct coal gasification plants. Jerry Veckler, like Loesch,
also appears to have slipped by unnoticed.
Although the accusations by Navajos that the land dispute
reeked of energy manipulation could not be proven, their suspicions
should not be ignored. Historical records indicate that similar to
early land acquisition, access to rich resources under reservations
was a major reason for the implementation of many Indian federal
policies. For example when the Indian Relocation Act was passed in
1830 access to gold in all probability was the motivating factor.
Navajos were not unique in their suspicions of energy
developers. Some Hopis, as well, supported the Navajo position.
Mina Lansa, a Hopi traditionalist, believed the real purpose behind
the land dispute was to allow the Hopi Tribal Council to negotiate
with energy developers. Lansa, similar to other traditionalists,
view the Navajo encroachment on Hopi land and the surrounding of
Hopi by the Navajos as isolating the Hopi from the white man. An old
prophecy warns the Hopi of white men who speak with "sweet tongue".
The prophesy says the white men speak this way to steal their land.
She sees the tribal council and the mining companies as much more
dangerous than the Navajo.
Those Hopi who agree with Mina Lansa often are not heard.
Many traditionalists within the different villages do not wish to
get involved in political debates. Participation in tribal
elections alone demonstrates the Hopis' unwillingness to acknowledge
the tribal government. In a 1973 election, during the height of the
land dispute, 86l Hopis went to the polls. Out of three villages
with a total population of 2,000, only 86 votes were recorded. ^
In an interview Vernon Masayesva, formerly with the Hopi Tribal
Council, said apathy among the Hopi has diminished. "We have a new
tribal council. No longer do Hopis feel hostile toward the tribal
council," he said. When asked what percent of the Hopi voted in the
last election, Masayesva said maybe only 10 percent. "But," he
said, "that is not indicative of anything." 3
The reasons behind the Hopis' refusal to vote are difficult
to ascertain. Some Hopis say they do not vote because they do not
believe the tribal council represents their interests. Other Hopi
refuse to acknowledge the council's existence, saying they have
their own form of government.
The confusion surrounding political participation of Hopis
is very similar to the confusion on how they feel about the land
dispute. The bottom line of the land dispute, however, according
to many Hopis, is that the average Hopi does not gain much. "The
well-off Hopi (consisting mostly of Mormon converts) has special
interest. If he owns lots of cattle for example, that land we have
been contesting with Navajos is much more important to him than to a
poor family in Shipaulov," said author and Hopi dweller, Albert
Yava. The Hopis are people who live in several ancient villages
built on mesas. Since much of the land reclaimed by the Hopis
during the Land Settlement Act of 197^ is far away from the Hopi
mesas, people in the villages don't want to move away from the
mesas, said another Hopi dweller.
For many years the Hopi did refuse to move very far from the
villages. During the first two decades of the twentieth century
government officials were frustrated with Hopis complaining about
Navajo encroachment when they refused to make use of the land beyond
the mesas. Evidently this desire to live close to the Mesas has not
On the whole, Hopi-Navajo relations have fluctuatedsimilar
to neighbors who share land and argue over it. The different
factions of the Hopi tribe have made it additionally difficult to
determine just what the majority of Hopi dwellers desire. One thing
is clear, however, two major themes surface when evaluating Hopi
opinion. There are Hopi who see the land dispute as an opportunity
to gain control of their land and do whatever they wish with it,
including energy development. And there are those Hopis who see the
partitioning of land as not benefiting them whatsoever, but more as
just one more manipulation of Hopis by the federal policies.^
This latter group would rather settle whatever dispute
exists with the Navajos among themselves. "Why depend upon a legal
system which has historically robbed us of our land and our culture
to settle a disagreement among tribes," said Navajo elder Roberta
Blackgoat. Vernon Masayesva agreed that Hopi-Navajo agreement is
exactly how most Hopis would like to settle the controversy, but he
believes the dispute process is too far along to revert to Indians
negotiating among themselves. In one sentence Masayesva said how
important it is to allow the Hopis the right to determine their own
future, free of developers, lawyers, senators, the federal
government and white people in general, and in the next sentence he
stated the importance of using laws produced by lawyers, senators,
and the federal government to get the Navajos off their land.
Hollis Whitson, an Albuquerque, New Mexico attorney suggests
that, "in order for the Hopi to say 'move the Navajos' they have to
say the U.S. government has the right to be doing that." ^0 These
contradictions among Hopi, as well as Navajo, surface when
discussing the land dispute.
There are other issues which Hopis have a tendency to
ignore and by ignoring these policies they have allowed a few Hopi
to direct their future, specifically in strip mining where a
majority of Hopi have felt deceived by a few. In addition, there are
those Indians who claim to have the interest of traditionalists in
mind while the relationship between themselves and the energy
corporations has become symbiotic.
For the most part, Hopi as well as Navajo are split into two
groups: the old traditional people on one side who have never left
the land, and the younger ones who have lived in a Mormon community
or attended schools off the reservation. For example, it is not
unusual to hear a young Indian say that the land is indeed tired,
and what is needed is space-age technology to make it rich again.
By all indications, a land dispute does exist. To say,
however, that the dispute exists purely among Navajos and Hopis is
too simplistic. The land dispute, according to Roberta Blackgoat,
exists because the land in question contains millions of dollars in
resources, and energy developers, government officials and other
interested parties stand to gain a lot of money and power.^
Hollis Whitson, an authority on the land issue, agrees with
Blackgoat. One myth of the land dispute is that it is treated as a
separate problem, she said. "So special is this problem that all
kinds of moral and legal obligations are ignored," Whitson said.
She believes the U.S. government created the land dispute.
Therefore the only way to understand the so-called "land dispute" is
to understand what the U.S. government has been doing.53
Whitson first suggests that certain myths portraying the
Navajos as nomadic and Hopis as passivists. should be dispelled. In
order to prove her point, Whitson said that in the early 1600s the
Spanish conscripted the Hopi to serve in their raids against other
tribes. In 1680 the Navajo and Hopi joined forces to fight the
Spanish. In 1780 the villages of those Hopi who let the Spanish
return were raided by other Hopi. "I submit," she said, "that
throughout history the U.S. government was the aggressor and that
competition is what characterized the relationship between the
Navajo and Hopi and does to this day; competition for U.S.
government favors, dollars, and resources.'0
Whitson does not see the dispute serving the interests of
the Hopi or the Navajo, but more as increasing U.S. political
domination over both tribes. Therefore, in order for the Indians to
be totally free of the colonial government (the U.S.), they must
make a decision not to abide by the rules of the government, she
says. "There has never been a colonized nation that has gotten rid
of the colonizers at the goodwill of the colonizers. To get rid of
the colonial government, those repressed by it have to uprise."55
There have been numerous attempts by government officials,
corporate executives, historians, lawyers, Indians and many other
participants to unravel the land dispute and present it in a
simplistic package ready to be digested. This, however, has not
been accomplished. Each of these participants views the dispute in
their own selected way, failing to recognize the consequences of
As Hollis Whitson stated, there are many myths surrounding
this debate; all of which have been shaped to benefit certain
individuals or groups. More often than not, those individuals
who have benefited, have not been Indians.
In addition, policies to "protect", to "improve", and to
achieve some form of "self-government" were created partly to give
the illusion of a concerned warden, and largely to once again rob
the wards of what is rightfully theirs.
The land dispute is a prime example of a strategy which
proves to work repeatedly for the United States. This strategy is,
namely, divide-and-conquer. The media are divided by the land
dispute argument, and for the most part, continue to portray this
issue strictly as a land dispute with little or no reference to the
energy developers role. The general public refuses to get too
involved because it, too, sees it as an "Indian War." And more
importantly the' two tribes "appear" to be grappling for the same
piece of land. If the federal government can continue its campaign
to treat this issue as a land dispute, and receive the required
response from all participants. . then the Indians have lost once
Indians living in the Big Mountain area facing relocation,
however, are not that pessimistic. They look to the unfolding
consequences of the relocation act as another means of stopping the
government from fully implementing this unjust bill. The following
chapter discusses the massive problems surrounding the forced
relocation of 10,000 Navajo and Hopi. The features of both the land
dispute and the consequences ofremoval reveal once again the
procedures adopted by the United States government in its attempt to
maintain its political and ideological domination over Native
"''Claudeen Arthur et al., Between Sacred Mountains (Arizona
Rock Point Community School, 1982), p. 146.
Cohen, Handbook. p. 145-
^Deloria, Nations Within, p. 7-
^Arthur et al., "Native Americans and Energy Development,"
Kelly, The Nava.jo Indians, p. 105.
9Claudeen Arthur, p. 173-
10Ibid., p. 177.
Deloria, Nations Within, p. 108.
Jerry Rammer, The Second Long Walk: The Nava.jo-Hopi Land
Dispute (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1980), p. 43.
13Ibid., p. 44.
Robbins, "Energy Development," p. 37
^Personal interview with Roberta Blackgoat, Navajo, 19 Nov.
^Clemmer, "Black Mesa and the Hopi," p. 24.
0Francis Leupp, Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian
Affairs, (Washington D.C.: U.S. Office of Indian Affairs, 1906),
Clemmer, "Black Mesa and the Hopi," p. 17*
Ken Hechler, "Strip Mining: A Clear and Present Danger,"
in Myths and Technofantasies (Santa Fe: Black Mesa Defense Fund,
1971), P- 26.
Josephy, "The Murder", p. 72.
Kammer, p. 27.
2^Ibid., p. 46.
Claudeen Arthur, p. 173*
^Kammer ( p # .
^Arizona Star, 16 Oct. I960.
32Claudeen Arthur, p. 149.
33Gallup Independent, 2 June 1972.
Robert Storey, "Conflict Confines Relocation Issue to
Hopi, Navajo," The New Mexican, 30 Oct. 1985, P- 1.
33Personal interview with David Shaw-serdar, with the Relo-
cation Commission, 10 Jan. 1987.
3^Kammer, p. 134.
^Navajo Times, 6 July 1972.
33Kammer, p. 34.
Sills, "Relocation Reconsidered," p. 73-
LMina Lansa, "Traditional Hopi Speak For Themselves," The
Big Mountain Support Group Newsletter, 11 Nov. 1984.
Personal interview with Vernon Masayvesva, Hopi, 11 Dec.
Personal interview with Thomas Banyaca, Hopi Tradition-
alist, 18 Jan. 1986.
^^Albert Yava, Big Falling Snow (New York: Crown Publisher*
1978), p. 125.
noKammer, p. 46.
^Donna Jones, "Hopi Elders Give Their Version of Land Split
Issue," The New Mexican, 1 Nov. 1986, p. A-9.
HOPersonal interview with Roberta Blackgoat, Navajo
Traditionalist, 19 Nov. 1986.
^Hollis Whitson, "Myths of the Land Dispute,"Presentation
given at the University of Colorado Boulder, 19 Nov. 1986.
-^Claudeen Arthur, p. 248.
CONSEQUENCES OF REMOVAL
Congressional members,. activists, and traditionalists have
attempted to use the consequences of removal as a vehicle to repeal
Public Law 93531* In addition, lawyers working to alter the
condition of Indians are suggesting that Indian removal would
interfere with the Freedom of Religious Act. While these
individuals are using different tactics and strategies to introduce
a repeal of the bill, new land, houses, and bonuses are being
offered by the relocation commission to encourage the Indians to
move without incident.
As early as 1975 commission members were well aware that
Public Law 93531 was in dire need of revision. Aware of this need,
Congress attempted to amend the 197^ legislation several times, and
thus provide a more humane method of relocation. Despite these
attempts, however, very little has been done to ease the problems
of those individuals who must leave the land.
One major part of the act is mandatory livestock reduction.
This reduction has the same potential of disrupting the Native
lifestyle as the stock reduction program did in the 1930s. There
have been reports of Indians whose livestock has dropped from 200 to
20. "Washington has taken our livestock without replacing it with
another way of making a living," said 84 year old Emma Nelson.^-
Another Indian, Chester Morris, said it even more powerfully:
The enforcement of Public Law 93-531 means starvation,
homelessness, mentally disturbed (sic), alcoholism, destruction,
family dislocation, crime, and even death for many," he said,
"that is what I call a cruel law. And these people don't
understand what they are getting us into. .These things really
hurt, hurt the old people. They don' t have anything to look
forward to. They used to see their sheep coming around the hill
in the evening. Some of them had 100 or 200 head of stock for
their livelihood, their children.
Now what do they have for their children? I wish the people
of America and Arizona would understand these things, give it
thought, and place themselves in there, where we are right now.
In order to slow down the relocation process, Senator Dennis
DeConcini of Arizona introduced amendments to the 1974 Act on March
1978. "I'd like to soften the blow, and the main ones that need
help are the old ones," DeConcini said.^ The proposal DeConcini
introduced dealt with the heads of household. He suggested these
heads of household be allowed to choose a "life estate". The life
estate program was for a selected group of elderly Indians who would
be permitted to live on the land they are now living with their
dependents. As the old Navajos die, the younger(ones, able to take
care of themselves, would be relocated and the land would be turned
over to the tribe and partitioned.^
Although the DeConcini bill would aid the elderly Indians
facing relocation, Peter MacDonald, who was facing tribal
elections refused to support the bill. Endorsing the DeConcini Bill
would have meant accepting the relocation plan. Therefore, rather
than accept any portion of the billamended or notthe Navajos
wanted an outright repeal of the 1974 act.^
The hearing for the amendments was flooded with five hundred
Navajo and only 30 Hopi. The Hopi in attendance were primarily
members of the extended family of Harington Navasie, whose father
had build a home near Jeddito and had made money as a cattle
rancher. If the Navajo were removed, these Hopi would gain access
to a large portion of the partitioned land and would be able to
expand their ranching business.
The number of Hopis in attendance versus the number of
Navajos signifies the amount of hardships both tribes will
experience. It is clear that thousands of Navajo will be expelled
from their land and deprived of a way of life. On the other hand,
the courts had already heard testimonies from Hopis who had also
suffered many hardships caused by Navajo encroachment. The courts
were now saying the relocation act was their way of balancing out
the hardships experienced by both tribes."^
Two questions seemed to dominate the discussion at the
hearing. First, just how many Hopi have been harassed by the Navajo
beyond the land near the mesas? And second, what will the Hopis do
with the land once the Navajos are removed?
The first question cannot be statistically answered. By all
indications, there are not records available to prove a certain
percentage of Hopi have been harassed, or what percentage of Hopi
want the Navajo removed. It is clear, however, that only a few Hopi
want to live away from the mesas, and those who would acquire land
and favor relocation are Hopi ranchers.
The second question is essentially unknown or fluctuates
depending on which Hopi is asked. Except for the northern part of
the partitioned land, cattle grazing will be the primary use of the
land. There are indications that the northern part, however, is
being considered for coal leases. Ivan Sidney, Tribal Chairman of
the Hopi council elected in 1982, came up with another plan he
refers to as community development. "The tribal council has already
received 400 applications to build homes on the former Joint Use
Area", he said. "There are also plans for cornfields, a ceremonial
kiva, and a community house", he added. Sidney imagines that in
time the land will be a distant annex of the mesa top pueblos.9
To date the only mineral development involving the Hopi
tribe is Peabody Coal's 26,000-acre strip mine on the northern
boundary of the disputed land. This was the land which was
negotiated by the two tribal councils in 1966 without either tribe's
approval (discussed in Chapter III).
When Sidney was approached about the possibility of future
mining on the partitioned area, he pointed out that if anyone should
be asked that question, Peter MacDonald should. "After all, the
large Navajo Reservation, which is more than 20 times the Hopi
Reservation is a mecca for energy concerns," he said. At the
present time, energy development on the Navajo Reservation includes
four coal strip mines (one at Window Rock, and two at the Four
Corners area, besides the one at Black Mesa) and five coal-fired
power plants at Four Corners. Until 1983. when the market fell,
three uranium mines were also in operation, one by Kerr-McGee and
two by the United Nuclear Corporation, cited Sidney. "Don't be
worried what we may do with the land when you consider what the
Navajo have already done," added the Chairman. When observing the
number of energy development contracts negotiated by both tribes,
Sidney is correct. The Navajos' energy contracts, indeed, far
outnumber the Hopis'.
In any event both tribes were using the format of the
Winslow Hearings as a forum to generate hostility towards the other
tribe. The discussion at the hearing did little to provide hope for
the repeal of the 197^ act or bring the two tribes any closer to an
agreement. Congress did not want to rehash the whole thing.
Therefore, DeConcini's bill was put to rest until another hearing
It was not until late 1978, when Senator Goldwater visited
the people in the Big Mountain area, at their request, that things
started to change. It was embarrassingly obvious that the Senator
had not kept in touch with the actual process of the relocation. His
ignorance was apparent when he became alarmed that the Navajos
seemed overly concerned with an event which was not scheduled to
occur for another eight years. Some Navajos thought that Goldwater
did not take the whole relocation issue seriously and put pressure
on him to become more informed. Goldwater, not wanting to admit his
ignorance, promised the Navajos he would look into easing their
fears. When he returned to Washington he immediately began to work
with DeConcini in pushing his proposal through Congress.
DeConcini's efforts to amend the a!ct, MacDonald's effort to
repeal the act, and Morris Udall's position not to repeal or amend
the act but make sure Congress understood the burdens of relocation,
were all discussed throughout the Congressional hearings of 1979
with little change.
One particular hearing in 1979 was different, however.
During a one-day tour of the JUA, out of the 700 Indians in
attendance over half were Hopi. The Hopi in attendance again stated
they had no intentions of using the land for for mineral leasing,
but rather would use the land for cattle grazing. Immediately,
headlines in the local papers were reporting Hopi replacing people
with livestock. This discussion began to take a new twist. Even
though the Hopi were articulate in presenting their argument, they
could not discount a number of accusations they encountered at the
hearing. In the first place, new communities could not even take up
a fraction of the 911.000 acres of reclaimed land. Secondly,
farming in the Hopi culture is declining with each successive
generation. Thirdly, there is more than enough proof to indicate
the relocation act of 197^ brought more misery and created more
problems than anything Congress had anticipated."*^
At the end of the hearing, Udall and others reaffirmed their
commitment to the relocation act. DeConcini, however, decided to
propose his original legislation of a "life estate" at a later
In September 1979 DeConcini's life estate legislation was
once again proposed. This time, however, Udall had developed his own
life estate legislation. His bill would limit life estates to 28
acres and to 50 families whose heads of households were at least 70
years old. This bill passed both the House and the Senate. The
next task at hand was to decide how much land the relocation
commission would provide for the Navajos.^
The Navajos felt the need to lobby for as much land as
possible to avoid the problems of relocation again. "The key
element in this is finality," Udall said. "I'd be willing to give a
lot of ground if we knew this was the end," he said.^
Under the 1974 Land Settlement Act, the Navajo tribe is
entitled to acquire 400,000 acres of land near the reservation.
This land is partly for compensation and partly for relocatees to
settle on. New Mexico politicians were able to provide only 35.000
acres of land to be selected in their state. Part of the
controversy over this land is that it is right in the heart of the
San Juan Basin coal region of New Mexico. The purchasing of the New
Mexico land has been stalled for two years because there is some
question as to who would get rights to the coal should the Navajos
acquire the land. The purchase of this land brought about fears of
another fight over resources which Congress wants to avoid at all
possible costs. D
Many Navajos in the area have expressed strong opposition to
using the new land for mineral leasing or power plants, and
environmentalists want the area to be designated as wilderness to
protect rare fossils, spectacular land forms, and fragile
ecosystems. In spite of this opposition to energy development, the
Navajo Tribal Council has begun negotiations to share the mineral
rights, thus planning to participate in the coal mining against, the
wishes of its own people.^
Besides the New Mexico land, a new choice of Arizona land
has been made. Five large ranches are believed to be for sale, if
the price is right. Even if all the land selections are approved,
the 400,000 acres in the Arizona land will not provide adequate
living for the 10,000 Navajos facing relocation. A Navajo tribal
commission estimated that this land can support fewer than 20
percent of the relocatees. If this relocation is carried through,
it will be one of the largest forced removals of Indians in American
history, and a permanent scar on America's already battered
Many politicians concerned with the problems of relocation
are aware of the implications of such a large forced removal. In
addition they are very conscious of the amount of money the
relocation process will entail. The relocation commission is
seriously behind schedule, having managed thus far to move only one-
third of those scheduled for relocation. Meanwhile, projected costs
have nearly tripled, from $37 million to more than $106 million.
When hidden costs such as road construction, health care facilities,
schools, and water development are taken into account, there is a
possibility of the current $106 million escalating even more. In
regards to the costs tripling, Commissioner Sandra Massetto replied,
"If the United States government can spend billions of dollars to
settle the dispute between Egyptians and Israelis, they can spend
whatever dollars are necessary to settle this land dispute which
Another counselor working with the relocation commission
suggests the amount of money being spent for removal is not the only
problem. There are few success stories when relocating Indians, she
said. "Many of the affected people are traditional Indians who
speak little or no English." Although entirely self-sufficient on
the land, they have no job skills to help them survive in the
racially tense towns on the borders of the reservations, where most
have been forced to move. Unfamiliar with such responsibilities as
mortgage payments and property taxes, many have been exploited by
realtors and loan companies, and have lost their property.
Statistics verify that unscrupulous real estate and loan
companies take advantage of these relocatees. In 1983, for example,
19 relocatees were sold homes in nearby Flagstaff; of these 19 nine
wound up in the hands of the same realtor. In another incident, one
family was the sixth relocatee to live in the same house; the house
kept going back to the same person to be sold once again.
When Hollis Whitson, an attorney from Albuquerque, asked,
"Where do these families go?" the relocation commission and the
counselors working with the commission could not provide information
showing what happens to relocatees once they are removed from the
land. Some relocatees return to the land, some migrate to other
cities, and some have been known to die because of their inability
to adapt to a new environment. Among those who have died there are
some known to have committed suicide.
Some historians recognize a similarity between these
contemporary Indians who have died because of relocation, and those
Indians who died during the infamous Trail of Tears in the 18th
century. Although the conditions during the long trek to the
Oklahoma land were much more severe, Indians experience similar
emotional conditions when they are uprooted from their ancestral
land. The magnitude of the undertaking of Indian removal has not
been adequately studied by Congress when developing relocation
plans, according to Grant Foreman in his book Indian Removal.
"The result of relocation has been to convert proud, happy
self-sufficient people into bewildered, miserable refugees totally
dependent on government agencies for their survival," said Big
Mountain Supporter Pat Wilson.^
As of 1984, approximately 700 of the 3.200 families had
already been relocated. Of the families who had moved to
communities such as Flagstaff, over 50 percent lost their homes to
insensitive or greedy real estate and loan companies. Evidence of
fraudulent activities affecting relocatees and violating the intent
of the law has been gathered by such groups as the Big Mountain
At the same time the relocation process has taken its toll
on the elderly worrying about their children's future. Mae Wilson
Tso, a mother of nine children, says she worries constantly about
the future of her children.
This thing is immensely strong. We have pleaded in vain
and it seems we have been forgotten. The time has passed and it
turns into hardship and hunger. In my home I have seen
disruption and coming into being poor. I have sold my animals
and have come to see that it is no good without them. It is
lonely without them. The land was divided without proper
thought of how it would hurt us, the five fingered people.
Washington was foolish. I compare it to the way you treat sheep
when you separate the ones you are going to sell. '
Author, Peter Matthiessen, who has witnessed more
exploitation of modern Indians than most Americans, suggests
Congress send a delegation to Big Mountain so that those who make
the laws speak to those who are heavily affected by them.
We get outraged about Apartheid in South Africa and
genocide in Afghanistan, and all these other human rights issues
around the world, and we never look at what's happening at home.
It's no wonder that other nations think us hypocritical. This
country has never really confronted its continuing mistreatment
of the Indian people, and the desperate condition of so many
modern Indians erodes our consciences to this day. We try to
ignore the situation, we try to pretend Indians dorr't exist
anymore. But as the Indians say 'We are your shadow.' 0
Although many Indians have suffered because of policies
imposed upon them by the United States government, some Hopi believe
the Navajos are milking this situation to their advantage. "We
realize they have suffered, but when will our suffering stop, when
will people recognize the suffering of the Hopi?" asked Vernon
Masayesva, a former Hopi council member.^9
Masayesva blamed such propaganda tools as the Big Mountain
Support Groups and the Academy award-winning film "Broken Rainbow"
for not telling the whole story. "Our elders have always maintained
an oath not to become involved in political discussions," he said.
Recently, however, because of the allegedly slanted information
provided by groups opposed to relocation, Masayesva said Hopi
spiritual leaders are leaving the reservation to speak in public on
issues they normally would not have discussed.
The Big Mountain News, a monthly newsletter edited by the
Big Mountain (JUA) Legal Defense/Offense Committee in Flagstaff, is
another propaganda tool that Masayesva mentioned. This committee is
responsible for working on the legal aspects of the act and working
towards repeal of the land Settlement Act. Located just outside the
reservation, this committee is able to report on government tactics
immediately. The newsletter reports that the BIA has designed
strategy to pressure the people to leave. Planes have been reported
flying low over the homes of those Indians resisting relocation,
scaring the elderly Indians and the livestock. The paper also
states that water diversion projects have been implemented by the
B.I.A. When water is diverted, animals run the risk of dying.
"They already reduced the livestock by 90 percent," said Diane
Anderson, with the committee in Flagstaff. Thus the people are
Danny Blackgoat, one of the resisters, says the BIA has
increased its technique to encourage people to leave. Now the
government has what it calls counselors, he says. These counselors
travel in teams of two, one person from the relocation commission,
one from the BIA. The counselors are employed by the B.I.A. to
discuss with the elders the importance of relocating. In addition,
those families who are moving to the new land will receive a
grazing permit for the number of animals they are currently allowed
to have on the land they now live on. After the 90 percent
livestock reduction, this quota would not allow the families to be
self-sufficient, said Danny Blackgoat. It should be noted, he
added, that many of the families who are resisting relocation have
never had grazing permits for their sheep, and refuse to apply for
the permit, as a form of resistance to this formality.3^
As of December 1980 the new land consisted of 35.000 acres
in New Mexico and 315.000 acres in Eastern Arizona. At the same
time that this land is being negotiated, Blackgoat said, Indians
are continuing to work for repeal. "The relocation commission can
go ahead and negotiate all it wants, but that does not mean we'll
move," he said.33
According to David Shaw-serdar, a member of the relocation
commission since May 25, 1977. the 315.000 acres in Arizona have
already been purchased. The land in New Mexico, however, is still
in the negotiating process. Shaw-serdar said the land that is
considered the new land is good land. "It is better sheep-grazing
land than the land the Indians now have," he said. "Yet, I realize
it is not their home, but it is good land." The Relocation
Commission organizes two-day tours so the relocatees are able to see
the land and select a site.J
As of the end of 1986 the relocation commission had
relocated 1,115 Navajo and Hopi families, leaving approximately
1,500 families still to be moved. Forty-five percent of those
relocated went to another part of the reservation, the remaining
594 families, who had been relocated off the reservation, moved to
the following areas:
240 Flagstaff, Arizona
93 Winslow, Arizona
28 Holbrook, Arizon
34 Page, Arizona
21 White Mountain area
53 Phoenix, Arizona
5 Other communities in Arizona
14 Albuquerque, New Mexico
18 Farmington, New Mexico
21 Gallup, New Mexico
10 Kirkland, New Mexico
7 Other communities in New Mexico
20 Communities in Utah
30 Other states^
Of the 1,500 families which are still to be relocated,
approximately 300 families are on the partitioned land and 1,200
families live in Flagstaff. Those families in Flagstaff are ones
which ventured off the land voluntarily but are still entitled to
relocation benefits. Shaw-serdar estimates there are only about 50
Navajo families living on Hopi land who must be relocated.->6
A family with three or fewer individuals receives $55,000
and a family with four or more receives $66,000 to purchase whatever
kind of house they want. As relocation procedures have progressed,
the clients' degree of freedom has decreased. In the beginning the
commission did not have any restrictions on where or what type of
house was purchased. "Over the years," he said, "we've implemented
deed restrictions." Now the relocatees can't sell their homes or
borrow money against their homes without notifying the commission.
The relocation commission does not have any authority prohibiting
the Indians from doing this, but requiring contacting of the
commission allows the commission an opportunity to discuss the
consequences of the actions and possibly to intervene.37
When Shaw-serdar was asked about the unscrupulous real-
estate and loan companies relocatees often confront he said he could
not confirm Hollis Whitson's statistics. He knew of one house in
Flagstaff which foreclosed on a relocatee, and he cited instances
where one relocatee sold a house to another relocatee, but he could
not substantiate Whitson's allegations regarding relocatees
acquiring a second mortgage on their house and then losing the house
altogether. No longer are there first mortgages on houses, he
said. "Houses are bought outright so relocatees do not have any
mortgage payments to contend with."3
In addition, the relocation commission provides a consumer
education seminar which all relocatees must attend before they are
moved. In this seminar the relocatees learn what to do and what not
to do financially. The commission claims that this makes the
transition to their new environment much easier.39
According to Shaw-serdar relocation is going as well as
expected. Those families who resist relocation appear to be of
little concern to the commission. Shaw-serdar stated the 10 to 15
families who are determined to stay will be dealt with in a couple
of ways. It is possible the Hopi and Navajo will reach an agreement
to allow these few individuals to stay. If not, Shaw-serdar fears
it may turn into another court proceeding where one individual
rather than a tribe is sued. "I guess I really don't see another
court proceeding occurring, I'm optimistic things will turn out," he
Even though the 1986 deadline has expired, the commission
sees itself as having plenty of time to move the Indians. In
reality the July 7. 1986, deadline was never a deadline. In
December 1985i Congress passed an appropriation bill and in effect