United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on Indi.

Navajo-Hopi Relocation Housing Program : hearing before the Committee on Indian Affairs, United States Senate, One Hundred Fourth Congress, first session, on S. 349 ... March 15, 1995, Washington, DC online

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might I'd like to just comment on it briefly.

The Chairman. Without objection, your full statement will be
made part of the record.

Mr. Bavasi. Thank you, sir.

We are here today to discuss the housing portion of the program,
but I merely wanted to point out quickly that the program is con-
siderably larger and more complex than that. We deal with initial
applications, certifications, appeals, social counseling, inspections
and compliance, housing acquisition, housing construction, and
post-move services. So the housing, while it is probably the most
important part of the program, is only a part of what might be con-
sidered a very complex program.


In 1993 the office began a process of critically examining our or-
ganization and functions. Although the office was specifically ex-
empt from the Executive order directing a reduction in staffing, we
determined that it was in the best interests of good government
and responsiveness to our clients to identify areas where we could
make savings through reducing expenditures and staffing. Indeed,
the office had already begun to reduce staffing through attrition
and a self-imposed freeze on hiring. The staffing of the agency had
thus been reduced from a high of 97 in 1992 to a total of 90 per-
sons so far in 1995. This represents a 7-percent-plus staff reduc-

From a management perspective, we viewed the National Per-
formance Review initiatives as a positive opportunity to continue to
implement those policies and activities begun in 1993, specifically
as concerns the intention to downsize. That is precisely what we
have done, and it has provided us a specific, systematic means to
accomplish an orderly reduction in spending and staffing, while
continuing to provide service to our clients and conclude the Relo-
cation Program.

The office has also, as a result of the reinvention process, altered
its organizational structure to establish a plan for self-directed
work teams in all of the areas of office operation. This restructur-
ing, when fully implemented during the next two to three months,
will result in reduction of the number of individuals with super-
visory responsibility, which will be in excess of the National Per-
formance Review goals.

Finally, we are currently in the process of conducting our cus-
tomer satisfaction survey, and should have final results by mid-
summer of this year.

In late September, 1994, the office began preparation of a reloca-
tion completion and agency phase-out plan requested by the House
Interior Appropriations Subcommittee. We utilized many of the ex-
isting elements of our reinvention process in the plan for relocation
completion. New elements have been included in the relocation
plan as a result of the House Interior Appropriations Subcommit-
tee's request for a plan to finalize the relocation process and trans-
fer the function of the agency to a successor entity. We have pro-
vided copies of this plan to your committee.

The office believes that this plan offers the best potential for the
completion of relocation in the event that the mediation effort or-
dered by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
fails. Tne plan for relocation completion contains recommendations
for incentives which would assist the Hopi Tribe in reestablishing
its presence on the HPL; incentives to encourage the remaining
Navajos residing on the HPL to voluntarily compfy with relocation;
and alternative compensation strategies for non-HPL residents for
whom an actual physical relocation is not feasible.

I believe the plan, which also includes an update to the historical
background of relocation and its statistical elements, presents a
clear representation of the many issues involved, illustrates how
we reached our conclusions, and demonstrates an orderly means to
reduce and eventually eliminate the office. I believe the informa-
tion in the plan demonstrates a commitment to the continuing aim
of reducing the size of Government, but also assures that the Gov-


ernment can retain qualified employees to carry out the remainder
of the relocation progpram.

Senator thank you for this opportunity.

[Prepared statement of Mr. Bavasi appears in appendix.]

The Chairman. Thank you very much, Mr. Bavasi. We appre-
ciate your testimony and your being here.

President Hale, in your view what steps can be taken by the Of-
fice of Relocation in the Navajo Nation to expedite the process of
providing the benefits to the 746 families who have been certified
as eligible?

Mr. Hale. Senator, as we recommended, we recommended a
time-out period in which all of that can be assessed through over-
sight hearings to determine exactly what type of impact there is on
the individuals who have yet to be relocated, and what the best al-
ternative is. We can bring that to light during oversight hearings,
and also during that time-out period we can reorganize the office
so that it can be structured to cariyout that purpose. That's what
we would recommend.

The Chairman. Well, thank you.

Mr. President, you wrote a letter to the Honorable Ralph Regula
on February 28 — ^he is the Chairman of the House Interior Appro-
priations Committee — and in your letter you said.

Therefore the Navajo Nation requests that the House Interior Appropriations Sub-
committee place a hold on appropriatine fiscal year 1996 funding for the Office of
Navajo and Hopi Indian Relocation. I will be in Washington on March 13 and would
like to meet with you to propose alternatives to this currently costly and ineffective
program. I believe we can reduce the cost to the Federal Government while at the
same time addressing the liabilities which would otherwise be passed on to the Nav-
ajo Nation. If the suocommittee agrees with my proposal, my staff will work with
your staff to develop a program for winding down relocation.

Could you share with this committee your proposal?

Mr. Hale. The proposal that we are referring to is the rec-
ommendations that we have put forth before this committee this

The Chairman. Could you repeat those, please?

Mr. Hale. Those are the recommendations that I've alluded to.
One of them is to have a time-out period, which I just addressed,
and also in that process of the time-out period, to have oversight
hearings to identify a lot of the problems that are being faced by
people who are still on Navajo Partitioned Land, people who have
been relocated but have lost their homes and therefore have be-
come homeless, and all the people who have been declared to be in-
eligible and are still awaiting benefits. That's basically the crux of
our proposal, which is to do oversight hearings and identify those
problems, identify the course of action that can be taken that will
save the taxpayers some money.

The Chairman. This time-out period, what length of time would
you envision that this time-out period would encompass so that
hearings could be held and assessments could be made?

Mr. Hale. We are recommending a 1-year time-out period. Dur-
ing that time we request the reorganization of the Relocation Office
to carryout the responsibilities more efficiently and to address a lot
of the allegations of mismanagement and inability to address the
needs of the relocatees.


The Chairman. How long would you seek to place a hold on the
appropriations for fiscal year 1996?

Mr. Hale. About the same amount of time, a 1-vear period.

The Chairman. So if I understand you correctly, if there is a 1-
year period of time-out and a 1-vear suspension of appropriations,
the entire process then necessarily would come to a halt?

Mr. Hale. Yes; it would. And I think that will give us time to
analyze the problems that have arisen from the relocation effort up
to this point, and the office's past history, its lack of compliance or
the lack of its ability to carryout the mandates of the Relocation

The Chairman. President Hale, Judge McCue, and other Federal
officials estimate the number of Navajo families on the HPL to be
between 50 and 150. The Navajo Nation has estimated that 250
families remain. Can you give us some idea as to why there is that
significant disparity in those numbers, between the estimates of
Judge McCue and the Federal officials and the Navajo Nation's es-

Mr. Hale. The act has necessitated the establishment of an office
within the Navajo Nation. We have expended a tremendous
amount of money to help carryout that mandate that has been part
of the relocation law, and that's the Navajo-Hopi Land Commission
that is authorized by the Navajo Nation Council.

The staff there and the Commission have the responsibility to ac-
tually go out and visit these homes. All the information that you
have there on the 250 families is information that has been
brought about by people actually going out there. I can't begin to
give you an idea of how Judge McCue came about those numbers,
but this is the way the numbers that we have were acquired. Of
course, the 250 number is a number that is relative to what is con-
sidered to be permanent residents. There is probably an equal
number of what we refer to as just being away from the community
for educational purposes or employment purposes. So our number
is in excess of 500 families.

The Chairman. Thank you very much.

Mr. Chairman, of the 746 families which have been certified as
eligible for relocation but which have not yet received benefits, do
you know how manv of those are Hopi?

Mr. Secakuku. A little over 100 are Hopis, which have already
received their benefits. None of the ones which were mentioned
here are Hopis. The Hopis have received their benefits already and
they have moved.

The Chairman. Do you have an estimate of the Navajo families
remaining on the HPL?

Mr. Secakuku. Excuse me. I was just corrected. There are six
Hopi members who have not received their benefits.

The Chairman. I see.

Mr. Secakuku. What was the question? I'm sorry.

The Chairman. No problem.

Of the 218 active appeals from denials of eligibility, do you know
how many of those are Hopi?

Mr. Secakuku. None.

The Chairman. Do you have an estimate of the number of Nav-
ajo families that are remaining on HPL, your estimate?


Mr. Secakuku. Approximately 101 families.

The Chairman. Mr, Bavasi, can you walk us through each step
in the relocation process and give us an estimate of its average cost
and the average amount of time required for completion, starting
with an application for benefits and ending with the completion of
post-move counseling?

Mr. Bavasi. I will do my best, Mr. Chairman.

The process starts with an application, of course. At this point
in time we are no longer accepting applications, but there will no
doubt be a period of time when we will be discussing possible eligi-
bility with people we would refer to as nonapplicants, people who
did not apply in a timelv fashion.

Once our clients go tnrough the application process and are cer-
tified — and let me jump off there momentarily, because there were
some, as you know, that were not certified, and many of those then
would go through an appeals process, so that would be another
processing loop that we have. You mentioned that earlier, that
there are 200-plus people currently in the appeals process. But pre-
suming that they have been certified, they then go into our coun-
seling program. At that point there is an interview with the family,
decisions on relocation site, development of relocation plan, resolu-
tion of problem issues, and other things that might come under the
heading of counseling.

Once they get through the counseling process, they then go into
inspections and compliance where we review the relocation site,
whether it is an on-reservation homesite lease, or off-reservation
site. Site feasibility studies are done, historic properties assess-
ment, infrastructure completion — if we have to do infrastructure in
terms of development — and then any other studies that need to be

The client is then put into housing acquisition. There are deci-
sions made about new construction or resale homes. All of this is
up to the client. We do not tell the client where to go. We do not
tell them what contractor to use. We do not tell them the type of
house they must have. There are certain parameters that we deal
with; if a person is not suited to be an off-reservation relocatee,
meaning they do not have a job, or perhaps they are not educated,
we will only move them on-reservation. Then we nm into the
homesite lease process, which can be very lengthy. I'm trying to go
through it step by step, but sometimes you have to take a step
back. For instance, if they are going to stay on-reservation — which
most of our clients now do — ^the homesite lease process can be a
very lengthy process. We actually pay to have staff work in the
Navajo leasing offices, and we are able to get leases through as
quickly as 1 year to 2 years. But if that were not the case, if we
did not have our own staff working there, sometimes it takes as
long as 6 and 7 years to get a homesite lease. But in our case, we
are able to do it, with the assistance and coopieration of the tribe,
frequently in less than 2 years.

The Chairman. That's good?

Mr. Bavasi. That is very good in terms of the timeframe, al-
though I would defer to the President to back me up on that. But
it is quite good.


Once it is determined whether thev will live on-reservation or
off-reservation, and they are into the housing acquisition program,
then the clients are allowed to pick a contractor. We do not force
any contractors on them, but when they pick a contractor, we cer-
tainly check out the contractor and make sure they are licensed
and bonded. A site is selected, and we then — it is a three-way con-
tract among the client, the contractor, and ourselves, and we start
to build the home.

Now, there is a seven-step inspection process as the home goes
up. The reason I comment on that is that there seems to be some
doubt about the quality of housing. For instance, in the city of
Flagstaff we have an inspections program that is adequate, but not
to tne extent that we have in the Relocation Program. Our speci-
fications for homebuilding exceed the national standards, exceed all
of the local standards, because of this concern for quality housing.
We have a two-year warranty program after the home is con-
structed, and then beyond that we have a repair program. The spe-
cific reason for the repair program is that we did not anticipate
being in business as long as we have been, and people need a place
to turn to for legitimate repairs of latent defects in homes. We are
prepared to do that, and do do that.

Once the house is constructed, then there is a 2-year post-move
program which not only includes the warranty on the home, but
also provides counseling services for the clients. One of the pro-
grams that President Hale mentioned that the tribe has developed
for our clients, we substantially fund to make certain that our cli-
ents do not lose their homes once they get into them. So we fund
the program that the President mentioned to allow them to assist
clients when they get into trouble with the cost of utilities, taxes,
and those types of things that traditionally any person might lose
their home for.

There are very few, if any, cases in the recent past that we are
aware of where people actually have lost their homes because of
the relocation process. I will get this for you for the record, but we
can't g^ve you precisely the numbers per individual element of the
program, although Mike made a note to me that archaeology costs
are about $10,000 per house, per family.

The Chairman. You don't have an estimate of the total average
cost per relocatee or family?

Mr. Bavasi. The housing costs per relocatee are in the neighbor-
hood of $100,000 for the housing costs.

The Chairman. And would that be the entire cost to the Commis-

Mr. Bavasi. No; then we add the archaeology costs. We add the
counseling costs, the administrative costs.

The Chairman. What would be the counseling costs?

Mr. Bavasi. Senator

The Chairman. Rough it.

Mr. Bavasi. It would be $25,000 total administrative costs per
relocation. We apologize.

The Chairman. So we're getting into the range of close to

Mr. Bavasi. We would think that would be high for the total
costs per house, but again


The Chairman. Maybe you could submit for the record both the
costs per relocatee, and perhaps you could — either for the record or
now — give an estimate about how long it takes for this process,
from beginning to end.

Mr. Bavasi. The total direct and support costs per relocatee are
approximately $125,000. Assuming full cooperation from the client
an individual can be processed in less than 3 months for a resale
home, 6 months for new construction off reservation and 18-24
months on reservation.

You would like me to give an answer now on how long it takes,
beginning to end?

The Chairman. If you have it. If not, submit it for the record.

Mr. Bavasi. There was a point raised which I had neglected to
mention. Considering full cooperation on the part of the client, 2
to 2V2 years.

The reason I'm hesitating is that we get them into the process
immediately. Getting them in is not the problem. (Jetting them out
the back end — many people came forward and said, "We want to
be part of this; we want to be certified." We certified them, and
then there was some reluctance, for a variety of reasons, to get
through the process. But if they are active and go through the proc-
ess, we can get them through in 2 to 2 V2 years.

The Chairman. When will the process for appeals from denials
of eligibility be complete?

Mr. Bavasi. Presuming that it's the 200-plus remaining, 2 to 3
years, and that doesn't include potential Federal Court appeals.

The Chairman. In the decisions that are rendered for appeals
from denial, what has been about the average of sustaining those

Mr. Bavasi. We're looking for 50 percent.

The Chairman. Is that what the record has been?

Mr. Bavasi. Yes; and many of those we have overturned our-
selves, in-house. Not all of those— we've had about 25 go to court.
The Federal Court appeals have been about 40 percent favorable.

The Chairman. Well, I want to thank the witnesses. I want to
just make a couple of additional points.

One is, I don't think that the Congress is prepared to revisit the
legislation and bring out new legislation. I don't believe that the
Congress is ready to agree to forced relocation. I don't believe that
the Congress' patience is imlimited, as I mentioned in my earlier

The anticipation of the difficulty of this issue was clearly, terribly
underestimated in 1974 when the act became law. I have always
believed that the ultimate answer to this land dispute was an
agreement between the two tribes, epitomized by the tribal leaders
and ratified by the tribal councils. I am very appreciative of the ef-
forts of Judge McCue. I am very appreciative of the efforts of Con-
gressman Morris Udall who, on several occasions in the early
1980's, sat down with the elected tribal leaders and attempted to
work out a resolution of this problem.

I also don't believe it is appropriate for me or any other Member
of Congress to tell the tribes what they should do, because the
elected leaders of the tribes are elected leaders of sovereign states,
sovereign nations. At the same time, I have to tell everyone who


is interested in this issue that times have changed. There is change
taking place in America, and that change mandates us not to spend
an unending amount of money on an issue that needs to be re-
solved. Most objective observers would believe that 21 years is long

Perhaps it's not long enough. Perhaps the gross misestimates are
that there's another 21 years required. I don't happen to think so,
and I don't think that the majority of the Members of Congress do.

I'm also aware that the tribes nave the recourse of going to the
Federal court system, as they have done many, many times in the
past over certain aspects of this law. This has probably been one
of the most litigated acts of Congress in the history of all acts of

So I would hope that we could reach a resolution to this problem.
I believe that if there was a definite end point within reason that
this issue could be resolved, that Congress would fully support
whatever funding was necessary, because clearly there are obliga-
tions that the Congress has. But that obligation is not open-ended
and unlimited.

I know that some people are going to be very unhappy to hear
what I have to say, but it is my obligation as the elected represent-
ative in the U.S. Senate of both the Hopi Tribe and the Navajo
Tribe, as well as the other 4 million citizens of the State of Ari-
zona, to tell you what I think the political reality is. It would be
very unfair of me to tell you anything but what I believe is going
on in the freely-elected Government of the United States as rep-
resented in the Congress of the United States.

So it is my profound and deep hope and prayer that there can
be some resolution to this problem without a cutoff of funds, which
would then require recourse to the Federal courts, which would
then require the courts to mandate the Congress to take certain ac-
tion; and meanwhile, people suffer unspeakable tragedy and depra-
vation as a result of this tragic situation that exists between the
two tribes.

So I do not propose any solution. I do not mandate any solution.
I do not even recommend any solution. What I do recommend is
that we all renew our efforts to try to bring an end to this terrible
21-year — actually, 112-year — tragedy that has been taking place,
only to the detriment of people who have never seen Washington,
DC and certainly have had no input into the process.

So I would like to end the tragedy. I know that all of us want
to end this ongoing tragedy, and I hope that we will all work to-
gether to try to reach some equitable solution that is fair to all con-

I want to thank the witnesses again. I want to thank them for
their leadership of the two tribes. I want to thank Chris Bavasi for
his dedicated effort for many years on this very difficult issue, and
I again want to make the commitment to you that I want to do
anything that is within my power to help you resolve this issue,
and I will stand by at any time, day or night, to do so.

I thank you very much. This hearing is adjourned.

[Whereupon, at 3:25 p.m., the committee was adjourned, to re-
convene at the call of the Chair.]


Additional Material Submitted for the Record

Prepared Statement of Albert Hale, President of the Navajo Nation

Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, I thank you for this opportunity
to testily on the important matter of the reauthorization of the Office of Navajo and
Hopi Indian Relocation and its plan to complete the relocation of Navajos and the
phasing out of the program.

In 18iB2, the Federal government established a reservation with arbitrary bound-
ary lines for the Hopi people "and such other Indians" as the Secretary of the Inte-
rior settled thereon, principally to give the local federal Indian agent authority to
expel missionaries. At that time, there were already approximately 600 Navajos liv-
ing in the area. In 1962, a federal court held that the descendants of those Navajos
and other Navajos, settled by the Department of the Interior in the area, were in-
cluded in the phrase "such other Indians" and were fully entitled to live within the
1882 Reservation, and that the area was under the jomt authority of the Navajo
Nation and Hopi Tribe. Not satisfied with this result, the Hopi Tribe, encouraged
by energy companies interested in a final definitive determination of title to the
land, convinced Congress to divide the disputed land, the Joint Use Area, in half.
The 1974 Navajo-Hopi Land Settlement Act, P.L. 93-531, reouired that anyone
found living on the other Tribe's land after the division would nave to move — and
so began the single greatest relocation of an ethnic group since the internment of
Japanese Americans during World War 11. In the beginning, the federal government
anticipated it would cost $40 million to relocate 1,000 Navajo families and approxi-
mately 100 Hopis. To date, this cost has risen to $335 million, 2500 heads of house-
hold have been relocated, and 750 heads of household have been certified for bene-
fits but have yet to be relocated.

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Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. Senate. Committee on IndiNavajo-Hopi Relocation Housing Program : hearing before the Committee on Indian Affairs, United States Senate, One Hundred Fourth Congress, first session, on S. 349 ... March 15, 1995, Washington, DC → online text (page 2 of 11)