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

. (page 3 of 11)
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 3 of 11)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

The Fiscal Year 1995 House Interior Appropriation Committee Conference Report
expressed concern about the length of time it is taking to complete relocation, and
the large number of appeals that are adding to the number oi families to be relo-
cated. The Committee asked for a report from the Relocation Office and a plan for
the transition of respwnsibilities to a successor agency and that the office be phased
out by the year 2000. The Relocation OfTice plan was developed without any con-
sultation with the Navajo Nation or the Navajo families most affected by relocation.
The Navajo Nation has reviewed the proposed plan and has specific concerns re-

garding many of its provisions. Additionally, I will provide specific suggestions on
ow the plan could be changed to better serve the needs of the affected Navajo fami-

While it is appropriate to envision an end to the relocation of Navajo families from
their homes, we cannot allow this page of history to be so auickly turned and forgot-
ten without taking a closer look at the conseouences of relocation. There are many
questions that need to be asked and emswerea. We need to look at why the Office s
eligibility determinations are being challenged and reversed at a rate of more than
80 percent on appeal when objective review occurs in federal court. We need to look
at and address in constructive ways not only the monetary costs of relocation, but
the human costs as well. These costs-include government regulation of the right to



practice Navajo religion, homelessness, loss of land find livestock, poverty, lack of
employment, the breakup of families, unsEife or unhealthy housing conditions, and
the delays or denial of piiblic and utility services.

We believe that between 19,000 and 21,000 Navajo people have either been relo-
cated or are certified for relocation assistance benefits, applied and were denied ben-
efits or are bona-fide residents of the Hopi Partitioned Lands who never applied for
relocation assistance. More than 12,000 Navajo people suffered through the 27-year
"Bennett Freeze" in the western Navajo Reservation. We also estimate there are be-
tween 1,000 and 1,500 Navajo people who were evicted from District Six in the
years between 1936 and 1972 who were not compensated for the loss of their home-
land. What has been the effect of relocation on tne lives of the hundreds of families
who were relocated? How are the people who were relocated faring now? How many
relocatees still live in their replacement homes? Where are and what happened to
those families who are no longer living in their replacement homes?

Recently, the Navajo Nation Intergovernmental Relations Committee of the Nav-
ajo Nation Council conducted 11 days of hearings across the Navajo Nation. The
sworn testimony received showed overwhelmingly devastating negative impacts
which are directly the result of relocation. Congress should hear for itself whether
or not the relocation program has been "thorough and generous."

On a broader scale, it is now absolutely necessary lor the Committee to begin re-
viewing the entire relocation policy and its effect on Navaio families, the Navajo Na-
tion, the Hopi Tribe, and the United States. When the Act was passed more than
twenty years ago, many anticipated the Act would be a "settlement." Yet, twenty
years later, we are still entangled in many, if not more, quagmires relating to the
Hopi-United States-Navajo land dispute. The 1974 Act has exacerbated the number
of lawsuits filed by the Hopi Tribe against the Navaio Nation. Both tribes have been
hobbled by the time, energy, and cost of litigation. Tne United States itself is spend-
ing untold amounts on these matters. Although attorney fees were authorized in the
statute, appropriations for such costs have not been forthcoming. Instead of address-
ing the vital concerns of education, health, economic and community development,
the Navajo Nation has been forced to devote much of our limited time, energy, and
resources to the Hopi-United States-Navajo land dispute. How much longer must we
expend our limited resources? How much more misery must our people suffer before
we see any relief? We believe that it is now time for Congress to re-visit and re-
evaluate the relocation process that is called for in the 1974 Act to determine
whether it is working as intended and to assess the human suffering endured by
thousands of Navajo families.

When Congress created the Ofilce of Navajo and Hopi Indian Relocation its man-
date was to provide a relocation program that is "thorough and generous." Yet, for
the Navajo relocatees, the relocation program has been anything but thorough and

f[enerous. Because of the Office's misnandling of its mandate under the relocation
aw, the Navajo Nation has had to create and fund two programs — the Navajo-Hopi
Land Commission Office and the Navajo-Hopi Legal Services Program — which spend
all of their time and resources insuring that the Federal Relocation Office fulfills
its obligations in accordance with the 1974 Settlement Act with regard to eligibility
determinations and carrying out the relocation of families. For many years, tne Of-
fice rode rou^shod over the lives of the "voluntary relocatees." Traditional people
who spoke no English, were relocated to border towns and forgotten. These self-suf-
ficient people, who once provided for their families with their nerds of livestock, are
now in an alien environment with no means of support. They are vulnerable to
questionable loans and real estate practices. Many lost their homes. HastUy con-
structed replacement houses, built by fly-by-night contractors, interested only in
making a c[uick profit on federal contracts, fell apart.

Additionally the Office denied thousands of applications for relocation assistance
when Navajos were unable to prove that they nad met the complicated eligibility
requirements, and then subjected these Navajos to an adversarial process to prove
their eligibility. The Office continues to maintain strict and unfair procedural re-
quirements that act as barriers for unwary applicants and allows the Office to deny
assistance, even to clients who are obviously eligible. For example, more thab 1,300
Navaios denied assistance were unable to meet appeal deadlines due to the highly
complicated and technical language contained in letters sent out by the Office. A
court later ordered the Office to reopen 800 of these cases. Another 544 may never
have the chance to even enter the Office's adversarial process to prove their eligi-
bility. These ridiculously unnecessary processes have caused hundreds of Navajo
families to wait up to fifteen years in order to receive the relocation assistance bene-
fits to which they are entitled. Hundreds of Navajo families are still waiting. Hun-
dreds more missed the Office's July 7, 1986 application deadline. In some cases, the
Office lost applications for assistance. In others, adult children of certified relocatees


reasonably believed that their applications were being processed with their parents,
later learned that because they aid not fiU out one leaeral form they woula not be
provided with the replacement housing for which they are clearly eligible.

In true bureaucratic fashion, the Office blames the Navajo clients for holding up
the relocation process, thereby failing to take responsibility for its practices. The Of-
fice and its practices, some oi which have been proven to be denials of due process,
are (iie reasons that the relocation program has taken so long to complete.

The Navajo-Hopi Legal Services Program collected $108,000 in attorney fees on
eligibiUtv appeals in one year alone. Attorney fees are awarded when it is deter-
mined that a federal agency was not substantially justified in defending a case.
Once again, the increasing costs of the relocation program are attributable to the
actions of the Relocation Office itself, not the Navajo clients.

The Office has now submitted its plan for the termination of the Relocation pro-
gram. Despite its 215 pages, it is obvious that the plan was hastily drafted with
few, although necessary, details and little thought to the consequences of such ter-
mination. For example, the plan makes no provisions for protection of replacement
houses. According to the office's own figures, 49 percent of the relocations nave been
to the Navajo Nation where relocatees pay exorbitant premiums for homeowner's in-
surance because of the lack of fire protection. Many families cannot afford the near-
ly $1,000 annual premiums and let their houses go uninsured. Instead of recogniz-
ing this very real problem, proposals to build fire stations in the communities that
host relocatees go unaddressed and instead, the Office has fiinded rodeo grounds at
the New Lands.

Comments on Section 2-4 Trogram Changes and Incentives'*

The Office proposes to grant "incentive" replacement houses to extended family
members who are currently ineligible for those benefits. While the Navajo Nation
believes this is a step in the right direction and more in line with the thorough
and generous" relocation program Congress envisioned, the Navajo Nation is con-
cerned with the broad discretion requested by the Office. Equally disturbing is the
fact that the hundreds of eligible Navajos families who have already voluntarily re-
located have yet to receive replacement homes.

The Navajo Nation believes discretionary homesite leases and grazing permits on
the New Lands should be available to extended family members, but only when
relocatees from Hopi Partitioned Land and those relocatees who have already left
Hopi Partitioned Land are assured their needs will be met.

The Navajo Nation has grave concerns about the bulk of the Office's plan but I
want to discuss, in detaU, the most problematic aspects: The Navajo Nation ada-
mantly opposes forced relocation and is shocked that the Office would suggest such
action. Not only has this Committee conditioned its annual appropriation to the Of-
fice on the understanding that there would be no forced relocation, but the Hopi
Partitioned Land families and the Hopi Tribe are still engaged in sensitive negotia-
tions that we hope will finally address the religious concerns of the families and
their reasonable suggestions for solutions. A policy of a date certain for forcible evic-
tion at this critical time wUl certainly disrupt these negotiations.

The Office's plan to "re-establish" the Hopi presence on the Hopi Partitioned Land
is a sad example of revisionist history. There has been no Hopi residents on the
Hopi Partitioned Land in memory or history. The plan to estabbsh a Hopi presence
on the Hopi Partitioned Land where there was none before is simply a tninly veiled
plan to intimidate the Navajo residents on Hopi Partitioned Land who remain on
the land because of their deep religious beliefs. The plan readily admits that the
Hopi are not using the Hopi Partitioned Lands "totally cleared of any Navajo resi-
dents." The Office proposes that it receive expanded authority to "develop" the Hopi
Partitioned Land for the Hopis, with only va^e references to what such develop-
ment would entail. The Office wants to provide range management and improve-
ment, infrastructure development and Hopi residences and ranching activities on
the Hopi Partitioned Land. The Office appears to be planning to build these resi-
dences on the Hopi Partitioned Land for Hopis who have not been certified eligible
for relocation benefits. The plan suggests that many Hopi families would have been
eli^ble for relocation benefits but for the fact that they may have left the Hopi Par-
titioned Land before the date the Relocation Act was passed. Only those Hopis who
lived on the land partitioned to the Navajos in 1974 would have been required to
relocate and therefore would be eligible for relocation benefits. While hundreds of
eligible Navajo relocatees are being denied their replacement homes for procedural
reasons, no Navajos have ever had the benefit of such an expansive reaoing of the
Settlement Act. Tne Navajo Nation strenuously objects to this assertion.

The plan implies that there is a lack of grazing enforcement on the Hopi Parti-
tioned Lands. Nothing could be further from the truth. Navajo residents of the Hopi


Partitioned Lands are continually monitored and harassed by the Bureau of Indian
Affairs and Hop officials for their grazing activities. Livestock is regularly im-
pounded and Navajos are charged exorbitant fees to retrieve their livestock from the
impoundment corral. Further stepping-up of livestock impoundment on the Hopi
Partitioned Lands would constitute a scorched-earth policy of intimidation of Navajo
families on Hopi Partitioned Land not seen since the days of Kit Carson and the
first Long Walk.

The office asks for "expanded authority" for infrastructure development in border
chapters and in the Bennett Freeze area. Both of these areas are on the Navajo res-
ervation under Navajo Nation jurisdiction. The Nation has no desire to extend the
authority of another federal agency to Navajo land when the Bureau of Indian Af-
fairs is already a pervasive federal presence. Such expanded authority would in-
fringe on Navajo sovereignty and override our ability to control land use and our

The Office proposes that it be exempted from the Native American Grave Protec-
tion and Repatriation Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, and the Archae-
ological Resources Protection Act. These laws are important protections of Native
American religious interests. Any exemption must be closely examined in light of
the on-going mediation ordered by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the fail-
ure of the Hopi Tribe and the United States to address the Navajo families religious

The Nation opposes the Office's plan to give cash payments to relocatees who at
the end of the program are stUl unable to find a site on which to have their replace-
ment house built. This provision is a throw-back to the early days of the relocation
Erogram when the Office simply gave relocatees a sum of money to buy a trailer
ouse and closed their cases. It would leave the most vulnerable relocatees — those
who cannot secure a homesite lease and are unwilling to move to the distant New
Lands — homeless. Cash payments in no way meet the Office's obligation under the
Act to provide decent, sale and sanitary replacement housing.

On another related issue, the Office has been operating for almost a year now
without a Commissioner, since the last Commissioner resigned in April of 1994.
With so many issues relating to relocation coming to the forefront and needing im-
mediate attention, a Commissioner who is sensitive to the plight of all the people
affected by the relocation law should be immediately appointed. I am well aware of
the Congress' efforts to downsize the federal government — I am in the process of
doing the same with the Navajo Nation's central government — but at stake here is
an unfulfilled obligation to the lives and futures of traditional religious Navajo fami-
lies whose lives have been devastated. The care that must be taken to ensure that
such obligations are met is absent from the Office's plan.

A^ain, thank you for this opportunity to testify. We look forward to working close-
ly with you on these important issues.

Prepared Statement of Ferrell Secakuku, CHAraMAN, Hopi Tribe

Good morning. My name is Ferrell Secakuku. I am Chairman of the Hopi Tribal
Council. Let me begin by thanking the chairman and the committee for allowing me
to testify today. The issue you have before you is an important one. I would like
to make three points with regard to it.

First, the Hopi Tribe supports the continued authorization of 25 U.S.C. Section
640d-24 (a) (8) for another three years with a condition that is must end by 1998.
The completion of the relocation program is long overdue. Today, twenty years after
the passage of the Settlement Act, the Hopi Tribe has tried every possible way to
accomplish a settlement and still does not have jurisdiction of its own land. Indeed,
Hopi is the only Indian Tribe in the country that is treated like a second class citi-
zen on its own land. It is incumbent upon the federal government to complete the
relocation program and to return jurisdiction of our land to the Hopi Tribe. We con-
tinue to stand ready to assist you in whatever way we can.

Second, I would like to apprise you of the status of the current settlement process.
From the Hopi Tribe's perspective, we have been diligently working on a settlement
of the land issue for the last four years. In that we are pursuing Judge McCue's
mediation directive on implementation of the Agreement in Principle (AIP). Progress
has occurred in some areas, but it is unclear whether the process will be successlul.
As part of the AIP initiative, we have offered a very generous accommodation to the
renaming Navajo Individuals that would allow them to stay on Hopi land. To date
several meetings have taken place with the Nav^o families to begin open commu-
nications and understanding.


Two years ago, when the details of the Agreement in principle prematurely be-
came public, there was a large political backlash. As a result, both the United
States and the Navajo Nation backed off of commitments they had made only
months before. That was unfortunate because the merits of the settlement never
had a chance for a full airing, and the taxpayer never got a chance to balance the

In the last two years, we have gone back at the request of the mediator to the
drawing board and have attempted to devise another settlement. It remains to be
seen, however, whether it will oe agreeable to all parties. The Navajo Nation may
choose to portray it as controversial, but Hopi Tribe believes it meets all of the con-
cerns expressed two vears ago in the hearing on the AIP

K we are successnil in reaching this alternative settlement, we would ask that
you consider it carefully, especially because we believe it will save the United States
money. As I am sure you rectdl, the Office of the Navajo and Hopi Indian Relocation
has been in business for Fifteen years. By its most recent accounting, attached here-
to, it has certified 32 families for relocation, relocated 2,518 of those families, and
still has 746 families to go, with 218 appeals still to be decided. Of the 746 families
that remain, 101 of them are still on the Hopi Reservation. It is estimated that this
process to date has cost the taxpayer approximately $400 million.

Before you today is the question whether to authorize an additional $90 million
to be spent over the next three years. For purposes of comparison, the Commission
relocated 408 families during the last three years. Assuming that none of the 218
pending appeals are grante<C there will be over 300 families left to relocate at the
end of the next three years if relocation continues at this rate. Unless the process
is quickened, the taxpayers will have to pay another $165 million over the next five
and a half years for the relocation process. This works out to expenditures of over
$220,000 per family This raises serious questions whether there is a better, and
cheaper, way to complete this program or are you willing to carry out the program?

We believe that the "Agreement in Principle under consideration addresses some
of these tough issues. It is our hope that if we are able to bring it before you, you
will agree.

My final point relates to timing and the status of the Relocation Commission.
Both the relocation program and tne settlement process would benefit from the es-
tablishment of a deadline, because, at present, neither the Commission nor certain
parties to the AIP are moving £is quickly as possible. There is no reason why the
Commission needs five and a half years to complete its work. Nor is there a reason
for certain parties to this settlement process to drag their feet in arriving at a set-
tlement. We suggest that rather than allowing the commission to continue as it has
in the past, we recommend the best way to use the taxpayer money to get this job
done, is to authorize the executive staff to carry out the necessary work with both
the Hopi and Navajo Tribes assisting. We further request that you condition your
authorization on certain results and time lines, which even if it does not galvanize
the parties to the AIP into action, would ensure that the 746 families are relocated
more quickly than to drag it in five and one half years and at a cost significantly
less than $165 million.

Thank you for your time. I would be happy to answer any questions.





WHEREAS, the Hopi Tribal Council has the authority to act for the welfare of

the Hopi people and to deal with the United States Government and with

other Tribes; and
WHEREAS, it is in the best interest of the Hopi Tribe to confirm and exercise

total jurisdiction and control over the Hopi Partitioned Lands and the

Navajos residing thereon; and
WHEREAS, it is in the best interest of the Hopi Tribe to resolve the issues

surrounding relocation and to provide a mechanism for quickly removing

Navajos who are not complying with the law; and
WHEREAS, it is in the best interest of the Hopi Tribe to end the litigation of

the Owelty, Use, Damage, >fev Construction, Post-Partition Rental,

Claims Court, and nanvbeads cases and to resolve those cases in the

Hopi Tribe's favor; and
WHEREAS, it is in the best interest of the Hopi Tribe to add to its land base

so as to ensure that the Tribe will have adequate resources in the

future; and
WHEREAS, It is in the best interest of the Hopi Tribe to increase its financial

assets; and
WHEREAS, the Hopi Tribe has appointed a Relocation Task Team to discuss with

the Navajo Nation, the JJanvbeads plaintiffs, <raa "the' United States,

the possible resolution of issues surrounding relocation and the

possible settlement of certain money cases; and
WHEREAS, the Relocation Task Team reached an Agreement in Principle with the

Navajo Nation, the Manybeads plaintiffs, and the United States on

October 30, 1992, a copy of which is attached hereto; and





WHEREAS, the Agreement in Principle recognizes and affirms the Hopi Tribe's
jurisdiction and control over the Hopi Partitioned Lands and
jurisdiction over Navajos residing thereon, provides a mechanism for
removing Navajos who do not comply vith the law, settles several money
cases in the Hopi Tribe's favor, provides for the addition of
approximately 500,000 acres of land to the Hopi Reservation, and
provides for a payment of Fifteen Million Dollars (515,000.000) to the
Hopi Tribe; and

WHEREAS, the attached Agreement in Principle has been presented to the Hopi
Communities and discussed at public hearings; and

WHEREAS, the Hopi Tribal Council has considered and discussed the attached
Agreement in Principle.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Agreement in Principle, as attached, is
ratified by the Hopi Tribal Council.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Chairman of the Hopi Tribal Council with the
assistance of the Relocation Task Team is authorized to implement the
Agreement in Principle, such implementation shall include the drafting
of homesite leases, the negotiating of rental, the disposition of the
area surrounding the Sipapu, and other necessary and appropriate
measures as set forth in the Agreement in Principle.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Hopi Tribal Council hereby adopts the attached
budget in the amount of Seventy-five Thousand Dollars (375,000) to pay
for travel and related expenses for the Relocation Task Team during
Fiscal Year 1993.
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the Tribal Treasurer is hereby authorized to expend
said funds in accordance with established policies and procedures.





(Pub. L. 93-531, as amended)

WHEREAS, the Hopi Tribe, the Navajo Nation, and the Manvbeads
Plaintiffs agree that it is in the best interests of the Hopi
Tribe, the Navajo Nation, their respective members, and the
Manvbeads Plaintiffs, that a final settlement of certain issues
remaining in connection with the Navajo - Hopi land Settlement Act,
Pub. L. 93-531, as amended, be reached by negotiation and volxintary
agreement among the affected parties; and,

WHEREAS, the United States recognizes that a negotiated
settlement is in the best interests of all parties including the

1 3 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

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 3 of 11)