Statement by Traditional Hopi
May 13th 2000
Protecting The Land: the Hopi perspective
The Hopi are a sovereign nation within the boundaries of the United States. We have never signed a treaty with the United States, nor did we fight any offensive war with them. We are one of a few groups of Indians who did not abandon our traditional ways. Therefore we claim not to be subject to the laws of the United States.
The existence of the Hopi people is being threatened by policies of the US government and the Peabody Coal Company, which have been exploiting the Hopi land for some time. The Hopi are against any form of violence, however the Hopi people have asked several organizations to exercise pressure on the US and Peabody Coal Company. Not only the nature of Hopi land is being threatened, but a whole People as well, because we have held to traditional ideals. Hopi who adhere to the old traditions must obey only the laws of our creator, Maasauu. This is awkward since although we live within the boarders of the United States we cannot live by conflicting American laws.
The American government would like to see it otherwise, giving rise to greater problems. The Hopi live from agriculture. For this water is needed, but Peabody Coal Company uses millions of gallons of Hopi water each day to transport coal to a distant power plant, and thereby sucks life's blood from our sacred land. The government also found other minerals to be useful, such as uranium and oil. These should not be taken out before the hearts of all people are in harmony, but it is not sure that the government will wait such a long time. The US government is greedy for those minerals, and they have a good tool for obtaining them: The Hopi Tribal Council (HTC). The HTC exists without roots, only because it favors the American government. The government in return says that the HTC represents all Hopi people. This is not true.
Our existence is a difficult one with the coming of industrialization and other events of the past 150 years. And so it happened. The HTC agreed to sell a major part of Hopi land to the US for $5 million (Docket 196). The person to ask is President Carter. The date chosen by the US for a vote was one on which the traditionals would hold a religious ceremony. No other day was possible. Thus, the decision was left to a minority. (Only about 250 out of 6,000 voted on that day.) To tell of all these malpractices of the US against the Hopi people would only make a lot of noise.
The difficulties began with Hopi people who adopted the white man's ways. This was followed by the split of Oraibi and the founding of Hotevilla in 1906 to carry on the ways of the creator. These problems continue to exist. We traditionals do not approve of the policies of the US government or its presidents. In the past they have ignored invitations to visit Hopi Land. The Hopi see the US as a neighboring country. Part of the problem is because the HTC doesn't think much of traditionals since they only hold old fashioned ideas. For those reasons our elders stood firm on their beliefs, and so, have stood in solidarity with the Dine people of surrounding areas. Since the Hopi are in serious trouble, the US government has promised to do everything possible to help out, to stop damaging our sacred land. This is not easy, because now the Hopi are divided. Two worlds are in conflict. In the USA we are known as the Hopi Tribe; a government comprised of a people who speak the Hopi language, but this does not exist. We exist, as we have always existed, as autonomous villages. Each village has to speak for, and protect it's own Clan lands, and has its own headman. Recently, the HTC has appointed fake religious headmen to make necessary agreements and to sign on issues concerning village matters. These new fake elders have made a deep cut through Hotevilla village to install the sewer and water pipes to most of the homes last year, before the deadline to take away US funds. This has been a disaster to Hotevilla people because the traditionalists do not accept running water or electricity from the government. All land is sacred and the only way to maintain our way of life.
The US government offered a lousy $5 million for this land, which the HTC now says now has built up to $28 million. Minority rules: Rule is in the hands of the few who want to live in the white man's way.
A recent sign made for Hotevilla village indicates that every white visitor is under Hotevilla jurisdiction. This is nonsense. We have no borders, as our stone tablet testifies that we claimed this land for Maasauu, its original owner, to protect it as our mother.
We Hopi traditionals are in our right when we are against the Peabody Coal Company and their abuse of the Earth. We have been waiting for this help from the Navajo, Paiute, and all peoples who respect The Land. We will have to break away from this system of one will pay and one will not. So we are at this stage; the temptations still stand.
To be chosen … You and I will decide.