Hopi Group Seeks Leader’s Recall

Hopi Group Seeks Leader’s Recall

Carol Berry
4/21/11

Longstanding issues surrounding leadership of the Hopi Tribe and representation of villages on the Hopi Tribal Council have apparently not been resolved and a grassroots group is seeking the ouster of LeRoy Shingoitewa, who took office as tribal chairman in 2010.

A Hopi group calling itself the Silent Majority has been meeting to attempt Shingoitewa’s removal for several alleged violations of the Hopi Constitution, although members acknowledge there are no provisions in the Constitution for recall or removal of officers except for “serious neglect of duty.”

The group in a prepared statement contended Shingoitewa used for his own purposes a Hopi Appellate Court finding that Hopi and Tewa villages are authorized to remove, recall or decertify their tribal council representatives by whatever process they choose.

“Shingoitewa has used his own interpretation of this document for his own political gain, including the ability to contract service and personnel that will benefit his own family and executive office goals using funds meant for the benefit of the entire Hopi Tribe,” the Silent Majority said.

The chairman seated village representatives who had not been sanctioned by a kikmongwi, or traditional leader, as required by the constitution, but refused to seat representatives from other villages that had been sanctioned, they said.

The 1.5 million-acre Hopi Reservation in northern Arizona includes three mesas where villages are located: First Mesa, villages of Tewa, Sichomovi, and Walpi (Consolidated Villages) atop the mesa, with Polacca at its base; Second Mesa, villages of Shungopavi, Sipaulovi and Mishongnovi; and Third Mesa, villages of Kykotsmovi, Old Oraibi, Bacavi, and Hotevilla. The mesas project southward from the Black Mesa formation with its vast coal deposits.

Shingoitewa’s office did not respond to requests for comment made through Curtis Honanie, Hopi Tribe chief of staff, and Louella Nahsonhoya, former tribal public information officer.

Other complaints voiced by the Silent Majority were that Shingoitewa refused to convene a constitutionally sanctioned special council meeting to reinstate the Hopi Tribal treasurer, to terminate the Hopi Tribal finance director, and to authorize a “full forensic audit” into tribal investment accounts, the expenditure of tribal funds, and other financial affairs of the tribe.

The group’s final allegation centered on constitutional and other requirements concerning the term, payment, and qualifications of the tribe’s interim general counsel and his associate attorneys.

Moderators and facilitators for a mid-April Silent Majority meeting were Mary Felter, former Hopi Tribal secretary, Phillip Quochytewa, former Hopi Tribal Council vice chairman, and Jerry Sekayumptewa, former Hopi Tribal Council member.

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