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Navajo-Hopi Observer | Flagstaff, Arizona

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9/29/2009 4:33:00 PM
Hopi Tribal Council bans environmental groups
Actions by environmental groups threaten total economic collapse of the tribe, council declares
Black Mesa Water Coalition photo
Roberto Nutlouis (left) and Lillian Hill at the Black Mesa Mine coal mine before it was closed.
Black Mesa Water Coalition photo
Roberto Nutlouis (left) and Lillian Hill at the Black Mesa Mine coal mine before it was closed.
Staff report
The Observer

KYKOTSMOVI, Ariz. - The Hopi Tribe has a message for the Sierra Club and other environmental groups: Keep out!

That is the response of the Hopi Tribal Council on Monday to what it says has been continuous concerted attacks from local and national environmental groups "bent on advancing their interests and agenda at the expense of the Hopi Tribe and its sovereign interest."

The council wants the Sierra Club and other environmental groups and on-reservation organizations affiliated with these groups to know they are not welcome on the Hopi Reservation, declaring them persona non grata - no longer favored or welcome.

By a resolution approved 12-0, the council said environmentalists have deprived the tribe "of markets for its coal resources" and coal revenues needed to sustain governmental services, provide jobs for tribal members and safeguard Hopi culture and tradition.

In 2005, environmental groups played a significant role in the shutdown of the Mohave Generating Station, which the Hopi Council contends "deprived the Hopi Tribe of many millions of dollars of annual operating revenues," according to the resolution.

Revenue losses from the Mohave power plant range from an estimated $6.5 million to $8.5 million annually.

The council feels that the economic viability of the Navajo Generating Station - the tribe's only remaining coal customer - is also being threatened, and that environmentalists' actions could lead to "total economic collapse of the tribe."

The Navajo Generating Station provides about $11 million a year in revenue for the tribe.

"The Mohave closure did little more than balance the politically expedient needs of these environmental organizations on the already impoverished backs of the Hopi and Navajo people ... without providing any reasonable means of replacing the tribal revenues lost to the closure," the resolution states.

In response to these allegations, the Sierra Club released a statement on Monday saying, "Sierra Club has been invited to work with many Hopi individuals and groups ... who want to stop global warming and protect the environment and feel that Peabody's coal operations on Black Mesa is a direct threat to sacred Hopi springs."

The resolution, however, states that environmental groups "have manufactured and spread misinformation concerning the water and energy resources of the Hopi Tribe in an effort to instill unfounded fears into the hearts and minds of the Hopi public."

They have acted, the council alleges, with no regard for the tribe's right to determine how best to develop and manage its natural resources. Nor, the council said, has any concern been shown for the future welfare of the tribe.

To that end, the Sierra Club responded, "We will continue to work with tribal communities on creating green jobs through clean energy solutions like transitioning old coal plants ... to clean energy from the wind and sun ... This is why it is important [to] transition from coal to [renewable energy] as fast as we can in a way that will bring better and cleaner jobs to tribal lands."

Indeed, earlier this summer, the Navajo Nation Council voted 62-1 to pass the Navajo Green Economy Commission legislation, which was developed to support the creation of "green" jobs on the Navajo Nation.

But the Hopi Tribal Council has made it very clear that they don't want any outside support.

"We need to make public that we don't want the environmental groups coming in and causing trouble for the Hopi Tribe," said Nada Talayumptewa, who chairs the council's energy team. "It's time we take a stand."

Scott Canty, tribal counsel added, "They're (environmental groups) going to oppose everything we do. This is a statement that the Hopi Tribe is going to fight back."

Former Hopi Chairman Benjamin Nuvamsa countered by stating, "[This] latest action by the ... council simply validates [the] point that they are truly supportive of Peabody Coal ... Let's now take this action as a mandate and an opportunity to educate our people and reveal the truth. We owe it to our people."

The resolution encourages all Indian nations across the country to evaluate their relationships with environmental groups and possibly reconsider those alliances in order to protect tribal sovereignty.

Besides the Sierra Club, the resolution has also banned The Natural Resources Defense Council, the National Parks Conservation Association and the Grand Canyon Trust from the Hopi Reservation.

Related Stories:
• Shirley supports Hopi Tribe's opposition to environmental groups

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Article comment by: Anonymous Anonymous

I feel that in order to have a better understanding of the environment, we have to have an understanding of the environment, that we would have to learn from one another. To hear that the Hopi Tribe doesn't want to hear the Environmentalists and there concerns is sad to hear. And to see that even the Navajo Nation Chairman is opposed to the idea of Environmentalists is sure to say that both Tribes are all in it for the MONEY. We as a Native American tribes should consider the ideas, the suggestion of the environmentalist. We are loosing our natural heritage, by damaging the earth, digging & polluting (digging for Uranium), reducing the natural resources that we constantly try to preserve (water & coal), and to constantly see trees cut down on the San Francisco Peaks. We are destroying our own lands!! Environmentalists are out there to help protect, help to give input of new energy ideas, and to even help to preserve. As a Native American I thought we were all in this together, to help one another to stand as one, and get help from where ever we can get it from. We as Native Americans supposedly live off the land, we have learned from our traditional side of our heritage that we were all raised off the land, and we can't even try to protect the land. It is Mother Earth we are talking about, we won't have a Earth any longer if we don't do anything about it.There are people out there polluting the Great Seas, because they don't have a place to dump their trash, Michigan dumps chemicals into the water because they don't have a place to put it, we are all learning from environmentalist how to recycle garbage. Reuse plastic, paper, & water. So how can the tribal governments say NO to the enviornmentalists, when they are still teaching us? Please both tribal governments reconsider, our planet is at stake.

Posted: Saturday, October 30, 2010
Article comment by: Not Easily Fooled Really Not Fooled

Environmentalism is the current front for communism, the economic policy that has delivered only death, disease, poverty and slavery to everyone it touches, except, of course, the ruling elite environmentalists.

Fortunately, the Hopi council has learned from the first backstabbing, and will act to build the producing economy to replace the private property that has been stolen by the communists.

Posted: Monday, October 12, 2009
Article comment by: F.F. Kling

A similiar conflict exists in South America. Some tribes that have been introduced to the trappings of mindless consumerism, will sell their land and resources in the drop of a hat. Others, however, mainly those who want no contact refuse to sell out their tribal heriatge. When greedy developers in Northern Brazil were unable to purchase land belonging to a tribe that refused contact, armed thugs were sent in to murder the entire tribe. Now all that exists is the old chief and two bullet-ridden old women. The tribe is now functionally extinct. This story was broadcast by ABC "Nightline".

Posted: Friday, October 9, 2009
Article comment by: Activist Nonesense

I hear environmentalists putting down big business, yet do they offer high-paying jobs, better retirement programs, and better healthcare after closing the oil, gas, logging, and coal mining jobs? Nope. They love to whine and want to put more Hopis and Navajos on Arizona food stamps and welfare programs afterward. Government handouts are what they want for the laid off Hopi and Navajo miners.

Posted: Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Article comment by: G.W.

what are the Hopi going to do with all this great money they will get for selling out to big business when the currency becomes hardly worth the paper it is printed on? very nearsighted "council"! are buying your way into a system that has already failed.

Posted: Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Article comment by: M

Good for them. In addition to this, they should consider building nuclear power plants. When the the surrounding states have demolished coal plants, torn down dams and shut of the nukes to save dear Mother Earth, think of the money you will make, hand over fist, supplying power to these very some dolts who find themselves wondering why no power is available for their electric cars. You now have the power to go tell the very same government who destroyed you to go pound sand and make billions doing so. Who better than you to find a balance between green and technolgoy?

Posted: Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Article comment by: No name provided

GOOD...enviromental groups will steal your land then run you off it. stand up for yourselves! these wack jobs believe in zero population growth but ought to start with themselves, until they commit suicide in mass numbers they are nothing but hypocrites.

Posted: Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Article comment by: Indigenous Coyote

Living in a age where making a living is honorable and when environmentalist deprive hardworking individuals from supporting their famiilies many others will do what needs done to make a living. A Hopi is taught to always be working and to also care for the land two conflicts which are prioritized and this decision has spoken. Are the environmentalist going to support Hopi families? I don't think so they are fending for themselves.

Posted: Monday, October 5, 2009
Article comment by: No name provided

How could a Nation with such an ancient heritage fail to have any notion of the consequences of their selfish action on generations to come?. So sad. Deep Throat said it all in the basement parking garage in the movie All The President's men: "FOLLOW THE MONEY AND YOU WILL FIND THE ANSWER." It would be fascinating to know what kind of "incentives" have changed hands from the Sacred-Mother-Earth-Raping Peabody Coal Company and the Hopi "leaders."

Posted: Monday, October 5, 2009
Article comment by: Brenda Norrell

The statements of Navajos and Hopis responding to this ban are at Censored News: Also see: "Lazy journalists are the darlings of the corporations" at Counterpunch:

Posted: Monday, October 5, 2009
Article comment by: luzmejor

A baby could see the ugly hand of the extraction business in the idea that pollution of the environment and water supply is good for the inhabitants.

Posted: Sunday, October 4, 2009
Article comment by: thtplc

Council's decision on the matter does not do one thing to address any other alternative than to destroy the Earth, above and below at the expense of their own People. Way to Go. Find where the money is going and u will see the truth of the matter. Money does not buy a way out of death.

Posted: Saturday, October 3, 2009
Article comment by: Butter

You know that ad from the 1960s, the one where people toss some trash out of a car window and the wise old buckskin wearing Indian sees it and a tear rolls down his cheek? He must be crying buckets here.

Posted: Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Article comment by: Orion

Good job Hopi council. I see so many groups trying to slap Hopi and Navajo names on their movements. After the Hopi water run it seems like whites have tried to invade Hopi lands with their liberal ideas. I'm not saying that coal is good. Tribal governments should be recognized as governments not special interest groups. Nice standing up for yourselves.

Posted: Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Article comment by: CP

I think the Hopi Tribal Council has missed the point. I am sure that these environmental groups are indeed "bent on advancing their interests and agenda" in the same way that the coal and energy companies are sure to be "bent on advancing their interests and agenda." I was under the impression that it was the job of elected officials to listen to all sides of an issue, and make decisions based on the best interests of their constituents. Banning the viewpoint of one constituency over another sends the message that tribal officials are not trying to make carefully considered decisions, but instead are bent on advancing their own interests and agenda.

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