A May 10, 2001 letter circulated on the Internet from Caroline Tohannie, a Navajo residing on the HPL in the Tonalea area, to Marsha Monestersky requested her help in restoring the Tohannie’s only water source, a local windmill. Tohannie alleged that the Hopi Rangers and the Hopi Tribe’s Water Resources had turned off the water.
Tohannie writes, “As of last year, they started sealing off the windmills, which made it impossible to access the water so we can haul water back to our homes. Recently, they have begun to turn off the water underground.”
When asked to explain the situation, the Hopi Tribe’s hydrologist, Ron Morgan responded, “It is impossible to turn off water underground. The water in the windmills may be depleting from use (theirs or other users). Some of the windmills go out of service when the pumps are broken.”
In the event that perhaps the Hopi Tribe was neglecting to repair windmills in the Tonalea area, Mr. Morgan was asked about the Tohannies having to haul water from Tonalea Chapter.
His reply shed a different light on the situation. “Some windmills are vandalized by local residents (particularly teenagers and Anglo friends of resisters). We [Water Resources] have talked about this before with some of the resisters, and it turns out that in some cases they damaged their own water supply. In one case, someone vandalized a tank and pushed over the windmill derrick with a vehicle.”
The Office of Hopi Lands also has on file a number of incident reports regarding vandalism to water storage tanks and windmills in the northwestern reaches of the HPL. In a couple of cases water was contaminated with red dye, in other incidences water tanks were shot at which completely drained them of water.
Under these circumstances it is hardly fair to accuse the Hopi Tribe of neglecting its duty of repairing broken water pumps and damaged storage tanks. Due to limited funds and manpower the Tribe must prioritize equipment repairs on the range. It is unreasonable and unfair to expect other livestock owners on the Hopi Reservation, both Hopi and Navajo, to have to wait longer for needed repairs in their areas because lawless individuals continually vandalize infrastructure.
In addition, it is also morally unacceptable to waste water in such a ridiculous fashion in this arid environment which has suffered the added stress of drought since 1996.
If Monestersky is genuinely interested in assisting Navajo families living on the HPL the most useful assistance she could provide is convincing the Navajo resisters and their friends to stop vandalizing range improvements on the HPL. These childish acts of thumbing their noses at the Hopi Tribe not only spite other Navajos living in the area, they do nothing to improve Hopi-Navajo relations.