According to a September 6, 2001 statement issued by Navajo President Kelsey Begaye, he pledged to the Navajo trespassers on the HPL at an August 25 meeting that he will do everything in his power to support their lawless behavior, trample the rights of Hopi people, and take even more Hopi land.
Curious then, that on August 29, Marsha Monestersky and other protesters saw the need to protest with such vigor at the Navajo Tribal Council chambers that the Navajo police had to escort Begaye home. According to the Navajo Times Police Report of September 6, the protesters left President Begaye a threatening note. Begaye should be seriously concerned about these actions – if nothing is done it could escalate to a level of civil disobedience akin to the riot at Window Rock during Chairman McDonald’s administration.
“One hopes that the protesters gathered because they see Begaye’s promises for what they are – politically expedient statements calculated to gain political support,” said Hopi Land Team member, Rachel Sakiestewa-Scott. “This is evident when one compares Begaye’s current stance on the trespassers at Big Mountain to statements he made in an October 9, 1999 Navajo Times article. In the article Begaye acknowledges ‘The 1974 law is solid,’ and says that he should tell the Navajo trespassers the truth – forced relocation will eventually happen and he does not want to give them false hope.”
Now, Begaye condemns the evictions of Navajo trespassers on the HPL as morally wrong. He conveniently forgets that the Hopi Tribe offered all Navajo residents of the HPL an Accommodation Agreement which, upon signing, lets them live on those portions of Hopi land to which they apparently have an unbreakable spiritual attachment. Yet it was the choice of some Navajo families to not sign and one wonders which is stronger: spiritual attachment or political game playing which offers significant financial reward. It is inappropriate for Begaye to call the legal consequences of this choice morally wrong and inhumane, and it is unjust to deny the Hopi their rights to protect their rights on their land.
Begaye also conveniently forgets that the terms of the Accommodation Agreement were reached after years of compromise and negotiation between the Hopi Tribe, the Navajo Nation, and those Navajo families who wished to remain on the HPL. It was in the spirit of compromise that the Hopi chose to offer Navajo families a means of remaining on the HPL, and the Hopi’s respect for Navajo spiritual beliefs, culture, and rights that resulted in a mutually satisfactory Agreement.
Said Cedric Kuwaninvaya, Chairman of the Hopi Land Team, “Court decisions have shown that this is indeed the end of efforts to overturn relocation laws. Offering the Navajo trespassers false hopes that they will be able to remain on Hopi land is morally wrong, and supporting their lawlessness in the face of Congressional mandate is violating federal law.”