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entered into. Arbitration was attempted. Ultimately it was brought before Congress and this decision made.
I, too, share the anguish of both tribes and the Congress and the way in which that remedy has been affected over the last 11 of 12 years. It was anticipated, of course, that the relocation of one another's citizens onto their land would take effect in a few years at a minimum cost of money to the Government.
In fact, it has stretched out now over a great deal of time and perhaps the implementation of the remedy has failed, but that is not to say that it wasn't a proper remedy at the time, nor do I believe it is to say that that remedy could not be completed at this particular time.
If we look at the situation as it is today, we are about 240 families, heads of households who are physically resident of the HPL. We have some 930 families who have received relocation benefits in the form of bonuses, houses, moving expenses, and we have about 1,215 families who have voluntarily or have been certified as eligible, perhaps not living on the HPL, but at least certified as eligible, and are presently off of the HPL, that some duty of care is owed.
In other words, out of 2,500 approximate families that had some form of eligibility of these relocation benefits, all but about 240 have been physically relocated, voluntarily, from the HPL, 1,215 of those people still waiting to be served.
The 240 are the ones we are most concerned about today. If we were to move those people to resettle them, it is my opinion that there are opportunities that are available to us today that we did not have 1 year ago or 10 years ago, certainly. Those opportunities are in the form of the new lands that were acquired and that, in fact, are part of the subject of this bill that is before us today, to be swapped to the Hopi Tribe.
The new land was acquired adjacent to the Navajo reservation, a part of the Navajo reservation today. This new land offers opportunity for increased grazing, for home resettlement. A lot of things would be available to the people moving from the HPL to the new land, some only a few miles away, some as far as 60 or 70 miles away from where they are now.
But I don't think those opportunities should be taken away from the people that are living on the HPL. As I mentioned, in my visits to the Hopi partition land and visiting from family to family and talking with Navajo people, through an interpreter, I came away with a couple of conclusions. One is that there is a great deal of confusion on the HPL among the people who are still residents there, but also that there is a genuine desire by many of those people to move, to relocate to go to the new land where they would have an opportunity to have increased grazing, would have an opportunity at new homes and an opportunity to expand their families, to build hogans to live next door to them, things that have, in fact, been denied to them over the last 12 years where they are now.
In talking to these families, I believed that they were sincere. In taking a number of families to the new land, we found that there was some excitement about the possibility that the new land offered.
So far, our progress that has been made within the Bureau of Indian Affairs has taken the form of signing a memorandum of understanding with Relocation Commission. That has put the Bureau of Indian Affairs into the position of offering assistance in a form of counseling, of working with families to determine what their needs are, what their desires are, and what, in fact, would be the best way to replicate their present, or at least their standard of living prior to the relocation proposal.
We believe that the new influence of the Bureau of Indian Affairs over the Commission's work can, in fact, lead to a successful resettlement of those 240 families. And not only can it lead to a successful resettlement but, in fact, in many cases those people would be better off and they would be left where they are now, on pasture that is depleted, that won't carry livestock, that we have, in fact, had to exercise stock reduction plans because of the poor quality of the land, and that it would allow us to put these people in a situation, many of whom for which they contracted for 10 years ago, that would be much better than what they would experience if they were denied this opportunity to move to the new land and if, in fact, the new land was transferred over to the Hopi Tribe.
I think we also recognize that even under the scheme of redrawing the lines and taking out chunks of property so that people would stay where they are now, the conflicts would be enormous between these two tribes. We are talking about 900,000 acres of land, setting aside at least 350,000 acres, trying to draw lines where people presently live and saying, that would remain Navajo land. We would still continue the conflicts.
So I am not sure that the wisdom of the Congress was all that bad in 1974. Perhaps a different method would be considered today. But with the Bureau's presence and with the care and concern of the team that I have put together to work on this project, I really believe that we are at a point today where if we can complete the resettlement of people located on the Hope partition lands to the new lands, and that we can continue working with the 1,215 families that voluntarily left or were determined eligible, that a resolution to this problem can be had by the end of the next calendar year.
There is another issue that is addressed in the legislation before us and that has to do with the Bennett Freeze area. I think that perhaps it is an opportune time to use this legislation to address that particular issue and to do whatever we can to encourage the two tribal governments to come together in a form of binding arbitration that would settle the Bennett Freeze through an exchange of land or payment of money that does not involve relocating any people. I think it is incumbent on this Congress and on those two tribes to work that situation out.
Regardless of how well we might be able to complete resettlement of people on the HPL, I don't think any of us want to look at a similar scenario dealing with the so-called Bennett Freeze area, and I would certainly offer the services of my office and the De partment to work with Congress and the two tribes to bring about that particular resolution.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs has taken an active role in the relocation process in the last couple of months. We believe that the intent of Congress can be fulfilled in the 1974 legislation and that we can complete the process humanely, adequately, and to the benefit of the current residents of the HPL.
As long as the legislation is pending, however, that would have an effect of repeal or changing of the status, we do continue to add to the confusion of the people that are located on the HPL. We know that the Navajo Tribe is extremely concerned about the effects on the people there and about the possibility that the rest of the people would have to move somewhere else.
We know that statements have been made to the people that indicate that they shouldn't move, that they won't have to move if this legislation is passed, and that as a result of those statements many of the families that I talked to and my team of people have talked to out there have told us that they do not want to move until some disposition of this legislation is made.
So I would encourage this committee to work toward that end. If we can use the bill effectively to do something with the Bennett Freeze problem, I think that would be commendable. In the meantime, I would like to proceed to try to carry out the intent of the law as quickly and humanely as possible and continue working with the residents of the HPL, those 240 families that are still there and see if we can't get them resettled in a life style that better meets their needs than where they presently are and where they would be under the terms of the proposed legislation.
That completes my statement. If there are questions, I would be happy to answer them.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. We have got a limited time today, and I want to save some time for questions. I think what I would do is ask you to stay around with us if you will and when we have heard from the two tribal chairmen we will then have you available to answer questions that might be raised.
Thank you for a fine opening statement.
You know, I think both tribes have been very fortunate at this moment in history in the leadership that they have brought forward.
We are going to hear next from Peterson Zah, the chairman of the Navajo Tribal Council, and I want to say that he shows courage and statesmanship and a desire to end this difficult matter. I have enjoyed working with him. We would be delighted to hear from you this morning.
[Prepared statement of Peterson Zah may be found in the appendix.]
STATEMENT OF PETERSON ZAH, CHAIRMAN, NAVAJO TRIBAL
COUNCIL Mr. Zah. Chairman Udall, members of the committee, on behalf of the Navajo people and the Navajo Tribal Council we thank you for this opportunity to comment on H.R. 4281, the Navajo-Hopi Land Exchange Act of 1986.
As Chairman Udall requested, I submitted a formal written statement for the record on May 7. In my remarks, here today, I would like to emphasize several points contained in my written statement and raise a few additional items for the record.
Seated here at the witness table with me is the attorney general to the Navajo nation, Claudine Bates Arthur and our director of the Washington office, Eric Eberhardt.
I would first like to once again express our deep appreciation
The CHAIRMAN. Could you get a little closer to the mike? Move the microphone up a little closer.
Mr. Zah (continuing]. I would first like to once again express our deep appreciation to Chairman Udall and Mr. McCain for introducing H.R. 4281 and holding these hearings. Both of you have demonstrated great leadership and courage by your action on this issue.
At a time when many others seem to be willing to allow a bad situation to simply grow worse, you have taken the time and effort to seek a fair and permanent solution to these complex land disputes. All people of reason and good will applaud your efforts.
Mr. Chairman, since the introduction of your bill on February 27, 1986, I have had the opportunity to meet with all of the Navajo chapters which are directly affected by the 1882–1934 land dispute. The chapters are supportive of H.R. 4281. In fact, the response to the bill has been overwhelming. More than 1,000 people have voted for the resolution of support, while only 104 people have voted against it.
Just like week, the full Navajo Tribal Council voted to endorse H.R. 4281 by a vote of 49 in favor and 20 opposed. With your permission, I would like to have the resolution of the tribal council and the chapters be placed in the record at this hearing.
The CHAIRMAN. Without objection, it is so ordered.
[EDITOR'S NOTE.-The above-mentioned resolution of the tribal council and chapters with maps of relocation areas may be found in the appendix. See table of contents for page number.]
Mr. Zah. The Navajo people are supporting H.R. 4281 because they understand that it will truly lead to a comprehensive settlement of these disputes. No one who has had to live through the nightmares of relocation looks forward to the prospect of another 100 years of dispute.
President Reagan's special emissary, Richard Morris and Judge Clark have made it clear that the disputes will not end unless a comprehensive settlement is put into place.
Further, the Navajo people support H.R. 4281 because it will result in a substantial reduction in relocation. This is important to us because of our strong ties to the land. It is also important to us because we have seen over the last 12 years the relocation is a complete failure.
The Relocation Commission has failed miserably. The generous and the humane program called for in 1974
act has not been provided to the Navajo or the Hopi by the Commission. Both the Navajo and Hopi relocatees have been subject to intolerable heartbreaks under the current law. It is past time to stop spending the massive amount of Federal funds to buy human misery.
Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, H.R. 4281 is a good approach to this problem. Everyone who has ever seriously sought a solution to these disputes have recognized the need for land exchange.
Congress expressly authorized exchanges in the 1974 act. Many members of the Relocation Commission have repeatedly sought to promote land exchange to minimize relocation.
Senators Goldwater and DeConcini have urged both tribes to negotiate exchanges. Richard Morris and Judge Clark tried to promote land exchange negotiations.
The central feature of H.R. 4281 is land exchange, which greatly reduces relocation while recognizing the Hopi interests in acquiring lands. This is the fairest way to resolve the dispute. We do want to raise several concerns about specific provisions in the proposed bill.
No. 1, we feel that the payment of the $300 million to the Hopi is clearly excessive. We also feel that it is unfair to impose the full burden for any payment solely on the Navajo Nation. Over the years, Federal Government has played a key role in creating this situation.
The Hopi damage claims involve allegations of Federal as well as Navajo liability. The Federal Government should share in the burden of any payment to the Hopi Nation.
No. 2, we believe that the bill fails to take into account the fact that the new lands are considerably more valuable than the lands in 1882 reservation. We believe that this exchange should proceed strictly on a value for value basis. Proceeding in this fashion is both fair and more practical in the light of the fact that we must still find relocation sites for several hundred Navajo families.
No. 3, we are concerned about the future of those Navajo families who may chose to take allotments in the Hopi land. Therein, our consultation with the Navajo people, concerns have repeatedly been expressed about the 160-acre limitation on these allotments. Based on known livestock caring capacity, it is apparent that the allotment must be at least 640 acres in size.
We strongly urge you to provide allotments, which while realistically meet the needs of these families, we must also raise several questions about this provision of the bill. Will the allottees have access to adequate water source? Will they be assured free access to their allotments? Will they be subject to Federal or Hopi laws relating to such matters as livestock grazing?
No. 4, we are concerned that those families who will still face relocation be treated better than has been in the case so far. Will there finally be a real plan for moving these people? Will we at least see the humane program which Congress intended in 1974?
No. 5, we are concerned about those who have already relocated and who have lost their benefits. We realize that the provision for a trust fund is intended to partially assist these families. We would also like to see a commitment from the Federal Government for assistance for these families. We also believe that the 20-year term of the trust fund should be extended to such a period of time as coal may be mined at the Paragon Ranch.
A trust fund should also be used to assist all Navajos who have been affected by the 1974 act.
No. 6, we are concerned that the bill fails to address the needs of both tribes with respect to the effects of the federally imposed