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The history of this country, and I call on people to go to the history books in this library and throughout this country to show when the Navajos migrated to the area, and there were wars. That is the reason why the Navajos were put in captivity. This is not talked about.
But, today, yes, we recognize there are hardships. Yes, Hopi never said that relocation does not cause hardship. We recognize that, but I feel it is more a responsibility to Mr. Zah to go to his people and assist them. Where have the incentives been to move them? This Government, this country places sanctions on different countries if they fail to carry out their responsibility.
It is easy to come running to Congress for anything that you want to do, but I think this country needs more and especially the native people, that we should care for our future and our own selfwelfare, self-determination.
The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman's time has expired.
You won't find anywhere two better Indian tribes than the Hopis and the Navajos and that is the tragedy of this whole affair. They are good people; both have claims on the land; both have claims on our sympathies and our fairness.
I have often said that my patience has been taxed a little bit by people who oversimplify this issue. It is not simple. It is very complicated. I think you can summarize by saying that as far as I am concerned, there is no villain. It is hard to make the Hopis the villain. They are peaceful people living on the mesa out there for the last few hundred years. It is hard to make the Navajos the villain; so you have victims on both sides. There is really no villain.
The gentleman from California, Mr. Levine.
Mr. LEVINE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and particularly for those helpful comments and so much else that you and your other colleague from Arizona have been doing to try to resolve this extremely difficult and apparently somewhat intractable issue. I must say that the more that I hear about this, and I have been hearing an increasing amount about it, the less I envy the job that those of you who represent the Arizona area have, in terms of trying to resolve what are obviously competing claims from good people on both sides. I admire the work that the bipartisan group from Arizona is trying to accomplish.
Simply because my friend from Oregon raised the concerns that people expressed in his district office yesterday, I just think-I don't want to dwell upon this, but I think it might be appropriate for me to raise almost inverse concerns that have been raised from people who visited my district office, who essentially made the point, and again, let me express that these are issues that have come to me from constituents in my community in southern California.
Some of them have asserted that the Hopi leadership doesn't necessarily reflect a unanimous view of the Hopi leadership, and in fact, there are a number of Hopis in the Hopi membership, who would be perfectly content to allow the Navajos to remain indefinitely where they are and to that some extent, according to these people who visited my local office, the tribal council is not reflective of the sentiments of the Hopis who have indicated that they might be willing to just coexist for the foreseeable future with the Navajos on the ground. Is there anything to that, which I hadn't really intended to get into, but in light of the prior line of questioning, I think might be worth exploring for a moment or two.
Mr. SIDNEY. I believe that anything that is agreeable here today is what Chairman Zah has said, in any governmental unit that there are people that do oppose one way or another, one or two that seem to maybe not have an understanding, but as far as the Hopi is concerned, all Hopi are concerned for their land.
But what is not being conveyed to the public is that exactly what I stated earlier, that some of the Hopi that don't agree with the 1974 law, simply is that they want all of the Hopi law, and also they say that they want the Navajos to stay. They are failing to go beyond that and say it is not the Hopis to move them, that Navajos as traditional people, if they respect the traditional treaty between Navajo and Hopi, will move themselves, and our traditional elders have called on Navajos to come to them.
But what has happened, Mr. Congressman, is this land dispute has created many jobs including certain people for their own agenda have used it to go to other sources, to have an open public propaganda and campaign on their behalf, soliciting for money, and going around distorting the facts. And that is what is wrong about what is happening here.
Those people, those Hopis and those Navajos that have question should go to their respective tribes and have those resolved there. But because in the past Congress has listened to everyone coming, this whole thing is distorted. We can control it by referring some of these people back to the elected leaders who this Congress recognizes and we can settle our differences at home.
Mr. LEVINE. Any elected leader can sympathize with that perspective.
Let me try to focus a little more on the issue that my friend from New Mexico raised in terms of what will happen on July 6. What does July 6 mean? If I understood Mr. Swimmer correctly, you testified, and correct me if I am wrong, essentially, there will be no forced relocation after July 6, that it is not necessarily a magic date and that the status quo is unlikely to change, at least at the July 6 date; is that correct?
Mr. SWIMMER. Yes.
Mr. LEVINE. Now, at some point in time the issue arises, will forced relocation occur? Is the inference to be gathered from your testimony that for the foreseeable future there will be no forced relocation? Can you indicate to us that for the indefinite future after July 6, so long as there is not a voluntary resolution among the parties, and particularly with the Navajos who are living on the land, that for the indefinite future, they will be allowed to stay on the land?
Mr. SWIMMER. Nearly everyone who would be affected by the relocation process, all the family, nearly all have signed contracts agreeing to move. They have been waiting for home sites. They have been waiting for the acquisition of the new land. They have been waiting for the process to take care of them. Many of these people signed 10 years ago and they are still waiting. It is a process problem. It is not necessarily the problem that we have 240 people not wanting to move.
My position is that those people would be moved in the normal course, as we are able to work with the families to get them resettled where they want to go.
Mr. LEVINE. Let me explore that with you, if I might.
How many families are we talking about at this point who are on land that as of July 6 will be treated as Hopi land.
Mr. SWIMMER. We have information that approximately 240 families, designated heads of households, family units, are located on the HPL. That is the Hopi partition land.
Mr. LEVINE. And of those 240 families, how many have signed contracts?
Mr. SWIMMER. Approximately 210 to 215, I am not sure what the latest number is.
Mr. LEVINE. Of the 210 to 215, are there any that have repudiated the contracts?
Mr. SWIMMER. Not to my knowledge.
Mr. LEVINE. Of the 25 to 30 that have not signed contracts, what will their status be as of July 6?
Mr. SWIMMER. They would continue to be eligible but no effort would be made to provide any relocation benefits for them until such time as they signed a contract.
If they are remaining at the time everyone else has been relocated, I would propose going to the two tribes and trying to work out some kind of a solution, either allowing continued residency for an indefinite period of time, going through some court process affording them adequate hearing and the opportunity to speak on their behalf for some other resolution. But we are talking about very small number of people.
Mr. LEVINE. Correct me if I am wrong, if you pursue the court process option and the court concludes that they are unlawfully on land that is no longer theirs, then you again come to grips with the forced relocation issue; is that correct?
Mr. SWIMMER. We are down to the 20 or 25 families, if there are that many, that, in fact, would not contract, would not voluntarily move. I have discussed that issue with both tribal chairmen. They might want to address it. I believe that I have a commitment from them that in fact we would work out a solution that would be satisfactory to those people.
Mr. LEVINE. So that that solution would, by definition, include no forced relocation?
Mr. SWIMMER. It would include something which would be satisfactory to the people, which necessarily would avoid forced relocation.
The CHAIRMAN. Would the gentleman yield?
Mr. LEVINE. But if it is satisfactory to the people, forced relocation, I would think, would be inconsistent with the definition of satisfactory.
Mr. SWIMMER. I would too.
Mr. SWIMMER. There have been a lot of fertile minds at work on this for a number of years. One of the things we have talked about with both the Navajos and the Hopis is the concept that their being magnanimity and kindness and gentleness when the clock runs out, and that they treat each other as fairly as they can.
But one of the concepts that has been explored—we have used it with national parks a lot-is the concept of a life estate. We say to the Navajo family, the Hopis could say to them, you come in and sign an agreement that we are your landlord and you can stay here as long as you live. This gets into the concept of the expanded family and what is the family and whose life is it that you calculate the estate on. It is a difficult problem, but there are hopeful things we might explore.
Mr. LEVINE. Can I explore one aspect of that, and again, I know that these get into areas that are quite complex and certainly beyond my familiarity, but one of the issues that has been raised with me on this is the assertion that some of this land, particular parts of this land, I am not quite sure where, have religious significance to the occupants, the residents of the land, and if, in fact, that is correct, I wonder how a life estate concept squares with the religious significance. Does that then cut off the ability of successor generations to practice their religion in the connection with the land that they have come to rely upon.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Sidney. Mr. SIDNEY. Mr. Congressman, the law as it stands today, even though the lands are partitioned to both tribes, allows them access for religious visits or religious practices. Also, in 1974 when the Settlement Act was passed, it provided for life estates which the Navajos did not take advantage of.
Also, as landowner, to your question, July 6, we are not going to advocate violence. We feel that as a small tribe to do anything like that is going to have serious effects on us, because once the Hopi Tribe does that, you know, we are going to get slapped across the face.
The other thing I want to bring across is that I believe that those people-I stated earlier, let's move the people that want to move so we can work with those that remain, that may have the potential of some kind of forced move. But I believe that is the responsibility of Mr. Zah to work with those people and to help them.
I say to you today that the traditional elders that are with me have today called on the Navajos, come and meet with us. We will meet with you. But today, they chose not to do that, because it stands more attention if they go elsewhere to do that, but we are the landowners, we are there, and to minimize any kinds of hardship of any kinds of forced relocation, we stand ready to discuss that.
Mr. LEVINE. Mr. Sidney, am I correct then in understanding that your testimony is consistent with Mr. Swimmer's testimony that for the foreseeable future, for the indefinite future beyond July 6, you certainly are not suggesting pursuing forced relocation?
Mr. SIDNEY. I do not, and I don't feel that is really the way to go on this thing, but again, to call on the Navajo to assist their people, that they are not involved in what their people are doing, because I feel it is very wrong for Chairman Zah to compliment an outside non-Indian lawyer and compliment him for having people talk about violence. You know, that is not really the way to go on that.
Also, last Saturday in Arizona Republic, it had an article that the Navajos today are having backlog of assigning land assignment because their administration has very few people to do it and that is causing not just the people that are facing relocation, but other Navajos to leave off the reservation, because they cannot get the surveys.
So these are things that again I say that we are open to discuss things traditionally at home.
Mr. LEVINE. Let me just conclude with one question for Mr. Zah, and that is what do you think of the life estate concept?
Mr. Zah. The life estate concept was rejected mainly almost universally across the reservation. The Navajo people viewed it as a death estate and it was something that was not to be discussed by those families.
Mr. Zah. Well, I think in many cases, the people who were providing the information to those families perhaps did not do the right job, perhaps did not convey the true meaning of life estates to the Navajo families but the Navajo families wanted to remain on their land. That was their objective and that is their goal today, and so I can't really say, but it was made available to them and only two of them signed under the life estate proposal.
Let me suggest one or two other points that I think needs to be made. If you look at the Hopi Tribe and the Navajo Tribe in terms of its population and the land base that we now have, and then under this proposal what the land base will be.
I understand that there is something like 8,000 Hopi people and over 180,000 Navajo and the Hopi currently enjoys a land base which would provide 342 acres for every resident member. In contrast, the Navajo Reservation provides a land base for only 122 acres per tribal member.
I think that goes at the heart of what we are discussing here. I think the land issue is one issue that perhaps we have already disposed of in this particular case.
Today the issue is people; people that have to be moved. That, to me, is the most important thing, and nobody likes relocation, particularly if those people are unlike the way we are when we have certain feelings to the land.
Now, the Hopis have already indicated on record during the last several years when they were asked, why do you want an additional land, aside from everything that they have indicated and said, they always indicated that they want land for their cattle.
The proposal that we have on the table now, those newly selected lands, are excellent land for cattle raising. I basically believe that if they want good land for their cattle, we are offering them a good land for that. So it is an issue of people versus cattle, and certainly we don't want to hurt anybody, and nobody wants to hurt anybody, and we just think that the Navajo people ought to be allowed to stay where they are at, because we think that is our land.
The CHAIRMAN. We have got to move along.
Mr. LEVINE. Just in conclusion, do your numbers of families square with Mr. Swimmer's numbers? Mr. Zah. No; I think Mr. Swimmer's numbers are rather low.
Mr. LEVINE. Do you have a number of families that have not signed these contracts?