Ethics Complaint Filed Over Northeastern Arizona Indian Water Rights Settlement
By Kathy Helms
WINDOW ROCK – Concerned Navajo citizens with the Dine Water Rights Coalition have filed a complaint with the Ethics and Rules Office contending that the Northeastern Arizona Indian Water Rights settlement passed Nov. 4 by the Navajo Nation Council should be declared null and void because of pending charges against 77 of the 88 delegates.
“With so many of the Council delegates facing criminal convictions for fraud, theft, forgery and conspiracy, the Navajo people cannot be confident that this important decision was made with clear minds, in their best interests,” according to the complaint filed Friday by Kimberly Smith of St. Michaels on behalf of the group.
They said Council approved the settlement 51-24 with 13 abstaining, “despite this ethical cloud,” and because many of the delegates who voted for the bill will soon no longer be in office, “the Navajo people are left to wonder whether delegates may have been illegally enticed to vote for it in exchange for some future compensation.”
The lame-duck Council's decision terminates the tribe's inherent aboriginal water rights and reserved rights in clear violation of the ratified Navajo treaties of 1849 and 1868, the Winters Doctrine of 1908 and the 1963 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Arizona v. California, they stated in a press release.
“The concerned Dine citizens of the Dine Water Rights Coalition believe that those in leadership positions with pending criminal charges do not have ethical standing to make a decision with such long-lasting significance for future Dine generations,” they said.
The group is in agreement with an Oct. 1 resolution from the Navajo Human Rights Commission that adequate time was not provided to educate the Navajo people about the complex document. They said it was impossible for delegates to cast a responsible vote on behalf of their chapter members between the time the 400-plus page document made its appearance in late September and the Nov. 4 vote.
Concerned Navajo citizens and grassroots group members are scheduled to meet Tuesday with President Joe Shirley Jr. in hopes of persuading him to veto the resolution.
Though the agreement is billed as an Indian water rights settlement, only two of the 33 parties are actually tribes. The remainder are non-Indians. In addition to Navajo, the Hopi Tribe also must sign off on the settlement agreement, however, Hopi Tribal Chairman LeRoy Shingoitewa said last week that Hopi is not ready to make a decision.
“There are still a lot of unresolved issues on the table and until the Hopi Tribal Council is more informed and at a point to go before the Hopi people to present and answer their questions, we cannot approve the agreement,” Shingoitewa said. “More public educational forums need to be provided with input from the Hopi people.”
TO SUBMIT an ARTICLE, OPINION PIECE, COMMENTS to the Native Unity Digest, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
NATIVE UNITY - A place for Native American Peoples to solidify their tribes to make a positive impact on the cultural, social, economic and political fabric of American society and a place for non-Natives to better understand the ways of the American Indian.
Native Unity Digest stories are now appearing on the BeforeIt'sNews.com site under the Native American News category. Check them out!!!!
News Blog - American Indian Report - AIR BLOG
THE BUFFALO POST - Missoulian Montana's Native News Blog about Native People And The World We Live In.
NATIVE AMERICA, DISCOVERED AND CONQUERED
NATIVE VOICES BOOKS: TRADITIONAL & CONTEMPORARY NATIVE BOOKS
PATHOLOGY.ORG - Up-to-date informmational database on general health and disease information, medical schools and medical resources.
FOR ANNIE'S NATIVE CELEBRITY NEWS - go to www.nativecelebs.com
SUPPORTING NATIVE AMERICAN/FIRST PEOPLE - ARTISTS, FILM MAKERS, ENTERTAINERS, ETC.