Monday, June 24, 2024

Comments in response to the Daily Sun’s article: “Hopi Trespass Charges Dismissed”

March 5, 2002 by  
Filed under Voices from the Land

Read the article (printed after some comments listed here) and feel free to write to the AZ Daily Sun’s staff. The bias the reporter has needs to be addressed. Once there’s 4 or 5 comments sent in the article will be listed on the front ‘page’, and get the attention that the issue deserves. or visit the AZ Daily Sun’s page and do a search http://www.azdaily ; “Hopi Trespass Charges Dismissed”, date 03/05/02.

03/05/2002,1:59 PM – What was the testimony, or the specific gaps in evidence, that led to the dismissal? Also, Has it occured to the Hopi Tribal Government yet that they are NOT private landowners, but a governing body required to limit the scope of their regulations to within the perameters of the US Constitution?

The Hopi Tribe has lost its criminal trespass case against five Navajo women who participated in last summer’s Sundance ceremony on the Hopi Reservation.

Can a ‘gathering’ on land that is not PRIVATELY owned be illegal in light of the Constitutional right to freedom of assembly (nevermind religion!). It is a relief to have this case dismissed. When it comes to abusing elderly and religious leaders for practicing their faith in their back yard, may every case meet the same end. Taylor can go about ‘technicalities’, but after all, it’s his law that he can’t seem to keep up with… [Rachel]

03/05/2002,4:30 PM – If the Navaho women and their friends were on Hopi land, whether fenced or unfenced, without the express permission of the Hopi; then, they were trespassing. Not all of my 2+/- acres are fenced; but, if someone were to come onto it without my permission, they are trespassing. Another point, the Navaho lands are at least 100 times the area of the Hopi. There are lots of places on the Navaho reservation to have held there event. The Sun Dance group’s encroachment onto Hopi land for this Sun Dance seems to be an attempt to insult and show disrespect for the Hopi people and their right to manage the ancestral lands granted to them by the US government. [buckeyeboy]

03/06/2002,6:56 PM – Buckeyeboy, you are a private land owner, not a local or tribal government. The County does not have the right deny a resident from hosting a religious assembly. Local, State and Tribal governments can ADD to a citizens’ rights under the Constitution, but those institutions are prohibited from canceling any of those citizens’ rights.
Also,.. Yes, Navajo has many times the land that Hopi does. It also has many times the people. How can you tell an 80 year old widow, “Move, your house is condemned; go pray somewhere else. I have cattle to graze…”?
I’ve wanted to ask this for a long time. Is the Hopi Tribal Government officials afraid of prayer, or do they simply not recognize anyone else’s? [Rachel]

Hopi trespass charges dismissed


The Hopi Tribe has lost its criminal trespass case against five Navajo women who participated in last summer’s Sundance ceremony on the Hopi Reservation.

Hopi Chief Judge Gary LaRance dismissed the charges, ruling that Hopi prosecutors had failed to prove that the women entered an enclosed, fenced or cultivated area without authorization.

The ceremony took place at Camp Anna Mae, a closed area of the Hopi Reservation. Prosecutors alleged the women did not seek permission to hold a gathering in a close area.

The women — Joella Ashkie, Ruth Benally, Louise Benally, Elvira Horseherder and Pauline Whitesinger — were represented by attorneys Joe Washington and Robert Malone. The dismissal came after two days of testimony by witnesses for the Hopi Tribe.

In a press release issued by the tribe, Hopi Chairman Wayne Taylor Jr. called the dismissal a “technicality” and not a vindication of the women’s claim to have a right to be at Camp Anna Mae.

Further, Taylor noted that the judge declined to hear testimony on allegations that the arrests violated the defendants’ religious rights.

“Dismissal of this case in no way sanctions the holding of any future gathering on Hopi land without the expressed consent of the Hopi Tribe, regardless of the purpose of the gathering,” Taylor said.

Comments are closed.