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Further Background Info, Talking Points, Words from the Dineh Targeted by this Bill, & Links:

February 2, 2006 by  
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There are 3 Major parts to the Bill:


The real center of gravity of the Senate Bill S1003 may be the coal provision (as the Grandmothers have always maintained) which gives power to the Secretary of the Interior to determine how the coal is to be valued and shared. The Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribal Council currently are involved in litigation and negotiation regarding how to apportion and divide coal royalties between the two tribes. S 1003 would allow the Secretary of the Interior to unilaterally determine how to apportion revenue between the groups. It is opposed by both the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribal Council. The question of royalties and division of land into parcels requires more investigation and is currently the subject of confidential negotiations before the federal courts, and it appears that S 1003 seeks to force some sort of resolution opposed by both the Navajo Nation and the Hopi.


Under S 1003, this office is suppose to wind up affairs and transfer any remaining functions to the Department of the Interior. This provision is problematic and needs to be discussed by the Dineh, particularly those in the New Lands or others that may have continuing relations with the Relocation Commission. The bill disclaims any further federal responsibility for the relocatees and refuses to acknowledge the long-lasting damage to the communities and current need for rehabilitation and support.


Hopi Tribal Chairman Wayne Taylor’s written and spoken testimony in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs: “The principal objectives of S. 1003 are to provide for completion of the work of relocation, as originally authorized in the Navajo-Hopi Land Settlement Act of 1974, and to provide for the termination by a date certain of the office of the office of Navajo-Hopi Indian Relocation (ONHIR).”

From Senate Report 109-206: “The Committee is aware that the Interior Department is concerned about taking on additional responsibilities. The Committee believes that the responsibilities to be transferred by September 2008 will be minimal. Moreover, it is not intended to be permanent. The ONHIR continues to implement its responsibilities at a reasonable pace. Indeed, the ONHIR has informed the committee that as of March 2005, approximately 130 families remained to be relocated. ONHIR reports anticipating that of the 130 families, 50 will be relocated during fiscal year 2005 and that 65 families will be relocated in fiscal year 2006. Further, the ONHIR anticipates closing approximately 15 inactive cases. Therefore, the responsibilities to be assumed by the Secretary are minimal but necessary to bring to finality this temporary program.”

On behalf of the Navajo Nation, in written testimony of Roman Bitsuie, Executive Director Navajo-Hopi Land Commission Office Navajo Nation on the Navajo-Hopi Land Settlement Amendments of 2005 (S. 1003) Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs July 21, 2005: “There should be no forced relocation of Navajo families. S. 1003 contains language that puts a renewed emphasis on the idea of forced relocation of Navajo families (Section 111(8)). The U.S. Attorney ’s office, ONHIR and the Hopi Tribe have had extensive discussions regarding this issue and are close to an agreement that will preclude forced relocation. We believe S. 1003 should support this approach, rather than reinforce the deeply troubling idea that Navajo families will be forcibly removed from land that they have called home for generations. “

2000 DEADLINE REVISTED: S1003 sets a new timetable for the forced relocation of Dineh families. Theoretically, the Department of Interior arguably has the authority to move forward with relocation under existing regulations. There are strong legal arguments and counter arguments for this. Up to now, the arguments against relocation have persuaded the federal government not to move forward. Senate Bill 1003 would make the regulations establishing procedures for forced relocation federal law. Right now, the regulations can be changed by the secretary of the Interior at her discretion but, if this bill is passed, any changes will have to be done by Congress. This is one reason why the Bennett Freeze issue us so bad – only Congress can change the law. Since the basic relocation language is already on the books, Senate Bill 1003 goes back to the situation existing before the 2000 deadline but with a major shove to the DOI to get moving.


  • Forced relocation, taking property
  • “New Lands” contaminated by uranium spill
  • Congressional Budget Office (CBO) sais the bill will have no impact on the federal budget or deficit

No direct input from the people, only from lobbyists such as Jack AbramoffWHAT SOME OF THE FAMILIES SAY ABOUT S. 1003:

  • “The Dineh belief system is based on an ancient creation time of experiences. They feel they have a supreme religious rights to exist on the lands upon which they still live.”
  • “Their immediate land-base where they currently reside holds the microcosm of the six sacred mountains of the Dineh world. They have areas for shrines, dwelling sites of their ancestors, and buried umbilical cords.”
  • “Your laws are laws intended to only harm, disrupt human lives, bring about sickness/diseases, bring hunger, and take away peace and balance. White man’s law is human-made, and it makes our own Indian people inflict harsh regulations on us without pity, but act upon adverse judgments.”
  • “The Dineh way of life and creation is made by supernatural forces and is made for humanity, peace, ecological balance, seasons and climate, healthy diet, joy, and longevity.”
  • “PL 93-531 was based on the falsehood that the Hopi originally occupied the area and the Dineh squatted; however, the federal government never proved this in their court of law. There are Hopis that support our will to remain on these lands where we were born and raised.”
  • “Your new amendments will only add to the suffering, so stop these discussions that are held in secret from us. Let us continue to live, let our children live, let them be allowed to have houses. We have seen many suffering and many old ones weeping in despair. Your previous laws have eliminated many elder folks as well as the youth. Let us be!”
  • “Ongoing problems need to be reported where the grazing rights are being taken away without peoples’ rights or input…on the AA lease agreement grazing rights would have been kept with the families but not the case…there has been no further development for the lease-holders yet…and its all unfair and unjust to the people impacted by this all their lives …it’s all about greed.”

S 1003 transfers the duties from the Office of Navajo-Hopi Indian Relocation (ONHIR) to the U.S. Department of Interior, giving power to the Secretary of the Interior to determine how royalties for coal mining rights will be valued and shared. Furthermore, the amendment prematurely terminates the federal government’s responsibilities toward those who have lived through the nightmare of relocation.

You can learn a lot about these plans by looking at who engineered them. Senator McCain is the main sponsor of   S 1003, which is nearly identical to a previous 1996 bill, with the addition of provisions for   coal royalties.

While Senator McCain states that the program is “voluntary” and implies that no one has been forced to relocate, Hopi Chairman Wayne Taylor clearly states his belief that a goal of this Senate bill is to finish the job of relocation, requesting mandatory eviction in the legislation, and that the Office of Navajo Hopi Relocation evict Navajo before dissolving in 2008. Senator McCain has expressed a strong desire to wind up the relocation program with the stated purpose of this legislation being to amend the Navajo-Hopi Land Settlement Act of 1974 (Public Law 93-531) because he is “…convinced that our current federal budgetary pressures require us” to do so. Questions regarding rehabilitation and support for people in the New Lands and other relocatees were barely mentioned. It appears that the federal government does not want to address the continuing human cost of relocation.

Issue of Jack Abramoff, Kevin Ring, and hidden interests: One of the key players on “Team Abramoff,” Kevin Ring, was also a lobbyist for the Hopi Tribe who worked directly on energy related issues including meetings with Congress. At a time like this, when the Abramoff scandal is on the table, we expect members of Congress to fight plans like Peabody’s and introduce innovative, progressive solutions. But they’re not. They have all been silent or joined the big coal bandwagon.

Jack Abramoff worked closely with a team of lobbyists including a man named Kevin Ring. The Hopi Tribal Council hired about 1/2 dozen of these super lobbyists and paid them around $1 million over a 6 year period. News reports place Mr. Ring as also working for Reliant energy and, later, Headwaters, Inc. of Utah. Obviously, the hidden interests behind the S 1003 bill include Peabody and other energy interests. Since most of the bill was drafted in ’96, presumption is that Peabody is involved in the original drafting. Regarding the provision requiring HPL/NPL to be parceled, this is more of an open question.

Jack Abramoff is really a latter day John Boyden. Since he is the center of the current congressional mega-scandal, this is a rare opportunity to hold thee lobbyists accountable for this corrupt business as usual which, in 1974, led to this terrible relocation problem.

S1003 is based on false information. Contrary to the fictional “range war” portrayed by the original backers of PL 93 – 531, the two tribes intermarried so much that there is the Tobacco Clan. Once made into law, the provisions will be much harder to challenge. It mandates that the Navajo be evicted by ONHIR before dissolving in 2008, which will directly affect non-signing families, who will be forcibly relocated 180 days after the bill is passed. If the resisters do not move, then the situation will be very similar to the one existing before the 2000 deadline.

When the original law PL 93 – 531 was passed, lawmakers never considered to include the traditional indigenous people who would be affected by its passage in the decision making process. For more than 30 years, the traditonal people’s of Black Mesa, both Dineh and Hopi, have had to deal with the consequences of that law: they’ve lived through the horror of forced relocation, the lack of infrastructure, rehabilitation and support as promised to them by the original law. This has never happened. Furthermore, these communities have had to with the accompanying coal mining that has devastated the environment, including the desecration of hundreds of sacred sites. Know that as a result of the original law, PL 93-531, ongoing problems have occurred such as “grazing rights being taken away without people’s rights or input on such things as the Accommodation Agreement, which also has not protected grazing rights” for those who were coerced to sign. Families who have been relocated as well as those who’ve had to endure under the relocation laws have had to deal with the widespread devastating effects for over 30 years. The effects have been devastating for these communities. Now, S. 1003 seeks to amend PL 93 – 531, and the affected indigenous communities have again not been included in the desicion making process! With Senate Bill 1003 Senator McCain wants to complete the relocation of the remaining families; it is nothing less than ethnic cleansing.   Many promises were made to families, including telling them there would be some kind of infrastructure created on Black Mesa.

The Federal Budget and Navajo Relocation:Written Testimony of Roman Bitsuie, Executive Director Navajo-Hopi Land Commission Office Navajo Nation On the Navajo-Hopi Land Settlement Amendments of 2005 (S. 1003) Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs July 21, 2005: The Federal Budget and Navajo Relocation.

“In Chairman McCain’s introductory comments for S. 1003, he expressed concern that the relocation process has cost far more than originally estimated. I do not know who made the original estimate of the cost of this program, but clearly it was made in ignorance of the true situation on the land. Had a proper study been done at that time, the full scope of the relocation would have been understood and perhaps Congress would have responded more favorably to the Navajo Nation’s vigorous opposition to the Navajo-Hopi Land Settlement Act of 1974 (“relocation law”), thus sparing the Federal government great expense and the Navajo people great hardship. As we have actively recommended for ten years (described more fully below), an independent study or assessment of the impact of the relocation law should be undertaken as a first step to development of an intelligent and fair closure plan. The Congress should not make the same mistake today that was made in the early 1970’s of basing critical decisions on incomplete and inaccurate information.

Moreover, now that the Navajo people have had to live through the nightmare of relocation, we do not think Federal budgetary issues should be a basis for limiting funds to complete the program and for completing it in a way that brings some humanity to what has otherwise been a very inhumane process. By far the greatest cost of the relocation program has been housing, the majority of which has been completed. The costs that remain relate to items that support the relocation process or “assist the Navajo Tribe or Hopi Tribe in meeting the burdens imposed” by the relocation law (25 U.S.C. 640d-25) and are, therefore, very important. Unfortunately, only a small fraction of the budget of the Office of Navajo and Hopi Indian Relocation has been spent on this important component of the relocation process.

We take strong objection to the argument that the relocation program should be closed because it has “taken too long and cost too much.” We believe that the United States must finish the job with regard to the Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute and assure that all those who have been adversely affected by the relocation law have a chance at a decent life. As a point of comparison, I think it is worth pointing out that the entire cost to the Federal government over the last 36 years of the Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute is roughly equal to what the United States spends in Iraq every 36 hours.

The cruelest irony of all is that the Federal government has spent $440 million on the relocation program with the result of impoverishing many Navajo families who previously had lived selfsustaining subsistence lifestyles on the land but who, upon relocation, have found it impossible to reestablish these economic and cultural practices and have subsequently been locked into a downward spiral of despair and tragedy.”

These plans would forever destroy some of the country’s oldest indigenous communities and lands, where many families have lived for generations. Before the coal mine arrived, families lived in harmony and ecological sustainability. It’s unfair and it makes no sense. Many of the families just want to be left alone to live their lives according to their tradition and be able to stay true to their spiritual ways. As it stands, there’s no political price to pay for ignoring this country’s indigenous and poor people. There’s no public political support for those who want an inclusive, fair just transition. This Bill represents a denial by the federal government of continuing responsibility not only to the relocatees but to all who are affected by relocation, who face additional burdens related to this devastatingly and abysmally managed process. The crisis on Black Mesa and surrounding areas has been created in part because of a continued support of racist policies.The bottom line is this: our elected officials are participating in a plan that sells out indigenous people because there’s no urgent public demand for them to do anything else.

The voices of the affected indigenous people of Big Mountain and Black Mesa must be heard.

Bahe Katenay, historian and part of the Big Mountain resistance, stated, “At Big Mountain, traditional Dineh elder resisters declared independence in 1977, and they have acted upon it since then. Big Mountain cannot be excluded from the legacy of the Four Corners energy wars. These elders have inspired and reinforced the indigenous identity and they gave courage to fight for (real) freedom, justice and peace. Much is owed to all of the wisdom and bravery of the traditional Dineh and Hopi elders of the 1960s and the 1970s. The efforts to bring back balance to the environment and religious roles, however, should continue. The indigenous destinies to control their own territories and their resources may be much nearer if the indigenous human hope is there.”

Further information:

Updates on the Navajo Hopi Land Settlement Act Amendment, Senate Bill 1003: See the bill in full, get the facts, further updates, watch the video & read the transcripts of the testimony and see the official Senate Report: S.1003, The Navajo Hopi Land Settlement Act of 1974 Amendments (PL-93-531) (S1003 is based on the original relocation law – Public Law 93-531)

Analysis of bill: https://supportblackmesa.org/2006/10/relocation-legislation-senate-bill-1003-the-navajo-hopi-land-settlement-act-of-1974-amendments-2005/

Whose Home On The Range? Coal Fuels Indian Dispute. The Washington Post, 1974

A Historical Account: The Black Mesa Syndrome: Indian Lands, Black Gold By Judith Nies

Further Background Information (including UN Commission on Human Rights reports)

Roman Bitsuie Executive Director, The Navajo-Hopi Land Commission Office, Window Rock, AZ. Testifies in front of the Senate Committee On Indian Affairs

Lobbyist worked with Jack Abramoff Indian Country Today

See & hear directly from the Dineh families. Video testimonies by the Dineh sent to Congress & Senate. It is the Dineh that are the force opposing this bill. Coming soon!

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