The Navajo-Hopi Land Issue:

A Chronology


1700  Navajo migrate into the southwest.

1850  Navajo encroachment and occupation of Hopi Lands.

1863  Maurading Navajos are captured by Colonel Kit Carson,U.S. Army, and imprisoned at Bosque Redondo, New Mexico.

1868  August 15: The Navajo Treaty is signed with the United States and establishes the Navajo Reservation in Arizona and New Mexico territory.

1878  October 29: the first Executive Order by President Rutherford B. Hayes is given, which increases the acreage in the1868 Navajo Reservation Treaty.

1880  January 6: Executive Order by President Rutherford B. Hayes increases acreage to the Navajo Reservation.

1882  December 16: Executive Order by President Chester A. Arthur establishes the Hopi Indian Reservation.

1884  May 17: Executive Order by President Chester A. Arthur increases acreage to the Navajo Reservation.

1900  January 8: Executive Order by President William McKinley adds 1,240,460 more acres to the Navajo Reservation.

----    November 14: Executive Order by Theodore Roosevelt increases acreage to the Navajo Reservation.

1908  January 28: Executive Order by Theodore Roosevelt increases acreage to the Navajo Reservation.

1918  January 14: Executive Order established by President Woodrow Wilson increases acreage to the Navajo Reservation.

1930  May 23: Executive Order issued by President Herbert C. Hoover provides more acreage to the Navajo Reservation.

1931  February 21: Executive Order by President Hoover adds more acreage to the Navajo Reservation.

1934  Congressional Act of June 1934 establishes the Navajo Reservation for "the Navajos and such other Indians already settled thereon…"

1936  December 19: The Hopi Constitution and By-Laws of the Hopi Tribe is approved and the Hopi Tribal Council is established.

----    Land Management Districts are established by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and covers both the Navajo and Hopi Reservations. The grazing "District 6" line is drawn around the Hopi villages located on First, Second, and Third Mesas. The Hopi Tribe contested this action.

1943  April: Hopi District #6 is designated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) as the only exclusive Hopi Reservation within the 1882 Reservation. The Hopi, once again, contest this action and effectively confines the Hopi to 600,000 acres within the 1882 Reservation.

1958  July 22: Public Law (PL) 885-547 is signed and authorizes the Hopi Tribal Chairman and the U.S. Attorney General to file a lawsuit and "quiet title" the 1882 Reservation as a result of Healing vs. Jones.

1960  October: Healing vs. Jones lawsuit is heard in Prescott, AZ.

1962  September: The Court issued the "Opinion, Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law and Judgment" which ruled that the BIA had not directly and officially settled the Navajos on the 1882 Reservation, but had done so by implication, in direction, and neglect. Also, District #6 was found to be exclusively Hopi and the remaining 1882 Hopi Reservation was to become a Joint Use Area (JUA) with the Navajo Tribe on a "share and share alike" basis with one-half interest apportioned to each, surface and sub-surface.  Furthermore, the Court ruled that it did not have jurisdiction to partition the JUA between the two tribes.

1963  June 3: Healing vs. Jones was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court and was declined further review of the case.

1972  The Hopi Tribe initiated court proceedings to protect Hopi interests in the JUA. As a result, two restrictions were ordered: livestock reduction to prevent overgrazing and further deterioration of land, and limited new construction within the JUA unless authorized by both tribes.

1974  December 22: PL 93-531 "The Navajo-Hopi Land Settlement Act" authorized the partitioning of the JUA and established the Navajo-Hopi Indian Relocation Commission (NHIRC) which moved both Hopi and Navajo people from the reservation lands of each other's tribe. It also directed that range restoration be undertaken.

1977  February 10: The District Court in Tucson, AZ issued an Order of Partition. 

----    August 30: An Interim Partition Line was constructed.  April: The District Court issued its final judgment of partition. July: PL 96-305 was signed into law and amended PL 93-531. The Navajo Nation receives an additional 250,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management land in order to move Navajo relocatees and gives 150,000 acres of private land into trust for the Navajo Nation. This also established authority for a commission discretionary fund program. 

----    April 8: A relocation plan is presented to the U.S. Congress by the NHIRC. Congress appropriates $22 million to accomplish relocation by deadline date: July 6, 1986.

1985  Presidential Initiative taken by Judge William Clark, former Interior Secretary, on behalf of President Reagan, to comprehensively resolve the Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute. The initiative addressed the dispute over the 1934 Western addition to the Navajo Reservation as well as the dispute over the 1882 reservation former Joint Use Area. After nine months of study and negotiations, Judge Clark reported no progress had been made toward resolving the dispute. This initiative was abandoned.

1986  July 6: The relocation deadline was not met by the NHIRC and was extended by Congress based on Appropriation Language.

----    Fiscal Year: Language in the NHIRC appropriations section specified that funds could not be used to evict Navajo people who, as of November 30, 1985, had applied for relocation benefits and were physically domiciled on Hopi Partitioned Lands (HPL) while new or replacement homes were being built.

----    Fiscal Year: The NHIRC companion legislation also provided $22 million to the BIA to construct homes and related families for Navajo Relocatees on the new lands. As a result, forty-five Navajo families were relocated.

----    July 6: Relocation to be completed by NHIRC. Congress extends the deadline "until such time housing is acquired for those families still on the Hopi Partitioned Lands."

1988  The Manybeads lawsuit is filed by Navajo families on the HPL against the U.S. which challenged the constitutionality of the 1974 Navajo/Hopi Settlement Act on the grounds of religious freedom.

----    Amendments made to PL 93-531, superceded by PL 96-305, abolished the three-member Commission and replaced it with a single Commissioner, who became the head of the Office of the NHIRC and was appointed by the President. The office of the NHIRC became an independent entity of the executive branch, where all powers, funds, and responsibilities previously held by the Commission were transferred to the Commissioner. In addition, all powers and duties of the BIA derived from PL 99-190, relating the Navajo Nation from Hopi lands were transferred to the Commissioner on January 31, 1989. All funds appropriated to the BIA for activities related to relocation were transferred to the Commissioner.  Moreover, six months from the selection of the Commissioner, confirmed by Senate, the Commissioner must submit a report to Congress identifying the names and property of persons pending relocation to receive relocation benefits.

1989  September: The 1934 Boundary Bill Case hearing determines "quiet title" to the 1934 Navajo Reservation. The Hopi Tribe carries the burden of proof of use, occupation, and possession of lands by Hopis in 1934.

----    Judge Carroll dismissed the Manybeads Case in U. S. District Court. The Hopi Tribe was not a party in this case, but appeared as a "friend of the Court."

1991  May 10: The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals orders the Hopi and Navajo Tribes, the U.S., and individual  Navajo families who live on Hopi land to mediate and negotiate a settlement under the direction of Federal Judge Harry R. McCue.

----    June 11: A first meeting was held between the two tribes and Judge McCue. The Navajo Nation offers a land exchange and is rejected by the Hopi Tribe. Judge McCue directs both parties to submit proposals.

----    June 20: Judge holds a second meeting where the Navajo Nation submits a modified land exchange proposal. The Hopi Tribe establishes a list of pre-conditions to be satisfied by the Navajo Nation and its residents on the HPL prior to the initiation of mediation. The Navajo Nation and families respond favorably to the Hopi Tribe and convince the Mediator to justify the preparation of an offer by the Navajo Nation to the Hopi Tribe.

1992  May: The Hopi Tribe counter proposes to lease a certain amount of the HPL to the Navajo residents under certain terms and conditions. Judge McCue refers to this as "a manifestation of the Hopi Tribe's good faith" and allows negotiations to continue.

----    September 10: A proposal based upon a land exchange and the payment of money by the Navajo Nation to the Hopi Tribe is made. The Hopi Tribe refuses to give up more Hopi land and the proposal is rejected.

----    October: The parties reach an "Agreement in Principle" (AIP) after twelve months of arduous negotiations and attempts by the Navajo Nation to offer a land exchange proposal.

----    October 20: The AIP is ratified by both tribes and the Federal Government to set up a framework upon which the current land settlement agreement was built, including the Accommodation Agreement with Navajo families.

----    November 23: The Hopi Tribal Council Resolution No. H-129-92 was passed by the Hopi Tribal Council, which ratified the AIP and authorized the Chairman and the Relocation Task Team to implement the AIP.

----    September 23: Hopi Tribal Council Resolution No. H87-92, passed by the Hopi Tribal Council, establishes the Relocation Task Team to address the relocation issues and settlement proposals.

1993  During the summer of 1993, a series of meetings were held with Navajo families to educate them on the contents of the AIP. These meetings were held in Teesto, Mosquito Springs, Cactus Valley, Red Willow Springs, CoalMine Mesa, Big Mountain, the Hopi Reservation, and in Flagstaff.

----    August 5: Navajo families unanimously reject the AIP, with only one Navajo individual voting in favor. Later, it was learned that the wrong ballot was approved by the Navajo Nation in an effort to settle.

----    August 12: The Navajo Nation submitted another proposal for a land exchange to the Hopi Tribe.

----    August 17: Hopi Tribal Council Resolution No. H-127-93 passed, which directed the Hopi Land Negotiation Task Team to discontinue mediation talks with the Navajo Nation based on their insistence on a land exchange.  The concluded that the Navajo Nation negotiated in bad faith and they had misinformed Navajo families on the terms of the AIP. The Hopi Tribe directed the federal government to pursue relocation immediately.

1994  February: Judge McCue came before the Hopi Tribal Council (HTC) to request the Hopi Tribe to reconsider the offer previously made to the Navajo families and revise the Accommodations Agreement. After many debates, the HTC voted in favor and directed that this would be a final offer without further negotiations.

----    March 29: The Hopi Tribe submitted a final agreement, accepted by Judge McCue who stated that this was the final offer from the Hopi Tribe.

----    Spring: The Hopi Tutsqua (Lands) Team met with Navajo families in Teesto, at the Hopi Civic Center, and at the Northern Arizona University (NAU) campus to educate these families about the Accommodations Agreement.

----    May 23: Approximately 234 Navajo families voted in favor of the Accommodation Agreement and based on the vote, the Judge determined that 80% of eligible families ratified the AIP, thereby accepting this agreement.

----    July: Judge McCue directed all parties to begin the implementation of the AIP and informed all parties that mediation was over.

----    December 14: The Navajo Nation Council passed Navajo Tribal Resolution CD-107-94, which informed parties the AIP expired and determined to be null and void.  This resolution also gave specific instructions for negotiations and formally rescinded Navajo Tribal Resolution CAU-56-93, which supported the AIP. Thus, the Navajo Nation refused to participate any further.

1995  January 13: The first meeting, held in Flagstaff, AZ, with Navajo families to implement the AIP.

----    February 16: The Hopi Tribe approved 13 construction applications for Navajo families residing on the HPL as an effort in good faith towards the implementation of the AIP.

----    March 9: A meeting with Navajo families in Flagstaff, AZ on the AIP.

----    A meeting was held with Judge McCue to determine whether the AIP was still in effect due to the Navajo Nation's Resolution. Judge McCue determined that all other parties could continue without the Navajo Nation.

----    March 3: Navajo families submitted a statement to the Hopi Tutsqua Team about eighteen religious concerns, requests, and questions regarding the proposed Accommodation Agreement. During the meeting, Navajo families designated representatives from different areas for the implementation phase.

----    March 13: The Hopi Tutsqua Team responded by letter to the concerns of Navajo families and continued discussions to educate these families on Hopi Tribal Ordinances.

----    April 30: At a meeting held at the Hopi Civic Center, Navajo families agreed to obtain Hopi Tribal permits for collecting wood and tree boughs for religious purposes, building temporary religious structures, and grazing.

----    May 4, May 30, and June 19: Meetings held with Navajo families at the Hopi Civic Center to implement the AIP.

----    The Hopi Tribe and the Hopi Tutsqua Team receive a resolution from a Navajo family representative to continue discussions with the Hopi Tribe.

----    June 29 & 30: Meetings held with Navajo families in Flagstaff, AZ to implement the AIP.

----    July 7: Hopi Tribal Resolution H-110-94 is approved and allows the Hopi Tutsqua Team to address issues pertaining to the 1992 AIP.

----    July 13: A meeting with Navajo families in Flagstaff, AZ to implement the AIP. Mr. Dave Lombardi, a 9th Circuit Court observer, attends this meeting.

----    October 2: Navajo families vote and accept the Hopi Tribe's Accommodation Agreement with clarifications on their eighteen concerns.

----    November 27: Hopi Tribal Council H157-95 approves and authorizes the Chairman to sign the Settlement Agreement and directs the Hopi Tutsqua Team to begin immediate implementation of the Settlement Agreement.

----    December 12: Chairman Secakuku signs the Settlement Agreement.

1996  March 28: A hearing was held on the Settlement Agreement in Washington D.C. before the Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs. Testimony was provided by the Hopi Tribe, Navajo Nation, the federal government, and Navajo families.

----    April 10: Senator McCain's staff meets with Hopi people and visits the Hopi Reservation, the HPL, and Navajo families.

----    May 13: The Hopi Tutsqua Team meets with the Arizona Congressional Delegation to seek legislation support to allow the Hopi Tribe to enter into a 75 year lease agreement with Navajo families. Senator McCain, Chairman of the Indian Select Committee, determines the entire Settlement Agreement must be legislated.

----    September 9-13: Senate Bill (SB) 1973, the Land Settlement Act of 1996,  was presented by the Indian Affairs Committee. An amendment added the Water Rights Provision, a five-mile buffer, 85% for Trust lands, and stated that the Navajo Nation was not a party to the Settlement Agreement.

----    September 25: the Senate Indian Committee held a hearing on the closure of the NHIRC Flagstaff Office. Hopi Tribal Chairman, Ferrell Secakuku, testified in support of the closure under the terms of the Accommodation Agreement with Navajo families.

----    September 27: SB 1973 passed through Senate and on September 28, this bill passed through the House.

----    October 2: The first deadline to sign up for a lease is set by the Accommodation Agreement. An extension date was granted to December 31, 1996 by the Hopi Tribal Council.

----    October 11: President Clinton signed Senate Bill 1973 into law.

----    November 7: Judge Carroll ruled on a preliminary class certification (a particular class of individuals) and determined there will be no opt out (i.e. will not be bound by any judgment), therefore his decision would be binding to a class of Navajo families who will remain on the HPL.

----    December 4: Five Navajo families sign their first lease with the Hopi Tribe.

----    December 31: The deadline to sign the Lease Agreement is extended to March 31, 1997 by the HTC and coincides with Judge Carroll's Fairness hearing.

1997  February 11-14: Judge Carroll orders final arguments for the Manybeads case to be heard on February 21st.

----    February 21: Judge Carroll hears the final arguments and asks the HTC to extend the lease sign-up date by 30 to 60 days to allow him to write his decision.

----    February: The Hopi Tribe receives letters from Navajo Nation President Albert Hale and Navajo Nation Speaker of the House, Kelsey Begaye, who request a meeting to re-negotiate issues they feel have not been resolved.

----    February 24: The HTC decides not to engage in re-negotiations due to the fact that the Hopi Tribe has worked with Navajo families to develop the current Accommodation Agreement, which represents a reasonable means of allowing Navajo families to remain on the HPL, if they so desire.

----    February 27: Chairman Secakuku and the Hopi Tutsqua Team meet at the Jeddito Chapter House to sign Navajo families to the Lease Agreement.

----    March 5: Navajo Families' Attorney Lee Brook Phillips files a petition with Judge Carroll, which requests the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona to not certify the proposed class certification.

----    March 6: Navajo families' Attorney Lee Phillips writes a letter to the HTC to support the Accommodation  Agreement, despite an article that appeared in the Flagstaff Daily Sun entitled, "Navajo's May Gain Some" and confuses many people.

----    March 11, March 13, March 24-29: Chairman Ferrell Secakuku and the Hopi Tutsqua Team sign Navajo families to the Lease Agreement.  In a series of locations, Clayton Honyumptewa, Chairman Ferrell Secakuku, and the Office of Hopi Lands sign Navajo families to this agreement, including Teesto, Cactus Valley, and Big Mountain.

----    March 31: Deadline for Navajo families to sign the Lease Agreement at the Office of Hopi Lands.

For more information, please contact:

Robert T. Adams, Field Monitor II                          or                    Barbie Burton, Secretary

Office of Hopi Lands                                                                      Office of Hopi Lands

(520) 734-3817                                                                             (520) 734-3804

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