Monday, June 28, 2010

Forgotten People Notice of Suit Against Navajo-Hopi Land Commission

By Forgotten People
Photo: Earl Tulley fills containers with uranium-contaminated drinking water at Box Spring well in Black Falls, Ariz. Photo by Rachel Wise/Pavement Pieces
June 29, 2010

The Forgotten People announced today that they have given notice to the President and the Attorney General of the Navajo Nation of an intent to sue the Navajo-Hopi Land Commission and others to account for the expenditure of funds from the Navajo Rehabilitation Trust Fund.

The trust fund was established by Congress in 1988 to be spent “solely for purposes which will contribute to the continuing rehabilitation and improvement of the economic, educational and social condition of families, and Navajo communities” that were affected by various events of the “Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute,” including the Healing decision, federal legislation that addressed the dispute and the set aside from grazing district No. 6 “for the exclusive use of the Hopi Tribe.” The trust consists of funds from surface and mineral interests in lands in northwest New Mexico (also known as “The Paragon Ranch”) and federal appropriations.

There have been news reports over the years about mismanagement of the trust and its funds but there has never been an public accounting of how much money has been received from Paragon Ranch or Congress, how those monies were spent when they were transferred to the Navajo Nation through the Navajo-Hopi Land Commission, and how the statutory purposes for the trust were served.

This suit seeks to resolve lingering questions about the trust, its size and income, and how monies have or have not been used for the benefit of the Navajo survivors of the Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute. That information should be made public so the people will know whether or not a public trust has been violated or observed.

The notice is the initial step prior to the filing of suit and the Navajo Nation will have thirty days from receipt of the notice by the President and the Attorney General of the Navajo Nation to consider the claims.

Forgotten People will hold a public press conference at the conclusion of the notice waiting period to more fully explain why the suit is being brought, who is bringing it, and why it is necessary.


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Censored News is published by censored journalist Brenda Norrell. A journalist for 27 years, Brenda lived on the Navajo Nation for 18 years, writing for Navajo Times, AP, USA Today, Lakota Times and other American Indian publications. After being censored and then terminated by Indian Country Today in 2006, she began the Censored Blog to document the most censored issues. She currently serves as human rights editor for the U.N. OBSERVER & International Report at the Hague and contributor to Sri Lanka Guardian, Narco News and CounterPunch. She was cohost of the 5-month Longest Walk Talk Radio across America, with Earthcycles Producer Govinda Dalton in 2008:
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