Saying the Navajo Nation is ignoring its obligations, the Hopi Tribe wants a federal judge to order that its members be allowed onto Navajo lands for religious purposes.
The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court here claims the Navajos agreed in 2006 to permit Hopi religious practitioners to engage in certain practices in designated areas of the Navajo Nation. That includes the “sacred gathering of golden eagles.”
Attorney Timothy Macdonald said those sites even are set out on a map.
But Macdonald, in the lawsuit made available Tuesday, said the Navajo Nation is preventing Hopi tribal members from going on to some of those sites because they are on specific “allotments.” Those are parcels of land held by the federal government for individual Navajos.
It even got to the point where a member of the Hopi Tribe was arrested last year, he said.
A bid to have the dispute resolved by a special Joint Commission went nowhere, Macdonald said, when the panel concluded it lacks jurisdiction over individual allotments.
So Macdonald now wants U.S. District Court Judge Paul Rosenblatt to block the Navajo Nation from taking any action to keep Hopi religious practitioners from the specified areas. And if Rosenblatt won’t do that, Macdonald wants him to rule that the Joint Commission can make a decision.
Harrison Tsosie, the Navajo Nation attorney general, said Tuesday he is still studying the case but said the allotments are “off limits” to Hopi religious practitioners. He also said those areas were not part of the 2006 agreement and that the sites in question are not on the map.
Link to the news article here.