House Resources Committee Hearing — June 21, 2006

Introduction | Panel 1 | Panel 1 Q and A | Panel 2 | Panel 2 Q and A

The Senate passed S. 1003, the Navajo-Hopi Land Settlement Amendments 2005, by unanimous consent on May 2, 2006, and sent it on to the House Resources Committee. The following includes a transcription of most of the hearing on this bill. Where there are question marks what was said was not clear enough to understand. Chairman Pombo was not present during the beginning of this hearing. Representative Hayworth began as chair for this committee. To listen to this hearing, please visit Their written statements, for the most part, can be found at the House Resources Committee web site.

Support Diné human rights by writing to the members of the House Resources Committee. Their voices have not been heard, and there has been no due process, even when the original bill, PL 93-531, was passed.


Introduction to House Resources Committee Hearing

Rep. Hayworth: The Committee on Resources will now come to order. The committee is meeting today for a legislative hearing on S1003, the Navajo Hopi Land Settlement Amendments of 2005. Under 4G of the Committee rules, any oral opening statements at hearings are limited to the chairman and ranking minority member. This will allow for us to hear from our witnesses sooner and help members keep to their schedules. Therefore, if other members have statements, they can be included in the hearing record under unanimous consent. I am honored to have the opportunity to fill in for Chairman Pombo. He is at a meeting with the speaker, and we hope that he will join us shortly. But while I am in the chair, I would be happy to read for the record Chairman Pombo’s opening statement.

On behalf of the full committee, I would like to welcome everyone in attendance today including our witnesses. The issue we’re tackling today has a long history, involving primarily historic tribes that have called the desert Southwest home for hundreds if not thousands of years. Our hearing this morning will specifically focus on S1003 and its intensions, but we will surely touch on the deep and complex history that surrounds the debate regarding ownership of the lands in question, the role of the federal government, and the actions taken to resolve the issues first set forth in the Navajo Hopi Settlement Act that was passed in 1974. A serious examination of how to move forward legislatively on the issue of relocation specifically is long overdue in this committee. In fact, it’s been years since the House has held a hearing while the Senate has discussed the matter in multiple congressional sessions. Thus, our witnesses should be able to help us build uh to help us to build to a much more substantive record for action. The Senate has now passed S1003, doing so by unanimous consent and the measure has been referred to this committee. It has become increasingly clear that those affected by this legislation may have concerns on moving forward with this bill. We should be able to get a better indication on their recommendations for congressional action with this issue in through their testimony as I think most in Congress would agree that the issue of relocation and the federal role in this issue can be diminished in the coming years. To that end, recently Congressman Renzi (sounds like he’s calling him “Lorenzi”), who represents much of the Navajo Nation, has been drafting legislation in conjunction with both the Hopi and Navajo. Our hearing should start to ask some serious questions of relocation program and the best manner to move forward, including the concepts being put forth by Congressman Renzi who understands well the unique challenges Congress faces when tackling an issue with such long, historical nuances. Once again let me thank the witnesses for their testimony and time as some have flown across the country for our hearing today. Recognizing that Mr. Renzi would like to welcome some constituents who happen to be here testifying today as well as in the audience, and for purposes of full disclosure for the interim chair, if you will, today, my former constituents, let me yield the remainder of my time to my friend from the first District of Arizona for a brief statement. Mr. Renzi.

Rep. Renzi: Thank you, Congressman Hayworth. I grateful that Chairman Pombo, and my colleagues all today who have helped me with this hearing and pulling it together. I want to thank those folks particularly President Shirley and Chairman uh Sidney for you coming all the way out here today, too, and for traveling so far.

This is an historical hearing. It’s been some time since we addressed this issue. Back in 1974 Congress passed legislation that ultimately mandated the relocation of thousands of members of the Navajo Nation and the Hopi tribe, and affected the lives of many, many thousands of people. Um the end result was that about 15,000 Navajos were forced to move from Hopi land and a few hundred Hopis were forced to move ta (sic) Navajo land. Often families were forced to leave, and they uh, land they had occupied for generations and generations. Members of both the Navajo Nation and Hopi tribe were hurt in the process. To fund the relocation effort, Congress appropriated approximately 500 million dollars over 30 years to provide alternative housing to those individuals who were forced out. At this point um the process, we are looking at, at the potential for an agreement between the Hopis and the Navajos. Um and at this time only a few hundred Navajos continue to reside on Hopi land.

The Senate bill would abolish the Office of the Navajo Hopi Indian Relocation in 2008. This Office has the responsibility for relocating individuals right now. It would also transfer those duties to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. While few dispute that the Office should be closed some times maybe in the future, the issues do remain. Should the Office be closed in 2008 as proposed by the bill? Should it remain in tact for a period to allow all those who been promised benefits to receive them? Should the Bureau of Indian Affairs simply assume this responsibility? Additionally, how many individuals were forced to move and yet have not yet received any benefits? Should the small number of Navajos remaining on Hopi land be allowed to stay or be relocated? This information is critical in determining what steps Congress should take in the future as we look, move forward.

The effects of the benefit, Bennett Freeze on infrastructure, roads, emergency services, and the effects on the individuals, in my opinion, has been deplorable. The conditions are deplorable out there. If you spend time up in Tuba City, in that area, which we do, you find for yourself conditions of uh third world at times. And so I think we gotta to be careful what we do here. And I’m looking forward to really hearin’ from both president and the chairman on their ideas as we wrestle with and as we decide what to do with the Office of Relocation. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate you yielding to me, and I’ll uh submit uh my written testimony uh for the record if you don’t mind.

Chairman: And I thank my colleague from Arizona, and now I’m very honored to turn, it seems like old times, as we worked on a variety of subjects, my dear friend, the ranking minority member, the gentleman from Michigan, for an opening statement.

Rep. Kildee: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I’ve enjoyed working very productively with you for a number of years now on Indian justice, Indian sovereignty, it’s always a pleasure to share a hearing with you. We’re asked to address some, a problem, really which to a great extent, is a problem the federal government played a role, a major role in um in creating. I was not here in 1974. I came here in 1976. So I’ve been here for about 30 years. And we’ve been trying to work on this program. I think we’ve had a lot of good will on this committee. I’m not sure we’ve always had lot wisdom to go along with that good will. And if we can find some wisdom to go along with the good will, perhaps we can find a solution to this problem that will be based upon justice to everyone involved. We don’t have any Solomon’s here in Congress but uh we can pray that we get more wisdom than what we’ve had in the past. But we certainly have to involve the people who are who will be affected by this and at that, Mr. Chairman, I’m anxious to hear from the witnesses.

Chairman: I thank the gentleman from Michigan for that invocation of Solomonic proportions, and the chair also welcomes our friend from American Samoa, and my colleague from Arizona on the minority side.


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Panel 1 (William Ragsdale, BIA, and Paul Tessler, ONHIR)

Mr. Ragsdale: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, members of the committee. Thank you for the opportunity to testify on Senate 1003. Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, my name is Pat Ragsdale. I am pleased to be here today to discuss the bill, the Navajo-Hopi Land Settlement Amendments of 2005. With your permission I will summarize my testimony and request my official statement be included in the committee record.

Chairman: Without objection. So ordered

Mr. Ragsdale: To date, all Hopi families that were residing on Navajo land have been relocated. A number of Navajo families are still in some stage of relocation process. As the committee knows the history behind this issue goes back to the 1800s with the establishment of the respective Navajo and Hopi reservations by the federal government, and all three branches of the federal government have been very much engaged in the process of resolution of this issue for a very, very long time. We testified before the Senate of Indian Affairs Committee in July 2005 on S 1003. While most technical concerns raised by the department with the bill have been addressed some issues remain. The department is concerned with the terminating of the Office of Navajo-Hopi Indian Relocation, which would occur on September 30, 2008, and transferring any remaining responsibilities of the relocation office to the Secretary of the Interior. We request that Congress clarify that it does not intend to establish an office of relocation within the Department of the Interior but instead that Congress intends to transfer the responsibilities of the office to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The BIA is preparing with the Navajo, Hopi, and Relocation Office to transition and carry out the normal responsibilities that the Bureau has such as range management and leasing if provided the level of resources currently involved, currently provided to the Office of Relocation. We are hopeful the relocation process has completed by the expiration date of September 30, 2008, provided in the bill. However, until we know exactly what responsibilities will remain regarding relocation when the relocation office is terminated we are unable to assure Congress that we can successfully absorb those functions. This concludes my prepared statement.

Chairman: Thank you very much, Mr. Ragsdale. Now, Mr. Tessler, we’d appreciate you summarizing your statement.

Mr. Tessler: Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, good morning.

Chairman: And Mr. Tessler, if I can just intervene for a second, make sure we put the microphone directly in front of you so there will be an accurate and long lasting record of your time here today.

Mr. Tessler: I’ll start again to be sure, Mr. Chairman. Members of the committee, good morning. First let me apologize that the executive director, Chris Bavasi could not be with us today. His parents are 90 years old, in San Diego, and needed his help. He had to be there. He told me to tell you, if need be, he’d be back here. All you need is to ask. I appreciate the opportunity to come before you and provide testimony and answer any questions you may have regarding the Office of Relocation and its position on the pending legislation. On July 21, 2005, the Office of Navajo and Hopi Indian Relocation presented testimony before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs regarding Senate 1003. The testimony stated that the Office was in agreement with the legislation’s projected date for completion of relocation and transfer of any remaining function to the Department of the Interior. The testimony also recommended certain changes, which addressed the efficient and timely completion of our task. These changes have since been incorporated into S 1003 as passed by the Senate. We understand the Department of the Interior has remaining concerns with the bill, and we defer to the Department on these concerns. However, the Office of Navajo and Hopi Indian Relocation would like to work with Interior to resolve all remaining issues. We agree with Interior that anything less than a well-planned transition of responsibilities would not serve the Navajo Nation, the Hopi Tribe or the federal government. I’m ready to answer any questions you might have.


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Panel 1 Question and Answer

Chairman: Uh thank you very much, Mr. Tessler. The Chair would note a point of personal privilege, please extend to Chris my personal best wishes. We worked with him on several fronts not only concerning this office, but his days as mayor of Flagstaff when the old 6 Congressional District was my area of concern, and please pass along our personal regards. The Chair would also note that the witnesses followed the piece advice that is somewhat elusive for members of Congress that being that brevity is the soul of wit, so we thank you for succinct summarizations today, and now we’ll move directly to the questions.

First, to Mr. Ragsdale. Mr. Ragsdale, in your formal testimony, you made mention that providing housing for relocated families is a potential problem with the current programs and authorities within the BIA. What other sorts of challenges do you anticipate and should the Relocation Office be closed in the next few years, and various responsibilities are in fact transferred to your office?

Mr. Ragsdale: Well, I think our testimony reflects that our basic concern, that if the Department of Interior is required to carry out the relocation functions envisioned in the 1974 act and as it’s been amended that we are not prepared to do that. We do not have the resources to provide for the type of housing assistance that was contemplated by this legislation. Our total housing program within the Bureau of Indian Affairs is less than 19…17 million dollars, and it’s basically an improvement housing assistance project.

Chairman: Mr. Ragsdale, what do you consider to be the responsibilities of the BIA should the Bennett Freeze language be repealed as seen in past congressional legislation.

Mr. Ragsdale: Our responsibilities … I’m optimistic about that. My understanding is that the Navajo and Hopi tribes are hopefully very close to a resolution of that issue, but uh that would allow us to resume our normal functions assisting the tribes to develop their properties.

Chairman: Uh, Mr. Tessler, Mr. Ragsdale’s testimony points to concerns relating to pending appeals to relocation decisions. Can you give us a sense or how many appeals remain in the backlog and how long do these appeals typically take to be resolved?

Mr. Tessler: Right now we have requests for appeals. These are internal administrative appeals to determine eligibility of individual applicants. There are 200 requests for appeals, which were timely filed. We believe that ultimately there will be about 50 or 60 hearings on those requests, and the timetable calls for them to be resolved by the end of July next year. We’ve already started that process and are moving toward it expeditiously.

Chairman: Mr. Tessler, generally speaking, can you describe for what purposes relocation assistance monies are spent, and to date how much money has been allocated in relocation assistance?

Mr. Tessler: I believe, I don’t have…I’m not sure of the exact number, I believe 500 million dollars as Congressman Renzi has said is right in the ballpark. Generally, those monies are spent … well, we have four categories, staff and administration, relocation housing money, the discretionary fund which allows us to do various types of infrastructure or economic development projects, and then development of the new lands, which is an area of 300,000 acres that were provided in 1980 after the original act was passed for relocation purposes.

Chairman: Mr. Tessler, are applications for relocation assistance still being accepted, and if so, how many more of these applications do you anticipate?

Mr. Tessler: We are not accepting them anymore. We stopped accepting them in 1986 and then through a variety of decisions and negotiations with Navajo Hopi legal services of the Navajo tribe we determined that fairness required that we open up applications to people living on the Hopi Partitioned Lands. This was also in conjunction with the Settlement agreement, the Accommodation Agreement, between the Navajo tribe and the Hopis, and the residents that allowed 75-year leases. This was completed in 1977, and, at that time, we finished taking applications from all the people we knew were actually living on the Hopi Partitioned Lands. Since then we determined it would be the fairest thing to do to examine applications from other people who claim to be residents of the land but whose applications weren’t considered earlier. We have received all those applications. We have made a decision on all of them to either certify them eligible, or deny them eligibility, the vast majority of them, more than 200, have been denied eligibility and those are the ones that are in the hearing process right now.

Chairman: Thank you, sir. Thanks to both witnesses. Let me turn to the ranking member, my friend from Michigan.

Rep. Kildee: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. How would the BIA uh role change if the relocation program were, the responsibilities of that program, were transferred to your department, how would you deal with the pending uh responsibilities?

Mr. Ragsdale: Well, if you’re talking about the land management responsibilities, we’re already working with the Office of Navajo Hopi Relocation to affect a transition in an orderly fashion, to carry out our basic range management leasing responsibilities, the normal people services that we provide either directly or through the tribes, through 638 contracts. With respect to engaging in residual relocation activities, if there are any left over, we would have to completely gear up to do that, Congressman.

Rep. Kildee: Do you foresee, either one of you, see any disruptive element coming from the termination of this relocation program and its transfer for its responsibilities to the BIA, do you see any disruptions that might ensue from that?

Mr. Ragsdale: Mr. Congressman, I don’t know that there would be any disruption provided we work together and we have a very good relationship with Relocation Office. I was up there last summer, and I have been out on the new lands, and they’re running a model, a range project there on the new lands, but I think it would be contrary to the intent of the Congress, Congressman, I was around in the 70s when the legislation was enacted, was sponsored by Congressman Udall, and it was… there were a number of bills that were introduced to either directly involve the Department of Interior or create a new office to handle the relocation effort. And to me, for us to go back, and best that with the Secretary would be contrary to the legislative history and the intent of Congress in the first instance. And because we have fiduciary responsibilities to both the Navajo and Hopi tribes, it puts the Department of Interior, and specifically the Bureau of Indian Affairs if we were vested with that function, in a very difficult position with regards to relocation.

Rep. Kildee: Uh Mr. Tessler, do you believe that uh September 20th eh 2008 would provide ample time to complete the relocation process before handing it over to Interior.

Mr. Tessler: We do, Mr. Chairman, as we testified in the Senate and have been planning for that date for some time, perhaps even before the introduction of the Senate bill. I don’t see disruption as you asked Mr. Ragsdale. We hope to have all the relocations done by that date. If there are some few remaining, there is part of the legislation allows the transfer of employees or part of perhaps our office, to Interior, if I understand it right, and we could…those relocations could be completed uh at that time. We do not want, and understand that nobody wants us to give a house-building job to the Department of Interior that we’ve been doing for all these years, and we don’t intend to do that.

Rep. Kildee: Thank you…(unintelligible - sounds like Mr. Chairman). Just as an aside here uh, Mr. Ragsdale, I’ve been driving Buicks all my life, and uh the best-designed Buicks were designed by a gentleman who was general manager at Buick by the name of Mr. Ragsdale so you might have some commonality (?).

Mr. Ragsdale: (Laughing) Well, thank you, I wish I could claim the heritage. I’m not sure we’re related.

Chairman: …heritage and commonality of family trees, but maybe a percentage of the designs.

Mr. Ragsdale: If he was…is Cherokee he might be one of my distant relatives.

Chairman: I thank the ranking member, and I’m honored to yield to my colleague from Arizona.

Rep. Renzi: I’m not known for my humor so I’m gonna go ahead and cut to the chase. The largest land mass and poverty in America…The largest land mass and poverty in America is the Navajo Hopi First District of Arizona. The most deplorable conditions within that is the area of the Bennett Freeze. Not real funny. Not real humorous. If BIA was given the responsibility of having not just to move people into houses but to have to bring back that area, the roads and the schools and the health care clinics and the hospitals, the electrification projects, the energy, the clean up of the polluted water, some of the largest pollution and tainted water uranium in the country exist up in that corner of the world. I don’t think BIA given the limited amount of money that you get, given the length of projects that it takes, you can put a school on BIA’s list and take 15 years to get to the top. It’s a fact. I don’t think BIA right now, and you work hard, Mr. Ragsdale, and I appreciate you coming to my office, and I appreciate going out and visiting Hopi Navajo land, and I’ve been impressed by you since you came on board, but given the constraints of what you have to work with, there’s no way you can pull and lift and help those people. NO WAY! Not a chance, which tells me that’s going to be left then for the congressman who represents the Hopis and the congressman to the Navajos, Republicans or Democrats, to have to fight for earmarks and special projects, give your vote here to leadership, get a little money here, and that little drop that you get won’t be enough. So, me, this congressman, won’t be able to do it. Republican or Democrat, it doesn’t matter. Can’t get it done, which tells me if we’re really gonna to fix the project, if we’re really gonna to fix it, we’ve got to have a separate program dedicated to roads and schools and hospitals and leprication (?), and water, and pulling the deplorable conditions. If we’re gonna to have a special office, if we’re gonna to have a special program we’re gonna get it done, why not take the office of relocation and continue it? Let me just start with that little question, Mr. Ragsdale. Why not continue, why not build on what we have rather than cutting it off (unintelligible)?

Mr. Ragsdale: Well, that question hasn’t been posed to us in exactly that way so I’m not going to answer you specifically. What I will tell you is that I am very well aware of the resources that we have available to tend to the many things that we are supposed to tend to, and you and I have had discussions about that. With respect to the Bennett Freeze area, I don’t know that we would have all the resources to make up for the 40 to 50 years of not being able to do anything but it would be a good start and I’m very optimistic that the tribes are going to come together, the two tribes are going to come together, so that the Bennett Freeze can be … (interrupted)

Rep. Renzi: What would be a good start? What would be a good start?

Mr. Ragsdale: Well, the Freeze needs to be lifted, first of all, and we cannot do that unless the two tribes agree to the terms of that, and I think that uh my understanding is that we’re very close but that would make it immediately available for us to be able to develop those properties, to provide roads money, to provide some infrastructure money with the resources that we have.

Rep. Renzi: So you’re saying that within the resources you have that you could then go to work on that huge …

Mr. Ragsdale: We would have to stretch the resources that we have, Mr. Congressman, to do that but it would be a start. Right now we’re prohibited from doing anything.

Rep. Renzi: Ya…In my opinion you don’t have enough resources to be able to handle what you have on the, on your plate.

Mr. Ragsdale: I’m not going to disagree with you.

Rep. Renzi: Thank you. Mr. Tessler, do you have any thoughts on that?

Mr. Tessler: Uh much like Mr. Ragsdale’s, the redevelopment of that whole area which has been frozen since 1966 is a monumental task. I believe Senator DeConcini held hearings on that issue late 80s, early 90s and the Navajo Nation submitted a very comprehensive report you know, at that time – school, roads, power, health facilities – and I think the number that sticks in my mind, if I remember correctly, was 250 million dollars back then [Renzi says “back then” at the same time] and where it would come from now, I don’t know. It’s certainly not in the Office’s budget. It has been suggested by the Navajo Nation that the Office could be helpful with them in terms of building housing for them should the area be unfrozen.

Rep. Renzi: Not really some kind of a thing that you could handle with just a little couple earmarks in there, huh?

Mr. Tessler: No

Rep. Renzi: No. Thank you. I’ll look forward to talking to the other witnesses.

Chairman: I thank my colleague from Arizona, and as one who preceded him in dealing with the Bennett Freeze, I will reaffirm there is little levity in the entire situation there, the bureaucratic fiat now 40 years ago that led to the consequences there. The gentleman from American Samoa.

Rep. Faleomavaega (American Samoa): Thank you. Mr. Chairman, I, for the record, I want to associate myself with the gentleman from Arizona, Mr. Renzi, who has done, in my humble opinion, an outstanding job in representing our Native American community who resides in his district. And I have basically the same questions that Congressman Renzi had raised earlier. I’d like to ask Mr. Ragsdale, I note that one of the preambles of the proposed bill legislation that was passed by the Senate specifically states, “The relocation process has been plagued with controversy and delay. Congress has had to amend the act several times to authorize the expansion of the recent relocation activity and to provide additional appropriations for the implementation of relocation activities.” Now I wanted to ask Mr. Ragsdale does administration agree to this basic proposed legislation to simply transfer this whole activity to the Bureau of Indian Affairs?

Mr. Ragsdale: No, we do not.

Rep. Faleomavaega: Do you prefer to have the way it is currently structured?

Mr. Ragsdale: Well, I’m hopeful, I’m hopeful that uh, and the relocation commission has indicated that they are hopeful that they will have the relocation process completed by the expiration date in the bill. If it is not, then the Department of Interior would have serious concerns about assuming the responsibility.

Rep. Faleomavaega: If I read my history correctly, and correct me if I’m wrong on this, Mr. Ragsdale, since the legislation some time around 1974, it was projected at the Office that everything would have been completed by ‘86, around there, ‘88, and now we’re at 2006. And it seems that this is major surgery as I was going through the provisions of this proposed bill, basically by transferring the BIA, I suspect that one of the real concerns as mentioned by Mr. Renzi, is the BIA capable of carrying on this responsibility if this office is to be terminated.

Mr. Ragsdale: It would depend on what work is left to be done. If it was just some very routine, administrative functions, I think that we could do that, but there was uh… if the process was not complete, if there were appeals still pending, and there was work yet to be done, construction work yet to be done, then we would have to advise you of what resources the department … would need to do that.

Rep. Faleomavaega: So here we have legislation with absolute good intentions on the part of the Congress, and I’m sure that even the representative as leaders of the Navajo and Hopi tribes in trying to settle this controversy that’s been there for hundreds of years, and now it’s over 30 years, and correct me if I’m wrong, it seems that we’re in a quagmire right now. And this is the bottom line really on our part that we haven’t provided the necessary funding for proper implementation of this program since we started in ’74?

Mr. Ragsdale: I’ll have to defer to the Relocation Commission to respond to that.

Mr. Tessler: For me to say that half a million dollars isn’t enough would be silly.

Rep. Faleomavaega: Half a billion you mean?

Mr. Tessler: Half a billion, I’m sorry, yes, and I’m not saying that. We have, while the program has taken longer than anyone expected, there are less than 100 Navajo families remaining to be relocated. There are some pending appeals that will add to that. Some of the 100 that are remaining are already in the process, have a house under construction or are in the process of contracting for a house, so the vast, vast majority of the relocations have been completed. We hope that the ones that are under appeal will be finalized by the end of the summer, 2007, and that they’ll be under contract and have houses built by the time we turn things over. So we’ve had enough money to do most everything we wanted to do and been instructed to do all these years.

Rep. Faleomavaega: This 500 million dollars, where do you suppose the vast amount of monies has gone into, personnel, administrative costs or the appeals or…?

Mr. Tessler: The vast amount has gone into housing for relocates. We provided housing I want to say 4300 some families. In addition, in 1980, when they added 400,000 acres to the … gave to the Navajo Nation for relocation purposes, we, the agency, developed roughly 300,000 of those acres from what was raw lanch rand, lanch, ranch land in Arizona, and put in power, water, schools, electricity, housing units. An awful lot of money went there. The vast majority went for housing and those kind of services.

Rep. Faleomavaega: My time is up, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.

Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Faleomavaega. Let me turn to the gentleman from Puerto Rico.

Rep. Fortuno (Puerto Rico): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, uh Mr. Tessler, uh if you could uh help us in understanding better the process perhaps of relocation, we would perhaps be better prepared to help you in having the resources to, to complete the process. Could you go over the process? Let’s say there’s going to be a relocation. You mentioned that there are some families are in the process perhaps contracting out a home whatever. Could you go over the different steps that are taken?

Mr. Tessler: Sure. Starting in 1977 we began accepting applications from Navajos and Hopis who were affected by relocation. So the first step is to take an application. The next step is to determine if that person is eligible for benefits cuz not everybody there met our eligibility requirements. If they were determined eligible for benefits then they’d go along one track. If they were denied eligibility for benefits they’d go along an appeals track, which allowed them an administrative in-house hearing and appeal, and then an appeal to the United States District Court. That process, you know, could take took from a year to you know they have six years after denial of eligibility to go to District Court.

Rep. Fortuno: On the administrative side…up to six years on the administrative side.

Mr. Tessler: After the administrative [“oh” said by Fortuno] administrative remedy is exhausted within the agency then they can go to District Court.

Rep. Fortuno: OK

Tessler: They have after the final denial they have six years to file their action in District Court to file their action in District Court so denied people get a hearing. The people who are certified eligible, after they’re determined eligible, they’re uh linked up with one of our Navajo oh Hopi at the time in-house specialists who are fluent in the language to assist them in determining where they want to move. They can move anywhere in the country, on reservation, off reservation, um, determine their income, look into their problems, try to solve them as best we could and facilitate the acquisition of a house, which could mean buying an existing house in say one of the border towns around the reservation or building a new house around the reservation, off the reservation for building a new house on the reservation itself, the Hopi or the Navajo which in turn puts us into the process of getting a land lease from either of the tribes where the house is to be built, and then the actual construction of the house which this our agency oversees uh from beginning to end with inspections to ensure quality much like a city inspector would do on a house uh and then once the house is built, follow-up afterwards to make sure the house is what we say it was, sometimes to provide repairs, uh and also to follow-up after relocation to a limited aspect with social uh, I don’t want to say social counseling but follow-up to see if there’s assistance we can provide if there are problems afterwards.

Rep. Fortuno: Are these specialists and agency officials located on site or are they flying out of Washington. How does that work? On site?

Mr. Tessler: Oh, no, no, no. Our office is in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Rep. Fortuno: Oh so you are there.

Mr. Tessler: Which is not quite on site but it’s an hour’s drive from the Hopi reservation and parts of the Navajo reservation. We have also had offices on the Hopi reservation and the Navajo reservation, field offices at various times, and in the new lands area that we developed near Holbrook and Sanders, Arizona, we have a full staff there, uh and a whole essentially a whole community that we built.

Rep. Fortuno: OK. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for having this hearing. We’ll be looking toward Mr. Renzi for leadership on this issue. Thank you.

Chairman: I thank the gentleman from Puerto Rico, and now I turn to my Arizona colleague, Mr. Grivjalva.

Rep. Grivjalva: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. And let me echo the comments uh my colleagues in appreciation for Mr. Renzi beginning the process of dealing with this very important issue. We have the Senate version that has already passed and uh I think it’s incumbent upon our committee and uh the House of Representatives to deal with the question as well. And I don’t think we’re talking today about any specific legislation. I know there are some draft concepts that Mr. Renzi has put together but as we go through this process my only points would be that we really don’t need to mirror what the Senate did. There are differences that we understand are significant, should deal with them, and that the context of the legislation be fair and equitable to the tribes involved in this question, and that there be a level of equality in both how we legislative this and for the long term. And I particularly appreciate the idea of a study and that that everybody is playing with the same set of information, the same timelines, and uh I look forward to the additional testimony and yield back my time, Mr. Chairman.

Rep. Renzi: Mr. Chairman.

Chairman: Mr. Renzi.

Rep. Renzi: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I wanna thank my colleague from Arizona uh for his, for his insight. One of the big differences between the draft that we’re working on and the Senate version is the Senate calls for a report and calls for the Office to be completely shut down. What I’m asking is, Mr. Ragsdale, Mr. Tessler, what if we did a study that looked at where we are right now and where we need to go, looked at the infrastructure, looked at the architecture that’s in place, the bureaucratic architecture already in place, and see if we can use some of that to get where we need to go. Why shut down an office or why knowing that we’re just going to have to recreate something in the future particularly if it’s going to be an offline special kinda budget idea. Any thoughts on doing a study verse a report with the idea of where we need to go in the future may need to include the current or some portions of the current architecture?

Mr. Ragsdale: Speaking for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, what I think the first step would be for us to do a thorough review of the Relocation Office’s effort and, and back to one of your comments about having resources, I want to commend the Relocation Commission’s Office on the 300,000 acres of new lands located at Sanders. I’ve been to that community. I know some of the personnel, Navajo people that work there personally I’ve worked with them before, and they have developed a model community, and more importantly they developed a model grazing management system that will take resources to endure and carry forward. One of the caveats to my testimony is that uh even with respect to range management activity, we are going to need the financial resources to maintain those improvements that that have been carried on by the Relocation Commission.

Rep. Renzi: Mr. Tessler, currently the Office of Relocation is a line item each year. You guys are funded in the base (?). Is that right?

Mr. Tessler: Yes.

Rep. Renzi: OK. My point is that if we already have a conduit that exists that funds an office that is in charge of at least doing some rehabilitation in the Bennett Freeze area, and it’s already in the base, does that give us an avenue then to continue that architecture into the future?

Mr. Tessler: While it isn’t part of the Senate bill…

Rep. Renzi: I realize that. I’m talking about…

Mr. Tessler: …nor any bill that that, you know, I’ve seen the proposed legislation, and the answer would be, yes, yes, it does give an avenue.

Rep. Renzi: Wouldn’t it be smart I think to relocate your office since you’re in the relocation business up on to Tuba City into the Navajo, into the Hopi Navajo area so that you could actually be in there, and see it and feel it and experience it yourself.

Mr. Tessler: Um, well we have had offices up there. Uh whether moving it from Flagstaff where it’s been for…

Rep. Renzi: Well, right now it’s gonna be shut down.

Mr. Tessler: Correct.

Rep. Renzi: Mr. Chairman, thank you for that extra time.

Chairman: (Pombo’s here now). Thank you. There any further questions of these witnesses? Well, I want to thank you for uh your testimony. I apologize for being late coming in but if there are further questions, they will be submitted to you in writing if you can answer them in writing, it would be appreciated. Thank you.


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Panel 2 (Chairman Ivan Sidney, Hopi tribe, President Joe Shirley, Jr., Navajo Nation, Raymond Max, Delegate from Tuba City/Coalmine Canyon

Chairman: To call up our second panel, Mr. Ivan Sidney, Mr. Joe Shirley, Mr. Raymond Maxx, and if I could have you stand and raise your right hand as is customary on the resources committee. We swear in all our witnesses. [Swears them in.] Thank you. Let the record show they all answered in the affirmative. Welcome to the committee. As I’m sure you it was earlier pointed out your entire written testimony will be included in the record; if you could maintain your oral testimony to five minutes, we’d greatly appreciate it. Mr. Sidney, we’re going to begin with you.

Chairman Sidney: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Members of the committee, thank you for having me represent the Hopi people in this very important hearing. I was a chairman from 1981 through ’89, and dealt with much of these very difficult issues during my eight years as chairman of the tribe. 16 years later I’m back here as chairman again, and having to come before on this very difficult, hard issue, saying that the Hopi tribe has previously supported S 1003 and recommended some of its recommendations to our state senator, McCain, and understand that most of those have been incorporated in that particular revisions.

As I come before you, I feel that the closure of relocation is coming close to a chapter in our tribe’s long and difficult struggle to protect its reservation. This closure will finally bring full jurisdictional control over our jurisdiction over our lands. The Hopi tribe as you see in this screen the aboriginal lands is much larger. The aboriginal title and use of this lands been the only thing that has been proven in federal courts through the long history since it was authorized back 30 or 32 years ago. I also want to say that since ’58 of the authorization and ’74 giving the courts jurisdiction to move forward on this uh critical land uh issue understand that in 1994 there was a Accommodation Agreement by the Hopi tribe also representing and allowing the difficulties of relocation for some of those people that voluntarily want to take out an agreement to reside on those lands. These are representative of the Hopi tribe trying to help in matters but yet still looking for our future to protect our ancestral lands.

Our understanding is S 1003 has two, basically two principle objectives to finally complete the work of relocation authorized by 1974 act and to terminate the Relocation Office. Much of the historical longevity of this have been the misunderstandings, the non-cooperation, the humane difficulties of this issue. I believe that the Hopi tribe again have represented its cooperation trying to be a relative, a Native American relative to our brothers and sisters to assure that the relocation is accomplished in a humanely, in a humane way. To see us um continue to go forward is bringing back long, hard issues and I here to share with the committee that I will do everything I can to assist not only in the closure but ensure the rights of both Hopi and Navajo people affected will be protected.

I assure you also that we have um objectives and priorities of both tribes today that is far more important and this part of the chapter needs to be closed. Uh whether this Office moves to the BIA, uh with that move I doubt if there’ll be sufficient money because BIA’s trying to serve us today with never the funding it should have to serve our purpose. But we are in a position as Hopi and Navajo to use our resources, our natural resources to care for us. But these kinds of issues bring back hard issues that we need to put behind us.

And members, chairman, members of the committee, again it’s an honor for me to be back here my first testimony in 6 months in office, and having to deal with this in the past and sitting next to a brother of mine, the president of Navajo Nation. I am a back here a cancer survivor. I live day-to-day. I intend to see the closure of this issue. Thank you.

Chairman: Thank you. Uh Mr. Shirley.

President Shirley: Thank you, Chairman Pombo. …Congressman Rick Renzi, Congressman Kildee, committee members, my name is Joe Shirley, Jr. I’m president of the Navajo Nation. I want to express my appreciation for the opportunity to testify before this committee on behalf of the Navajo people, concerning the Navajo-Hopi Land Settlement Amendments of 2005, or S 1003. Being that I only have five minutes I wanna try to make it as short as I can. I’m not asking the committee as some would suggest to undo what has gone before. I’m asking you to stop, I’m asking you to stop another travesty in the long history of federal Native American policy from taking place. S 1003 represents such a travesty. The immediate closure of the Office of Navajo Hopi Indian Relocation or ONHIR, and the shut down of the relocation program would leave the job unfinished. Some say the relocation program has gone on too long and costs too much. I agree. But the Navajo Nation never wanted the program to begin at all. Should the Navajos be punished because the federal government adopted a policy without understanding the issues involved? Is it the Navajo’s fault that there were more than ten times the number of Navajos to relocate than the government expected? Is it the fault of the Navajo relocatees that a promise of a new house and a new life has cost so much? I say that it is not. Yet S 1003 ignores the needs of thousands of Navajos who have had their lives disrupted. S1003 would exacerbate the impacts of the act by arbitrarily shutting down ONHIR in September 2008, and transfer all remaining responsibilities to the BIA. This shut down would not take into account the needs of the people. The outstanding claims and appeals of those individuals who have been denied benefits or the mitigation responsibilities contained within the original act. S 1003 cuts off the funding that would be necessary to help people receive job training or to rebuild shattered communities. In short, Mr. Chairman, I’m asking this committee to take the time to understand what relocation has wrought, and instead of allowing the federal government to commit another grave error, to create a humane plan, resolution, to the plight of these Americans.

I urge the committee to reject S 1003 and its unintentional disregard for the lives of the Navajo relocatees, and instead adopt a rational, reasonable policy that would curb (?) the relocation program after the completion of a study and the development of a mitigation and closure plan. The Navajo Nation does not want the relocation program to go on indefinitely. In fact the Navajo Nation would like nothing more than to be able to stand on its own as a sovereign nation without the intrusion of the federal government, to stand side-by-side with you rather than have policy dictated to us.

Is a study really unreasonable after years of misery? A study that would simply evaluate what has happened. What needs to occur to make the people as whole as is reasonably possible, how to implement a mitigation plan, and how to shut down the programs so that the Navajo, the Hopi and the federal government can put this painful period behind us.

What would this study look like? The Navajo Nations suggests that an independent, unbiased, nonfederal consultant selected by ONHIR with input from both the Navajo and Hopi conduct a year-long study to determine whether the purposes of the act have been achieved, and to recommend mitigation activities to redress the negative consequences of the act. The study should be an even-handed, unbiased examination at the effects of relocation and the subsequent needs of both the Navajo Nation and the Hopi tribe. ONHIR, in consultation with the Navajo Nation and the Hopi tribe, will then develop a mitigation and closure plan based on the study to address the impacts of relocation. Both the Navajo Nation and the Hopi tribe should be allowed to contract these mitigation efforts. When the mitigation efforts are completed, the relocation program shall close and the responsibilities, responsibilities the federal government on this matter will end.

A question that often arises is why do we need a study. The answer is simple. The Navajo Nation does not wish to see the federal government expend anymore time or money than is necessary to live up to its obligations. A study would let the facts on the ground dictate the policy that would guide the federal government, the Navajo Nation, and the Hopi tribe. Instead of the federal government dictating policy, the funding for the study could be provided from ONHIR’s appropriated funds, and should be capped at one million dollars. The study would also allow us to determine how much more money the program needs and how long it will take to address the outstanding issues. It is impossible to answer these questions without data. I would like to be able to sit before you today and say that the program is almost complete. I cannot say that nor can anyone else. The only answer that can be provided at this time is that the greatest cost of relocation program, housing, is almost complete. Therefore, any further activities will cost substantially less.

I once again urge the committee to reject S 1003, and to move forward with legislation that is everything that S 1003 is not – rational, reasonable and humane. I look forward to answering your questions. Thank you.

Chairman: Thank you. Mr. Maxx.

Mr. Maxx: Thank you, Chairman Pombo, and honorable Congressman Renzi, and members of the committee. It’s an honor to testify before the prestigious committee. Um, um. The uh, I just wanted to um point out some issues with the people that are immediately impacted, and the ones that have dealt with the, with the land disputes. The people that were relocated from the HPL and the District 6 were mostly very traditional Navajos. And most of them, the majority did not have, you know, formal education, and they didn’t speak English.

And when I was small, and my family was in District 6 that was set aside exclusively for the Hopis, and our family and relatives had to move. There was no benefits at the time so we abided by the laws and whatever policies they had then. We moved into an area in the Joint Use Area. We didn’t know the area would be relocated again. Eventually the policy, the act came about, and we had to relocate in the early 80s. And uh, during that time I remember, when I was uh, you know, when I was small, the elders in the Navajos and Hopis, they were really close. Now they traded a lot. You know, my uncle had a truck, and he always took firewood to the Hopi friends that he traded, you know, for corn, melons, and squash, and same thing with mutton. When they butchered they always traded. That’s what I knew, you know, when I was growing up. And sometimes when I hear about, you know, the relocation, how people reacted to it, a lot of the traditional Hopis, they opposed the relocation. So when these activities took place, you know, created a lot of friction Families moved in different directions, and we lost Hopi friends. So that type of activity really hurt everybody all the way around. And when we relocated to Tuba City, we didn’t realize there was a Bennett Freeze going on over there, too, where you couldn’t repair or construct or add to the house unless there was approval from several entities. So, it was really frustrating and heartbreaking to see people lose their livelihood. The traditionals, they live off the land, livestock, farming, and that made them proud even though they didn’t have an education. So they left all that behind, and moved to a new environment. And they were expected to continue what they had with the new house, and they couldn’t. So that’s where a lot of those social ills that took place, the alcoholism, the suicides, the domestic violence.

All we’re asking is a study to be done to end this relocation in a humane way. Congress and entities up here, they commission and initiate studies for different reasons whether they initiate the causes because of federal action or not. They do that. And out of these studies, plans and policies are created to address the issues. So we’re asking for that. We’re pleading with the committee to consider those and the bill 1003 does not address the intended purpose. It just wants to stop abruptly this law that we have opposed, but since we’re in it this far, yeah, let’s do it right and end it in a humane way.

Thank you, for my remarks, and listening to me, and if there’s questions I’ll be ready. Thanks.

Chairman: Thank you.


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Panel 2 Question and Answer

Chairman: Thank you. I thank the entire panel for their testimony. Mr. Renzi.

Rep. Renzi: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, so much. First I want to thank you for doing this, for bringing it forward. It’s been 20 some odd years since the House has even addressed this issue but under your leadership, it moved forward. I’m grateful. I really am.

Chairman Sidney, in your statement I picked up what I thought was an indication that the closure of the Relocation Office meant closure for you of also the issue. What if we had relocation changed/closed and then changed to rehabilitation? And what if we closed Flagstaff but we kept alive the architecture, particularly the funding stream, and we looked at rehabilitation up in Tuba City, maybe smaller. I’m not sure if there’s forty people working for relocation or 75 people. I don’t know what the overhead is. But what if we had, what if we took relocation and made it rehabilitation. And we put it in your backyard so that both the Hopis and the Navajos could share in developing this plan, in developing this study on where to move ahead. I don’t mind studies if it means laying out the implementation of the development for the future. I don’t have a need for a study that’s gonna look back at the sins both of this Congress and where we were in the past, the decisions that were made that I think were wrong.

But the Bennett Freeze as was indicated by all of you is an area you can’t repair your electrical, your electricity in the houses when it goes out. You have to go ask to repair. You can do nothing to your homes. You can do nothing to the jails. If a car drives into the jail and knocks down the wall, you can’t fix it unless you go to the federal government and get permission, or go through one of the agencies. That’s the Bennett Freeze; it freezes any construction, any development. In the last 30 years it’s caused the conditions to be deplorable, the worst of the worst, and so as we move forward with a plan to lift that area and develop that area, what if relocation became rehabilitation? Would there be enough closure then?

Chairman Sidney: Thank you, Mr. Congressman. Let me first say that I don’t want to leave here not saying that Hopis were also relocated. They live now in the villages; we made accommodations for them. They have also their own community and they also are short the infrastructure to continue their livelihood.

Rep. Renzi: Yeah. That’s right.

Chairman Sidney: In support of relocation they have the Hopi and Navajo staff that become experts in working with us, and that would be expertise that’s much needed.

Rep. Renzi: Yeah.

Chairman Sidney: And also saying that, and that’s why we say that allow them to finish. I don’t support a study that would reinvent the wheel so to speak. We’ve talked about the sufferings, we’ve talked about… We need to deal with today and put this behind us, go forward. But entire Hopi Navajo reservation if you put it together completely needs rehabilitation because someone like yourself knows what you’re talking of because you been there. You’ve been on our roads. You’re helping us build the infrastructure and we need to focus on those to help ourselves to go forward. And my concern with the BIA is that not having funding enough funding to finish the job adequately, because we’re the only tribe to have a BIA Indian police, and right now our officers are subject to being moved other locations because our budget is insufficient.

Rep. Renzi: Right.

Chairman Sidney: We’re the only tribe in Arizona that’s non-gaming so we need the help to help ourselves, and this, the intent for this bill to go forward, yes, we would consider to have future discussions with you and others.

Rep. Renzi: OK. Mr. Shirley, rehabilitation verse relocation.

President Shirley: Of course, that is uh very much needed, monies for rehabilitation. I think the Hopi tribe and the Navajo tribe are very diligently working on bringing to a closure the Bennett Freeze. Prayerfully working with my brother here, the honorable chairman of the Hopi Nation, and their counselor, we’ll bring it to a closure in short order, and having done so we’ll need monies to rehabilitate the land. We need monies for infrastructure, schools, for economic development, for housing for the people, you name it, and I agree with Chairman Sidney that I don’t believe the BIA will be able to help us there.

Regarding the study that I’ve mentioned, I don’t believe that there has ever been a study done, a comprehensive study as to the effects of the relocation, what has it wrought on a people whether it’s the Navajo Nation or members of the Hopi Nation. What has the relocation wrought on a people? I don’t recollect that having been shared, a comprehensive study. I’d like to see it done. I think there are Navajo people out there that are just really devastated by the relocation, and we don’t know the effects of it. The children when their parents relocated at the time, immediately most are homeless, jobless, many of them are wrestling (?) around with alcoholism, drugs. That has not been looked at, and if the ONHIR were to come to a closure in short order, which is September 2008, we don’t know what’s gonna happen to these people, my people. And that’s why I’d sure like to see Congress with a heart. And I’m looking to you for heart. If you could work with us to do this study, and then based on actual data that is to be found there, and then use that to bring it to a closure humanely, that’s all we’re asking for.

Rep. Renzi: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Chairman: Mr. Kildee.

Rep. Kildee: Ah thank you, Mr. Chairman, Chairman Sidney and President Shirley, both of you seem to have concerns about the transfer of the location (sic) program to the Department of Interior. Is that due primarily to worry about lessening of the level of resources or other reasons, and perhaps different reasons between the two. Chairman Sydney, what reasons would you have for being reluctant to have that program moved?

Chairman Sidney: Congressman Kildee, Hopi having to wait a very long time for beginning to have control over our lands, we’re very concerned anything to delay our opportunity to rightfully use our lands, saying that relocation although it was a painful process, I believe that I tried to do what it could but if that expertise could be use and if the Bureau of Indian after all there’s still the U.S. government, and hopefully to move forward to resolve and allow this thing to happen. And certainly I need to discuss this further with the support of the committee sitting the Hopi and Navajo together to discuss this, and allow us to take control. This is also very important to support our sovereignty as native people. In the early stages of this long, hard issue, there was really not any discussions among the two tribes. And in allowing us also to sit down with both the BIA and Relocation to say, have us hear more of what their plans to put a final chapter this hard, long relocation issue.

Rep. Kildee: You know, I think you touched on a very important element. Not only is there a sovereign relationship between the Hopi Nation and the United States government, but there’s a relationship between the sovereign Hopi Nation and the sovereign Navajo Nation. I think that sometimes we forget that, you look (?) at one another as sovereigns.

Chairman Sidney: Mr. Congressman, I’ll state what I really think here. All due respect to the United States Congress and this committee and our congressmen, I believe Congress since 1958 have added to the longevity and harder issues that we only know as Navajo and Hopi people, that we like to become more responsible to our people and allow us to move forward and have the funds to begin to close this chapter.

Rep. Kildee: I really agree because both you are sovereign and can deal with each other as sovereigns, too.

Chairman Sidney: Thank you, sir.

Rep. Kildee: President Shirley?

President Shirley: Thank you, the honorable Congressman Kildee. I think the BIA as I understand, and I’ve been president going on 3 years and 6 months now, and I know about the bureau also from times past. I believe it’s never really been focused. To me, ONHIR, we’re talking about focus, going through one office to try to address a very specific challenge to our people, to the Hopi Nation, to the Hopi, uh, Navajo Nation. If you were to transfer it under the Bureau of Indian Affairs I’m afraid it’s gonna get lost in the shuffle there. And the Bureau has never had the resources to fully address the needs of not only the Navajo Nation, the Hopi Nation but Native America. The Navajo Nation alone has an unmet need of 435 million dollars, and we’ve been going to the BIA for decades to try to get at that unmet need. Never have. And I’m just afraid that’s what’s gonna happen. But if we can continue to have ONHIR, we will continue to have focus in trying to address this problem, you know, the problem of the relocatees. That’s the way I see it, Mr. Kildee. Thank you.

Rep. Kildee: I want to thank both of you for your very clear answers. Thank you very much.

Chairman: Mr. Faleomavaega.

Rep. Faleomavaega: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. There seems to be a clear consensus from Mr. Shirley and Mr. Sidney about the possibility of maybe having a congressionally funded, or someway or somehow do a study of the issue as been suggested by my good friend from Arizona, Mr. Renzi. What is your best uh your best judgment in terms of how long the study could adequately uh, uh address these issues, and at the same time we don’t want to have a study to go on for hundreds of years. I mean do you think a one-year study would be sufficient to give us a clearer picture of the problems that we’re faced with since this program had been implemented now for 30 years?

Chairman Sidney: I believe with the years of this issue that one year is sufficient time to know what remains to be done, and what has not been done. Not only a part of the relocation of the families is the restructuring, providing infrastructure as stated by our Congressman Renzi, and helping the infrastructure to help sustain developments. I want to make sure I say, members of the committee, before I leave, the Hopi tribe is cooperating with the Navajo Nation and the people residing still on Hopi lands, today the very few, providing them law enforcement, providing them EMS services, health, and having them attend our schools. I don’t want anyone to think there’s absolutely two different worlds. We have to live together. I refer to Hopi as the hole in that donut, and that’s the way it’s going to be forever. And we need to put a final closure to this chapter, and that’s why I’m focusing and that we have other priorities we need to really work on, so again to repeat myself, I want to be here part of working with you to see that the law is fully implemented, and that we go on with this behind.

Rep. Faleomavaega: President Shirley?

President Shirley: Thank you, uh Congressman, I couldn’t agree with my uh brother, the uh Chairman uh Sidney more. Uh we do need to bring it to a closure, uh the Navajo Nation position at this juncture is that uh a study be had. I think a year is sufficient to have that study, and uh then in an effort (?) the study has been done through to use that data to put in place a mitigation and closure plan. And uh I think the sooner we do the study the sooner we’ll start moving towards uh closure.

Rep. Faleomavaega: Mr. Maxx

Mr. Maxx: From my recollection I became a council delegate representing Tuba City and Coalmine Canyon, the two chapters that are you know affected by both Bennett Freeze and also the relocation. You know, those, the Bennett Freeze and relocation has been going on for over 40 years, and I’ve never heard of any study so a study would really set the tone on timeline and even the costs. So a study is really needed to address the current issues, the ripple effect from the activities of this land dispute, and also this devastated people, we’re asking to get help, to get back on our feet, and to continue our lives. So thank you.

Rep. Faleomavaega: I just want to say for the record I certainly will support our chairman and certainly Mr. Renzi if there’s any real effort so that we can accelerate or any way possible that we can do this and I will hope that we will be able to do this and not delay the process any longer. Um, and I sincerely hope that and I’ll leave this to the discretion and certainly to the outstanding leadership of our chairman, hopefully we can work this out. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I want to thank the gentlemen for their testimonies.

Chairman: Thank you. Mr. Renzi. (?) Mr. Renzi do you have another round.

Rep. Renzi: Mr. Pombo, if I could just get one more minute. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I um as you know, are am working on a draft piece of legislation that would counter the Senate bill. It would counter directly the need that it would include a study. I had hoped that um the study would look at the effects of the Bennett Freeze, at the relocation, at the mitigation issue, at the closure, at the future claims and who will deal with those future claims. I hoped that the study would look at the new development and implementation of the new process, look forward also. It would be that kind of a whole study. I’m gonna have the draft legislation available in a few weeks for you all to look at, and give me your input, and I will come to you, and ask, um your thoughts on this study. I also think that relocation and rehabilitation are very close brothers and sisters, and that Congress needs to reserve a conduit, the base funding that exists in the Relocation Office, and simply transform it. Close it so there’s closure. Move it so it’s closer to the people. But there’s no way we’re gonna be able to get this done if we continue to try and rely on one congressman, or two congressmen, or this committee to get enough money out of the Interior Appropriations Department to take care of that issue. It’s too big unless it has its own liner (?). And that’s not to disparage anybody in BIA because you’re the hardest working BIA guy we’ve had, Mr. Ragsdale. You come to my office and listen to me yell at you six, seven times. [Ragsdale is laughing] But the resources aren’t there, the money won’t be there, the funding won’t be there unless we can somehow carve out, and I believe, in the base, why try to go through the whole legislative bureaucracy to develop a whole base, a whole new line of funding when we can simply take the existing, take the existing architecture and transform it to the future? And that’s what I want to work with you all on, and all of this discussion today, I’m grateful for, especially to our chairman, who’s brought it forward, and it’s his leadership that has allowed this to be here today. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Chairman: Any further questions of this panel? No. I want to thank you, and obviously this is an issue that we’ve had on the radar screen for a while with the insistence of Mr. Renzi, and the others in the Arizona delegation, and this is obviously something that we believe we need to come to some kind of settlement on in order to move forward. Um I believe that in looking at it some of the ideas and listening today, and looking at some of the ideas Mr. Renzi’s come up with that there is a solution we can work toward that does protect sovereignty as Mr. Kildee talks about but at the same time begins to uh begins to find a final solution to this issue and I think that’s what we all want. So thank you very much for being here for making the effort to come back and I do appreciate your testimony. If there are further questions the members of the committee have, those will be submitted to you in writing, and if you could answer those in writing so that they can be included in the hearing record. Again, thank you for being here. If there’s no further business before the committee, I again thank the members of the committee and our witnesses, and the committee stands adjourned.

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