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The Navajo Tribe and Hopi Tribe Essay

The dispute over land between the Navajo Tribe and Hopi Tribe has been an on going dispute since the late 1800’s. Although it might not seem like a high priority topic of conversation for most people, it is a very personal and sentimental topic for these two tribes. The Navajo population outnumbers the Hopi by a ratio of ten to one, while the amount of Hopi land has been reduced from its original size. To understand this complex situation between the two tribes, “A comprehensive solution? ‘–rather than case-by-case negotiation? ‘–is needed to solve the numerous land dispute issues confronting the Navajo and Hopi tribes” (Hardeen 1985: 9).

After reading two major city newspapers and two Native American newspapers, it is evident in their discussion the differences of the two nations and yet the similarities of their goals. After reading the article titled “Navajo Registers On Hopi Reservation Face Deadline For Eviction” by Gary Ghioto, a Boston Globe correspondent, it seems that the Navajo-Hopi land dispute began in the late 1800’s. This article was placed in the National/Foreign section on page A26. Ghioto gave a vivid description of what a Navajo woman was feeling. “Sometimes we just cry. We look around for our people and they’re gone” (Ghioto 2000: A26).

This woman’s statement that Ghioto has captured in this article, sticks in your head as you continue to read. The strange fact from this article is that the Navajo Indians are living on Hopi land, yet the Navajo tribe is greater in number than the Hopi tribe. What Ghioto is trying to explain in this article is that the years-old controversy is still as complicated as before, as more and more people are becoming involved.

“Hopi leaders said the tribe is being demonized by “outside agitators” who know nothing about the complicated land dispute or the agreement endorsed by the Navajo tribe and the US government four years ago that sought to resolve the conflict” (Ghioto 2000: A26).

The protest that Ghioto is reporting on is about those that support the Navajo’s who face eviction from the disputed Hopi land. His article is trying to explain the situation from both the Hopi and Navajo perspectives. As Ghioto states, “To the Hopis, the onslaught of activists and propaganda portraying them as villains is disheartening, but they intend to move forward to claim their ancestral lands” (Ghioto 2000: A26).

In The New York Times article titled “Judge to Rule in Ages-Old Indian Land Dispute” by James Brook, he is discussing a ruling from a Federal District Court explaining that the Hopi tribe would receive a large sum of money. As stated in the article in the National Section on page B6, “If the Navajo families don’t sign leases, they will be trespassers subject to eviction” (Brook 1997: B6). Brook describes this dispute much like the age-old land disputes in the Middle East between the Israelis and Palestinian’s and in the Balkans. This just goes along with many other disputed territories around the world.

Each tribe has a deep personal relationship with the land. The Navajos feel that “All of our beliefs, all of our ceremonies are tied to this land” (Brook 1997: B6). This article seems to be in favor of the Navajos’ beliefs. Brook seems to sympathize with the Navajos’ and thinks that the Hopis’ only want the money for energy products that they will get through the settlement of this dispute. From the Navajo point of view, “They want that dollar. Greed has taken over” (Brook 1997: B6).

Looking at these two major, respected United States newspapers, The Boston Globe and The New York Times, they both have placed these articles in their National ection, even though they have placed it many pages away from current national issues and world politics. Both articles seem to be in these newspapers to show an interest to their respective readers on current Native American issues.

Each writer, Ghioto and Brook, make the readers sympathize and empathize in their articles by using personal accounts or memories from members of each tribe. The Boston Globe article tends to focus more on how the Hopis’ feel about giving up their ancestral land whereas The New York Times article tends to make you sympathize with the Navajo and their way of life.

In the Native American weekly newspaper, Sho-Ban News, the article titled “Cooperation Key To Settling Land Dispute” by George Hardeen, was placed on page nine. He seems to be summarizing what needs to be focused on in order to resolve the age-old land dispute between the Navajo and Hopi tribes. This summary comes from a report to President Ronald Reagan by Richard Morris and Judge William P. Clark. Hardeen summarizes from the report saying, “We may be at issue for still another century” (Hardeen 1985: 9). This statement will be true unless a plan is put into place that works for both tribes.

Not only does he restate the historical views of the dispute, he said that, “The tribal leaders involved in the dispute today are not the perpetrators of it” (Hardeen 1985: 9). In this article, Hardeen tends to chastise the Hopis for not trying to negotiate and work toward a settlement. Since this is a Native American weekly newspaper, his views seem to be swayed toward the Hopi point of view. Obviously, this newspaper is written for Native Americans In the Navajo Times weekly newspaper, the article “End Possible for 1934 Land Dispute” by Bill Donovan was placed on page eight.

Donovan discusses another dispute other that the land dispute. So, the way this article comes across, it is a dispute over eagle’s habitat within the Navajo-Hopi land dispute. This article is told from a Navajo point of view because they claim, “The Hopi has severely diminished the number of eagles who nest in the western portion of the Navajo Reservation” (Donovan 2005: 8). From reading this article, one can see that no matter what effects one tribe, it will always affect the other tribe. Until all the issues are resolved, there will always be some sort of dispute between the tribal nations.

The two Native American newspapers are similar in that they are both weekly papers that are read by a certain group of people. The New York Times and The Boston Globe are two of the foremost daily newspapers in the world and have daily readers. The American newspaper articles were current within ten years, whereas the Native American articles were current within twenty years. It certainly was easier to obtain the major news articles from large American newspapers and find more current articles than trying to research Native American newspapers that were relevant to the Navajo-Hopi land dispute.

To summarize what has been read about the Navajo-Hopi land dispute, can be very complicated. Each tribe claims that the land is theirs and each tribe has their own personal and sentimental reasons for their beliefs. The Navajo Indians live on Hopi land, yet the Navajo tribe is larger than the Hopi tribe. I believe that The Boston Globe article “Navajo Registers On Hopi Reservation Face Deadline For Eviction” by Gary Ghioto was the most poignant of the articles that I read. When Ghioto related about a Navajo woman who stated, “Sometimes we just cry. We look around for our people and they’re gone” (Ghioto 2000: A26).

This quote made me stop and think. There are so many poor, homeless Navajo people, yet the Hopis’ continue to live on their land in their own villages. The people that will have to be moved are poor with very little skills, other than sheepherders, and it will be hard for them to relocate and build a new life. Although I do not agree with Ghioto in his article, he portrays the Hopi as “villains. ” They, too, have a deep love for their land and their traditions. We all feel that we must protect and preserve those things that are precious in our life. To these Native Americans, it is their land.

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