Court reinstates ousted Hopi leader

Flagstaff, Arizona (AP) 8-07

The Hopi Tribe’s appellate court has reinstated ousted Chairman Ben Nuvamsa, who was removed by the Tribal Council after his February election because he supposedly did not meet residency requirements.

The Hopi Appellate Court’s ruling that the council’s action was unconstitutional should end a dispute that has led to a temporary type of tribal government since May, with Nuvamsa running the government under a temporary court order granting him powers.

Opponents contend Nuvamsa, an entrepreneur who had been working outside the reservation, did not prove the required residency to be an eligible candidate

Nuvamsa has said he did meet the requirements and accused the council of attempting to disenfranchise voters by nullifying the election.

“I hope that today’s decision will allow us to start the road toward healing,” Nuvamsa said in a statement issued after the ruling. “You know one positive thing about the action by the tribal council is that it has greatly empowered our people. They are now standing up for their rights and they now realize how important it is for them to become more involved in their government.”

The tribe is running a deficit, and Nuvamsa must now deal with that and deliver on a promise to build a new senior center.

Nuvamsa said expenditures must be cut immediately and new sources of revenue found to address the $7 million deficit.