Ousted Hopi tribal chairman gets job back for 15 days 5-19-07

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - The ousted chairman of the Hopi tribe has been granted permission by a tribal court to temporarily reassume his position.

Chairman Ben Nuvamsa was elected to the post in February but was removed after only 27 days in office. The Council nullified his election, deciding he was not eligible to run because he did not meet residency requirements.

Nuvamsa filed a lawsuit in Hopi Tribal Court over his removal, saying the Tribal Council lacked the authority to remove him.

The Hopi Appellate Court now says Nuvamsa can act as the tribe's chairman for the next 15 days with the possibility of extensions. The court's decision temporarily sets aside the Tribal Council's decision to invalidate Nuvamsa's election.

Nuvamsa said he's eager to get back to work, even for a little while.

“We have a very aggressive agenda,” he said. “And it's going to be done only through teamwork.”

Among Nuvamsa's priorities are building an assisted-living center for Hopi seniors and leasing the tribe's allocations of slot machines to another tribe, since it has no casino.