Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Hopi Vs. Navajo

July 13, 1986

We can think of no solution for the wracking dispute of Big Mountain, where Hopi and Navajo struggle to resolve with white man's law their intractable land dispute.

There is an obscenity to the barbed wire that now spans the desert that has never known a fence, to the resettlement communities that seem so insensitive to the cultural wishes of the native people, to the $1 million a year going to lawyers and public-relations firms and lobbyists. There is an obscenity also to the stubborn politicians in Washington who are comfortable with imposing solutions rather than encouraging compromise. And there is an ugly trivialization by the outside groups that glibly oversimplify the dispute by way of reducing it to dimensions that they can understand and manipulate.

We are tempted to say that only time may resolve the tragedy, and yet we know that it may already be too late for time to help. But if we are sure of anything, it is that this must be left to the Indians themselves. That seems, at last, to have been accepted by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which has halted forced evacuation for the moment, relaxing the tensions inevitable when the deadline for returning Hopi land to the Hopis came and went with Navajos still in their homes of seven generations.

Legislation has been introduced by Sen. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.) to impose an 18-month moratorium on relocating the Navajos from the Hopi land and to create a new commission with a mandate to find a way out. There is promise in that. We would be more confident, however, were the commission to be made up exclusively of Hopis and Navajos. The white men, including member of Congress, have not demonstrated any qualifications to be included.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|