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Know the West

Hopis extend eviction deadline

  Hundreds of Navajos braced themselves against the threat of forcible eviction on the eve of April 1. That was the deadline for more than 250 families living on Arizona's Hopi Partitioned Land either to sign a 75-year lease with the Hopi tribe, or move (HCN 3/31/97). Navajo supporters rallied nationwide, staging protests in San Francisco, New York City and Flagstaff, Ariz. But the deadline passed without a standoff, and no evictions took place.


"Navajo resisters are giving out misinformation," says Kim Secakuku, spokeswoman for the Hopi tribe. "The perception is there's going to be this mass eviction, and we've always said that's not going to happen."


Nevertheless, the perception was effective: Half of the families signed a lease called an "accommodation agreement" acknowledging Hopi control of the land. Another 59 families chose to relocate, says Marty Thompson of the Navajo-Hopi Land Commission Office.


The 60 or so families still refusing to sign will be served with an official notice giving them 90 days to change their minds, Secakuku says. Even those who have already signed a lease have three years to reconsider and still be eligible for federal relocation benefits, she adds.


Anyone refusing these options will be considered a trespasser. Still, Secakuku says, no evictions loom until after the year 2001.


* Danielle Desruisseaux