7/25/2012 Gallup Independent: Residents Upset Over Relocated NHA Mtg by Kathy Helms, Dine’ Bureau“>7/25/2012 Gallup Independent: Residents upset over relocated NHA meeting By Kathy Helms, Dine’ Bureau
11/10/2011 Navajo Times: Funds available for Freeze families, panel says By Bill Donovan, Special to the Times. WINDOW ROCK: The Navajo-Hopi Land Commission reports that it has nearly $4 million available to start helping Navajo families in the former Bennett Freeze area. “This is the latest funding for the recovery of the area,” the NHLC office stated in a recent report to the Navajo Nation Council. The money is from an escrow account. For 30 years, 1966 to 1996, Navajo families in the Bennett Freeze area were prohibited from making improvements to their homes because of federal restrictions put in place at the behest of the Hopi Tribe, which claimed prior rights to the land.
Meanwhile, land-use payments were held in escrow. In 2010, following a federal settlement lifting the Freeze, some $6.3 million was released to the Navajo Nation to benefit Navajos still residing there.
The land commission hasn’t yet approved the allocation of these funds, prompting the emergence of The Forgotten People, a grassroots group formed to demand an accounting of money spent and to push for needed improvements to the area.
The report to the Council said some $3.9 million of that $6 million has now been allocated to improve or replace dilapidated homes.
The commission also reported that lease fees from the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise, which is building the Twin Arrows Resort Casino on land acquired under the Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute agreement, are beginning to roll in.
Commission officials said the land had been purchased for about $7 million with the commission and the casino paying half of the cost. The land was then taken into ownership by the commission and the casino agreed to make annual payments to the commission for use of the land.
The first payment of $375,000 was made in June, said Raymond Maxx, director of the NHLC office.
9/15/2011 Navajo Times: Forgotten People seeking DOJ report By Noel Lyn Smith: A court hearing has been set for the lawsuit filed by the Forgotten People and 12 other individuals seeking an accounting of the Navajo Rehabilitation Trust Fund. A pretrial conference is scheduled Wednesday, Sept. 21, at 1:30 p.m. before Judge T.J. Holgate in Window Rock District Court. The focus will be on a report the Navajo Nation Department of Justice was supposed to produce on the fund accounting, but has not yet, said a lawyer for the plaintiffs. The trust fund was established by Congress to benefit residents of the former Bennett Freeze and Hopi Partitioned Land. These funds, including accrued interest or investment income, are made available to the tribe “solely for purposes which will contribute to the continuing rehabilitation and improvement of the economic, educational and social condition of families and Navajo communities” affected by various events of the Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute.
Money for the trust fund comes from federal appropriations and from money generated by surface and mineral interests in Paragon Ranch, located in northwest New Mexico.
James Zion, attorney for the Forgotten People, said his clients want to know the trust fund’s balance, how much has been spent, and what projects any money was allocated to.
The Forgotten People are residents of the former Bennett Freeze Area and is an association of survivors of the Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute.
Both the account balance and expenditures have never been fully disclosed, Zion said.
The group continues to question the use of $7.4 million from the trust fund to purchase a 405-acre tract of land east of Flagstaff for the Twin Arrows Navajo Resort Casino.
In their civil complaint filed in 2010, plaintiffs asked for an accounting of all income, expenses, profits, losses, assets and other financial matters for which the tribe, the Navajo-Hopi Land Commission and the Navajo-Hopi Land Commission Office have responsibility.
This is the second time a pretrial hearing has been scheduled.
The first pretrial conference was in January, where it was decided that the Navajo Nation’s Department of Justice would produce a report on the accounting actions of the trust fund, but that report was not made, Zion said.
“We’re hoping to move things forward on Wednesday,” he added.
The Forgotten People is inviting all interested parties to attend the conference.
1994 SPECIAL HEARING: DEVELOPMENT NEEDS OF THE FORMER BENNETT FREEZE AREAThe federal government cannot wash its hands of the deprivation it has brought to the Bennett Freeze area victims. The Court decision modifying the ban was only the first step—now, the United States government must play a critical role in bringing the Area back in step with the rest of modern America. It has, I believe, a profound moral and legal obligation to remedy the deprivation it has imposed. By the terms of the Freeze, the Navajo residents were not even allowed to help themselves build better lives. Nor does the Navajo Nation, having watched its housing, roads, and other infrastructure decay, have the resources to make up for the years of progress the Bennett Freeze area was denied. The federal government must help remedy the grave injustice and tragedy it imposed on the people of the former Bennett Freeze area.