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Hopi Ranchers From Selected Range Units Must Reduce Their Livestock By 100%
by Carl Onsae, Assistant Editor - Hopi Tutuveni
Herding Cattle

Kykotsmovi, AZ. – August 13, 2021 The Hopi Tribe has issued Executive Order #011-2021 Range mitigation and livestock reduction in response to the State of Exceptional Drought on the Hopi Reservation on July 20, 2021 and accordance with the State of Arizona listing 5 counties as disaster areas, including Navajo and Coconino counties, which the Hopi reservation lies within.

The portion pertaining to the reduction of livestock here on the Hopi reservation has several ranchers around the Hopi mesas confused, angry, and not ready to accept the order. The EO #011-2021 also states that several range units on the Hopi reservation must forego a livestock reduction in response to the state of exceptional drought on the Hopi reservation.

The order specifcally states that ranchers in several particular districts must reduce their livestock by either 30%, 50%, or even 100%.

Makwesa Chimerica, a rancher, farmer, and family man, is one who has been affected by the news to reduce his livestock. Chimerica has cattle in part of the District 6 rangelands and would be affected by the order which specifes that "Blue Point, East Dinnebito and West Dinnebito Range units shall reduce by 100% of their ermitted grazing allocation."

When Chimerica received the news that he would be required, in accordance with the order, to reduce his cattle by 100% he felt confounded by what he must do. Chimerica stated, "When we got the letter from the [Hopi] tribe, I felt devastated because ranching has been passed down from generation to generation. This ranching is not about money but it holds sentimental value to me and my family."

Chimerica has two younger boys that he wanted to pass this family tradition down to, and now they have to get rid of ranching as part of their lives.

In the letter that Chimerica received, it states that all range units on the Hopi tribe must forego "10 years" without livestock and that this decision was made with the Hopi Law Enforcement Services (HLES), Offce of Range Management and the Offce of Hopi Lands Administration (OHLA), and Hopi Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Chimerica stated, "When I heard that we can't have any cattle for 10 years, I think that hurt me the most, be]cause I have a son who is 8 years old and for him to not grow up with the knowledge of ranching, I think the [Hopi] tribe is wrong about this not telling us about this decision."

According to Chimerica, his understanding of meetings that occured in 2018 with CKP Insurance LLC, was to designate to the ranchers and farmers alike. Services for them as recipients being impacted by the droughts occur during that year and subsequent years, as well. The tribe, in sense, acts as the insurance agent and is to provide and manage the USDA PRF Insurance Program for the Hopi Tribe. Chimerica also understood the situation to mean that the DNR and the Hopi Tribe was given authority to use funds received as payment from the drought insurance for such projects including but not limited to; range, grazing and livestock, tribal ranches infrastructure, earthen dams, farming and irrigation, agricultural water development, dams, reservoirs and catchments systems, watershed planning for agriculture, agricultural complexes, drought contingency plan (mitigation measures), area wide fencing, brand offce and other approved uses. And although, this money was supposed to improve on the Range Units, according to Makwesa, ranchers like himself have not seen or heard from the Hopi tribe trying to improve their particular Range Units.

Prior to the executive order, no meetings were set up to communicate with the ranchers in the several districts about this decision and the executive order. Chimerica states, "The last ranch meeting I went to was back in 2018 and during the meeting we were told that several [Range] Units around the Hopi reservation were to get help with improving our windmills, water dams, etc. they promised us all this, but they never made their promise true."

The executive order also states that several range units and other districts will have reduction by 30% or 50% meaning they can keep several of their livestock while others will have to completely get rid of 100% of their livestock.

Chimerica also stated, "I don't agree with the [Hopi] tribe's decision when I heard that other districts can keep some of their livestock. There should have been a meeting to explain why they are reducing 100% in only District 6."

Currently there are about 8 ranchers on District 6 that this executive order is affecting.

With the order several District 6 ranchers must reduce their livestock by 100% and ranchers from that area are at a standstill on what to do with their livestock. Questions about the various percentages for various range units keep coming to mind for Chimerica, along with what the future may hold for ranchers and their livelihood, as some ranchers depend on the practice to make ends meet.

The executive order states "Be it further resolved that no additional permittees or transfers to another Range Unit will be allowed during this time, so as to ensure that each Range Unit is at a sustainable level for the duration of this order." This means that ranchers like Makwesa must sell their cattle to completely reduce their livestock from his selected Range Unit until December 31, 2031.

Chimerica stated, "The [Hopi] tribe should have had developed a plan for us to relocate our livestock instead of getting rid of our cattle, at least we could keep some of our cattle. Or try to get rid of the wild horses frst before making this decision."

Overall, the order states that all ranchers on the districts which need reduction, have 90 days to either reduce their livestock or completely get rid of their livestock.

Chimerica lastly stated, "I hope the tribe makes a decision to let us keep some of our livestock, and I hope I don't have to get rid of my livelihood. Like I said this has been passed down from generation to generation, and I was hoping I would have passed this down to my son, but he will be 18 years old when we are allowed to have cattle again."

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