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Statement on Signing the Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute Settlement Act of 1996

October 11, 1996

Today I am pleased to sign into law S. 1973, an Act that will help resolve a century-old dispute between the Hopi Tribe and the Navajo Nation over the use of Hopi Reservation Land in northern Arizona.

This bill will implement a settlement reached last December after 5 years of negotiation among the Navajo families that live on Hopi land, the Hopi Tribe, the Navajo Nation, and the United States. This historic settlement constitutes a courageous step by the people of two honorable tribes toward coexistence in peace and mutual respect.

The settlement is a consensual resolution of an age-old problem. It creates a way for Navajo families now residing on Hopi land to lawfully remain at the homesites where their families have lived for many generations. At the same time, it preserves the Hopi Tribe's right to exercise jurisdiction over its land. It is based on principles of self-determination for the Tribes and human dignity for all tribal members. With this settlement, both tribes now will be able to devote their efforts and resources to important educational, health, and economic development programs for the Navajo and Hopi people.

The settlement was achieved only through the concerted efforts of many people. I take this opportunity to express appreciation in particular to Hopi Tribal Chairman Ferrell Secakuku and Navajo Nation President Albert Hale for their commitment to a peaceful resolution. I also wish to thank the Navajo residents of the Hopi Partitioned Lands—who have dedicated countless hours to negotiating these difficult issues. Further thanks are in order for the residents and the State and local governmental representatives of Arizona who have worked with the negotiating teams, and to the Department of the Interior. Finally, I want to acknowledge the role of the Department of Justice, which took the lead for the United States in these negotiations.

This bipartisan bill and the historic settlement it ratifies give us great cause for hope. The Navajo and the Hopi have embarked upon a course of reconciliation concerning an issue— religious and historical claims to land—that has led to disharmony in other places across the globe. We should build upon this success as we plan for a future together based on cooperation and mutual respect.


The White House, October 11, 1996.

NOTE: S. 1973, approved October 11, was assigned Public Law No. 104-301.

William J. Clinton, Statement on Signing the Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute Settlement Act of 1996 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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