The Cloud-Shirt
William T. Vollmann


The following is excerpted from the final volume of my Seven Dreams series. This book deals with a very complicated dispute between a number of parties. In the interests of fairness I want to state the obvious: namely, that what appears here in Grand Street is most in sympathy with the Navajo point of view. In my book, the Hopi Nation, the U. S. government, and Peabody Coal will also have their day. This being said, however, I affirm the accuracy of what follows. Much of what you are about to read is taken almost word for word from public records. --W.T.V.

The white, barkless, leafless tree that grows so well in the backyard (though lashed to a supporting post, it is true) spreads its bright white arms (which could be bones or veins, but are neither), and the hot wind blows the un-dead yellow grass; and at the edge of the yard is a fence, through which can be seen the rich green hills of the golf course, along which are stationed men in white, carefully swinging clubs, while their electric carts match them with white canopies. At the far edge of the golf course I see more houses. A street runs down to Singing Hills Drive, and on that street water runs, a steady little stream of it from the golf course. I saw it running last year, and I saw it run-ning the year before. I wonder how many thousands of gallons of water have spilled from that golf course?—Oh, the sunlight is perfect; the golf course grass is green, the golfers are dreamy as they wheel noiselessly along in their carts without superfluous exertion; and the grass in the backyard is not really so yellow con-sidering that if the water stopped running down from Colorado and central California it would die; and Jenny laughs and trims the roses. Everywhere there is such peace! The tile-roofed houses rest among their yard-trees all the way up to the mountains, each yard safely sealed by a fence, a concrete wall, or a lyre of barbed wire played by the wind, all in a row along either side of roads down some of which water trickles; and people wash their cars until they gleam and then get into them and drive down the vast freeways, and when it is hot the air is brown and tears run down your face, and a man bends to pick up his golf ball, and in the malls are Pizza Huts and Sizzlers and Carl’s Juniors and Round Table Pizzas and Computerlands and Supercutses and gas stations for the cars, and the cars go on. This is the world in southern California; this is not a bad world; it is wide and easy. Reno and Carson City are not so different; Phoenix and Flagstaff are similar, too, although none is as pleasant and perfect as the suburbs of great Los Angeles; in all of them the sky is generally cloudless except for a cloud of smog; at home people walk smog dogs; in the burger chains they eat smog hogs; the sunsets are orange; the sun is a great red ball. Time passes and the trees blow in the hot wind; at night we drive down great happy freeways with the radio on and the windows down and our cool white shirtsleeves blowing; we are wearing the Cloud-Shirt and the cities are getting bigger and bigger and the golf carts roll effortlessly uphill.

Wearing the Cloud-Shirt (ca. 1800-1988)

It was a small square house on the cliff. It was Antelope House, Canyon de Chelly.

“Have you ever been inside there?”

“Yeah, I been inside,” the Navajo guide said.

“What’s in there?”

“Nothing,” he said. “Nothing in there.”

“Is it cool there?”

“Yeah, it’s cool. Especially against the wall there.”

“Are the walls the same color on the inside?”

“Yeah, the same. It used to be three stories. They find big pot-tery, clothes made out of wheat, sandals made out of leather. Eating wheat, too.”

The ruins were huddled together under the rock, the color of the rock—a pink almost like soft flesh. The rock went up in big flakes, overhangs and overhangs, and the ruined house was al-most like a church in the way that the top of it had crumbled into a steeple. Not far away you could hear Navajo children laughing and echoing like the wind. A warm stream flowed by the heel of the cliffs, which were pink and white and gray and sometimes striped. An abandoned hogan, now used to dry peaches, lived behind the shady happiness of the cottonwood trees. Downstream, the canyon widened toward Fortune Rock. There was much brightness. Swallows swooped down the cliff.

The Swarming Plains (1969-1986)

The U.S. Department of Commerce pre-enumeration map of San Mateo (dated 11-18-69) is a huge clean black-bordered affair, with a scale of one inch per five hundred feet. Census tracts are bordered in gray, and internally subdivided by block group. The census tract numbers are gray perfect shapes composed of tiny dots, each digit being as big as a finger-joint. Where the streets are densest, they form severe right angles, breaking the landscape into rectangles bordered, for instance, by Pulgas, Twenty-Eighth, Isabelle, and Twenty-Ninth, each block enclosing its own unique number, presumably so that it can be referenced by microfiche (because not everybody had computers then). But there are still places of lesser density, such as near Lower Crystal Springs Reservoir, where the map is almost entirely white, representing a game refuge; and at the periphery of these lonely areas where the cicadas chirr in vacant lots, the streets squiggle and sub-squiggle like cilia (the driveways) on villi (the blind alleys and comfortable courts and dead-end drives) inside intestines (the avenues); and it is these places, one senses, that have the greatest potential for development. The rectangular zones, supersaturated with their commerce and buses and tall black-glassy buildings, have crystallized out. The white zones will probably become industrial parks at best, closing their gates at twilight while secret employees in frogman suits pour toxic waste into the dead smelly creeks that ramble so conveniently near the competition’s parking lot. So the builders will have their outlet in the curly streets, twisting them and twining them in convolutions as yet unimaginable; perhaps they will rise into the air, giving stick-shift drivers the same glorious feeling of takeoff that they get when they throttle up along a freeway overpass; perhaps they will burrow down below the city to form new egg-shaped hermetically residential worlds. This is not an entirely happy thought, for as the map is now, an aesthetician might consider it perfect. The black, the white, and the masterfully restrained gray form a mathe-matically pleasing composition. Most pleasing is the white space, for we know that someday, unless a plague fortuitously carries us off (I pray every day that this will happen), the mapping window will be entirely black with crisscrossed overlays, and smudged in addition with grayish smog, which the planners will have to represent by rubbing the map in its entirety with legions of dull graphite pencils.

First Intimations of the Strip Mine

“Our next speaker is half Hopi and half Navajo, so he can give us a universal angle on the problem,” said the organizer.

The old Indian got up and said that a relocation bill had been passed. Three thousand square miles had been taken away. There was a 90 percent stock reduction. No more building was permit-ted. The idea was to starve the Indians out. The region had been designated a National Sacrifice Area. “They did all this,” he said, so bewildered, “without the people having a voice in all this. That’s real clear to us.”

People drank their herbal tea at little tables and laughed and shrugged and whispered.

Black Mesa (1988)

Over the hill from the restaurant and Black Mesa Shopping Center, the six-mile conveyor belt led to the big black coal heap of the Cayenta Mine, and the bare hill with tracks, behind which rose what must be at least a six-story crane, and gravel-hills and fuel and cables behind protective razor-wire, and big ant-mountains, and a truck spraying water, maybe to “reclaim” something, and big yellow hoppers of raw coal, and then cattle and flat grass and a landing strip with a wind sock and a blinking light, and then the turnoff to Black Mesa Mine and Pinyon Mine, and a big cylinder, and double jets of black smoke, and you went up the dirt road and saw more coal and the smell of coal and two horses grazing and the gray skeleton of an abandoned hogan and a big scooper and the flat bowl of the land, the gold of the sky, the lovely mesa, everything so high, and the clouds white and blue, the sky blue and filled with light—and dust and cranes to the horizon, and a burro kneeling in the mud at the side of the road, and the streams running black with coal. The land was ruined.

“At One Time I Think He Was Considered a Navajo” (1974)

Five years earlier, a certain bill had been made law: namely, the Navajo-Hopi Land Settlement Act, known more professionally to those who had thumped and doctored its cartilages as PL 93-531 or HR 10337, because it is helpful for the two branches of our Congress to have two names for the same thing. The first hearing took place on July 24, 1974. This meant that wax was cleaned from the official ears, the better to hear you with, my dear; and official spectacles were polished, the better to see you with; and the results were published, bound in green, and filed at the law libraries of this land, grandly entitled: NAVAJO-HOPI LAND DISPUTE: HEARING BEFORE THE COMMITTEE ON INTERIOR AND INSULAR AFFAIRS—UNITED STATES SENATE, NINETY-THIRD CONGRESS, SECOND SESSION; ON H.R.10337, S. 3230, S. 2424, S. 3724.

It is probably needless to say that the committee met, pursuant to notice, at 9:30 A.M., in room 3110 of the Dirksen Office Building in Washington. But I want you to have the facts in front of you, because this hearing was devoted entirely to facts. (A fact is whatever testimony will advance one’s case; a fallacy is whatever hinders it.) Not a wisp of unsubstantiated fog was allowed to en-ter or leave through the windows, if there are any windows in the Dirksen Office Building, which I personally picture as a dull blue cube overlooking the Potomac.

Senator James Abourezk (South Dakota) called the hearing to order. He listed the four bills under consideration. “The purpose of these measures,” he said, “is to provide a legislative solution to a prolonged dispute between the two tribes over approximately 1.8 million acres of land situated in northeastern Arizona.”

The texts of the four bills were appended to the record.

“I, personally, believe that there has to be a division of the land at some point,” said Senator Abourezk, “but I also personally be-lieve that it is a serious question, a very serious question of how you handle the people who live on the land who have to be uprooted. My own personal experience has been that creating a new set of refugees is not the way to arrive at any kind of solution. I have had enough bad experiences with refugees in my own personal experience. And I, personally, do not want to see it any more.”

Senator Paul Fannin said mournfully that he wished the two tribes could have settled the problem themselves. “But it is the clear responsibility of Congress to act in such controversies.”

The morning wore on in its tedious way, and maps of the Joint Use Area were distributed, bearing differently colored squares. “Of course,” said Senator Fannin, “we are talking about one-half portions, which would be 800,000 acres, so that is just 5.6 percent of the total acreage of the Navajo reservation.”
Senator Haskell expressed some confusion about the disputed area, but Senator Fannin interrupted, “I just thought we should understand that it is a very small percentage of the total Navajo reservation.”

“It is the area in red?” said Senator Haskell.

“Yes,” said Senator Fannin.

I can imagine all the senatorial fingers drumming upon their maps, and all the yawning and whispering and spectacle-polishing that went on, but none of that is recorded in the minutes of the hearing. But I think that Senator Abourezk might have actually looked at the map, because he was heard wanting to know how many people and acres were involved, and because I get the im-pression that he was one of the few decent men there. He remained hopeful of relocating as few Navajo as possible from the Joint Use Area. (There is something quite touching about hope in a senator.) Senator Domenici’s aide, Mr. Gentry, assured Senator Abourezk there had been minimal movements on the area since 1958.

“But in 1958 did not the Navajos pretty well blanket that whole Joint Use Area?” said Senator Abourezk.

“I think they pretty well blanketed it; yes, sir,” said Mr. Gentry.

“So you would not be able to pick out any area that was not Navajo.”

Perhaps this embarrassed Mr. Gentry, but he replied stoutly, “I think they would; yes, sir.”

“What areas would those be?” asked Senator Abourezk.

“I do not know the specific areas,” said Mr. Gentry. “But this approach would not have the difficulty, once those areas are iden-tified, even if they are in a patchwork arrangement, of trying to partition along any kind of line that might be described.” Thus Mr. Gentry took wing and soared high above these quibblings.

The next witness was the distinguished senator from the State of Arizona, the expert on Navajo and Hopi, the conscience of a conservative, Barry M. Goldwater.

“I want to say at the start that this is probably the most difficult task that I have ever undertaken in my life,” said Senator Gold-water. “I would much prefer politically to be in the middle. But I cannot, in all fairness to the Hopi, who I feel to be right in this.”—This elegiac tone corresponded perfectly with the senator’s por-trait in the fifteenth edition of the Britannica, pale, overexposed, and old, smiling a little sadly as he peered through the tortoise-shell prison of his glasses; his shrinking icecap of white hair, his gently sloping shoulders, his dark suit and tie wiping and polishing the melancholy. —He presented a legal history of the Navajo-Hopi land dispute, which Senator Bible, who was chairman, entered into the record. “It is my belief that it is physically possible and reason-able for the court to draw the line, so that 70 percent or more of the Navajos may stay on the Navajo side. This would mean that some, not all, Navajos would have to be relocated.” His staff had made a complete analysis which proved that only twenty-five hundred people would be relocated, maybe even less! * As there were no objections, Senator Bible entered this document into the record.

Senator Goldwater was soon ready to go. “I merely wanted to express myself as a person who had been interested in this problem for more years than many of those Indians are old today. I hate to admit that, but it is the truth.”

At this, Senator Fannin commended Senator Goldwater. “At one time I think he was considered a Navajo. He is one of the mostly highly respected men in this country, as far as his expertise in Indian affairs….He is still very desirous of being of assistance to Navajos….I just want to commend the Senator again for tak-ing this tremendous interest in the resolution of the dispute.”

Further Grave Deliberations of the Committee

Senator Abourezk, now presiding, welcomed Senator Joseph Montoya from New Mexico. They both had consciences. Senator Montoya offered his testimony:

…what troubles me most about the House bill is the forced relocation of over 8,000 Navajo….Our great nation is still feel-ing the impact of the many injustices perpetrated during our most recent relocation, that of the Japanese-Americans during World War II….There is a better way to deal with this prob-lem, and I believe the bill that Senator Domenici, Senator Moss and I introduced is this better way….It is no doubt true that overgrazing is occurring, but this is not reason enough to jus-tify forced relocation. The overgrazing problem stems not from any greed on the Navajo’s part but from his lack of options….Secondly, I would like to address the many charges of Navajo violence against the Hopi….I have never seen evidence pre-sented by an impartial source...that these incidents represent anything more than isolated occurrences by individuals and not a pattern of organized violence planned by the Navajo Tribe.

Senator Montoya explained to the committee that his bill would allow the Navajo to buy out the Hopi half-interest in the Joint Use Area. “Let us not be so unmindful of our actions that we come to the false conclusion that the Navajo is an intruder,” he said. “He is on his land, and we gave it to him.”
Everybody thanked him. (But of course Senator Montoya’s bill did not pass; Senator Goldwater’s bill passed.)

The next witness was John S. Boyden, general counsel for the Hopi Tribe.

A Hero for Our Time (1906-1980)

There is a wonderful photograph in volume nine of the Hand-book of North American Indians of a Hopi delegation meeting in the courtroom of a Salt Lake City district judge for the purpose of signing their first attorney’s contract. Judge Ellett presides, round, bald, and beaming, at the head of the conference table, his arms folded upon a legal pad; and at his right is John S. Boyden, a dark-haired, dapper fellow with a chubby, tweedy sort of look, someone who could have gone for Morris dancing in his youth. His head is cocked sideways, ducking out of the shadow of Lewis Numkena (upper Moenkopi) so that he can smile breathlessly at the cam-era. Turn the picture upside down, and the image of the table is like a tombstone seen through a wide-angle lens. Judge Ellett’s reflection looks younger, healthier, thanks to the ruddy wood finish; and then standing at his shoulder is the broad-shouldered white ghost of a torso, its black tie more distinct than its head; this is the ghost of Dewey Healing in his white shirt, Dewey Healing of First Mesa (Tewa), who is to be Mr. Boyden’s first big win in Healing v. Jones (II)—and then on the very edge of the tabletop is a froglike blur of a face that is Mr. Boyden’s; it seems as if the face is isolated by water or some translucent membrane, for there are arguable details in it, like the canali that the Italian astronomer read into Mars; sometimes I think I can almost distinguish an eye or an ear or the bridge of the nose; but the face keeps rippling around the mouth. Quite possibly Mr. Boyden was talking.

Everyone seems in his place: there, for instance, is Mr. Roger Hohani, two chairs away from Mr. Boyden; he will submit a state-ment at the 1974 hearing, and his statement will characterize the Navajo as swarmers and corn-tramplers; it will demand their relo-cation. I make out Ned Nayatewa of Sichomovi, a small, dark man with a head shaped like a billiard ball; his testimony will do the same. —What a strange coincidence that half the Hopi who will testify in favor of partition are in this picture, and so close to the head of the table, too!

In the background, left of the ornate oak door, stands an elec-tric fan on a pedestal. It is stilled, though the calendar hanging beside it reads July 12, 1951, so that we know that the courtroom must be extremely hot; but perhaps the members of the delega-tion feel cooled as they stare into the depths of that polished table. And there is also a scene of snowy mountains on the Desert Fed-eral Savings calendar next to the calendar that says July 12; the snow helps, too, I am sure; and on the other side of the door is a Noall Bros. Lumber Co. calendar with a print of a boy holding his dog--how the dog pants, as if he can’t get enough air! how still ev-erything is!--and Homer Homewytewa of Kyakotsmori leans back with crossed hands, his face grave, ceremonial beads around his neck, and stares into space.—The credit reads: John S. Boyden, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Mr. Boyden died in 1980, but you may rest easy that he died a rich man. His course to Treasure Island has been charted by different cartographers, with widely differing sympathies. Those enthralled by storybook coincidences will smile knowingly upon hearing the name of his birthplace: Coalville, Utah. He was admit-ted to the bar in 1929, a year that gullied the road to prosperity for many a seeker, but which perhaps tempered Mr. Boyden—or maybe it didn’t; who knows? I never met Mr. Boyden, so how can I presume to say in which furnace he was forged? We find him leaving the Department of the Interior, portfolio under his arm; that same year he applied for a position as attorney for the Navajo Tribe, but was rejected; we next see him installed as Hopi claims attorney.

Evidently respecting Hobbes’s line that the vanquished is obliged to the victor, not by being beaten, but because he makes a covenant with the victor, Mr. Boyden was instrumental in the revitalization of the Hopi Tribal Council, an institution famous for its covenants. Can I prove that? Not at all, for it came into existence most democratically in 1936. Six hundred and fifty-one Hopi voted for it, and a hundred and four against. What could be fairer than that? (More than thirty-seven hundred Hopi didn’t vote. A Hopi man once told me, “When we don’t like something, we don’t say anything against it. We just abstain.”) All aboveboard, in short. It was this Hopi Tribal Council that elevated Mr. Boyden from claims attorney to general counsel, as they had every right to do, and then brought suit against the Navajo in Healing v. Jones. Healing was the chairman of the Hopi Tribal Council, and Jones was the chairman of the Navajo Tribal Council. In February 1960, some Hopi traditionalists sent Jones a letter, saying,

You are aware that there exists a suit against you and your Navajo tribe encouraged by the so-called Hopi Tribal council in collaboration with their attorney, John S. Boyden of Salt Lake City, to settle a so-called “Hopi-Navajo Land Dispute.”…Our Traditional chiefs and religious priests are our real authorities on our Hopiland and they have never recognized nor autho-rized the so-called Hopi Tribal Council to bring suit against you and your tribe. In fact, the majority of the Hopi people did not know or were aware of this suit when it was initiated. Our land and way of life is at stake. The time has come for us to meet together.

This letter seems more damning than it probably is. If the land dispute is really only “so-called,” then a bill to relocate ten thou-sand Navajo must be motivated by nothing other than crooked greed. In fact there is a land dispute. In Frank Waters’s Book of the Hopi, about which the author says “all the material in it, save my own obvious commentaries, was supplied by our Hopi spokes-men and approved as transcribed in manuscript form,” there is a section entitled “Recommendations and Prophecies.” This again is specifically attributed to the Hopi traditionalists. The very first one is “Protection of Reservation from Navajo Encroachment.” So the central question becomes: How much of a dispute is there? How deep and bitter is it? Unfortunately, that question cannot be answered here.

At any rate, Paul Jones and his Navajo Tribal Council never responded to the Hopi letter. There are two mutually exclusive explanations for the silence. One is that the dispute was in fact so bitter that the Navajo felt they had nothing to talk about with the Hopi. The other is that the Navajo Tribal Council was an analogue of the Hopi Tribal Council. In 1921, so the story goes, Standard Oil had found oil on the Navajo area of the reservation. The elders voted 75 to 0 against the lease. The Bureau of Indian Affairs set up a tribal council of the three Navajo whom they could persuade to sign, and after that it was easy sailing. Which story is correct? Maybe neither, and in any event one can’t blame the Navajo Tribal Council on John Boyden. Healing v. Jones went on to court and the verdict was as follows: the Hopi and the Navajo had equal resource rights to the Joint Use Area. That was the bad news for Mr. Boyden. The good news was that partitioning those rights was left up to the tribes, which meant that it was left up to the tribal councils, which meant that it was left up to the lawyers.

If we open the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory for 1973 (which is to say the year before the hearing in which Mr. Boyden will play such a luminescent part), there is still not much evidence of untoward covenants. Well, it is true that the firm of Boyden & Kennedy is listed as: Tenth Floor, Kennecott Building. Did I mention that Kennecott has joined forces with Peabody Coal, and that Peabody Coal has discovered a huge coal deposit at Black Mesa, which happens to be on the Joint Use Area of the Hopi--Navajo reservation? No, that is not evidence. For one thing, the Kennecott Building may just be another coincidence like Coalville, because the headquarters of the Kennecott Copper Corporation is not the Kennecott Building, but East 42nd Street in New York. Maybe there is not a single Kennecott employee in the Kennecott building at all. So let us go back to Mr. Boyden’s law firm, where we have John S. Boyden, John S. Boyden Jr., John Paul Kennedy, and Stephen G. Boyden. The clients include Deseret Pharmaceu-tical, the Hopi Indian Tribe of course, the Ute Indian Tribe, the Confederated Goshute-Shoshone Indian Tribes, the Northwestern Bands of Shoshone Indians, and the Kiabab Band of Paiute Indi-ans. Really, it seems that Indians like Mr. Boyden. The following year the Latter-Day Saints will sign on—why not? Don’t Mormons say that Indians are one of the lost tribes of Israel?

In 1971 he’d been Boyden, Tibbals & Staten, in Suite 604 of the El Paso Natural Gas Building, and I cannot prove that the El Paso Natural Gas Building had anything to do with natural gas, or that he had anything to do with oil or gas or mineral interests at all. And if he did, what on earth would be wrong with that? By 1978 he’ll be Boyden, Kennedy, Romney & Howard. In 1979 he was Boyden, Kennedy, Romney & Owens. He’ll pick up the Zuñi Indian Tribe and the Northwest Pipeline Corporation along the way, and I can’t prove that the Northwest Pipeline Corporation has anything to do with pipelines. In 1980 he’ll be Boyden & Romney, and then he’ll be dead.

Between 1961 and 1964, the Hopi Tribal Council secured oil, gas, and mineral leases that brought in $3,139,104.43 in royalties, of which an even million was paid to their attorney, Mr. John S. Boyden.

Mr. Boyden Speaks to the Committee

Mr. Boyden’s statement ran:



Much has been said
about the inhumanity and the brutality
of requiring the Navajo Indians
to surrender the property
they unlawfully possess.

I call to your attention
that from the time
the Navajo Tribe commenced to overgraze the Joint-Use Area,
to 1973,…
that capacity had been reduced

I might add,
the Navajos have no difficulty moving into the Joint-Use Area
and particularly around District 6.
The claimed inhumanity is in the reverse direction.

The Navajos have painted themselves into a corner

The situation in this area is becoming ELECTRIC,
and immediate action is required….

This is the opportunity
for the United States Senate
to assist
in the administration of

and in a small way
make partial reparation
by the Hopi people….

A Prose Commentary

Mr. Boyden was an angry man. The Navajo kept taking over Hopi land. Indeed, it sounded as if the Navajo had ruined his life. “We talked about these tragedies and all of this land but when we talked about the equities we found such extreme cases as this to get the Hopi out. They took one Hopi woman by the hair and swung her around in the air.”

“Who is ‘they’?” Senator Abourezk wanted to know.

“The Navajo Indians,” said Mr. Boyden.

“Do you know who did it exactly?”

“You can find this in the transcript, in Healing v. Jones, which is now on file.”

“I think I should interrupt at this point,” said Senator Abourezk. “There has been a news bulletin just passed through the commit-tee here. The U.S. Supreme Court has decided eight to nothing to require the

President to turn over the tapes to the Special Prose-cutor.”

“I move to amend it so that the Navajos turn over to the Hopis their land, too,” quipped Mr. Boyden.

Everybody laughed.

The Welfare Cheaters

“Are there not, in the disputed areas, and especially in the area that has been marked off now as exclusive Hopi land in the disputed area…are there not Navajo people living permanently on that area?” said Senator Abourezk.

“Yes,” said Mr. Boyden. “No question of it.”

“Are there not Navajo schools there and Navajo institutions that give the Navajo who live there a sense of permanence?”

“They have received Government help, there is no question about it. I am not able to locate the schools for you.”

“But in specific answer to my question, are there institutions such as schools, welfare agencies, and other such institutions that give the Navajo who live in that area a sense of permanence?”

“Yes, I am sure there are welfare agencies because we found some of these people who were getting welfare through the Navajo agency and the Hopi agency, so they got double welfare. I know they got that.”

“I know, Mr. Boyden, that you cannot resist the temptation to snipe at the Navajo, but—”

“I am not sniping. I have some good Navajo friends. But when the Navajo are wrong—”

“Some of your best friends are Navajo, but in an effort to try to resolve that question I wonder if we cannot just establish some of the facts; that is what I am trying to do.”

Mr. Boyden said that he thought his next map would be helpful in that regard.

The Map of John Boyden (1974)

The map had red, orange, yellow, and green markings. It proved that the whole question was one of grazing. The Navajo were ruining the land. Mr. Boyden could not understand where the Sierra Club was when we were talking about destruction of land in that fashion. Seven hundred percent overgrazed! And if you knew how tough it was to keep the Navajo sheep out of District 6 right now! He wanted the Navajo out right away. He didn’t want life- time estates for the older people in the disputed area, because the Navajo, like bacteria, had this unfortunate way of clustering and colonizing. “The only way to do this is to do like the House did. They said, in the Moencopi area, we will make a decision now, not later, because if you put that through court again and they drag it, like they have done, to the Supreme Court on every decision, they will be so full of Navajos by that time that it would be the same old story again. We will have to displace them all.”

In Which John Boyden Helps the Committee Make Up Its Mind

Senator Montoya’s bill, Mr. Boyden explained to the committee, was a Navajo bill that distorted the facts. Anyhow, the Peabody In-stitute and the Phelps-Stokes Foundation of Yale had done a study that concluded that overgrazing was a menace to the very life of the Navajo people.

A Century of Atrocities

After the luncheon recess, the Hopi Tribal Chairman, Abbott Sekaquaptewa, described in detail how, true to their nature, the Navajo had immediately broken the treaty of June 1, 1868. Fur-thermore, two weeks ago a Hopi named Hugh Sequi was fired on at Little Spring. Only Navajo lived there, so they must have done it. Mr. Sequi’s father had been hanged to death in a hogan because he had gone to claim the livestock that the Navajo stole from him. There was now an opportunity to bring about justice. Mr. Sekaquaptewa thanked the chairman.

Senator Fannin commended him for an excellent statement.

Things Begin to Stink

Senator Abourezk turned to Mr. Boyden and asked him about the Hopi Tribal Council’s public relations firm.

“We cannot in any way match the money paid to a public re-lations firm that the Navajos pay,” said Mr. Boyden. “You look in both papers today and see whether publication is to the Navajo or to the Hopi. We cannot match them in any way, as far as money is concerned. And that is what I said and that is exactly the truth.”

“You do hire a public relations firm in Salt Lake City—”

“Yes,” said Mr. Boyden, “but we are limited on funds. And we are not able to have them here today. As a consequence, all of the articles and the big pictures in the Post and the Star are all Navajo….We cannot compare with them in any way. What I said in the first place is true, and I stay with it.”

“I wonder,” said Senator Abourezk, “if you might be able to tell the committee who the public relations firm is.”

“Our public relations firm is Evans & Associates in Salt Lake City.”

“Mr. Chairman,” interrupted Senator Fannin, “I wonder how much this has to do with the testimony being given here today. I cannot see the relationship. We could go on and on. I can tell you about people who have been into my office from the Navajos, moving picture firms and things like that.”
Senator Abourezk said that he would like his questions an-swered. He asked how much Evans & Associates had been paid, but Mr. Sekaquaptewa said he could not say because he did not have his bookkeeper with him; it was not a large amount. Sena-tor Abourezk asked him to submit the amount for the committee record.

“I will defer response to that until I consult with my counsel to see if it is appropriate or necessary,” said Mr. Sekaquaptewa.

“May I suggest to you,” said Senator Abourezk, “that I think it is appropriate. I will be one of the Senators considering this legislation.”

“May I just turn the Senator’s remarks around?” said Mr. Boy-den. “The Senator can’t resist taking a jibe at the Hopis. We will be glad to answer your question.”

Senator Abourezk said he wanted to advise the counsel for the Hopi that he was not taking a jibe at anybody. “It does not affect my judgment any either way, frankly, what you say about the Navajo. You have said all morning that they were fighting the U.S. Army. As a matter of fact I would get a little suspicious of any Indian tribe that did not fight the U.S. Army back in those days. Not today, but back in those days. It does not affect my judgment, either the statements you have just made since you began testify-ing by way of misrepresenting my legislation and my statements, my own statements. Neither does it affect my judgment when you say that if you think it is pertinent you will furnish something for the record. I just might remind you that you are coming to this Congress asking for equity and you probably ought to have clean hands in doing it.

“That is my purpose in asking about your public relations firm. It is all in this Sunday, July 21 article in the Washington Post about the PR firm that has been handling the range war that you have put on, according to the article.”

Mr. Boyden said, “You were quoting from a public relations product of the Navajo tribe. You want us to talk about something that we do not think has anything to do with the case.”

Senator Abourezk read a passage of the article into the record:

While Boyden was lobbying in Congress and arguing in the courts, Evans & Associates, your PR firm, virtually stage-managed a range war on the borders of the Hopi Reservation….Photos of burned corrals and shot up stock tanks were printed.

“I do not know what they were talking about,” said Mr. Boyden. “Now the incidents on the burning of this corral and the shooting of the holes in the tank are all true stories.”

Senator Abourezk said, “What about the allegations in this same newspaper article? I just want to read a paragraph out of this. ‘At the same time Evans & Associates was representing the Hopi Tribe from 1970 to 1973, they also represented a trade asso-ciation of 23 utility companies engaged in building power plants and strip mines in the Four Corners Area. The group was called West Associates. The mailing address was the same as Evans & As-sociates.’… Is there any connection between that and the desire of utility companies or coal mining companies in getting in there and getting out the resources?’

Mr. Boyden Explains Everything

“I will try to dispel the fog they have created there,” said Mr. Boyden disarmingly. “Yes, Peabody Coal Company is the one that is doing the strip mining. That lease was entered into by the Navajo Tribe….Evans Advertising has nothing to do with Peabody Coal Company and had nothing to do with leasing. We have no conflict of interest with Peabody. That is the first part. With respect to the utilities so far as they are concerned, we have no conflict with the utilities.”

“Do Evans & Associates represent 23 utility companies?”

“I would not have the slightest idea that they represent utility companies.”

“They are not here today, are they?” said Senator Abourezk. “Evans & Associates?”

“No, they are not,” said Mr. Boyden rudely. “That is why we are happy to do the answering—”

“That is why you are what?”

“That is why we are happy to do the answering. If we had them here they could get the articles in the paper like this.”

At this point, Senator Fannin questioned Senator Abourezk’s intent in bringing in something that was not relevant. But I con-sider this quite relevant. As a boy I used to collect little lumps of minerals, and now that I am grown up and it is not seemly for me to do that, I read up on mineral leasing procedures instead. I am sure you will be happy to take a breather from the hearing while I share them with you, for I have that mania for display common to all serious collectors.

(Bureau of Competition—October 1975)

The Bureau of Indian Affairs has made repeated, but unsuccessful, efforts to solve the [Hopi-Navajo] dis-pute, which, with discovery of oil, gas, and uranium in the area, has become acute.--
95th Congress, 2nd sess., House of Representatives, Report No.1942, “Explanation of the Bill,” pp. 2-3.

Chapter 2: Importance of Energy Resources on Indian Lands
It is possible that Indian land coal could provide more than one-tenth of the nation’s future coal needs.

Chapter 3: Past and Present Leasing Policies
The primary characteristic of Indian land leasing is its inherent flexibility.

Chapter 7: Recommendations
The inherent flexibility of the Indian leasing mineral leasing program stems from the basic fact that virtually all regulations can be waived when it is in the best interests of the Indians to do so.

Chapter 3 (continued)
…Neither the Minerals Department nor the Advisory Council usually notify the individual Indians who are living on or near the tract of tribal land before the decision to lease it. It is not unusual for a Navajo to first hear about the lease when he is forced to move to a different part of the reservation….

…The BIA [Bureau of Indian Affairs] invariably follows the sug-gestions of the USGS [U.S. Geological Survey]…. Generally the USGS tends to be more eager than tribal officials to accept the bids submitted. In the past three years, for instance, the USGS has never recommended that a high bid on any tract offered at Navajo oil and gas sales be rejected.

…All oil and gas Indian leases stipulate only the minimum $1.25 per acre rental payment and all but one coal lease the minimum $1 per acre rental payment.

…The Peabody leases on the Navajo and Hopi-Navajo Reser-vations impose a royalty of 25 cents per ton or 6 2/3 percent of gross sales, whichever is larger….

…All eleven coal leases [on Indian lands] substantially exceed 2,560 acres; their average size is 23,523 acres, which is 15 times larger than the average coal lease on public land.... At least one tribe, the Northern Cheyenne, now contend that the extraordinary size of the leases on their land is not in their best interests….

…Two Navajo Tribal Councilmen and the Tribal Minerals Leasing Office all said that the coal lessees were not taking nearly enough pre-cautions to safeguard the environment…. Navajo residents of one area being strip mined by Peabody Coal Company were so enraged by the destruction of their grazing land that they engaged in sit-in demonstrations to force Peabody to discontinue its operations…. These leases contain no provisions for modifications of terms….

Chapter 5: Evaluation of Leasing Policies

…The concentration ratios for Indian land coal are very high: four bidders, for example, submitted one-half of the bids and nearly three--fourths of the dollars bid, enabling them to win two-thirds of the total number of tracts and two-thirds of the acreage offered. In a self-con-tained market, such high ratios would clearly suggest anticompetitive conditions. But such a facile conclusion is undercut here by…the relatively few [sic] number of bidders and tracts offered…[and the fact that] Indian land coal is not a distinct market….

Despite the fact that the high concentration ratios in Indian land coal do not reveal any threat of monopoly power among the top bid-ders, these concentration figures do reveal the possibility of an oligopsony detrimental to the financial interests of the sellers--the Indians.

…While the Navajo do not contemplate legal action, their Chairman recently described the royalty terms of their coal leases, signed in the late 1950’s and 1960’s[,] as “just a giveaway.”

Appendix E. Coal lessors as of June 30, 1974
[The top lessor in the table is on the first line--Peabody Coal, with four out of the eleven leases held. The other companies have one apiece. Peabody holds 100,341 acres out of a total 258,754.]

“But You Do Not Hear Any Squealing” ( 1974)

Mr. Boyden explained that nothing they had before them would really solve the Navajo problem. If this were in South Dakota, he said (as I have mentioned, Senator Abourezk was from South Dakota), we might have a different attitude.

“Who might have a different attitude?” said Senator Abourezk.

“I say it might pose a different problem,” said John Boyden.

“I suppose it would,” said Senator Abourezk wearily. “Let me ask you, what would you recommend that the committee do with the Navajo living on the disputed area, that you do not think ought to live there?”

“As I say,” said Mr. Boyden, “moving of a house is not a prob-lem at all.… The movement is going forward all the time. They are moving right now, but you do not hear any squealing. The only squealing is when you start to move them back; that is where the problem comes.”

“You Are Not Going to Put Them Anywhere”

“I really do not understand if you have answered my question. I do not think you have. Where would you put the Navajo that you want to move off the disputed area?”

“As I say again,” said Mr. Boyden easily, “you are not going to put them anywhere. There is not enough land in Arizona that is available, in order to put them where they can continue to have livestock grazing as their only means of support. I am saying that that part is over and done with, because the land is nearly de-stroyed.… These people have got to find some other means of making a living….”

Senator Abourezk asked why the Hopi traditionalists opposed his position. Mr. Boyden said that that was beyond him. **

“We Are Proud of the Navajo People”

Peter MacDonald, chairman of the Navajo Tribal Council, said the federal government did not write on a clean slate. He recalled the stock reductions of the 1930s, when sheep were doused with kerosene by the BIA rangers and set on fire in front of their owners, who then went to bed hungry. He said that negotiations on the land dispute had been mysteriously broken off by the Hopi Tribal Council. He was not sure that there was a land dispute at all. He offered on behalf of the Navajo Tribe to purchase the entire Joint Use Area. The Hopi living on it could remain.

“We are proud of the Navajo people,” Senator Fannin assured him. “We are proud in Arizona that you are developing your oil. It is the only oil in Arizona that we have. We are proud that you are developing your rich coal reserves and uranium. We are proud of what you have been able to do with your large lumber industries.”


An Act
To provide for final settlement of the conflicting rights and interests of the Hopi and Navajo Tribes....

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That, (a) within thirty days after enactment of this Act, the Director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services shall appoint a Mediator…for the settlement and partition of the relative rights and interests….

Sec. 4(a) If the negotiating teams fail to reach full agreement within the time allowed…the District Court is authorized to make a final adjudication, including partition of the joint use area….

Sec. 5(a) …the Mediator is authorized—…(3) to recommend that, subject to the consent of the Secretary, there be undertaken a program for reloca-tion of members of one tribe from lands which may be partitioned to the other tribe in the joint use area….

Sec. 6(f) Any boundary line between lands partitioned to the two tribes in the joint use area shall, insofar as is practicable, follow ter-rain which will facilitate fencing or avoid the need for fencing.…

Sec. 19(a) …the Secretary is authorized and directed to immediately commence reduction of the numbers of all the livestock now being grazed upon the lands within the joint use area and complete such reductions to carrying capacity of such lands....***

Approved December 22, 1974

Happily Ever After

Once PL 93-531 was passed, Harrison Loesch, who as Department of the Interior liaison to the BIA had gone beyond the call of duty in his efforts to bring about partition, became Vice President of Peabody Coal. Senator Wayne Owens of Utah, who had cospon-sored the bill, got a job with Mr. Boyden’s law firm. As Hobbes said, “This question, Why Evill men often Prosper, and Good men suffer Adversity,…hath shaken the faith, not onely of the Vulgar, but of Philosophers, and which is more, of the Saints….”

* Over ten thousand Navajos turned out to be on the Hopi side of the parti-tion. Most of them have been relocated. About a hundred Hopis were on the Navajo side; they have now been cleared from the area.

** Earlier, a Mr. Shifter (and where he comes from is a mystery to me; I probably skipped over that page) had said, “I think it should be made known that there are a number of Hopi traditionals who are here who have asked for time. As I understand it, they have been refused Hopi time. Therefore, the Navajo time has volunteered a half an hour of its time under the present 2 1/2 system to allow these Hopis to say what they please.”—So in due course, Mina Lansa, Hopi Hereditary Kikmongwi of Oraibi Pueblo, testified on Navajo time that she did not want Hopi or Navajo lands to be cut up or fenced. She said that Hopis and Navajos could resolve the matter of the so-called disputed land by themselves. The committee asked her what percentage of the Hopi Tribe she represented, but she did not understand the white people’s way of figuring.—There were eighty-two additional statements appended to the transcript of the hearing. Of these, only six were from Hopis (and one of those may in fact have been a Navajo; the person was born in the Hopi area but did not make his own affiliation clear). Four of these were in favor of partition. This one seems to be a direct attack on Mina Lansa’s legitimacy: “There has never been a woman called and ordained as a Kikmongwi…. Since their arrival, the Navajo have been desecrating our sacred eagle shrines and even killing off the eagles…. There are those among us who are of evil purpose and seek to mislead you. They will represent themselves to be spokesmen for the Hopi. Do not be misled by them for they betray our traditions for their personal gain. The destiny of the Navajo is that ultimately he shall have no place on our land and cannot remain there” (Starlie Lomayaktewa, born about 1900, Kikmongwi of Mishongnovi Village). I honestly don’t know whom to believe. What is more germane is that out of eight thousand besieged Hopis seeking urgent relief from their Navajo foes, only five or six submitted testimony to the hearing.

***The Bureau of Indian Affairs has used Section 19(a) to justify a 90 percent stock reduction. Katherine Smith, for instance, used to have a herd of two hundred sheep. She now has twenty. In a letter to Senator Henry Jackson, Professor David Aberle of the University of British Columbia said: “By en-forcing a huge livestock reduction in the disputed territory, [members of Congress] expect that, deprived of a livelihood, the Navajos will leave the area. They do not seem to consider that these Navajos have nowhere to go. The livestock reduction seems nothing more than enforced starvation.”