Top elected officials on Hopi reservation seek second term
KYKOTSMOVI, Ariz. (AP) — The top two elected officials on the Hopi reservation are seeking another term in office.
The Hopi Election Board recently certified the candidates for the election scheduled later this year. Chairman Tim Nuvangyaoma and Vice Chairman Clark Tenakhongva are running for a second consecutive four-year term.
Nuvangyaoma is among four seeking the chairman’s post. He’ll face David Norton Talayumptewa, a member of the Tribal Council and former U.S. Bureau of Indian Education official, whom he beat in the 2017 general election.
Former Vice Chairman Alfred Lomaquahu Jr. and Andrew Qumyintewa also are running for chairman. Hopis will narrow the list to two in the September primary election.
The race for vice chairman has two candidates, including the incumbent, Tenakhongva. He and Craig Andrews, who also serves on the Tribal Council, will automatically move on to the November general election.
The Hopi reservation in northeastern Arizona is completely surrounded by the much-larger Navajo Nation with its villages situated among three mesas. The Hopi Tribe has more than 14,600 enrolled members, not all of whom live on the reservation, according to the Hopi Enrollment Office.
Like other tribes, Hopi struggled through the coronavirus pandemic, enacting tough restrictions to keep COVID-19 from spreading further. Around 1,300 Hopis have been infected with the virus since the pandemic began.
During a public forum last month, the candidates for chairman and vice chairman recognized the toll the virus has taken on the reservation where wearing masks is still required and the tribe is slowly reopening.
“It’s not part of Hopi, it’s not part of our culture out here, but yet we have to follow that to save each one of us,” Tenakhongva said. “We’ve lost a lot of people.”
Thousands of Hopis are eligible to vote in this year’s elections but aren’t required to register. Turnout for the 2017 election was low, with about 1,620 votes cast.
The Hopi chairman and vice chairman run separately. Much of their authority comes from the Tribal Council, which functions like a city government. The chairman presides over meetings but doesn’t vote except to break a tie.