Ousted Hopi chairman files legal challenge 4-10-07

KYKOTSMOVI, Arizona (AP) - The ousted chairman of the Hopi tribe has filed a lawsuit in Hopi Tribal Court over his removal from office.

Ben Nuvamsa's 15page complaint contends the Tribal Council lacked the authority to remove him and it accuses council members, the council secretary and some individual tribal members of acting illegally.

Nuvamsa was elected to the post in February but was removed after only 27 days in office. The Council nullified his election, deciding he was not eligible to run because he did not meet residency requirements.

``The main thing is that they violated the people's United States' constitutional rights and tribal constitutional rights and they also violated their civil rights,'' Nuvamsa said Monday. ``We want to be able to restore voter confidence in their government. I think that's what the fight is about. It's not necessarily about me. The residency issue is not an issue. It has never been an issue.''

The chairman was removed after allegations that he hadn't lived on Hopi lands for the previous two years, a requirement to seek office. But Nuvamsa has said he was living at Hotevilla and was eligible.

The Council discussed the matter during an executive session Monday but voted against rescinding the earlier resolution nullifying the election that put Nuvamsa in office.

The Council plans to meet again April 30 to determine its course of action.

Nuvamsa is seeking a temporary restraining order, an injunction and an ``extraordinary writ'' against the defendants, alleging their actions violated the Hopi Constitution, the Hopi Election Ordinance and the Indian Civil Rights Act.