Dark Days on Black Mesa

The Hopi want one of the largest coal mines in North America to stop using their groundwater. If springs and wells continue to dry up, they say, their ancient culture may disappear, too.

Udall says a primary concern he had at the time was making sure the Hopi and Navajo tribes supported the lease agreements with Peabody.

"I said, 'What do the Indians want to do? I'm not going to approve it unless the Navajo Tribal Council, and the Hopi, their governments, approved it.'"

That's when the Hopi were deceived by their trusted lawyer, the late John Boyden.

Udall knew that the Hopi Tribal Council was deeply divided on the issue and lacked widespread support from many traditional Hopi who opposed any mining leases.

Nevertheless, he approved the lease after Boyden convinced the Hopi to go along with the deal.

"Boyden got some kind of resolution through the Tribal Council," Udall says. "If he had not done so, I wouldn't have approved it."

Three decades later, information has surfaced that details Boyden's role in negotiating for the Hopi with Peabody.

Documents unearthed by University of Colorado law professor Charles F. Wilkinson reveal that Boyden violated the sacred trust he held with the Hopi. He also violated a legal tenant.

"John Boyden's legal files, donated to the University of Utah afer his death in 1980 but only recently available for public review, show that Boyden violated his high duty to the Hopi by working concurrently for Peabody Coal during the decisive years of the mid-1960s," Wilkinson states in a lengthy paper published in the Brigham Young University Law Review in 1996.

Udall says he was stunned to learn of Wilkinson's findings. Attorneys are to avoid such conflicts of interest at all costs.

"I naturally feel pangs of conscience about this at this point by the way it has all turned out," Udall says. "And I'm particularly sensitive to the Hopi point of view because of what Boyden did."

Most Hopi ceremonies revolve around prayers for rain.
"We are praying for the cycle of nourishment for all life," says Gloria Lomahaftewa, assistant to the director of Native American affairs at the Heard Museum.

The prayers for rain never stop, even in death.
Hopi tradition, Lomahaftewa says, states that when a wife dies, she should be wrapped in her wedding robes for her ride back to heaven. There, she will be turned into a cloud.

If she has led a good life, she will return a great blessing to her people.
She will transform into a cloudburst.

Next week: John Boyden's legacy.

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