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Hopis and Navajos poised for another redistricting fight

By Daniel Kraker

Flagstaff, AZ – In a recent ranking of the country's most gerrymandered congressional districts, Arizona's second district placed number three out of 435.

The Hopi reservation in northeastern Arizona is connected by the Colorado River to the far western side of the state, which then runs all the way down to Phoenix. The reason for the crazy map?

10 years ago, the last time districts were drawn, the Hopi Tribe argued vehemently against being grouped in the same district as the much larger Navajo Nation which completely surrounds the Hopi reservation. Current Hopi Chairman Leroy Shingoitewa believes the Hopi tribe will probably adopt the same position this time around.

"It's kind of difficult to be, not having the political clout for certain things, that becomes tough for the tribe when we're out looking for things that would affect our tribal programs and enterprises. Anything legislative we have to work closely with our reps, sometimes that gets very difficult if you're the minority in a district."

A decade ago the Navajo Nation opposed the arrangement. Navajo leaders argued both tribes would have greater political clout if they were grouped together. Shingoitewa says that may be the case

"But also on the other side, both tribes have to talk together, to figure out what the pros and cons are if we both come together."

Arizona's congressional map is drawn by a five member Independent Redistricting Commission. But state lawmakers are going to court later this month to challenge three of the people who were appointed to the commission.