Who owns the land?

Feb 13, 2017 by

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The last sentence in “Hopi School Administrator Expelled from Reservation” (Jan. 16) quoted Karen Pennington, an attorney for the Hopi tribal council, about the land on which the Hopi Mission School sits.

Throughout the information presented in Mennonite publications during the last year about the school’s financial and administrative difficulties, Mennonite Church USA, through its Mennonite Education Agency, has claimed ownership of the school’s property, located in the middle of Hopi tribal lands.

MEA cites a deed to the General Conference Mennonite Church from President Calvin Coolidge in the 1920s as a basis for this ownership. Because the historic federal government’s domination of tribal lands is based upon military conquest and racist and colonial assumptions about Native destiny, I am puzzled why Mennonite Church USA believes its claim of ownership is moral. I urge MC USA to enact what Pennington supports, “reverting that land back to the Hopi tribe.”

Ardie Goering
Albuquerque, N.M.


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  • Dave Suter

    I totally agree with Ardie. MCUSA should take the high road and give the land, occupied by the Hopi Mission School, back to the Hopi Tribe. It could be argued that the GC Mennonite Church acquired land taken/stolen from the Hopi Tribe. By arguing in court that it owns the land may be legally correct but it is not morally correct or the Christian approach.

    Dave Suter
    Lawrence, MI

  • Gene Mast

    May the curious among us inquire as to what the statute of limitations is regarding lands taken by conquest? Since both Michigan and New Mexico seem to have at one time belonged to someone other than persons of European extraction, how does one decide one’s own property is held morally but that someone else’s property is unjustly acquired and held? Unless the writers here are of Native American heritage, of course, in which case the honest thing would be to demand we all go back across the pond. Although, in interest of full disclosure, I do have a bit of Native American ancestry, which I only mention so that anyone wracked with cultural guilt can ease the pangs of conscience by deeding their property to yours truly. Just trying to be helpful in guiding the eager onto the on-ramp of the high road.

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