FLAGSTAFF, Arizona – The race for President Hopi will be a rematch of the last general election.
Tribal Council member David Norton Talayumptewa was the top voter in Thursday’s primary with 298 votes, followed by current President Tim Nuvangyaoma with 291 votes, unofficial results show.
The two will face each other in the general election on November 11. Nuvangyaoma defeated Talayumptewa in the 2017 general election by over 325 votes.
Turnout for Thursday’s primary was low with 945 votes cast. The ballot did not feature the vice presidential candidates as only two people are running, meaning that current vice president Clark Tenakhongva and Craig Andrews automatically go into the general election.
Andrew Qumyintewa finished third in the presidential primary elections, with 286 votes. Former Vice President Alfred Lomahquahu Jr. was behind with 70 votes. Candidates have a few days to submit their challenges before the results can be certified, said Karen Shupla, tribal clerk.
The two main elected officials of the tribe do not show up on a ticket, but Nuvangyaoma campaigned with Andrews.
The leaders derive much of their authority from the Hopi Tribal Council, which functions as a municipal government. The president chairs the meetings but only votes to break the tie.
Talayumptewa, a former head of the US Bureau of Education, represents Kykotsmovi on the board where he championed a measure to unify the various schools on the reserve under a single district and education board.
“There is going to be some consistency in the way we teach them, and that is going to improve learning and academic achievement,” he told the AP.
Nuvangyaoma intends to secure funding for a water supply project to combat arsenic contamination and a detention center, as well as progress in a solar farm, hotel and rental of a manufacturing plant belonging to the tribe among the successes of his administration. He recognized that the road has not been easy.
“We have learned that with hard work and commitment, we can overcome these obstacles,” he said in an interview.
Talayumptewa and Nuvangyaoma spoke in a recent forum and on social media where much of their campaigning took place on the need for economic development and finding ways to encourage Hopi youth to get involved in tribal government.
One of the obstacles to running for office is a requirement for candidates to speak the Hopi language and demonstrate this ability, Nuvangyaoma said. Prior to 2017, applicants had to be fluent.
“I will never discredit our language,” he said. “But I think there are constitutional amendments and changes that need to happen in order to bring (in) our professionals who speak education, technology, healthcare, development, finance, all of these languages, technical languages to advance Hopi. “
The tribe’s constitution was first approved in the 1930s. The changes require an election overseen by the US Department of the Interior.
Talayumptewa said he wanted to maintain the language requirement, establish a language immersion school on the Hopi reservation in northeast Arizona, and actively contact young Hopi professionals to help lead the government.
“This is what sets us apart as a Hopi nation, this is how we practice our traditions, our culture and our religion,” he said. “I think there are ways to teach the Hopi language to maintain it.”