This article was originally published by Mennonite World Review

Who owns the land?

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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