Following up on its earlier Bacavi decision, the Hopi Appellate Court issued a decision on September 10, 2013 interpreting the Hopi Constitution in Duwahoyeoma v. Hopi Tribe, No. 2012-AP-0002. Specifically, the Court reaffirmed the aboriginal sovereignty of the separate Hopi and Tewa villages that formed the basis of its Bacavi decision and held in Duwahoyeoma that Article III, Section 3 of the Hopi Constitution reserved exclusive jurisdiction to the respective Hopi and Tewa Villages to determine how they would be governed and, consequently, that this provision precluded the Hopi Courts from deciding purely internal village disputes as to the form of governance or the legitimacy of Kikmongwi or other traditional religious leaders. The Court did note, however, that the Hopi courts can interpret the Hopi Constitution and otherwise review claims involving the decisions of the Tribal Council or other administrative officers even though such decisions may implicate questions of village governance. Invoking the latter jurisdiction, the Hopi Appellate Court further found that the provision of Article III, Section 3 of the Hopi Constitution that provides that traditional Villages “shall be considered as being under the traditional Hopi organization, and the Kikmongwi of such village shall be recognized as its leader” did not mandate or require the Kikmongwi to serve as the daily governing authority of any Village, but, merely, recognized his traditional role as leader and spokesman for the Village, a role akin to head of state, to communicate village policy or decisions to the Tribal Council, other Villages, or other parties. Finally, the Court interpreted Article III, Section 4 of the Hopi Constitution, which authorizes in certain circumstances the calling of an election run by the United States Department of the Interior Superintendent to change the form of Village government, to not curtail or eliminate preexisting Village sovereignty to change forms of government by other means that do not involve the federal government. Thus, the Court concluded that when Article III, Section 4 stated that Villages “may” use the described federally supervised election procedure, it provided one, but not the only, means of accomplishing Village governmental change but did not indicate that Villages must use that procedure as the exclusive means of making such governance changes. The full opinion is available here.