Ferrell Secakuku, 69; ‘90s Hopi leader helped settle tribal land dispute

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Former Hopi Chairman Ferrell Secakuku, 69, who helped resolve a longtime land dispute between his tribe and the Navajo Nation, died Wednesday at a friend’s home in Flagstaff, Ariz., said his daughter, Kim. He had suffered from cancer.

Born in the Village of Sipaulovi, Secakuku was chairman of the Hopi Tribe from 1994 to 1997. While in office, he facilitated the negotiation of the Navajo-Hopi Land Settlement, which was worked out after a federal judge in 1991 ordered the tribes to reach an agreement over land they had been quarreling over since the 1800s.

At the time, Secakuku said the agreement was important in providing a way for Navajo and Hopi families to live in harmony on the land in northern Arizona. The Hopi reservation covers more than 2,400 square miles and is surrounded by the much-larger Navajo reservation.

Secakuku grew up working in his father’s trading post and, after graduating with a business degree from Northern Arizona University, converted it to the only supermarket on the reservation. He also earned a master’s degree in anthropology from the university in 2006.