Navajo ranchers acceded to U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs requests this week, removing their livestock from a tribally owned ranch near Chambers.
Carol Retasket, director of the Navajo Tribe's program that deals with a long-standing land dispute between the Navajos and Hopis, said owners removed all of the 200 or so head of cattle the BIA said were illegally grazing on the ranch. The cattle belong to Navajos who live on lands partitioned to the Hopis as a result of the land dispute.Tom Tippeconnic, an assistant BIA area director for the Navajo region, said he had heard the same news about a resolution of the agency's 3-month-old attempt to remove the cattle.
"We're going to be spending the next couple of days going through the ranch looking for strays, but our information right now is that the cattle are gone," he said.
The BIA had given the Navajos until Tuesday to remove the cattle but extended the deadline by one day as ranchers began making arrangements to move the animals.
The agency has threatened to impound any cattle still on the range and sell them, taking out any impoundment fees before giving the rest of the money to the owners of the cattle.
The BIA has been trying through negotiations and an appeal to U.S. District Court to get the cattle removed.
Because the Navajos were not authorized to live on the partitioned land, the BIA rescinded their grazing permits.
The families moved their cattle to Chambers Ranch, which is owned and operated by the Navajo Tribe.
The ranch is part of the tribe's trust lands, however, and the BIA said none of the cattle could remain because the owners did not have valid grazing permits.