RRFW Riverwire – Tramway Legislation Heads To Full Council Work Session
November 2, 2016
On October 25, 2016, the Navajo Nation Resources and Development committee met in Tse Bonito, New Mexico, to take up a review of legislation authorizing the construction of a massive new tourist development on the rim of the Grand Canyon. The development, proposed to be built on traditional grazing land on the Navajo Nation, includes a highly controversial tramway to be constructed to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
In a move that was surprising to some, at the start of the meeting the legislation was withdrawn from the meeting agenda and referred to a working session of the entire Navajo Nation Tribal Council. The working session will be held at 10:00 am, Thursday, November 10, 2016, at Twin Arrows Casino. The meeting is open to all members of the interested public.
The tramway legislation was introduced by Council member Ben Bennett on August 29, 2016, and must be reviewed by four Navajo Nation Committees before coming to a vote by the full Tribal Council.
The Navajo Nation Tribal Council Fall Session was held the week of October 17 to 21 at the Tribal Council Chambers at Window Rock. At this point, the soonest the legislation could reach the full council for an up or down vote would be at the winter session in January, 2017. Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye has stated he will veto the legislation.
The first committee to review the legislation was the Law and Order Committee. Bennett was openly criticized by another tribal council member at that meeting for introducing legislation that would have potentially devastating impacts in western Navajo, far removed from the eastern Navajo chapters Bennett serves. The Law and Order Committee voted unanimously to oppose the legislation.
One of many issues surrounding the legislation is the destruction of land recognized as being of sacred cultural significance to not only the Navajo Nation, but to other First Nations as well. The Hopi Nation released a statement thanking the Law and Order Committee after the vote.
Bennett stated the reason the legislation did not pass the Law and Order committee meeting was that “It was very apparent that there was a lot of information not getting to the legislators.” Bennett noted the November 10 working session for the entire Council will allow presentations by the developers “so that our legislators can make an informed decision." The work session will also hear from the Navajo Nation Attorney General’s Office and the Cultural Preservation Office. Both of these offices have been critical of the proposed legislation.
Any meeting of the entire Navajo Nation Tribal Council must be conducted by the Navajo Nation Tribal Council Speaker, Lorenzo Bates. When asked if the meeting would be open to the public, Councilman Bates stated “Unless there is anything confidential, most likely it will be open. It’s an informational meeting.” If confidential information were to be introduced, the meeting would have to be held in executive session.
After the working session, the legislation is scheduled to return to the Resources and Development Committee for its November 15 meeting.
River Runners for Wilderness encourages its members to write to the Navajo Nation and Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell. Tell the Nation and Secretary Jewell with all due respect:
-You are opposed to Navajo Nation Legislation 0293-16
- You support a tramway-free Grand Canyon.
- Ask that Navajo tribal funds be spent on vital needs such as housing, sanitation, telecommunication and water supply projects across the entire Western Navajo lands.
- Remind the Navajo Nation and Secretary Jewell of her duty to work with the Navajo to protect and preserve the Grand Canyon as the 1975 Grand Canyon Enlargement Act required.
You can send your comments to the Navajo Nation here:
Or in writing, mailed to:
Office of Legislative Services
P.O. Box 3390
Window Rock, AZ 86515
Navajo Nation law requires that all comments, either in the form of letters and or e-mails must include your name, position title, address for written comments and a valid e-mail address. Anonymous comments will not be included in the Legislation packet.
Please cc Secretary Jewell here:
By e-mail: [email protected]
Secretary of the Interior
The Honorable Sally Jewell
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20240
For further information, please contact Tom Martin at River Runners For Wilderness, [email protected]
Additional information is also available here:
Save the Confluence
Photo: Resources Committee Meeting, Tse Bonito, NM, by Tom Martin
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