RRFW Riverwire - Grand Canyon Tramway Legislation Receives First Blow
October 10, 2016
Navajo Nation Legislation to build a tramway and resort in the eastern part of the Grand Canyon received a major blow today.
The legislation must pass through four Navajo Nation Committees. Each committee has a hearing on the legislation, and then votes to support the legislation or not. The Law and Order Committee voted 4-0 today against the legislation, and the bill now moves to the Resources and Development Committee.
Roughly 200 people attended the meeting, held at the Twin Arrows Casino. In attendance were Hopi Tribal Chairman Herman Honanie and a number of Hopi Tribal Council members. Navajo Nation representatives and grazing allotment families from the Bodaway-Gap and Cameron Chapters were also in attendance.
Given the large number of attendees, Law and Order Committee Chairman Yazzie decided to forgo public comment, but did allow two speakers. They were past Navajo Nation President Albert Hale, and Navajo Nation Tribal Councilman Daniel Brown.
President Hale, one of the partners in the development, spoke in Navajo for forty minutes on the need for the development. According to Hale, one of the reasons to build the tramway was to protect the sacred Confluence area from river runners. Hale also noted outside environmental groups and paid protestors are preventing meaningful job creation.
Each of the five Tribal Council Delegates on the Law and Order Committee meeting then spoke about the project. Committee meeting members noted Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said he will veto the legislation if it reaches his desk. They also noted $65 million the Navajo Nation must commit to the project could be better spent elsewhere on Nation projects such as bring water to the forty percent of the population who must haul water. It was pointed out that none of the permit holders who live in the area had given their consent to the project.
Visiting Navajo Nation Tribal Council Member Daniel Brown was then allowed to speak. Brown read a statement from the Navajo Nation Cultural Preservation Office, listing a number of vital significant flaws with the legislation, including a statement that the office would not approve a permit for the project.
The full committee then voted 4-0 to amend the legislative packet to add the Cultural Preservation Office statement. The Chairman did not vote, as is customary unless there is a tie vote.
Once that was done, the Committee Chair Edmund Yazzie entertained a vote on the legislation. The vote was 4-0 in opposition to the legislation. The committee’s vote will be included in the legislative packet, which now goes to the Resources and Development Committee for review. No date has yet been set yet for the next committee review.
River Runners For Wilderness Council Member Tom Martin was thrilled with the outcome of today’s meeting. “While we and many others, including Navajo and Hopi Nation officials, were saddened at not being allowed to speak, it was very clear that we share many concerns with the Committee members about this ill-conceived proposal. The vote could not have gone any better.”
Martin encourages anyone interested to attend these committee meetings if at all possible. River Runners For Wilderness will post the next tramway legislation committee meeting date, time and location on the Rafting Grand Canyon Facebook page when this information becomes available.
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