RRFW Riverwire –Committee Tables Tramway Bill at Bodaway Meeting

RRFW Riverwire –Committee Tables Tramway Bill at Bodaway Meeting
Wednesday, January 12, 2017

A Phoenix based developer’s legislation to build a massive tourist development with a tramway to the bottom of the Grand Canyon received another setback January 11, 2016, when the Navajo Nation Resources & Development Committee voted to table the legislation. The vote was three in favor of tabling and two against. This can only be seen as a stinging rebuke to the Committee Vice-Chair Ben Bennett, sponsor of the legislation.

The tramway legislation is a Phoenix developers scheme to build a luxury tourist resort on Navajo Nation lands at the rim of the Canyon, possibly including many hundreds of helicopter flights to the bottom of the Grand Canyon each day, along with moving up to ten thousand people a day to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back to the rim top via a tramway. The legislation also proposes to take away 420 acres of land without compensation to the traditional Navajo families that have lived in that location for many decades, while circumventing a number of Navajo Nation laws.

About one hundred attendees packed into the Bodaway-Gap Chapter House for the meeting, located about twenty miles due east of the Confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado Rivers. An hour long presentation by the Phoenix, AZ, based developers was given to the committee members. Delegate Bennett sat next to the developers during the presentation, but it was to no avail.

Included in the developers presentation was mention of a new community for workers at the resort that would be built in the middle of the wind-swept Marble Platform, roughly half way between the rim of the Grand Canyon and Highway 89A. The Legislation makes no mention of this proposed development. Three members of the Committee had hard questions for the developers. The Delegates questioned why the legislation failed to mentioning the fact that there is no impact assessment for the already overtaxed law enforcement services that would be needed at the new community. Also raised was the fact that the legislation ignores any mention of the local landowners and grazing families that will be impacted in the development area, nor has the local community been included in any discussion of what sort of development, if any, they want on their land.

The Delegates were not the only ones to express concern about the legislation. Incoming Bodaway Gap Chapter President Elect Don Yellowman was invited by the Committee to give a report about his plans for the Chapter. President Elect Yellowman gave a passionate speech at the start of the five hour meeting talking about how his community needs healing after being torn apart by the Phoenix developers legislation, and that the legislation is “top-heavy,” coming as it is from Phoenix developers via Window Rock, the Navajo Nation seat of power. Yellowman wants to see any development being a grass roots move toward sustainable development starting at the Chapter level.

As per Navajo Nation law, the legislation must be reviewed by four Navajo Nation committees before going to the entire Tribal Council for a vote. The Law and Order Committee was the first committee to review the legislation and unanimously voted the legislation down. The next committee to review the legislation is the Budget and Finance Committee. No date or location has yet been set for that meeting.

River Runners for Wilderness still encourages its members to write to the Navajo Nation and the Secretary of the Department of Interior. Tell the Nation and the Interior Secretary, 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 the Secretary of Interior that the Department of Interior has been charged 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:

Tom Platero
Executive Director
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 of the Interior
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20240


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