RRFW Riverwire – Tribal Council Votes Tramway Down

November 1, 2017

Late in the afternoon of October 31, 2017, the Navajo Nation Tribal Council voted down legislation by a Phoenix, Arizona, based developer to build a tramway in the Grand Canyon. The vote failed 16 to 2, with six Tribal delegates not in attendance.

The developer planned to build an ecologically destructive tramway on Navajo Nation land to the bottom of the Grand Canyon with capacity for up to 10,000 visitors a day, a luxury spa and innumerable accompanying helicopter and fixed wing flights.

The proposal first appeared as a memorandum of understanding between the Phoenix developers and the Navajo Nation in 2012, and was submitted as legislation and introduced into the Navajo Nation Tribal Government legislative agenda in 2016.

Once on the Navajo Nation legislative docket, the legislation was reviewed by four Navajo Nation standing committees. It was voted down by three of the four committees and tabled in the forth.

On October 31, 2017, in special session, Navajo Nation Tribal Council Delegates reviewed and debated the legislation for three hours. An attempt was offered by the proponents of the legislation to make the development more palatable, but a number of deficiencies in the legislation not addressed in the amendment were pointed out by the delegates. In the end, the amendment failed to pass.

At one point, past Navajo Nation Delegate Larry Anderson, a well-respected medicine man from Fort Defiance, New Mexico, gave a short and powerful speech to the delegates on the need for preservation of the sacred lands that make up the Grand Canyon. Tribal Council Delegates made it clear that while they supported and understood the need for development on the lands that make up the western Navajo Nation, this development was wrong for the Nation and wrong for the Grand Canyon.

The late afternoon vote means Navajo Nation Legislation 0293-16 has failed. Any proposal to develop such a scheme will need to be introduced into Navajo Nation legislation all over again.

River Runners For Wilderness Council Member Tom Martin would like to thank all those who helped in protecting the Grand Canyon from this proposed desecration.

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