Top Navajo official promotes the controversial Escalade

PAGE, Ariz.

The Grand Canyon Escalade project is all but guaranteed, according to President Ben Shelly’s special advisor Deswood Tome.

But detailed analysis of the proposed bill for the planned resort above the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers raises questions for residents of Bodaway-Gap Chapter and the Navajo Nation in general.

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The Confluence is sacred, according to Navajo publications

The following is a letter to the editor published in the Sept. 4, 2014 Navajo Times.

In response to misleading and false information put out by the Confluence Partners LLC on the Grand Canyon Escalade website ( about the sacredness of the Confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers, we would like to set the record straight about the about the sacredness of the Confluence. Continue reading

Arizona Republic editorial: Think hard before building the Escalade resort


It’s not just any canyon.

Arizona’s Grand Canyon is one of the Wonders of the World. It has breathtaking aesthetic, spiritual, recreational and scientific significance.

MORE: Cable-car project ignites controversy

That means the proposal to build a resort with an elaborate cable-gondola system has to be seen in the larger context. It is about much, much more than economic development on the Navajo Reservation.

It is about the best interests of a national treasure.

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Escalade economic benefit to the Navajo Nation questionable

There is also a dispute over whether there would be any real economic benefit for the Navajo Nation, and if there was, whether it would be worth the cultural and religious price.

The remote but sprawling Bodaway/Gap Chapter (a local government unit on the Navajo Reservation) has just one gas station. Its area makes up less than 4 percent of Navajo land. It’s a place visitors stop on their way to Page or the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, then keep driving through.

Most of the 500 or so residents of the chapter raise cows or sheep. Others drive for hours to get to jobs in Tuba City or Flagstaff.

Many of the chapter’s residents live in poverty, and there aren’t enough jobs to keep young people from leaving.

Some say the Escalade project would fix that by bringing an economic boom to the chapter — but at a religious, environmental and cultural price not all Navajos are comfortable paying.

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Preserving the East Rim of the Grand Canyon