The Hopi Tribe’s resolution strongly opposing a proposal to build a luxury resort and tram on and near sacred sites at The Grand Canyon includes authorization for leaders to go to court to prevent construction.
The resolution, issued this month, authorizes top tribal leaders and officials “to pursue all avenues, including legal action(s) and sponsorship of legislation at the state and national levels to protect all Native American Sacred Sites, and to oppose and prevent this development.”
The resolution also calls on all tribes in the area, including Zuni and Navajo, to join in the formal opposition to the project, which is led by a group known as Confluence Partners, LLC. The partners include former Navajo Nation President Albert Hale and several non-Indian developers, including Scottsdale-based political consultant R. Lamar Whitmer and former Apache County Judge Michael Nelson.
The Grand Canyon Escalade would be built near the confluence of the Little Colorado River and the Colorado River.
“This proposed development and location is unacceptable to Hopi religious leaders, practitioners and the Hopi people, ” the resolution states.”[I]t will significantly and forever adversely impact Hopi sacred places to which Hopis have aboriginal title and use.”
The developers, in written literature distributed this summer, say they are aware of the Hopis’ concerns about the project. Developers, in a Q&A handout distributed over the summer, say that they disagree with the Hopis. The developers say that the project “will not impact Hopi sacred sites at all, and will provide access for law enforcement from both the Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe to protect both Navajo and Hopi sacred sites.”
Developers claim that they initiated discussions with Hopi religious leaders. But Hopis involved in drafting the official tribal resolution say they have never been contacted by anyone representing The Confluence Partners, LLC.
Western Navajo residents and lease holders affected by the proposal twice approved resolutions at the Bodaway/Gap Chapter opposing the development. But, earlier this month, chapter leaders overturned the two opposing resolutions, and introduced a new resolution — originally sponsored by Hale — supporting the development.
Chapter officials then called for a vote, on short notice, that very narrowly approved the new pro-development resolution — by a mere 7 votes, or 59-52.
More than a dozen people who showed up at the chapter meeting have contested the vote result, saying they either were not counted or that their votes opposing the project were counted as supporting votes in error. Other voting members cried foul, saying the meeting was scheduled in the middle of the week, at midday and, with such short notice, they could not get permission from employers to leave work in order to vote.
Bodaway/Gap officials have refused to hear any appeals, and also have refused to release a copy of the resolution to the public.
- View or download the Hopi Tribe’s resolution opposing The Grand Canyon Escalade (PDF, requires the free Adobe Reader.)