A dispute broils 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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