The pandemic is slowing plans to craft a bill that will designate a sacred site to portions of Grand Canyon East Rim.

If legislation is approved, it could stop developers from seeking tourism projects in Western Navajo Nation. Larry Foster, advisor to advocates of  a sacred site bill, said Thursday he had hoped to put a proposed bill on the Navajo Nation Council’s spring agenda in April.

That may not happen, he said. More than likely, a bill will be ready for the council’s view at its summer session in July. Or, the council could take it up as early as May in a special session.

The effort, for now, is short signatures of grazing permit holders or livestock owners who use the land. Their permits must be officially recognized by Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Nation Department of Agriculture, Foster said.

The push for a bill is “‘ still in process. Because of the pandemic, we have fewer signatures than expected,”’ he said. People “are cautious because of the virus. It prohibits people from visiting and attending gatherings at local chapters” and includes getting too close to people to sign paperwork.

Now that more Navajo residents are vaccinated, Foster looks forward to gaining more signatures and crafting legislation.

The idea to pursue a sacred site bill stems from a Bodaway/Gap Chapter resolution passed in February 2018.

Save the Confluence families and environmental advocates of the Grand Canyon declared the Grand Canyon Escalade legislation “a defeated project” shortly after the Navajo Nation Council rejected it in 2017. The bill had proposed to build a tourist resort/gondola site on 420- acres of Navajo land on the rim of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers.

The area gained a name: Confluence.

Save the Confluence families, local Navajo land users and citizens, asked the chapter to do two things in February 2018.

  • Rescind the 2012 resolution.
  • Pursue a sacred site status, or traditional cultural properties, for the east rim and confluence of Colorado and Little Colorado rivers through the Navajo Nation Historic Preservation Department.

Bodaway/Gap citizens approved the resolution 55 in favor, and none opposed.

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