A bill that may start the $1 billion Escalade project at the east rim of the Grand Canyon will likely reach the Navajo Nation Council soon.

Navajo Nation Council’s attorney wrote the legislation in Window Rock. Benjamin Bennett, Fort Defiance, Red Lake, Crystal and Sawmill chapter councilman, picked up the copy of the bill already dubbed “Escalade Bill’ by its foes.

The bill’s content is unknown because Bennett has not dropped it off at the tribe’s legislative services, where it receives reviews before it is delivered to Navajo Nation Speaker LoRenzo Bates. After Bates signs his name, the bill is posted at www.navajonationcouncil.org for public comment.

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye, earlier this spring, told Save the Confluence supporters that he still opposes the Escalade. He said he would veto any legislation that would allow such development.

However, Begaye said that outside developers are pushing harder than before. They are gaining momentum in their lobbying efforts of the Navajo Nation Council.

For that reason, Begaye said it is more important than ever that opponents of the development write letters and make phone calls to the Council opposing the development. (Contact information is at the bottom of this post.)

Navajo Nation Council legislative process.

Navajo Nation Council legislative process.

Legislative officials said the 5-day comment period is open to everyone. If the council debates the bill at its summer session, 16 yes votes, out of 24, will green-light the project, officials said.

The developers are Confluence Partners LLC, a Scottsdale-based group, which include members Rial Lamar Whitmer, State Rep. Albert Hale and Michael Nelson.

The group, which received a narrow approval of its resolution at Bodaway/Gap in 2012, proposes a $1 billion resort, stretching from the eastern rim to the floor of the Grand Canyon. The plan calls for a tram, hotels, a cultural center, a sewer treatment plant and a parking lot on 420 acres.

The plan also includes  a 27-mile stretch of road to the site be paved. Reportedly, the Confluence Partners are seeking a $65 million loan from the Navajo Nation to pave the road.

Bennett could not be reached for a comment.

Criticism of the Escalade has been strong.

Local land users oppose the project for varied reasons. The bill did not receive legal consent from land users, the project would block their prayer sites on the rim, accuse developers of a failure to abide by the tribe’s development rules, believe the partners pander to locals and tribal leaders by inflating the number of jobs, mar a national monument and question character issues for Whitmer, Hale and Nelson.

The partners believe the Escalde will boost the local economy.

Learn More About the Legislative Process and Contact Elected Officials

Explore a guide to the Navajo Nation Legislative Process and learn how to contact elected officials on this important matter.


Contact Elected Officials Now

Comments may be:

  • e-mailed to comments@navajo-nsn.gov, or
  • Snail mailed to:
    Executive Director, Office of Legislative Services
    P.O. Box 3390
    Window Rock, AZ 86515
  • Faxed to: (928) 871-7259

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