The Save the Confluence (STC) families are currently in a battle to stop a bill that proposes to construct a tram at the Grand Canyon Eastern rim. However, the plight of the STC families is appealing to Navajo voters.
Save the Confluence is asking all supporters to convince the Navajo Nation Council delegates to vote down the Grand Canyon Escalade bill. The Navajo council will debate the controversial legislation during a special session at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017, in Window Rock, Arizona.
Or, you can call legislative services at 928-871-6380 and leave messages for delegates.
STC is asking for Navajo voters to contact their council delegates and encourage them to vote against the bill. The Escalade bill wants Navajo lawmakers to approve a master agreement with Confluence Partners LLC from Scottsdale. The Partners will ask the council to withdraw 420-acres of land, waive certain parts of the Navajo Nation Code and provide $65 million for the Escalade project’s infrastructure.
The proposed Grand Canyon Escalade would feature a hotel, restaurant, discovery center and a parking lot on the rim overlooking the confluence of the Colorado Rivers. The bill also proposes a tram that takes tourists to the canyon floor where a café, amphitheater, garden, and a river walk will be available.
Approximately 30 Navajo families have grazing permits to the 420-acre property identified in the legislation for development. Navajo law requires the developers to get consent from these permit holders before the council will consider a bill.
“The partners want the council to skirt the law and withdraw the 420 acres through the Escalade legislation”, said Earlene Reid in a letter to the Navajo Times. Reid is one of the grazing permit holders from the area in dispute.
“There are also …other relatives that live in the area that have grazing permits and home-site leases who have never given their consent to the Escalade Project,” Reid said. “We were never properly consulted and we will never give our consent for this project, that will not benefit us or our children.The project will only benefit the developers from outside the Navajo Nation and investors from across the oceans.”
Some families, who practice the traditional Earth-based Navajo faith, also take their prayers to the confluence of the Little and Colorado rivers to take their offerings and prayers to the Navajo Holy People.
“The confluence of (the Colorado and Little Colorado) rivers is sacred,” said Renae Yellowhorse, STC member. “You get up early, you say your prayers, you take care of the land. If they built a tourist development here, it would block our prayers and where would our prayers go?”
Larry Foster, a Save the Confluence families advisor, said the 14 councilmen approved a special session because they wanted to lock in a date to discuss and debate the legislation. This may provide some relief to the STC families because the bill’s sponsor has a history of pulling the legislation off-and-on agendas of the council’s standing committees since August 2016.
“Some (delegates) say they just want to get the legislation over with, some support it,” Foster said.