The Hopi Tribe is urging the secretary of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to stop a project to build dams near the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado Rivers.
“Any development within the area of the Confluence will forever compromise the spiritual integrity of this Sacred Place,” Hopi Chairman Timothy L. Nuvangyaoma wrote in an Oct. 11, 2019, letter to Energy Secretary Kimberly D. Bose.
“The Hopi Tribe and many other Southwestern Tribes including the Navajo Nation hold the Grand Canyon as a sacred place of reverence, respect and conservation stewardship. We are aware that the Zuni Tribe emerged from the Grand Canyon. The Havasupai Tribe lives in the Grand Canyon. It is important to preserve and protect these sites from harm and wrongful exploitation.”
The agency had issued a permit to a Phoenix developer to decide if one of five Arizona sites is suitable for a Pumped Storage Hydropower. Two sites, the Salt Trail Canyon and Little Colorado River are of concern to tribes in and near the area. The dams would be used to generate electricity to feed cities hundreds of miles away.
Steve Irwin, Pumped Hydro Storage LLC manager, said plans for the dams are preliminary. The dam sites are named “Proposed Salt Trail Canyon Pumped Storage Project” and “Proposed Little Colorado River Pumped Storage Project.”
But Hopi tribal officials say such a project would destroy prehistoric sites, and a sacred connection to their place of emergency.
Tribal officials also released a series of related letters to more federal officials opposing dam sites in the area.
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez has not taken a strong position against the project, however, saying he just wants the developers to consider environmental and cultural concerns.