7/24/2012 11:33:00 AM Letter: Grand Escalade is a rush to capitalism
To the editor:
A gondola to transport tourists to the floor of the Grand Canyon? This is a joke, right? Not according to the article in the June 27 Navajo-Hopi Observer. A private company is collaborating with President Ben Shelly to make this a reality, in addition to a steel walkway on the floor of the Grand Canyon. Founding partner R. Lamar Whitmer claims the development will be a "confluence of cultures." In reality, the development will be a moneymaker for him and a handful of tribal leaders.
As far as I can tell, the Hopi Tribe is opposed to any such development. The plans also call for "retail shops, a hotel, motels/lodges, an RV park, administrative offices, and a general store with fuel." This sounds less like a confluence of cultures and more like a rush to capitalism. The cultural center and art galleries all sound like a great idea, but on the edge of the Grand Canyon?
According to the article, "the Riverwalk on the canyon floor will be elevated to minimize its impact on the environment." I am not sure if Mr. Whitmer or Mr. Shelly have actually visited the floor of the Canyon where they propose to build this walkway, but the best way to minimize impact to the Grand Canyon, which I might remind the readers is considered sacred to numerous tribes in Arizona as well as numerous White people, is to not develop such a project.
One can argue that the Hualapai, National Park Service, and numerous other private entities are profiting from exploitation of one of America's greatest treasures, but that does not necessarily make this proposed project right.
Mr. Deswood Tome, Special Advisor to Mr. Shelly, stated that, "This is an opportunity to rehabilitate this area with housing, with infrastructure." Mr. Tome sounds like a practiced politician when he makes such suggestions.
The Navajo Nation needs to build a multi-million dollar facility overlooking a spiritual place in order to provide housing and infrastructure to the former Bennett Freeze area? Give me a break. Some Navajo tribal leaders have obviously begun a full public relations assault in an effort to persuade its tribal members and other citizens that this project is nothing but a benefit. I respectively disagree. This is not the right way to bring jobs to the rez, at the expense of one of the most spiritual places on earth. I encourage you to oppose the Grand Escalade project.