7/29/2014 10:07:00 AM Guest column: Colorado River tribes should oppose Escalade Confluence project
Letter to the editor:
An open letter to the Navajo Nation Tribal Council:
I urge you to oppose the Grand Canyon Escalade project that has come to you for approval. Please consider the following reasons for my opposition in your deliberations.
What has gone before? Lake Powell water was to be a major development project for the Navajos. The Navajo Generating Station was hailed for the jobs it would bring. So was the Peabody Coal Mine. Instead, they are polluting our air and slurrying our water off our lands. Beyond providing low-level jobs, these projects have done little or nothing for our economy.
Certainly we have no infrastructure development in Navajo communities associated with them. No planned communities for the workers, no utilities, no schools, no medical facilities or parks. Do these companies encourage our young people to seek higher education with educational support like scholarships? Could it be they weren't negotiated? Maybe they don't want our involvement at the highest levels in their companies? Why?
I'm thinking in the future, when the "Escalords" have exhausted their write-offs as taxable improvements to the land and they have become billionaires from their investments, we will still own the ruins of their desecration. Do they promise to tear it all down and return it to its pristine beauty? Hardly.
Worse yet, if the Council doesn't negotiate safeguards for our purposes, like educational programs for our young people to prepare them to take over the companies and infrastructure development of the auxillian Navajo communities, we will be screwed again.
Note that water use and control of the proposed development belongs to the Escalords who are planning to build their enterprise at the juncture known as the Confluence, a sacred site to several tribes. It is a fresh water source coming from a tributary of our lands and springs that emerge from the east side of the Colorado River.
The ancients passed down the lore of its value and made the Confluence a part of our history and philosophy in order to preserve this important water source. Their wisdom is important information to heed because it is compatible with science and logic. Its value is incomparable.
What scares me the most is the fundamental issue of water. Along with man-made climate change, water is the greatest challenge of the future, not only for the Navajo Nation and the United States, but also for the world. With this project I say the Escalords and their bosses are planning to chip away at our sovereignty and rights to the Colorado River in the future. With your approval they will have it at the Confluence.
Here in a Tohaneesdisi Chapter meeting, we voted the project down. They had no specifics to offer and we respect the desire of our elders to preserve this sacred site and our future. All Colorado River tribes should be on their guard. The water fight is escalating.