LB - Northland Motorsports

Home | Classifieds | Place an Ad | Public Notices | Galleries | Milestones | Contact Us | Subscribe | e-newsletter | RSS |
Navajo-Hopi Observer | Flagstaff, Arizona

home : features : features April 30, 2016

11/10/2010 12:10:00 PM
Navajo Council approves Northeastern Arizona Indian Water Rights Settlement

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. - During a special session held last Friday, the 21st Navajo Nation Council approved the Northeastern Arizona Indian Water Rights Settlement with a vote of 51-24, a first step towards securing reserved Navajo Nation's water rights to the Lower Basin of the Colorado River and Little Colorado River systems.

Opponents, however, continue to argue that the settlement is invalid because the consents of the holders of aboriginal, treaty and other water rights were not given adequate notice of the settlement and that their free prior and informed consent was not obtained by the Navajo Nation.

As a result, the Forgotten People organization is filing a lis pendens notice with the Coconino County Clerk and Recorder.

A notice was also sent to Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr., urging him to veto the Council action and if passed, that he refuse to sign the agreement under the discretionary authority granted in the resolution.

The Navajo Nation's water rights are reserved water rights under the Winters Doctrine to establish a permanent homeland for the Navajo Nation.

Now, with the Council's approval, the Navajo Nation secures 31,000 acre feet per year of water from the main stem of the Lower Basin of the Colorado, unappropriated water flows from the Little Colorado River and a nearly unlimited supply of ground water from the Coconino and Navajo aquifers.

The settlement proposes to construct three separate water pipeline projects that will provide water to regions of the Navajo Nation that currently have little or no water supply.

The Western Navajo Pipeline will supply 11,000 acre feet of water from the Colorado River for the communities of LeChee, Copper Mine, Bodaway-Gap, Cameron and Tuba City and 4,000 acre feet per year for the Hopi Tribe.

The Leupp-Dilkon pipeline will supply 4,800 acre feet of water per year from the Coconino Aquifer to Leupp, Bird Springs, Tolani Lake, Teesto, Dilkon, Indian Wells, Lower Greasewood and White Cone.

Finally, the Ganado pipeline will provide 5,600 acre feet of water per year from the Coconino Aquifer to Ganado, Kinlichee, Jeddito, Cornfields, Steamboat, Klagetoh and Wide Ruins.

The settlement will also provide 6,411 acre feet of water per year to Window Rock and surrounding communities through the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project, an $870 million water pipeline project of the 2005 San Juan River Water Rights Settlement between the Navajo Nation and New Mexico.

The San Juan settlement would provide water to 80,000 Navajo families on the New Mexico side of the Navajo Nation, including the Window Rock area. To date, Congress has appropriated $3 million to the Bureau of Reclamation for the project and $6 million to the Office of Special Trustee for the Navajo Nation Water Resources Development Trust Fund.

Most Council delegates representing Navajo communities, including those in the former Bennett Freeze Area who have to contend with limited and/or contaminated water supplies, favor the settlement.

"The water supply projects in the agreement will provide resources for community development such as addressing the Navajo Nation's highest health priorities: the construction of health care facilities, providing safe drinking water and the availability of sanitation," Delegate Thomas Walker (Bird Springs/Leupp/Tolani Lake) stated.

Walker, chair of the Health and Social Services Committee added that the approval of the water settlement will help in protecting and improving the quality of life for Navajo people. Walker also said an Indian Health Services Report released in January revealed that 61,700 homes on the Navajo Nation are in need of water.

Delegate Leonard Chee, who also represents Bird Springs, Leupp and Tolani Lake, said two of the three chapters in his precinct support the settlement. "The chapter voice guides the way the Navajo Nation Council votes," he said. "Leupp, Bird Springs and Tolani Lake will benefit the most from this settlement. Dilkon needs water and I support the water agreement as well."

Some delegates, including Hope MacDonald Lone Tree (To'nanees'Dizi), repeatedly voiced the same concerns as grassroots and non-governmental entities.

"I ... have had numerous concerns about certain language and terms of the agreement. It is wrong to connect the need for waterlines with any irreversible waiver of our water rights," MacDonald Lone Tree said. "There is no funding for these proposed pipelines ... As far as I'm concerned all the waters that flow off and within the Four Sacred Mountains is ours. We should never shortchange our future generations by leaving them no tools for survival."

MacDonald Lone Tree further disagreed with approving an agreement that may change after it leaves the Council Chamber to conform to congressional legislation.

Delegate Leonard Tsosie encouraged the Navajo people to look at the larger picture because the Navajo Nation would secure over 500,000 acre feet of water per year from the Colorado River Basin.

The agreement now goes to President Shirley's desk for review. If President Shirley approves the agreement, the settlement would still need to be approved by other parties including the Hopi Tribe, Central Arizona Water Conservation District, Salt River Project, City of Holbrook, Flying M. Ranch, Inc, among others. Once executed by all parties, the settlement will proceed to Congress for approval, which will include authorization to fund the water delivery projects that are a key component of the settlement.

"This settlement has what we call a poison pill," added Navajo water rights attorney Stanley Pollack. "If Congress does not spend money for the project, then there is no deal, and Navajo has not waived anything."

Related Stories:
• Hopi Tribe cautious in water settlement agreement

    Recently Commented     Most Viewed
Mapmaker continues quest to document indigenous cultures
New documentary focuses on Native American veterans on Navajo Nation
Letter to the editor: Where do children learn to speak fluent Navajo?
Delegate Edmund Yazzie continues work for Thoreau, N.M. clinic
Pirates of the Navajo Nation under attack

Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Article comment by: Concerned Native

Well if they voted to pass the bill already, what's the use of having these "town hall" meetings! Looks like the people don't have a say anymore, the council and the president are doing things without the people's consent, it is the people who own the this land not the president or the council. The people need to be heard first before any vote is placed.

Posted: Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Article comment by: v a

All these years of me growing up with hauling water for our home and livestock, has had a great deal and teaching for the life experience. When having running water everywhere people get lazy, the water to the people is sacred and is why we reserve so much of it because we are taught not to play with it. It seems slowly things are being taken away from the treaty that our ancestors have signed to secure us. Now were here making a decision for our future kids/families. Our people have given up so much from the day we broke bread to the new comers who took the land and segregated us and now to share water that we have every right to have. The leaders of our nation should have a budget to provide a pipeline from resources we have that can put up pipelines to areas that have no water. Where are the young ones who went to school and the scholars who the navajo nation have put thru there education.

Article Comment Submission Form
Comments are not posted immediately. Submissions must adhere to our Use of Service Terms of Use agreement. The email and phone info you provide will not be visible to the public. Rambling or nonsensical comments may not be posted. Comments are limited to 1300 characters or less. In order for us to reasonably manage this feature we may limit your comment entries to five(5) per day.
Submit an Article Comment
First Name:
Last Name:
Anti-SPAM Passcode Click here to see a new mix of characters.
This is an anti-SPAM device. It is not case sensitive.

Advanced Search

HSE - We want to hear from you
Find more about Weather in Flagstaff, AZ
Click for weather forecast

Submission links
 •  Submit site feedback or questions

Find It Opinions Features Submit Extras Other Publications
Home | Classifieds | Place an Ad | Public Notices | Galleries | Milestones | Contact Us | Subscribe | e-newsletter | RSS | Site Map
LB - Northland Motorsports

© Copyright 2016 Western News&Info, Inc.® The Navajo-Hopi Observer is the information source for the Navajo and Hopi Nations and Winslow area communities in Northern Arizona. Original content may not be reprinted or distributed without the written permission of Western News&Info, Inc.® Navajo-Hopi Observer Online is a service of WNI. By using the Site, ®, you agree to abide and be bound by the site's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, which prohibit commercial use of any information on the site. Click here to submit your questions, comments or suggestions. Navajo-Hopi Observer Online is a proud publication of Western News&Info Inc.® All Rights Reserved.

Software © 1998-2016 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved