Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

April 25, 2012

Calvin Johnson: Correcting Shelly's spin from Leupp on water rights


By Calvin Johnson
Posted at Censored News

The Navajo Nation President issued a press release regarding the Lower Colorado River Settlement Forum held in Leupp on April 24, 2012. The press release is one-sided (biased).

The Navajo Nation President’s press release states, “Though many people have spoken against the settlement through the five meetings, solutions and alternatives aren’t being presented.” This is false. The president failed to mention that all the speakers spoke against the legislation being offered. The president also failed to mention the speakers provided numerous solutions and alternatives. One such solution and alternative presented was to have the Navajo people draft up their own settlement agreement. Another one was to eliminate languages in the bill that threatens the Nations ability to retain it’s inherit rights. Another was to skip the negotiations and keep litigating and fight it through the judicial system.

These are good solutions and alternatives as requested by the president but the president is ignoring the people’s voices and concerns.

Radmilla Cody a Leupp resident and voter ask the Navajo Nation Water Rights Commission, “What are the disadvantages of the bill/settlement since you are presenting only the benefits?” No response was made to Ms. Cody’s question.

At one point during the presentation Water Commissioner Ray Gilmore stated that the Hopi’s are fighting this in court saying they (Hopi) have “time and immemorial….what does that mean?”. Mr. Gilmore continued and peppered his presentation with statements like “a claim does not mean rights." Another speaker responded and said the people and our leaders need to seriously understand the terminology of “claims” which also mean “rights” in legal terms.

These are important factual statements made by the citizens of the Navajo Nation which the President and his Director of Communications left out of his press release. The president is not being fair and not accurately reporting to the people the true events that are happening at the forums.

Continue to voice your concerns to our leaders in opposition to SB2109 and HR 4067.

Calvin Johnson
Leupp, Arizona


President Shelly Supports LCR Settlement Education

Contact: Erny Zah. Director of Communications
Cell: (928) 380-0771
For Immediate Release
April 25, 2012

LEUPP, Ariz. – Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly reaffirmed he is listening to the opinion of the Navajo people about the Little Colorado River Water Settlement.

President Shelly stated his position last night at the Leupp chapter house. The meeting was the fifth in a series of seven scheduled meetings about the Little Colorado Water Settlement Agreement and Sen. Jon Kyl’s senate bill 2109.

“I support the education from the water commission,” President Shelly said before an audience of about 130 people.

In an eight minute closing statement after a five-hour meeting, President Shelly spoke nearly entirely in Navajo.

President Shelly said he hasn’t signed anything regarding the Little Colorado Water Settlement and that he wants the people to be educated about the settlement. He added that he is offering more education to the Navajo people than what was offered than in 2010 when the Navajo Nation approved the Northeastern Arizona Indian Water Rights Settlement Agreement, which was never ratified by Congress.

Vice President Rex Lee Jim attended the meeting too and spoke to the audience mostly in Navajo.

Vice President Jim said the language of the settlement is difficult to understand because its written in complicated legal terms, but that people needed to understand the proposed settlement.

The meetings were set in areas and chapters that would be directly affected by the proposed settlement that has been negotiated for more than 30 years.

Leupp, a community of about 1,000 people, would be one of the communities directly affected by the proposed water settlement.

Part of the settlement would be money to build a ground water project and a water pipeline between Leupp and Dilkon, which is about 40 miles away.

The project would cost about $100 million and would allow access to nearly 5,000 acrefeet of drinkable water per year. Currently, the communities use about 441 acre-feet per year of water.

Though many people have spoken against the settlement through the five meetings, solutions and alternatives aren’t being presented.

According to the power point presentation at the meetings, if the Navajo Nation doesn’t settle claims to the Little Colorado River, potentially an Arizona state judge could decide the fate of Navajo claims to the water.

The proposed settlement would:
• Provide the Navajo Nation unlimited right to N-Aquifer ground water for domestic and municipal uses (homes, hospitals, schools and others)
• Provide the Navajo Nation with the right to pump as much groundwater as it wants from the C-Aquifer, while placing limits on the amounts that non-Navajos (including the Hopi Tribe) can pump near the Navajo Reservation
• Protect the right to use all unappropriated surface water from the Little Colorado River
• Prohibit the construction of new reservoirs anywhere in the LCR basin without the consent of the Navajo Nation
• Prohibit new surface water irrigation by any party, except the Navajo Nation
• Recognize all historic and existing irrigation on the reservation
• Fund the critical infrastructure projects in Leupp-Dilkon and Ganado (and provide for operation and maintenance funding of these projects)

The settlement does not include resolve or waive Navajo claims to the larger Colorado River.

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