Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

November 2, 2012

Dine': Non-Indian attorneys and Kyl waiving Navajo water rights

Navajos say that the Hopi claim to senior water rights is due to the Navajo Nation's own non-Indian attorneys failing to secure those rights

Dine’ Hada' Isidi'
Dine' Water Rights Committee
Ed Becenti, Liaison
Censored News

Frech translation, thank you Christine Prat
When it comes to surface water of the main stem of the Little Colorado River, here’s what’s really going on, in relation to Hopi's claim for senior rights, which they call “time immemorial;” or rights going back to the beginning of time.
The joke here is on us, and our enemy is not Hopi but our own lawyers. Hopi have not gone after anything in the main stem Little Colorado River that our lawyers have claimed for us. Navajos, the way our lawyers have presented it, have no "senior rights" claims at risk on the main stem LCR. In S. 2109, Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl and our own lawyers waived all senior Navajo water rights in main stem LCR surface water.
There's not even one cup of senior surface water rights left for us to actually own in the main stem surface water if S. 2109 language stays the same. Our lawyers (and the water rights commission and staff) gave those senior rights away to the non-Indians upstream and downstream on the LCR. Those upstream and downstream non-Indian water rights are rights our lawyers and Kyl protected real well in S. 2109.
So, when it comes to main stem LCR surface water, those non-Indian rights are what the Hopis have been interested in getting. They would also want the water from the major washes we share and the groundwater. Therefore, Navajo Nation lawyers are now spending lots of time and many thousands of dollars to NOT protect our LCR main stem surface water rights. The lawyers already gave our main stem surface water rights away in the S. 2109 language, and they will do it again if we don’t stop them. So, our lawyers are contesting Hopi's senior claims that apply to main stem LCR surface water not for Navajo -- but for the non-Indians; the ones our lawyers and Kyl waived our senior rights for. (Groundwater is a more complicated issue.)
According to the state of Arizona’s ADWR website, the LCR dumps about 340,000 acre feet per year into the Colorado River, where it's used downstream for free in Arizona, Nevada, and California. That’s the same as 340,000 football fields of water 1 foot deep.
The joke is we are paying to protect the non-Indians surface rights from Hopi, since our lawyers already got rid of our main stem LCR rights to the non-Indians. Can we get our rights back? YES. We just have to get rid of the lawyers, and get new ones who are loyal, not working for Jon Kyl or his replacement, and who will claim our rights. The lawyers we absolutely have to get rid of are Pollack, Hoover, McElroy, and Bobroff. We have paid these people many $millions to minimize our rights and give them away. They are, actually, traitors. We also need to get rid of the Attorney General, Harrison Tsosie.
All this makes us Navajos feel like those Indians who took $26 in beads for Manhattan Island. Are we and our leaders still that foolish?? We know Harrison Tsosie and those who support our enemy lawyers seem to be. We believe our leaders can see the truth if they will look for it, because it’s staring them and us in the face.
Dine’ Hada' Isidi'
Dine' Water Rights Committee
Ed Becenti, Liaison

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