Proposed Escalade Project on Navajoland at the Grand Canyon would desecrate and exploit this sacred area
By Angela Marie Davis, Dine'
French translation by Christine Prat
http://www.chrisp.lautre.net/wpblog/?p=1338December 27, 2012
Ya’at’eeh, Honorable Speaker Naize and the 22nd Navajo Nation Council,
I am writing to voice my opposition to the development at the Confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado Rivers at the East rim of the Grand Canyon. I do not support the proposed Escalade Project by the Confluence Partners LLC, that includes a tourist resort with a “Gondola Tramway” leading down to the bottom of the canyon, a hotel, RV park, a Navajo “cultural center”, motels, and fast-food restaurants. I find it ironic that a Navajo “cultural center” will cover the site that is so sacred to our people.
I understand that the people of the Gap/Bodaway community of the Navajo Nation are in dire need of economic development. However, I think there are other ways to boost the economy of the community without compromising an incredibly sacred site. For example, building a water canal to create an irrigation system in the area would be a viable option. This could provide water to the communities that have no running water, due to the forty-year Bennett Freeze period that halted all development in the area.
I also find it quite disturbing that the majority of the people of the Gap/Bodaway have expressed repeated objections to the development of the Confluence and their voices have been ignored or censored by some of the elected chapter officials and Arizona State Representative Albert Hale, who supports the project. I find it a gross conflict of interest that a state representative would have so much power in the decision-making process in a chapter of the separate and sovereign Navajo Nation.
Another troubling aspect of this proposed development is that it has driven our people apart, even creating strife among families, instead of building positive relationships to unify and improve our communities. The Eastern rim of the Grand Canyon is sacred to all of our tribe’s people, not just the surrounding chapters. Our tribal President, Ben Shelly, (among others) has even labeled tribal members who oppose the project from other areas of the reservation “outside agitators,” further increasing animosity among our people. These unnecessary personal attacks are unacceptable and very disrespectful.
In conclusion, I urge you to carefully consider the cultural, social, and environmental impacts this proposed project would have on the Navajo people. Please, hear the plea of many of our elders, the Dine’ Medicine Men Association, and numerous grassroots organizations who do not want this development. Let us keep the Confluence off the list of sacred sites currently desecrated, primarily by outside interest groups, such as the San Francisco Peaks (by the of the Arizona Snowbowl) and Black Mesa. Thank you for your time and considering my request. Ah’he’he.
Angela Marie Davis