August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Navajo government hires firm to push through Navajo and Hopi water rights theft bill

Protesters crowd politicians in Tuba City
Photo Outta Your Backpack Media
Indigenous Action

Navajo government hires aggressive pro-mining firm to push through water rights theft bill

By Brenda Norrell

Censored News

French translation:

The Navajo Nation has hired an aggressive pro-mining firm to push through the theft of Navajo and Hopi water rights for the benefit of non-Indians in Arizona. The scheme would rob Navajos and Hopis of water rights to the Little Colorado River.

Klee Benally, Navajo, said that Navajo President Ben Shelly and the tribal government are using the peoples money to hire the firm, while disposing of their water rights to the Little Colorado River for future generations.

"Aside from the serious concerns with the impacts of the water settlement this action has asserted that the Navajo Nation leadership does not care what the Dine' people think," Benally said.

"How can the Shelly administration on one hand say that they are going to listen to the people's concerns and schedule public forums, and on the other hand hire an aggressive lobbying group to 'secure Congressional approval?'"

"What's the point of these public forums then? To affirm a foregone conclusion? Not only are they supporting the settlement, they are going to spend our money to get it approved. To make matters worse and to clarify that Shelly administration doesn't care what Dine' people say, Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber and Schreck is in bed with the very energy companies that the settlement would benefit."

The Legal Times Blog reports: "Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck has notified Congress it is lobbying for the Navajo Nation on legislation that would settle water rights claims of the southwestern tribe.

"The firm has deployed shareholder David Bernhardt, policy director Elizabeth Gore and of counsel Ryan Smith to advocate on the Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Act, according to a lobbying registration report Brownstein filed last week. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Benjamin Quayle (R-Ariz.) introduced the legislation last month."

"Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly has commended McCain for introducing the bill and has pledged to work with Congress to pass the measure," Legal Times reports.

Arizona is increasingly desperate for water downstream, as is the Navajo Generating Station, operated by the Salt River Project, and located on Navajoland. It is one of the dirtiest coal-fired power plants in the US. It uses coal from Peabody Coal mining on Black Mesa.

American Indians are guaranteed expansive water rights for their use under the Winters Doctrine.

The water rights scheme would erase those rights.

The lobying firm, Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber and Schreck,  co-chairs the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force."

Have a look at their client list as well:

Peabody and SRP are both part of ALEC.

Additionally interesting to find that Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP
is part of the Arizona Mining Association:

ALEC is not a lobby; it is not a front group. It is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, behind closed doors, corporations hand state legislators the changes to the law they desire that directly benefit their bottom line. Along with legislators, corporations have membership in ALEC. Corporations sit on all nine ALEC task forces and vote with legislators to approve “model” bills. They have their own corporate governing board which meets jointly with the legislative board. (ALEC says that corporations do not vote on the board.) They fund almost all of ALEC's operations. Participating legislators, overwhelmingly conservative Republicans, then bring those proposals home and introduce them in statehouses across the land as their own brilliant ideas and important public policy innovations—without disclosing that corporations crafted and voted on the bills. ALEC boasts that it has over 1,000 of these bills introduced by legislative members every year, with one in every five of them enacted into law. ALEC describes itself as a “unique,” “unparalleled” and “unmatched” organization. It might be right. It is as if a state legislature had been reconstituted, yet corporations had pushed the people out the door. Learn more at

Read more from Blog of Legal Times: Brownstein Hyatt Lobbying for Navajo Nation on Water Rights

Hopi and Navajo former leaders respond to water theft bill S.2109

 Former chairmen, Hopi Tribe

Former president, Navajo Nation

We take this opportunity to respond to Arizona Senator Jon Kyl's April 4 letter concerning Senate Bill 2109, the "Navajo and Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Act of 2012," wherein he suggests that those who oppose this settlement are providing false information and leveling untrue attacks against the settlement.

 The fact of the matter is that S.2109 is not an Indian water rights settlement act. It does nothing to quantify the water rights of the Navajo and Hopi tribal nations to the Little Colorado River and is in direct contravention of the Winters Doctrine. Rather, it is a backhanded approach to providing federal benefits and protections to entities that exploited the natural resources of our tribes for their own economic gain. It ensures that non-Indian corporate interests continue mining our coal and pumping our Navajo Aquifer to produce cheap electricity and deliver wet water to benefit southern Arizona, southern California and southern Nevada, under the guise of an Indian water rights settlement.

 It requires the tribes to give Peabody Western Coal Company and the Salt River Project (SRP) and other owners of the Navajo Generating Station (NGS) tens of thousands of acre-feet of tribal water annually, without compensation. In other words, it gives NGS, a corporate entity, a federal water right. It also requires the tribes to extend the Peabody and NGS leases to 2044 without regard for past and continuing harmful impacts to our health, water supplies, water quality and damage to our precious Navajo Aquifer, as a necessary pre-condition to receiving minimal domestic water pipelines.

 S.2109 requires the tribes to waive all protections against injury to water quality "from time immemorial and thereafter, forever." It also requires the tribes to permanently waive all water rights to the Little Colorado River "from time immemorial and, thereafter, forever that are based on aboriginal occupancy of land by the (tribes) and Members of the (tribes) or their predecessors." The settlement Senator Kyl is pushing is not "consistent with previous water settlements in New Mexico, Montana and Arizona," as he claims.

 We do agree that "it is time to set the record straight." S.2109 is not a water rights settlement act. It is a license to continue the exploitation of our precious natural resources while threatening our tribal sovereignty. S.2109 is very dangerous for the Navajo and Hopi tribal nations and is not acceptable to members of our respective tribes.

 Water is life. Water is sacred; it is central to our way of life, to our ceremonies and traditions. We must protect and preserve it for our future generations.


Mohawk Nation News 'Something for Nothing'


Mohawk Nation News

MNN.  APRIL 10, 2012. 

Is Kahnawake Mohawk Community being Las Vegas’ized? Who’s trying to eat our brains, to get us to produce a get-something-for-nothing society? 

A casino will affect almost every aspect of our lives. Jealousy, competition and gluttony should not rule our culture or economy. Why live unnaturally and unequally, beyond our means?

We should be strengthening our family and community ties, producing our own energy and food and keeping the soon-to-be desperate foreign interests out. Coming is hunger instead of plenty, cold instead of warmth, violence instead of peace. To survive we have to take care of each other. 

Many of us elders remember the modest and meaningful life we once had. The men went away to do ironwork and the women and children stayed home and took care of our community. 

Having worked in an Indian casino, the harm is easy to see. The house always wins. The work force will be mostly non-natives. Many of us don’t qualify for jobs due to our backgrounds, non-criminal records and not speaking French.

A larger police force is being trained, armed to the teeth, directed from the outside.  Their main job is to protect the casino, employees, management, patrons and financial interests and to keep us quiet.  Disputes will be decided in colonial courts.

What are we giving up?  Our children’s birthright?  The Seigneury lands for a casino? 

Whose nest is being feathered? We need complete honest answers now about how the palms of Quebec, Ottawa, outsiders and their nominees in our community palms are being greased.

No doubt our income and winnings will be taxed. 

What kinds of people will be traversing our lands, looking for who and bringing in what?  The worst of society shall come.

We are promised $1000 a year. Once we take this, we are agreeing to this invasion. There is no accountability. Who are the financiers?  What collateral or property are we putting up for the loan?  Those of our grandchildren who will be born into the debt and turned into corporate Indians of Canada.      

This venture doesn’t make sense. The demographics don’t add up.   

Worse, our people could become habitual gamblers, gambling our lives away.  It’s part of the Indian Affairs 100-year plan to get “rid of the Indian problem," to enrich a few and keep the rest poor.  The divide and conquer card is still in play since 1609 when Champlain dealt it from the bottom of the deck. 

MNN Mohawk Nation News  For more news, books, to donate tomaintain the website [PayPal] and to sign up for MNN newsletters go to  More stories at MNN Categories“COLONIALISM/ART/CULTURE”. Address:  Box 991, Kahnawake[Quebec, Canada] J0L 1B0

Store: Indigenous authors – Kahnawake books – Mohawk Warriors Three – WarriorsHand Book – Rebuilding the Iroquois Confederacy.

Category:  World – Colonialism - Great Turtle Island – History – New World Order – courts/police Economics/trade/commerce – Land/environment –art/culture. 

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Dine' Calvin Johnson: Talk of getting water to Navajo is hogwash!


By Calvin Johnson
Censored News

The talk of getting water to the Navajo Nation is hogwash. What I mean by that is the politicians want the Diné people to support and approve the Little Colorado River Settlement plus certain liabilities to C-aquifer and N-aquifer such as "waive, release, and retentions of all claims" of any rights from "time immemorial and thereafter, forever."

Don't be fooled by Navajo Nation politicians saying that we are against Navajo Nation getting water and "where is your plan?"

Our voices are being ignored by the terms and conditions of the settlement. The main purpose of Senate Bill 2109 is to "resolve litigation against the United States concerning Colorado River operations affecting the states of California, Arizona, and Nevada, and for other purposes."

It's a bill basically limiting and stealing Navajo Nation water forever. This includes modifying any and all leases and agreements made between Navajo Generating Station and Peabody. Why do you think President Ben Shelly is supporting it?

Outside interests want the money, water and electricity forever while we waive our inherited aboriginal rights for only a few hundred acre feet of water. This is not misinformation if the language is coming directly from SB2109 legislation.

If you don't believe me, read the bill. As for the questions of having a plan, we do have a plan. That plan is to have the nation support a clean bill with guaranteed funding without languages like "waive, release, time immemorial, injury, quality, bureau of reclamation, resolve, Peabody, Navajo Generating Station, Arizona Public Service, Department of Water and Power of the City of Los Angeles, Nevada Power Company, Salt River Project Agricultural Improvement and Power District, Central Arizona Project (CAP), leases, coal, railways," etc.

To all my aboriginal brothers and sisters, keep up the good work of standing up for our precious sacred water. I may not be there during your marches but I am there in spirit. Continue to encourage your elected officials to vote against land and water grabbing legislations.

Calvin Johnson
Leupp, Arizona

Also see: Navajo government hires firm to push water theft bill through Congress, over the protests of the people:

Rights of Mother Earth Haskell continues efforts of President Evo Morales

Marlon Santi, Ecuador, President CONAI, speaker at the
Rights of Mother Earth Gathering at Haskell, Kansas
Photo Stephen Leahy

Rights of Mother Earth Gathering Haskell continues efforts of President Evo Morales

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

Indigenous Peoples from the Americas gathered at the Rights of Mother Earth conference, April 4 –6, at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas, continuing the effort began by Bolivian President Evo Morales at the World Peoples Conference on Rights of Mother Earth and Climate Change in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Children of the jaguar

Marlon Santi described the difficult struggle to force oil companies out of his homeland in Ecuador.

“This struggle is not easy, it is difficult. We have had to suffer personally,” Marlon said, adding that now voices have joined together from the north and south.

“We do not want this generation to be enslaved again,” Santi said, pointing out that an Indigenous Nation without land can not exist. Indigenous Peoples that lose their language, lose their history. He said his peoples’ architecture and science have been described as “ruins” by scientists, and still his people have overcome these oppressors.

“If we remain silent, we will be obliterated,” Santi said, pointing out that the unity of Indigenous Peoples will overcome the lies, hypocrisy and violations of the rights of the people and Mother Earth.

Santi said Indigenous Peoples in Ecuador have joined marches from the Amazon, and as far away as the UN climate conference in Copenhagen, against mining on Indigenous lands. They have marched against the current “green” scam of REDD, (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation.) Santi is former president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE.)

Oil industry trucks responsible for children deaths in North Dakota

Native Americans at the Haskell gathering, struggling to protect their people, and the land, air and water from destruction in the United States, included Kandi Mossett, Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara from North Dakota.

Mossett said semi-trucks of the oil and gas industry have resulted in the deaths of seven children and youths in the past the three years, including two children who were three and five years old. Still, elected tribal politicians and the Interior Department are pushing for more drilling on tribal lands, and less regulation of fracking. The land, air and water are already devastated, poisoned with widespread pollution and degradation at Fort Berthold, known as the Three Affiliated Tribes.

North Dakota is among the windiest states, still the oil and gas industry continues to be the focus. “It is all about oil. People are dying where I come from, literally being killed by semi-trucks,” said Mossett, staff member of the Indigenous Environmental Network.

By recognizing rights of nature in its constitution, Ecuador and a growing number of            communities in the United States are basing their environmental protection systems on the premise that nature has inalienable rights, just as humans do. This premise is a radical but natural departure from the assumption that nature is property under the law, conference organizers said.

Native Voices: The power of place, spirit and memory

Anishinaabe Renee Gurneau shared how a dream led her to better understand the Creation Story and the reality of being part of the Earth and feeling its pain. Gurneau is the former president of Red Lake Nation College in Red Lake, Minn.

Gurneau described how today is the time of the Seventh Fire, urging the people to rely on the strength from millenniums of ancestors carried in their DNA.

Haskell professor Dr. Daniel Wildcat encouraged a new dialogue, based on spirit, power and place, and a renewal of the ancestral ways of life.

“Our power resides in the landscapes and seascapes that we call home," Wildcat said, Yuchi member of the Muscogee Nation of Oklahoma.

Rueben George, Sundance Chief and Member of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation in northern Vancouver, BC, is the grandson of Chief Dan George. George began with thanks to the stewards of this land and caretakers of this land.

George honored the caretakers of this land with a song of his grandfather Chief Dan George. His nature song is “Honor Mother Earth.”

Rueben said his grandfather shared with him how to be a human being. His grandfather said, “We are the last of the human beings to follow this way of life.”

Mona Polacca, Havasupai/Hopi, spoke about the foundation of life. From the first water inside the mother's womb, to the prayer upon which life depends, Polacca spoke of the spirituality of life.

Polacca, one of the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, began by remembering the words of Thomas Banyacya, "We are all related.”

Dine' Robert Yazzie of the Dine' Policy Institute, former Navajo Supreme Court judge, shares a Declaration of the Dine' elders, the Roots of Dine' Law. Yazzie shares the power of prayer, and the power of names and language, at the Rights of Mother Earth Gathering in the Dine' and English languages.

"There are still Holy People around. We still see the Holy People speaking to us through water, and through fire," Yazzie said. Yazzie urges those listening to concentrate on the language and use your own indigenous thinking. The Declaration is in Title 1 of Navajo Nation Code adopted on Nov 8, 2002.

The Roots of Dine’ Law describes how the Holy People sang songs and offered prayers and the earth and universe came into being, along with water, sacred mountains, air and plants. Fire, light and sacred stones came into being with resilience.

"This is the foremost, fundamental law set in place for us."

Theft of Navajo and Hopi water rights underway by Arizona Congressmen
As Indigenous Peoples met in Kansas, Navajos and Hopis protested Arizona Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl in Tuba City, Ariz., on the Navajo Nation, and their scheme to steal Navajo and Hopi water rights to the Little Colorado River.

Supai/Hopi Mona Polacca pointed out in Haskell that the senators scheme to steal Navajo and Hopi water rights was created to benefit the Salt River Project which operates the Navajo Generating Station on the Navajo Nation. It is one of the dirtiest coal fired power plants in the US and a major cause of greenhouse gases.

The senators are also seeking water for other polluting industries downstream in Phoenix and Tucson, where residents continue to live lavish lifestyles, with golf courses in the desert. The US House is now fast tracking this water theft scheme, HR 4067, sponsored by Rep. Ben Quayle.

At Haskell, conference organizers said the earliest rights of nature laws recognized the right for ecosystems to exist and flourish, organizers said.

Others, including the Ecuadorian constitutional provisions adopted in 2008, recognize the right for nature to exist, persist, evolve, and regenerate. Those laws also recognize the right of any person or organization to defend, protect, and enforce those rights; and for payment of recovered damages to government to provide for the restoration of those ecosystems, said organizers, the Indigenous Environmental Network, Pachamama Alliance, and Haskell professor Dr. Dan Wildcat.

Read more, and watch these video presentations at Censored News, recorded by Earthcycles:
For permission to republish this article in full:
Copyright Brenda Norrell
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Rights of Mother Earth at HaskellKandi Mossett: Fort Berthold ND: Oil trucks killed seven children and youths
Ecuador Indigenous Marlon Santi at Haskell: Rights of Mother Earth gathering continues efforts of Bolivia President Evo Morales:
Sundance Chief Rueben George, BC, at Haskell, grandson of Chief Dan George:
Anishinaabe Renee Gurneau of Red Lake, Minn: Mother Earth, memory and being
Supai Hopi Mona Polacca: Water, prayer and humility, one of the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers
Haskell professor Dr. Daniel Wildcat of Rights of Mother Earth: Power and place
Dine' Robert Yazzie: Roots of Dine' Law at Rights of Mother Earth

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