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Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Navajo Nation's non-Indian attorney gives away Utah Navajo water rights

Photo Goosenecks San Juan River, Utah
Navajos urge veto of Utah Navajo water rights settlement ramrodded through the Navajo Nation Council

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News copyright
Dutch translation by Alice Holemans, NAIS

WINDOW ROCK -- The Navajo Nation's non-Indian water rights attorney is once again giving away Navajo water rights. Navajos are urging the Navajo President to veto a water rights settlement for Utah Navajo water rights, ramrodded through the Navajo Nation Council on Tuesday. 

Ed Becenti, Navajo, is urging Navajo President Russell Begaye to veto the Utah Navajo water rights giveaway.

"Another bad water deal for the Navajo Nation is being pushed through by 'our' own water lawyer and 13 Navajo Nation council delegates. They rushed this legislation through in less than a month's time without informing all the community members that it really impacts," Becenti said.

"The deal was rushed through in less than a month with no community education. If this is a good deal for the Navajo Nation, why are they rushing it through?"

The Navajo Nation has employed the same non-Indian water rights attorney, Stanley Pollack, since the 1980s. Pollack has spearheaded the loss of Navajo water rights in the three states of New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, where the Navajo Nation is located. The negotiations have involved extensive secret negotiations and closed sessions of the Navajo Nation Council.

Pollack has intervened to prevent the Winter's Doctrine from being used to ensure future Navajo water rights. The Winter's Doctrine would ensure sufficient water to meet the needs of future generations of Navajos.

Becenti said the Utah settlement was approved by less than 3 percent of community members.

"There were no public hearings!" Becenti said not all of the chapters impacted have even been informed about the settlement or given the opportunity to vote.

The Associated Press reports that the Navajo Nation approved the legislation Tuesday. AP refers to it as a "settlement" of the Navajo Nation's claims to water in the upper Colorado River basin in Utah. 

"The bill passed 13-7 Tuesday without any debate and with few people in attendance at the Navajo Nation Council chambers in Window Rock. Lawmakers debated the settlement in executive session Monday and held a work session last week. The settlement would give the tribe 81,500 acre-feet annually of Utah's unused share of water. The Navajo Nation could draw the water from aquifers, and the San Juan River and its tributaries. It also could divert water from Lake Powell, although it has no plans to do so," AP reports.

The pattern of non-Indian water rights attorneys ramrodding Indian water rights settlements has been occurring throughout the west.

Becenti said this deal is a terrible one for the Navajo Nation. The Navajo Nation, population 300,000, is only claiming 81,500af per year while the Uintah-Ouray Utes, population 1,200, won over 470,000af. 

"The Navajo Nation should claim at least that much," Becenti said. He said the leasing of 57,000af of water per year is valued at over $100 million while the settlement only gives the nation $5 million for water projects.

Update from Censored News:
It seems no one can answer this question: 'Why is a non-Indian water rights attorney still employed by the Navajo Nation after 30 years?'
This is happening all over the west.
Here is one question to ask all those non-Indian attorneys now pushing the so-called 'water rights settlements.'
The question is: 'Does this new settlement prevent the use of Winter's Doctrine in court in the future?'
The Winter's Doctrine ensures Native Americans will have all the water they need for future generations.
The non-Indian attorneys are working to negate the Winter's Doctrine. They are working in the interests of the states, US government and corporations.
Many of these non-Indian attorneys pushing these water rights settlements in Arizona and DC knew each other in Window Rock, Arizona. They worked together when employed by the Navajo Nation and took part in the removal of former Chairman Peter MacDonald. This happened after MacDonald told the United States government that he would use the Winter's Doctrine to ensure water rights.

Read more on Navajos urging veto:

Becenti urged Navajos to contact the Navajo Nation and tell them to VETO legislation 0412-15.
Other executive staff to message:
Staff Assistant's # 928-871-7915

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annjee said...

Haven't the non-native Americans done enough harm to the Native Americans...and haven't they taken enough from these amazing people?

Unknown said...

Why in the world do they still employ a lawyer that does not represent them????
How is he still employed? Do Natives have no say in this and if not, why not?

With the advent of casino money funding should not be a problem as long as its is not fueling the white mans disease of greed and thievery.