- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 11, 2016

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - A Navajo Nation Council panel is unanimously opposing a proposed tramway and other tourism development at the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado Rivers in the Grand Canyon.

The five members on the Law and Order Committee said during a hearing at Twin Arrows Casino Resort in Flagstaff that money for the Grand Canyon Escalade project would be best spent elsewhere, reported The Arizona Daily Sun (https://bit.ly/2d5hWZz ).

About 100 supporters and critics of the project attended the meeting, the first of four to be held on the topic. Members voted against legislation for a master development agreement that would set aside $65 million from the Navajo Nation, among other commitments.

“If we start establishing these particular projects across Navajo Nation how are we going to be in five years? In 10 years?” said Navajo Council Delegate Kee Allen Begay Jr. “Why can’t we invest back in our own culture, our traditional way of life?”

The legislation goes to the full council regardless of whether the committees approve it.

Approval requires two-thirds of the tribal council.

The project has been pitched as a way to create jobs. It would be along Grand Canyon National Park’s eastern edge.

“I think there’s a lot of unknown,” said Lamar Whitmar, managing partner for project developer Confluence Partners LLC. “They (councilmembers) expressed they don’t know a lot about the project and they need to know more so we’ll be meeting with as many of them as we can so that we can resolve these issues.

Opponents have sent the Office of Legislative Services 66,291 negative comments on the proposal, while supporters have tallied 131.

Save the Confluence is a group that has collected thousands of signatures against the legislation.

“We’re excited to know our elected officials are listening and willing to speak up for the families, for the people and for the culture,” said Save the Confluence member Renae Yellowhorse after the committee meeting.

“We’re not talking about extracting natural resources from the canyon,” said supporter Larry Hanks, who lives in the area without running water or electricity. “We’re not talking about desecrating the canyon. We’re creating jobs and opportunities.”


Information from: Arizona Daily Sun, https://www.azdailysun.com/

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