December 25, 2007

Skywalk story is no. 3

In its year-end roundup, the LA Times says the following was the third most e-mailed story of 2007. Therefore, it deserves a look:

Tribe's canyon Skywalk opens one deep divideTribal officials say the development, which may eventually include hotels, restaurants and a golf course, is the best way to address the social ills of a small reservation, where the 2,000 residents struggle with a 50% unemployment rate and widespread alcoholism and poverty.

But off the reservation, many people regard the development and especially the Skywalk as tantamount to defacing a national treasure.

"It's the equivalent of an upscale carnival ride," said Robert Arnberger, a former superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park who was born near the canyon's South Rim. "Why would they desecrate this place with this?"

"I've never been able to resolve the apparent conflict between the tribe's oft-stated claim that there is no better caregiver and steward of the Grand Canyon than the tribe, and their approach to the land--which is based on heavy use and economics," he said.

"They say the Grand Canyon is theirs to do with however they please. Under law, it's hard to argue that proposition. But obviously the lure of dollars for the tribal treasury is greater than the obligation to manage the Grand Canyon for its cultural and historic values."

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