June 10, 2013

Navajo and Hopi protest Escalade

Navajo and Hopi oppose plan dubbed the Escalade

By Katherine SaltzsteinConfluence Partners, LLC of Tucson, Arizona hopes to build a museum, restaurant and walking path at the Grand Canyon with a gondola connecting the rim to the Canyon floor.

Dubbed the Escalade, the project, which would begin on Navajo land on the western rim of the canyon, has met with mixed reactions. Confluence Partners say it will create jobs and revenue for the tribe. But some Navajos oppose the plan and the Hopi Tribe passed a resolution opposing it. Also, the National Park Service does not approve of projects in the canyon and some environmental groups have spoken out against it.
Dueling views:“The Canyon was and still is home to several Native American tribes including the Hopi, Havasupai, Hualapai, Kaibab-Paiute, Navajo and Zuni,” the Hopis said in the press release. “Sacred sites dot the river and canyons, one of the most important areas being the confluence where the Colorado River meets the Little Colorado River. The sacred area serves as a connection to the Hopi tribes’ ancestral past and is home to ceremonial trails, shrines and ruins.

Driven by the lure of tourist dollars, the Confluence Partners is threatening the beauty of this natural wonder While they expect a large economic impact to come from the development, it is clear that the developers value the potential dollars to be made from this sacred area rather than respecting the beauty and sanctity of a pristine location that is so dear to many tribal communities.”

The resolution states that many Navajos oppose the Escalade project along with a river guide company, the Grand Canyon Trust, and local groups formed to oppose it.

The Hopis urge people to oppose the plan and say “construction of the Grand Canyon Escalade will irreversibly compromise this natural wonder for many generations to come.”

Asked about the Hopi tribe’s objections, Hale said “Escalade is not close to the Hopi sacred sites. The majority of their sites are along the Salt Trail within the Little Colorado gorge and their other sites on the Colorado River are significantly downstream of Escalade. The Sierra Club offers a Salt Trail trip. Strangely enough the Hopi have remained silent.”

“The Salt Trail on the Navajo Reservation is our route into the Grand Canyon and is an ancient one used by the Hopis, Navajos, Prehistory puebloans and prospectors,” Hale continued. He added that “our days will be spent enjoying seldom-seen views of spectacular scenery unparalleled in the world.” The Grand Canyon has been inhabited for about 13,000 years, Hale said and “tools figurines, petroglyphs, pictographs, baskets, pithouses, and other archaeological artifacts have been found sprinkled throughout the area. Archaeologists estimate that there are 50,000 archaeological sites distributed throughout the Canyon and prehistoric ruins can be seen along our route.”
Comment:  Naturally, I side with the presevationists on this issue. Once you develop something, it's almost impossible to undevelop it.

For more on the Grand Canyon and tourism, see Tightrope Walk Over Grand Canyon Planned and Navajos Split on Grand Canyon Flights.

Below:  "Navajo water walkers, Save the Confluence, are struggling to protect the pristine region at Bodaway Gap, Arizona, the Confluence, on the Navajo Nation, where the Colorado and Little Colorado Rivers meet. They walked to Window Rock this week to protest a plan to develop the area for tourists. Those leading the assault on the Dine' sacred area include former Navajo President Albert Hale who resigned during a financial corruption probe and was appointed to the Arizona legislature by the governor to fill a vacancy."

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