Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Navajo Grassroots Overwhelmingly Oppose Water Settlement

Navajo Grassroots Overwhelmingly Oppose Water Settlement
Council will soon make a decision on the Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Agreement

Photo Paper Rocket Productions
By Ron Milford, Dine Water Rights Committee
Marshall Johnson, To Nizhoni Ani
Posted at Censored News

June 13, 2012

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – Since the Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Act and Agreement were first proposed in February, opponents and proponents of the settlement have been engaged in a David and Goliath-like battle over the waters of the Navajo Nation. Opponents of the bill include a movement of various grassroots Navajo organizations and individuals, collectively calling themselves the Dine Water Rights Committee. Proponents of the bill include Arizona Senator Jon Kyl, and the Navajo Nation tribal government’s Executive and Judicial branches led by President Ben Shelly and Attorney General Harrison Tsosie. The final decision lies with the Navajo Nation Legislative Branch's 24 Tribal Council Delegates who will be voting within the next week and potentially as early as this Friday.

“It’s obvious that the grassroots people of the Navajo Nation reject the settlement agreement,” states Jihan Gearon, Executive Director of the Black Mesa Water Coalition. “We have collected hundreds of petition signatures from concerned citizens opposed to the settlement as well as hundreds of letters against the settlement. Furthermore, there wasoverwhelming opposition at each of the eight educational forums organized by the grassroots organizations, not to mention the overwhelming opposition voiced against the settlement at each of the seven town hall meetings sponsored by the President’s office under direction from the council.”

Opposition is further evidenced by the growing number of chapter resolutions that have been passed opposing the settlement. Both the Navajo Nation Water Rights Commission and the Dine Water Rights Committee have beenconsistently invited to educate and debate during various chapter meetings. So far the following Navajo Nation Chapters: Copper Mine, Coalmine, Fort Defiance,Sawmill, Red Lake, Crystal, Gap-Bodaway, Leupp, Dilkon, Rock Springs, Manuelito,Red Rock, Lupton, and Indian Wells as well as the Chinle Agency Council have all voted against the settlement agreement. And the number is growing.

Other opponents of the bill include the DilkonVeterans Group, the Farm Board, the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission, and formerNavajo Nation Presidents Peter McDonald, Milton Bluehouse, and Leonard Haskie. Ina united front to oppose this injustice, former Hopi Chairmen and Hopi grassroots organizations have also aligned with the Dine Water Rights Committee to oppose the settlement. Youth too, have decisively weighed in on the issue. “Half of the Navajo Nation are between the ages of 18 and 24 which means that thecentral government needs to listen to the youth”, states Sarana Riggs of Next Indigenous Generation. “Our vision for the future includes a just transition away from the coal-based economy, a diverse and sustainable economy based on traditional values, and true self sufficiency for the Navajo Nation. We will sign these things away if we agree to the settlement.”

"We are for a settlement agreement that honors our historical roots that predate American laws and allow for true input from the Navajo people”, affirms Marshall Johnson, Lead Organizer with To Nizhoni Ani. “This settlement is being fast tracked to satisfy Kyl and McCains’ efforts to continue the legacy of free and cheap electricity and water delivery to central and southern Arizona. It’s not about providing much needed services to the Navajo people as they claim. This should really be called the ‘Keep Navajo Generating Station Open Settlement Agreement.'"

The Navajo Nation Council itself has questioned the settlement since Kyl first announced it in February. “We understand that theCouncil is under a lot of pressure from DC to sign this agreement and we are very proud of them for not being bullied into it," says Don Yellowman, President of the Forgotten People Corporation. “But I think that if the Council votes in favor of the settlement, they would be going against their own people. And I don’t think that would be something the people would soon forget.”

The Dine Water Rights Committee includes Forgotten People Corporation, Black Mesa Water Coalition, To Nizhoni Ani, Dine Citizens Against Ruining the Environment, Hada'asidi, Next Indigenous Generation, Council Advocating an Indigenous Manifesto, and many Navajo individuals. For more information, please visit:

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Steve Salmony said...

If we agree to “think globally” about climate destabillization and at least one of its consensually validated principal agencies, it becomes evident that riveting attention on more and more seemingly perpetual GROWTH could be a grave mistake because we are denying how economic and population growth in the communities in which we live cannot continue as it has until now. Each village’s resources are being dissipated, each town’s environment degraded and every city’s fitness as place for our children to inhabit is being threatened. To proclaim something like, ‘the meat of any community plan for the future is, of course, growth’ fails to acknowledge that many villages, towns and cities are already ‘built out’, and also ‘filled in’ with people and pollutants. If the quality of life we enjoy now is to be maintained for the children, then limits on economic and population growth will have to be set. By so doing, we choose to “act locally” and sustainably.

More economic and population growth are soon to become no longer sustainable in many too many places on the surface of Earth because biological constraints and physical limitations are immutably imposed upon ever increasing human consumption, production and population activities of people in many communities where most of us reside. Inasmuch as the Earth is finite with frangible environs, there comes a point at which GROWTH is unsustainable. There is much work to done locally. But that effort cannot reasonably begin without sensibly limiting economic and population growth.

Problems worldwide that are derived from conspicuous overconsumption and rapacious plundering of limited resources, rampant overproduction of unnecessary stuff, and rapid human overpopulation of the Earth can be solved by human thought, judgment and action. After all, the things we have done can be undone. Think of it as ‘the great unwinding of human folly’. Like deconstructing the Tower of Babel. Any species that gives itself the moniker, Homo sapiens sapiens, can do that much, can it not?

“We face a wide-open opportunity to break with the old ways of doing the town’s business…..” That is a true statement. But the necessary “break with the old ways” of continous economic and population growth is not what is occurring. There is a call for a break with the old ways, but the required changes in behavior are not what is being proposed as we plan for the future. What is being proposed and continues to occur is more of the same, old business-as-usual overconsumption, overproduction and overpopulation activities, the very activities that appear to be growing unsustainbly. More business-as-usual could soon become patently unsustainable, both locally and globally. A finite planet with the size, composition and environs of the Earth and a community with the boundaries, limited resources and wondrous climate of villages, towns and cities where we live may not be able to sustain much longer the economic and population growth that is occurring on our watch. Perhaps necessary changes away from UNSUSTAINABLE GROWTH and toward sustainable lifestyles and right-sized corporate enterprises are in the offing.

Think globally while there is still time and act locally before it is too late for human action to make any difference in the clear and presently dangerous course of unfolding human-induced ecological events, both in our planetary home and in our villages, towns and cities. If we choose to review the perspective of a ‘marketwatcher’ who can see what is actually before our eyes, perhaps all of us can get a little more reality-oriented to the world we inhabit and a less deceived by an attractive, flawed ideology that is highly touted and widely shared but evidently illusory and patently unsustainable.

pechanga said...

Water infrastructure for ALL Nations'
water needs is the responsibility of the United States; isn't it? Why is water infrastructure predicated on any abrogation at all of any water rights?

Comment above was regarding statement "I have seen throughout our Nation a severe need for water infrastructure.
The settlement offers our Nation an opportunity to build and secure water rights for our current needs and our future growth." (This is bullshit!)