Navajo, Hopi, Zuni: Save the Confluence!

by November 24, 2012

The Navajo (Dineh) group "Save the Confluence" are opposed to the development of the Grand Canyon Escalade project at the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado Rivers on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona. This video explains why this area is sacred and should be preserved in its natural state.

A new $120 million resort and tramway project is being pushed forward by the Navajo Nation government despite the obvious risks to the environment not to mention the cultural and spiritual well-being of the Dineh, Hopi and Zuni Peoples.

The troubling "Grand Canyon Escalade" project would be situated at the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers, which is considered sacred by the Dineh, Hopi, Zuni and others.

Several groups have come together to stop the project, including the Diné Medicine Man Association, Inc., Forgotten People, Next Indigenous Generation, and the Grand Canyon Trust.

Many local Dineh are also speaking out against the project, which was tabled by Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly without their knowledge or approval. According to the website of Save The Confluence, President Shelly shut the stakeholders out of local economic development plans after U.S. President Barack Obama lifted The Bennett Freeze. And then, President Shelly signed an agreement with a developer behind closed doors.

Hopi leaders have stepped forward as well. In October, they unanimously agreed to oppose the commercial initiative.

“The Canyon is still regularly visited by Hopis to deposit prayer offerings in the area of the confluence, so this development will adversely affect the sacredness of this special place”, said Leigh Kuwanwisiwma Director of the Hopi Tribe’s Cultural Preservation Office. “Because of the significance of Öngtupqa, it is extremely important for the Hopi people to preserve and protect this area from harm and wrongful exploitation.”

On top of these clear-cut threats--not to mention the back-room dealing--there are environmental concerns with the Grand Canyon Escalade.

The Grand Canyon Trust observes, "There are... issues such as potential adverse effects to Blue Spring from pumping groundwater and disposing sewage. This spring is the perennial source of water for the Little Colorado River and the only remaining breeding habitat for the Grand Canyon’s endangered humpback chub. Significantly, the project would result in development below the rim, bringing noise and light pollution to the most isolated and pristine part of the Grand Canyon.

For updates on the situation and to show your support, please go to:

  • Dale A. Spude
    September 24, 2013 at 10:38 am

    Please send me all the latest info. you can on "Save the Confluence.
    I was in Page and on the Reservation this past weekend. I couldn't believe what I heard. We got a years subscription of the Navajo Time so we could stay on top. WE DO NOT WANT TO SEE THIS HAPPEN !!!!!!!!!!
    Dale & Jeri Lynn Page-Spude


  • September 19, 2014 at 11:55 pm

    passing it forward:

    (from cultural survival magazine)

    the rise will be in the Indigenous Worlds Again (not politicized countries) and in de-centralization of governments.
    those that harm will not last long in the new era.

    in freedom and liberty.
    hoka hey!

    Campaign Update: Russia – Putin Announces Renewed Intent to Construct Pipeline

    Threats have been renewed against the Ukok Plateau and the Golden Mountains of Altai UNESCO World Heritage site, where the Indigenous Telengit people of Russia have long lived with respect for the land and its natural riches. Valdimir Putin announced in early September that Russia and China would revive a project in which a gas pipeline will ravage these sacred lands, used for at least 8,000 years by the Telengit for burials and sacred ceremonies.

    Named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1998, the Golden Mountains of Altai have been in danger of destructive development since 2006, when the gas pipeline from Russia to China was first proposed. Not only are Indigenous holy sites at risk; important snow leopard, argali mountain sheep, and other species’ habitats will also be endangered if the pipeline comes to fruition. Andrei Petrov, representative of Greenpeace Russia, says that the damage caused by the pipeline “could take centuries to heal.”

    Russia’s complicated political situation may play an important role in its desire to implement this project despite the fact that it would break multiple local and national laws. According to CCTV, China has been Russia’s number one trading partner for the last four years, and energy development has been at the center of their relationship. China’s growing economy has led to an ever-growing need for fuel, and both countries have political reasons for avoiding an alternative route for the pipeline that would bypass the Heritage Site but would require it to pass through Mongolia or Kazakhstan.

    The struggle of the Telengit for their land has been bolstered by large-scale environmentalist support and by its naming as a UNESCO Heritage Site. However, this latest news about renewed intentions to implement the project presents the threat of the Golden Mountains being removed from the list, which would make it only the third site ever to be removed. The Golden Mountains site was designated as such particularly for being “an important and original centre of biodiversity of montane plant and animal species in northern Asia, a number of which are rare and endemic…The area is sparsely populated with local populations of Russians and Altaisky, a Turkish-speaking people, mainly involved in traditional pastoralism, low-intensity agriculture, hunting and gathering. These people have co-existed with nature for millennia and have a strong affinity with the natural environment. Indeed, one reviewer has commented that the region’s important biodiversity is probably not due purely to natural factors but to the millennia of grazing. The Ukok Quiet Zone and Mount Belukha have particular cultural and religious values for local people.” Eight of Russia’s 10 World Heritage Sites have been “threatened by development projects ranging from resort facilities to mines and military bases, Greenpeace’s Petrov said,” and these threats have largely been promoted by the government itself, despite the fact that countries with World Heritage Sites have pledged to protect them.

    Petrov said, “We should be proud of those places, but instead we keep on cranking our insane plans to destroy them.”


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