Law | Politics

Hopi Tribe and Navajo Nation water settlement questioned





S.2109, the Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Act, is generating controversy in Arizona.

The bill settles the claims of the Hopi Tribe and the Navajo Nation to the Little Colorado River. It ends decades of litigation and secures water projects for the tribes.

The bill has yet to be heard in the Senate amid complaints from some members and leaders of both tribes. Some say the tribes give up too much in the settlement, whose cost was significantly pared down from one that was previously supported by the Navajo Nation Council.

Council Speaker Johnny Naize, in fact, criticized a closed-door meeting requested by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) and Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona). The two lawmakers met privately with Navajo President Ben Shelly yesterday to urge the tribe to support the deal.

Naize said all discussions should be held in public. Shelly said the tribe has scheduled public hearings to debate the settlement.

Some former leaders of the Hopi Tribe are also questioning the settlement. “It’s blackmail,” past chairman Ben Nuvamsa told Circle of Blue.

In the closed-door meetings, Kyl and McCain reportedly urged the tribes to consider the settlement quickly in order to get it passed before the end of the 112th Congress. Kyl is retiring this year.

Get the Story:
Senators urge action on water-rights bill in meeting with tribal leaders (Cronkite News 4/5)
Water Rights: Arizona Senators John Kyl and John McCain Meet With Navajo Nation Leaders (Circle of Blue 4/5)
Navajo President reassures the people of the Senators visit (The Navajo Post 4/5)

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Bill introduced to settle Hopi and Navajo water rights dispute (2/15)
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