Environment | Opinion | Politics

Editorial: Big price to pay for tribal water rights settlement





"Those are serious roadblocks to economic self-determination, and it is little wonder that tribal officials looking to modernize the Rez will grasp at hasty opportunities that, in the long run, may be self-defeating.

The so-called Confluence Plan that calls for a tram down to the junction of the Little Colorado and Colorado rivers, with a hotel at its terminus, falls into that category. As a tourist attraction it would be unique, but at what cost to both the wilderness setting and the traditional values held by tribal members in the area?

The plan, though, is not all that different from other initiatives that have forced the impoverished tribe to compromise its principles. It has sold strip-mined coal in exchange for jobs and royalties, it has invested in polluting coal-fired power plants and it has recently built casinos that exploit gambling and alcohol addictions.

Now comes a plan endorsed by President Ben Shelly to give up rights to the Little Colorado River basin in exchange for estimated federal payments of $300 million for three water delivery projects. The agreement, brokered by U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, also calls for lease extensions for the utility-operated Navajo Generating Station near Page and the Peabody-run coal mine near Kayenta. Each provides jobs and royalties, but at the expense of water and mineral resources."

Get the Story:
Editorial: A healthier Rez is in everyone's best interest (The Arizona Daily Sun 4/8)

Also Today:
Senators Kyl and McCain Meet Angry Protesters in Tuba City (KNAU 4/6)
Hundreds Protest Tribal Water Bill Sponsored By McCain, Kyl (Fronteras 4/6)
Green: A Difficult Choice on Water (The New York Times 4/6)

Related Stories:
Hopi Tribe and Navajo Nation water settlement questioned (4/6)
Jon Kyl: Setting the record straight on tribal water rights bill (4/5)
Editorial: Don't hold your breath for tribal water rights deal (02/22)
Bill introduced to settle Hopi and Navajo water rights dispute (2/15)
Sen. Kyl will introduce bill to settle Hopi, Navajo water rights (2/14)