Developers pursue $1B project on Navajo land by Grand Canyon

Artist's rendering of a tram to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Image from Grand Canyon Escalade

Developers are hoping to build a $1 billion project on land owned by the Navajo Nation.

Normally such an investment would be drawing praise and interest. But since the land is near the Grand Canyon National Park, it has tribal activists, federal officials and conservation groups on edge.

“This is the heart of our Mother Earth," Renae Yellowhorse, a tribal member whose group, Save the Confluence, opposes the project, told The New York Times. "This is a sacred area. It is going to be true destruction.”

The project includes restaurants, hotels, retail outlets and a trailer park on land above the canyon rim. A tramway would take visitors to the floor of the canyon, where a cultural center, restaurant and river walk would be located.

The Navajo Nation Council has not approveed the project so it's not official yet. Since the development would occur on tribal land, there is little federal officials could do to stop it.

"We are not building on the Grand Canyon National Park," Desmond Tome, an adviser to outgoing President Ben Shelly, who supports the project, told the Times. "We are choosing to develop the land that belongs to the Navajo people.”

However, the National Park Service says the tribe doesn't own the land where the tramway would end. Developers anticipate a legal battle over the boundaries of the reservation with respect to the Grand Canyon park.

Get the Story:
Where 2 Rivers Meet, Visions for Grand Canyon Clash (The New York Times 12/4)

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