A disconnect in concept of water rights

June 14, 2012

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omewhere and somehow there is an inexplicable disconnect between the concept of water rights that we have versus the water that we will surely give away with SB 2109.

Our leaders and the very people we trust to safeguard our resources believe they are doing the right thing by supporting SB 2109.

Our neighbors, the Hopis, have voiced their disapproval of the bill. They understand the importance of water and the value of water to their children and their children's children.

Peter MacDonald also understands the value and importance of water and has gone so far as to voice his disapproval through the media.

Is anyone listening to these voices?

Don't be fooled by the false notion that it's only the Little Colorado River that we're talking about. All water belonging to Native people should not be legislated away without them having some kind of voice in the final outcome.

In a land that is for all intents and purposes a barren land makes no difference. I do not care that Valley residents want our water and will do everything within their power to keep that resource intact.

The president, Barrack Obama, is also not your friend either. He is indeed the cheap salesman who whispers into your ears that short-term benefits far outweigh the long-term consequences if we don't play ball and let the Valley residents and businesses have our water.

I am ashamed that Ben Shelly does not understand the value of our water. It is more precious than gold.

It looks like Ben Shelly has pretty much guaranteed that he will be a one-term president. We could be setting a dangerous precedent that will erode other resource issues.

The Navajo Nation is a nation that is trying mightily to generate revenue through economic development. Water is an important component that we must have in order to develop economically.

Water represents leverage to help our nation negotiate the type and kind of progress that we will define at the appropriate time.

Without water we will have nothing. Pure and simple, water is power!

Sonny Clark
Window Rock, Ariz.

Thanks for help with horse roundup

I want to take the time to say thank you to the community of Gap, Ariz., and especially those who volunteered their time on Saturday, June 2, and Sunday, June 3, for the horse roundup at the Bodaway corral in Bodaway, Ariz.

I took on this effort to round up horses that were neglected and loosely roaming the Bodaway area. My main concern was the drought landscape due to no rain and uncontrollable overpopulation of horses.

The dams are drying up as we have not had rain to fill the water holes for our livestock to drink.

After the two days of rounding up horses, I realized the horse roundup was needed for the Bodaway/Gap community. Many people who were able to reclaim their horses thanked me, and many horses that would have fallen to thirst and suffering found new owners.

In the two days of rounding up horses there were approximately 100 horses rounded up and 60 horses were either reclaimed or found new owners. The remaining unclaimed horses were fed water prior to their release.

There are more unwanted horses that still roam the area but sadly I have no solution for them but I am more than willing to assist with any type of projects that will benefit my community.

I was also able to get people to assist with some of the food and drinks and most I paid out of my pocket.

Again, I want to say thank you to everyone who volunteered their time to help. Though we were not able to roundup every single horse with the help of volunteers, your hard work made a key difference to many of these neglected horses.

As the organizer of the horse roundup, it was a privilege to see the level of capability and initiative from the community members to make this happen.

Thank you again, on behalf of myself and my family, for a job well done. I look forward to completing many more successful plans with my community in the future.

Perry Slim Sr.
Gap, Ariz.


Water bill contains two deal killers

By now most people know that SB 2109, the Navajo Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Act of 2012, contains two deal-killers.

First, it would require us and the Hopis to abandon our aboriginal claims to water. The bill goes on to list some exceptions, but these don't include Navajo communities outside the Colorado River Basin, such as those east of the Continental Divide that are in the Rio Grande watershed.

If, as the bill's supporters contend, the waivers are just to settle claims to the Little Colorado River, why not say it, in straightforward language, instead of insisting the tribes OK a broad waiver to all "past, present and future" water claims, to quote the language in SB 2109.

The second deal-killer is that the promised benefits - municipal water for Hopi, Leupp-Dilkon and Ganado - would hinge on federal approval of an extension of operating permission for the Navajo Generating Station and Peabody's coal operations on Black Mesa.

Senators Kyl and McCain are trying to use us to pressure the feds to drop cleanup requirements for NGS, requirements that other power plants are trying to meet. If we fall for this manipulation, we'd be undermining the Obama Administration in the run-up to the election and hurting the best friend we've had in the White House in many a year.

But there's another provision in SB 2109 that is a deal killer - or should be. That is Section 107 of Title 1: "After -acquired trust land."

The act says, "(a) Requirement of Act of Congress- Except as provided in section 11 of Public Law 93-531 (25 U.S.C. 640d-10) and the Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute Settlement Act of 1996 (25 U.S.C. 640d note; Public Law 104-301), the Navajo Nation or the Hopi Tribe may only seek to have legal title to additional land in the state, located outside the exterior boundaries of the land that is, on the date of enactment of this Act, in reservation status or held in trust for the benefit of the Navajo Nation or the Hopi Tribe, taken into trust by the United States for the benefit of the Navajo Nation or the Hopi Tribe, respectively, pursuant to an Act of Congress enacted after the date of enactment of this Act."

I call on the supporters of SB 2109 - President Shelly, State Sen. Hale - to explain what this provision is doing in a bill about water rights. It presents a serious obstacle in our long struggle to regain our lost homeland, which we are doing acre by acre, foot by foot, with proceeds from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund.

Section 107 means that we can buy the soil on which our ancestors lived, but it would take an act of Congress to make it part of Dinetah. Without that lengthy and unlikely step, any land we purchase in Arizona will just be private property on which the conquerors' laws, values, and, worst of all, their courts hold sway.

If Kyl and McCain truly want to help the Navajos and Hopis, they should be happy to remove these poisonous provisions and any others with which the tribes are not comfortable. But then, does anyone familiar with the voting records of these two really believe helping Natives is their main purpose with SB 2109?

The real question is why our tribal leaders would even consider going along with this sly, dangerous assault on our interests.

Larry Charlie
Tohlakai, N.M.

Catch the livestock and sell them

The Council delegates want to challenge the president to use $2.7 million for emergency funds for six months to round up feral livestock that are overpopulating Diné Nation. It is a waste and a disgrace.

There is completely no plan of how it should be done. The whole Diné Nation government is finally getting their act together about what's happening on Diné land.

Duh! The $2.7 million should be used for barbwire fences and cattle guards everywhere on Diné land where it is needed on roads and highways that are in dire need. That's more of an emergency fund that is needed for future generations. A lot of communities around Diné land will support it.

In the past people never seen their loved ones come home. Instead they had a funeral because of roaming animals on dirt roads, highways where it could have been prevented, infant into old age being sent to the hospitals for their injuries.

A lot of people love animals and a lot don't care. It's going too far where nothing has been done to protect the roaming livestock from roads and highways that could be prevented.

A lot of us are fed up, knowing that Diné Nation government are just anxious to pick up their next paycheck and being proud of getting away with a crime.

The 110 chapters don't want to be involved, they're too busy lying at their chapters, planning meetings, collecting their stipends, and stealing like their sidekicks in Window Rock.

The 24 delegates shouldn't be relying on other departments to ask them "What should we do next?" Grazing officials don't care who has papers and whose animals they are, they continue to look at the roaming animals and laugh to say "It's not my problem!"

If there is an overpopulation of livestock across Diné land, you, the people, catch them yourselves, branded or not branded, and claim it. Raise it and take care of it or sell it elsewhere off the reservation and that's money in your pocket.

That way Diné government won't just pocket $2.7 million and save it for their retirement and for others to steal. The owners on Diné land who don't take care of their roaming livestock, you're out of luck from a buyer in Mexico for $20 or $30.

Joe Indian Yazzie Jr.
Chinle, Ariz.

Main purpose of water bill is for NGS

I am writing to express my view on why the Navajo Nation is entertaining this detrimental legislation (Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Settlement Agreement).

We, the people, know that the main thrust of the LCR bill is to accommodate Navajo Generating Station and the communities outside of Navajo boundaries.

Some members of the Navajo Nation Council and President Shelly have betrayed our rights and are seriously putting our collective future at extreme risk of our very survival.

Now is the time for Navajo communities to displace destructive fossil fuel development with new economic opportunities around renewable energy and energy efficiency. By creating renewable energy projects at the community level, sovereignty is strengthened, and communities produce and use clean energy that is aligned with traditional beliefs and values.

I also serve on the Navajo Nation Green Economy Commission. I question why our leaders cater to the very federal government that has time and time again underfunded us (and) designed internal fighting among ourselves.

Our leaders turn the other way when real Diné ideas lead the way for a healthier and sustainable economy.

But our leaders are selling us out. I cannot believe the Navajo Nation is setting precedent that is unruly for us as a people but for our other tribal nations that will also feel the negative impacts of this legislation.

Our people are suffering from high rates of cancer, breathing problems and birth defects.

Our water is nothing to play with and our leaders are giving up our lifeblood. Treaty violations in our leaders face and they bend over for outside interest.

We do not need another 1989 Navajo Civil War. Listen to the people! Vote no on SB 2109!

Anna Rondon
Gallup, N.M.

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