Navajo Nation Approves Resort and Tramway into Grand Canyon

Little Colorado River about a 1/4 mile from where they want to put the Tramway

The Navajo Nation Bodaway/Gap Chapter Wednesday passed by seven votes a resolution to set aside 420 acres on the cliff above the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers, paving the way for a huge new resort with a tramway to the floor of the Grand Canyon.

The 59-52 vote came after about two hours of heated discussion during which former Coconino County Supervisor Louise Yellowman was removed from the chapter house by police for approaching the chapter officials without permission.

Both tribal and state police were on hand to secure the meeting, and an ambulance was parked outside.

As it had in the past, the debate focused on economic development vs. preservation of sacred sites and the environment.

“We’re not looking out for ourselves,” said resort proponent Brian Kinsley, who identified himself as a former member of the chapter’s land use planning committee. “We’re looking out for our children.”

“Prayers daholo (we have prayers),” countered another resident. “That’s the greatest gift that you can give them.”

In Navajo tradition, the two rivers are powerful deities and the place they come together is considered sacred.

Arizona State Rep. Albert Hale, who is also a partner in the company that hopes to develop the $180 million resort, commended the chapter for its action.

“It was a good vote,” he said. “We had a discussion. It really came down to the people.”

Opponents of the Grand Canyon Escalade, as the planned resort is known, said they would make a complaint to the Navajo Nation Council’s Ethics and Rules Committee for what they said were multiple violations of Title 26.

“They were supposed to have the resolution available 24 hours in advance, which they didn’t,” said Darlene Martin. “They didn’t even have one available during the meeting.”


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