Navajos and Hopis protest Kyl and McCain water theft scheme
By Brenda Norrell
Photo by Outta Your Backpack Media
TUBA CITY, Ariz. -- Navajos and Hopis protested Arizona senators Jon Kyl and John McCain, voicing opposition to a scheme to steal their water rights. While downstream cities and corporations in Arizona become desperate to continue their lavish lifestyles in the desert, a scheme has been hatched to steal Navajo and Hopi water rights to the Little Colorado River. The "water rights settlement" would extinguish expansive rights guaranteed to American Indians under the Winters Doctrine.
Outta Your Backpack Media, an Indigenous youth collective based in Flagstaff, is live at the scene in Tuba City on the western Navajo Nation.
"A group of Diné and Hopi people ( including traditional people and elders) upset by the latest colonial attack on indigenous peoples water rights, gathered to protest the visits of two US Senators to the Navajo Nation today. The people had gathered to say 'no deal' to S2109, the bill that would allow for more water to flow into Arizona for the benefit of companies and urban growth," OYBM said.
Protesters chanted "water is life," "free indian water ends now," "let the water flow," "sewage water for McCain and Kyl," other chants were said in Diné.
"Protesters are waiting for Navajo president Ben Shelly and US senators McCain and Kyl to exit the meeting in Tuba City, on the Navajo Nation. Earlier protesters marched in the streets of Tuba City, as Navajo Nation president Ben Shelly met with the senators to discuss the further dismantling of Navajo and Hopi water rights. Senators McCain and Kyl are in Tuba City to gain official support from the Tribal governments for their bill, Senate Bill 2109," OYBM said.
Meanwhile, at the Rights of Mother Earth Conference at Haskell Indian Nations University in Kansas, Mona Polacca, Havasupai and Hopi, said her people would be in Tuba City protesting today.
"They are raising their voices in protest of this bill," said Polacca.
Polacca said that the scheme would give the Salt River Project and Peabody Coal full benefit and use of this water.
Indigenous Peoples are gathered from the Americas at the conference in Kansas, April 4--6, which follows the World Peoples Conference on the Rights of Mother Earth and Climate Change in Cochabamba, Bolivia in 2010. Watch live Friday morning, and now in archives: http://www.bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2012/04/watch-live-rights-of-mother-earth.html
On the Navajo Nation, Ed Becenti, Navajo, urged opposition to the bill and the scheme.
Becenti said the bill is on a fast track to give Arizona corporations and water interests a “100th birthday present” that will close the door forever on Navajo and Hopi food and water sovereignty, security and self-reliance.
"S.2109 asks the Navajo and Hopi peoples to waive their priority Water Rights to the surface waters of the Little Colorado River “from time immemorial and thereafter, forever” in return for the shallow promise of uncertain federal appropriations to supply minimal amounts of drinking water to a handful of reservation communities," Becenti said.
"Senators Kyl and McCain know well that without Water, life is not possible. Yet, their Bill and the ‘Settlement Agreement” close the door forever to any possibility of irrigated agriculture and water conservation projects to heal and restore Navajo and Hopi watersheds (keeping sediment from filling downstream reservoirs); to grow high-value income and employment-producing livestock and crops for Navajo, Hopi and external markets; and to provide once again for healthy, diabetes- and obesity-free nutrition and active lifestyles for all future generations of Navajo and Hopi children," Becenti said.
From the Native News Network:
Senate Bill 2109 45; the "Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Act of 2012" was introduced by Kyl and McCain on February 14, 2012, and is on a fast track to give Arizona corporations and water interests a "100 th birthday present" that will close the door forever on Navajo and Hopi food and water sovereignty, security and self-reliance.
S.2109 asks the Navajo and Hopi peoples to waive their priority Water Rights to the surface waters of the Little Colorado River "from time immemorial and thereafter, forever" in return for the shallow promise of uncertain federal appropriations to supply minimal amounts of drinking water to a handful of reservation communities.
The Bill - and the "Settlement Agreement" it ratifies - do not quantify Navajo and Hopi water rights - the foundation of all other southwestern Indian Water Rights settlements to date - thereby denying the Tribes the economic market value of their water rights, and forcing them into perpetual dependence on uncertain federal funding for any water projects.
OYBM said from the protest scene on Thursday afternoon, "The fight for Diné and Hopi water rights continues as several indigenous struggles persist across Arizona to protect sacred sites, stop cultural genocide, and prevent further destruction of the earth and its people for corporate profit."
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