Leaked docs expose Interior scheme for Navajo water rights in Lame Duck Congress

Leaked documents: Interior Secretary schemes to modify Little Colorado River Settlement and sneak it through Lame Duck Congress

By Brenda Norrell

Photo Navajos and Hopis protest Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl during a water rights session in Tuba City, Ariz.

US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar wants to push the Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement, already rejected by Navajos, through an upcoming Lame Duck Congress, according to documents leaked to Censored News.

A memo from the Navajo Nation Washington Office states there will be a meeting on Nov. 14 in Washington, between Salazar and Navajo and Hopi officials to discuss the water rights settlement. Also on the agenda is the Navajo Generating Station, one of the dirtiest coal fired power plants in the US which Navajo and US politicians want to remain in operation.

Already numerous Arizona Indian Nations have accepted “water rights settlements,” which opponents say are the theft of Indian water for the benefit of non-Indians, pushed through by non-Indian attorneys. Navajos opposing the Little Colorado River settlement say it requires the Navajo Nation to give up expansive water rights under the Winter’s Doctrine and future generations of Navajos would suffer. Navajos earlier protested the water settlement and the council rejected it.

The current Interior scheme to seize Navajo and Hopi water rights involves Salazar meeting with Navajo and Hopi officials, then persuading Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl to modify the legislation that has already been rejected and then pushing it through an upcoming Lame Duck session of Congress following the elections.

The Navajo Washington Office memo to Navajo officials states, "The Secretary believes that if the Tribes can come to agreement on the portions of the settlement that raised the most objections, he can convince Senator Kyl to make changes to the settlement. If the settlement can be changed there may be a window of opportunity for passage during the upcoming 'Lame Duck' Congress after the November election."

The memo from the Navajo Washington Office is addressed to Navajo President Ben Shelly and Navajo Council Speaker Johnny Naize.

In the typical heavy handed style of US bargaining and political blackmail, Salazar says in his letter to the Navajo Speaker that they will also discuss housing for Navajos in the Bennett Freeze area, where Navajos live in desperate conditions.

A primary reason that the US wants the water from the Little Colorado River is to keep the Navajo Generating Station operating, a leading source of global warming. The coal fired power plant on Navajoland near Page, Ariz., was founded on the abuse of Navajos. An attorney for Peabody Coal orchestrated the so-called Navajo Hopi land dispute in order to remove more than 14,000 Navajos from Black Mesa through relocation, so that Peabody could get to the coal.

Today, Peabody coal from Black Mesa fuels the Navajo Generating Station which provides power to Southwest cities, while many Navajos live without electricity. Phoenix and Tucson are now dependant on this electricity and desperate for Indian water. Coal mining and coal fired power plant operations deplete the aquifer on Navajoland, while most Navajos on Black Mesa live without running water.

copyright Brenda Norrell
brendanorrell@gmail.com

About Brenda Norrell

Brenda Norrell has been a news reporter in Indian country for 32 years. She is publisher of Censored News, focusing on Indigenous Peoples, human rights and the US border. Censored News was created after Norrell was censored, then terminated, by Indian Country Today after serving as a longtime staff reporter. Now censored by the mainstream media, she previously was a staff reporter at numerous American Indian newspapers and a stringer for AP, USA Today and others. She lived on the Navajo Nation for 18 years, and then traveled with the Zapatistas. She covered the climate summits in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and Cancun, Mexico, in 2010.

User login

Navigation

About Brenda Norrell

Personal Website
http://www.bsnorrell.blogspot.com/

Biography

Brenda Norrell has been a news reporter in Indian country for 32 years. She is publisher of Censored News, focusing on Indigenous Peoples, human rights and the US border. Censored News was created after Norrell was censored, then terminated, by Indian Country Today after serving as a longtime staff reporter. Now censored by the mainstream media, she previously was a staff reporter at numerous American Indian newspapers and a stringer for AP, USA Today and others. She lived on the Navajo Nation for 18 years, and then traveled with the Zapatistas. She covered the climate summits in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and Cancun, Mexico, in 2010.