"Opinions Split on Navajo and Hopi Water Rights as Decision Time Nears"

"As decision time looms for a controversial Little Colorado River water settlement, Navajo and Hopi tribal governments are looking increasingly likely to support the settlement – and oppose its companion federal legislation, SB 2109."

"But grassroots activists who are opposed to the settlement say their tribal leaders are mistaken. The Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement and SB 2109 are essentially one and the same, they say.

'If you have a problem with the various waivers, if you have a problem including the Navajo Generating Station and Peabody [Coal] in the settlement, then you should still be against the settlement itself,' said Jihan Gearon, executive director of the grassroots Black Mesa Water Coalition.

The Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement would establish water rights for the Little Colorado River, a tributary of the Colorado that runs across the southwestern border of the Navajo Nation – and near the Hopi Reservation – in northeastern Arizona. The settlement allows the Navajo Nation to use whatever water it can get from the Little Colorado River and the C-aquifer, which underlies the Navajo Nation in parts of Arizona and New Mexico. Hopi Tribal Chairman LeRoy Shingoitewa and Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly both say the settlement is a boon for future generations, securing a water supply they’d be unlikely to gain in protracted court battles that are the settlement’s alternative. And both men are eager for the three water delivery projects outlined in the settlement, which would deliver drinking water to rural communities on both reservations that now lack it."

Anne Minard reports for Indian Country Today Media Network June 20, 2012.

Source: Indian Country Today, 06/21/2012