Navajo Nation Council Votes Down Development Project at Grand Canyon
The vote is a victory in the ongoing effort to protect the region’s unique cultural heritage
This week, during a special session in Window Rock, Arizona, the Navajo Nation Council voted 16-2 against Legislation No. 0293-16, which sought the Council’s agreement and infrastructure funding for the Grand Canyon Escalade Project, a large-scale development, on tribal land. The Council’s vote is the final authority on the project. The contentious proposal comprised building an aerial tramway and various facilities along the canyon rim and riverside, including hotels, restaurants, mixed-used retail, entertainment venues, galleries, and an RV park. The following is a statement by Stephanie K. Meeks, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation:
“We applaud the Navajo Nation Council’s overwhelming action to deny development that would cause irreparable harm to the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers inside the Grand Canyon. The confluence is of deep traditional, religious and cultural importance to many native peoples, including the Navajo, Havasupai, Hopi, Hualapai, Paiute, and Zuni—and deserves to be protected.
“Since listing the area as one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2015 and naming it a National Treasure in 2016, the National Trust has been engaged with local partners to save the Grand Canyon’s cultural heritage from multiple threats, such as uranium mining and other development proposals. We were delighted to announce last year that the historic, globally-significant murals at the Grand Canyon’s Desert View Watchtower are being conserved through a $250,000 grant from American Express through our Partners in Preservation program.
“From historic structures and rock art to several-thousand-year-old ceremonial sites, our wide-ranging work across the American Southwest’s cultural landscapes has revealed the need for increased stewardship to protect the character and spirit of these revered places. Moreover, community-driven initiatives are more important than ever for developing sustainable economic opportunities that respect local principles and traditions.
“Moving forward, the National Trust, along with the Grand Canyon Trust, Grand Canyon National Park, the Navajo Nation-based DinéHózhó venture, and other partners, will continue to advocate for new protections, including a canyon-wide National Register of Historic Places designation.”
To learn more about the National Trust’s campaigns, sites and stories highlighting Native American history, please visit: www.savingplaces.org/native-american-history
About National Treasures
The National Trust for Historic Preservation mobilizes its almost 70 years of expertise and resources to protect a growing portfolio of National Treasures that are threatened buildings, neighborhoods, communities, and landscapes that stand at risk across the country. Our National Treasures program demonstrates the value of preservation by taking direct action to protect these places and promote their history and significance. www.savingplaces.org/national-treasures