Native News Network Staff in Native Challenges. Discussion »
PHOENIX The Navajo Nation Naa'bik'iyati' Water Rights Task Force met with state parties on December 3 to continue discussions on a possible water rights settlement after Speaker Johnny Naize requested the Department of Interior to organize the meeting in his November 28 letter.
The Only Place the Water Comes Together
The Junction of the Colorado and Little Colorado Rivers
In the same letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, the Navajo Nation maintained that it would be "in the best interest of the Nation to stand on the Position Statement adopted by the Naa'bik'iyati' Committee." The Committee passed resolution NABIN-87-12 so it could be presented to Department of the Interior during a November 14 meeting.
The purpose of the meeting with the state parties was for Navajo Nation Leadership to meet and hear directly from the state parties on the issues outlined in the position statement.
“I believe this type of discussion and baseline needed to be established - they heard directly from our leadership and we heard from them. Now, we can continue our work on this matter with greater clarity,”
Speaker Naize added.
Although the Interior was optimistic in their "Core Positions for a Near Term Settlement" it could negotiate a settlement that was favorable to some of the Nation's positions, the meeting with the state parties clearly showed that the state parties were unwilling to compromise.
Some of the issues the state parties were unwilling to negotiate on included the delivery of 6,411 AFY of CAP to eastern Arizona Navajo communities without conditions, and the Secretary's authority to take land into trust.
Navajo Nation leadership - eleven council delegates and Speaker Naize - and Hopi Tribal leadership, along with the Department of the Interior representatives, presented several priority issues that remain to be negotiating points between the state parties and the tribes.
The Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe were met with stark opposition to these points leaving the discussion at an impasse.
“It is without surprise that the various state parties would draw a firm line in the sand the way they did,”
Speaker Naize stated.
“I remain confident that we, as progressive neighbors, can continue to discuss these issues with practical progress.”
The Navajo Nation will continue to evaluate its options, and remains open to discussions with the Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement stakeholders.
posted December 5, 2012 9:40 am est