Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Challenges. Discussion »
WINDOW ROCK, ARIZONA In one of the most significant votes the Navajo Nation Council will make this session, the Council today voted down the Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Settlement, known commonly as S 2109.
Young Protester in front of Window Rock
The vote came after several hours of debate in the Navajo Nation Council's Chambers in Window Rock.
S 2019 was introduced by Arizona US Senators Jon Kyl and John McCain on February 14. The essence of the bill sought to settle a 33 years of litigation on the Navajo Nation's usage of water of the Little Colorado River.
Senator Kyl has stated without the approval of the Navajo Nation Council, he will not move the legislation forward in the United States Senate.
S 2109 has faced fierce opposition from Navajo Nation grassroots groups since its introduction. These groups opposed the legislation because they were did not want the Nation to give up their water rights to the federal government and non-Native Arizonians.
Many leaders of these grassroots groups' felt Senator Kyl was only working on behalf of special interests of the large corporations, such as Peabody and therefore did not have the best interests of the Navajo people.
During today's debate, some delegates suggested having amendments made to the legislation.
Two of the Protesters Outside Council Chambers in Window Rock
“We need public input before you make amendments,”
stated Delegate Lorenzo Curley.
“It's time to take it to the next level. Give it back to the people. The elders have voiced their concerns in native language. It's more descriptive,”
argued Delegate Jonathan Nez.
“We cannot trust KYL! Tribal nations across this nation are looking at us. They are looking to us to see if we will kneel down and bow to the federal government. Let us not only let our people down, but all indigenous people across the United States,”
Katherine Benally, chairperson of the Resources and Development Committee of the 22nd Navajo Nation Council.
After voting down the settlement, the Navajo Nation Council remained in session to decide the fate of an extension of the Navajo Generating Station provisions of S 2109 and the waiver of Diné water claims. More on the final outcome to come in the Native News Network.
posted July 5, 2012 7:00 pm edt