Native News Network Staff in Native Challenges. Discussion »
WINDOW ROCK, ARIZONA On November 28, the Naa'bik'iyati' Committee approved a letter by Navajo Nation Council Speaker Johnny Naize, on behalf of the Water Rights Task Force responding to the Department of the Interior's Core Positions for a Near Term Settlement with a vote of fourteen supporting and zero opposing - the committee will continue to maintain its position outlined in "Position Statement of the Navajo Nation on Comprehensive Water Rights Settlements" (resolution NABIN-87-12).
View of the Little Colorado River
The letter responds to the Department of the Interior's Core Positions for a Near Term Settlement, which resulted from the position statement the Nation presented to Department of the Interior during a November 14 meeting organized by the Department.
“The Navajo Nation appreciates your efforts to move a settlement of the claims of the Nation and the Hopi Tribe in the Little Colorado River basin,”
Speaker Naize stated in his letter to Interior Secretary Salazar.
“Following our meeting with you and other Interior officials in Washington two weeks ago, and with further clarification of the Federal proposal provided by Deputy Hayes and others in telephone conference held on November 26, the Nation has determined that it is in the best interest of the Nation to stand on the Position Statement (resolution NABIN-87-12) adopted by the Naa'bik'iyati' Committee of the Navajo Nation Council as it concerns a settlement of the Little Colorado River basin claims.”
Speaker Naize also expressed appreciation to the department for supporting the following terms:
Seven additional positions advocated for by the Nation were not accepted by the Department of the Interior - to which Speaker Naize asked the United States to "schedule a meeting with the Arizona parties to advocate for a settlement of the Tribes' Little Colorado River claims that could be moved during the lame duck session."
The Nation also asked to be a part of discussions on the following issues not accepted by the Department of the Interior:
“Despite the Department's belief that these issues cannot be resolved quickly, the Nation would like the opportunity to meet with the Arizona negotiating parties to hear directly from them on each of the Nation's positions,”
Speaker Naize said in his letter.
“The Nation seeks the support of the United States as the Nation's trustee in any such negotiations for the positions outline above. If a settlement cannot be reached in the near term, the Navajo Nation will reassess its settlement position.”
Speaker Naize expressed his appreciation on behalf of the Nation for the Department of the Interior's senior officials' involvement and for their commitment to reach a settlement of the Little Colorado River basin on fair and equitable terms.
The Naa'bik'iyati' Water Rights Task Force is comprised of Speaker Johnny Naize and Council Delegates Katherine Benally, Elmer Begay, Joshua Lavar Butler, LoRenzo Bates, Jonathan Nez, Walter Phelps, Alton Joe Shepherd, and Dwight Witherspoon.
The advisory group to the Naa'bik'iyati' Water Rights Task Force, as stated in the enacting resolution of the task force, consists of Rita Gilmore, Nicole Horseherder, Ann Marie Chischilly, Byron Huskon, Jack Utter, and Thomas Walker.
posted November 30, 2012 7:50 am est