A Development Dispute in the Grand Canyon

The following is a letter from LeRoy Shingoitewa, chairman of the Hopi Tribe, addressing the Hopi Tribe’s position on the Grand Canyon Project.

Our beautiful state has many points of pride, but none compare to our namesake, the Grand Canyon State. One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, the Grand Canyon attracts nearly 5 million tourists a year. But the true value of the Grand Canyon goes far beyond that of a tourist attraction; it is a place of history, culture and is a link to the people of yesteryear, spanning dozens of generations.

Carved out centuries ago by the Colorado River, the Canyon was – and still is – home to several Native American tribes including the Hopi, Havasupai, Hualapai, Kaibab-Paiute, Navajo and the Zuni. Sacred sites dot the river and canyons, one of the most important areas being the confluence, where the Colorado River meets the Little Colorado River. The sacred area serves as a connection to the Hopi tribes’ ancestral past and is home to ceremonial trails, shrines and ruins.

But now, driven by the allure of tourist dollars, the Confluence Partners, LLC is threatening the beauty of this natural wonder with what they are calling the “Grand Canyon Escalade.” They have proposed a 420-acre tourist attraction that will include a gondola tramway linking the Canyon’s rim to its floor where a man-made walking path will take tourists to a restaurant and museum mere feet from what the Hopi value as sacred land.

While they expect a large economic impact to come from the development, it is clear that the developers value the potential dollars to be made from this sacred area rather than respecting the beauty and sanctity of a pristine location that is so dear to many tribal communities.

The Hopi Tribe has issued a Hopi Tribal Council resolution in September of 2012 to formally oppose the Confluence Partners, LLC, commercial initiative led by Arizona State House Representative Albert Hale and his business partners.

The Hopi people are not alone in this opposition. Many Navajo tribal members who reside in the area have communicated to us their mutual opposition to the proposed Escalade project. Grand Canyon River Guides and Grand Canyon Trust are all against the project. In addition, other local groups have formed to express their opposition, including Save the Confluence, and all are urging that there be further investigation into the proposed development site’s cultural significance. The National Park Service, which has been notified of the proposed project but has yet to release an official statement, has a longtime, ongoing concern with the land management jurisdiction, including an area of the park known for its endangered species.

As President Theodore Roosevelt stated on May 6, 1903, "In the Grand Canyon, Arizona has a natural wonder which is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world. I want to ask you to keep this great wonder of nature as it now is. I hope you will not have a building of any kind, not a summer cottage, a hotel or anything else, to mar the wonderful grandeur, the sublimity, the great loneliness and beauty of the canyon. Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it."

On behalf of the Hopi Tribe and in consideration of other tribes who uphold stewardship of the Grand Canyon, please take action and speak out to protect this pride and joy. The Grand Canyon is a breathtaking destination, and construction of the Grand Canyon Escalade will irreversibly compromise this natural wonder for many generations to come.

Responses to " LeRoy Shingoitewa: Hopi Tribe Against Grand Canyon Project"

  1. Unknown says:

    this cannot happen!! if people,,come,,they will ruin the imagination,and, unique beauty off this,,icon,,,

  2. Anonymous says:

    Totally against this! Why do they want to take the beautiful and sacred and make a circus out of it??

  3. Bruce W Timms Sr. says:

    Nothing, absolutely NOTHING, should be created that will take away the Majestic Beauty that is the Grand Canyon. No man made eyesore should intrude the landscape.

  4. Anonymous says:

    i pray that it will not happen.

    It is a sickening idea and only the most destructive fools would think of it.

  5. Peggy Riggs Kopp says:

    Developers, LEAVE THE GRAND CANYON ALONE!! Satisfy Your GREED in some other place!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Humans are poison to everything in this world!! We are the only thing that does not live in balance with nature!

  7. Selina says:

    is there a petition we too can sign to help in this disgrace? I wish to make a stand along with the Hopi nation, against this as well. Enough is enough.

  8. Kelly Ryan says:

    Keep it as is!!!!!!!!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Please let us know about a petition, if thats the only way we can help from miles away. The Grand Cayon and it's Native History "MUST" be protected. Sending Love & Light to All x

  10. veronica says:

    This is a terrible idea and must be stopped.

  11. Anonymous says:

    This idea is obscene... once again developers only interested in money. And isnt it a conflict of interest for an Arizona legislator to be promoting this on behalf of his business and partners. People of Arizona, and the U.S. stand up and stop this.

  12. Anonymous says:

    If you have ever been in the Grand Canyon, you will realize you are only a speck in a gradeur of time in a vast universe. You will know the truth when you realize you are very small indeed.

  13. Anonymous says:

    This is sickening, and this is proof of the filth the human race is and should lose the ability to hurt this world anymore

  14. Anonymous says:

    where is the petition for all of us to sign? strength in numbers! just this page won't do it.

  15. Kathy says:

    I hope that both sides will be able to come to a fair, and acceptible conclusion to this serious issue. I really don't want to see any of the canyon destroyed in the building of said structures. I personally don't see how anyone could improve "The Grand Canyon," by adding trams, restaurants and hotels. It's really difficult for me to make a personal final judgement, because I haven't heard both sides of the issue. I live in North Carolina and have heard nothing of this problem. I would love to be kept informed of the progress.

  16. Susan says:

    Will we ever stop taking land and culture away from our Native people? Is there no sense of respect for the culture of the Hopi or Navajo people? We visited the area a few years ago and couldn't go beyond a certain point as it was Hopi sacred land. How can developers do this- have they no conscience at all?

  17. I believe it is our individual duties as caretakers of this sacred Earth to find our own ways of speaking up. Whether that is in prayer, or addressing politicians at whatever level is accesible to the individual or sharing this story among our communities. Don't just let it stay here on this page, say something, to someone.

  18. Unknown says:

    So many places have fallen victim to the money hungry fools that destroy what we hold so dear and sacred.. i do not agree with turning sacred tribal lands into a readily available tourist attraction.. it is something to be discovered by those physically able to make the journey the way it was meant to be taken and what makes the place so sacred. not to be able to bring down every undeserving and unwanted fool to trample on and destroy callously. money is not the solution to everything.. find somewhere else to make the dollars. leave the sacred lands alone!!

  19. Anonymous says:

    great idea......unfortunately, we all know how it will turn out....blinky signs electric lines, plastic bottles, trash, cigarette butts, sewage and pollution. Next on the agenda, buffalo bumper cars and indian horse merry go rounds. Leave nature here alone. Go to Disneyworld, and lend your voice to keeping the Grand Canyon grand.

  20. Alice B. says:

    Having both Native & white ancestral heritages, the preservation the the Grand Canyon is important to me. While my Native ancestors do not come from the Grand Canyon region, the fact is this is Sacred Land, therefore important to ALL Native people. Enough Sacred Land has already been destroyed and we must preserve what is left. Equally important is the beauty of this area in it's "natural state" and the preservation of the wild life that exists here. People visit the Grand Canyon because it is an area uncontaminated by the progress of the modern world; they come here as an escape. Placing gift shops, restaurants, man-made stairways, and guided tours down the river take away from the "natural" feel of what Creator/God intended. When will people stop destroying our precious and beautiful planet just for profit? It is disturbing and disgusting that money is valued over beauty, life, and sacredness. I hope a petition goes up because I will most definitely add my name to the list of many in support of stopping this tragedy.

  21. Shri Devi says:

    From Canada - we will Idle No More! Solidarity! We must all fight for what we believe in! They will gladly take it all away if we are not vigilant! My prayers are with you! Save this Sacred Space.

  22. Unknown says:

    When are they going to understand that our Mother Earth is the only corporate. We cannot change or alter it. Lets pray and with peaceful methods protest against all encroachments on humanity.

  23. Anonymous says:

    I really hope that this doesn't come to pass. Though I'm elderly and perhaps never will get to see the bottom of the canyon I still don't want anyone to try to ad anything to destroy the beauty of this marvellous place. Please don't build anything more there!!!

  24. Marti says:

    We must take a stand for preserving the earth and continuing the sacredness of life.
    Is there a petition to sign?

  25. Anonymous says:

    When Are We Going To Listen To The Wisdom Of The American Indian,Who Are The Real Stewards Of Our Environment. We Could Learn A Lot If We Would Only Listen Again We Want To Violate Their Sacred Land & Beliefs!!

  26. Anonymous says:

    I have Native American and white blood running through my veins and I wish to say that I too think it is wrong to continually rape and pillage what is left of the sacred sites in these United States. What is wrong with people (developers, in particular) is their greed so great that they have to destroy everything on Mother Earth before we finally learn our lesson? This land is only borrowed for a time and does not belng to us. We must pass a strong heritage on to our children and future generations.

  27. Anonymous says:

    As a mixed blood Native American and with family that come from both the Navaho and Pueblo blood, I am adamantly apposed to ANY type of development on or in ANY part of the Grand Canyon. What's next? The Mesa Verde ruins the other ruins throughout the Southwest? Why do the NON-Native peoples always seem to be so greedy and hungry over that almighty frog skin. In the end of times, that dollar will mean and be worth absolutely nothing. That land is holy, sacred to so many. DON'T TOUCH IT!!! DON'T ALLOW ANY development of ANY KIND any where near the Grand Canyon or other sacred sites. Haven't people taken enough away from the Native Peoples? When will this STOP!!! For our Pueblo, our sacred sites have been taken and used for cattle ranches and other uses. What would they do if the Native Peoples came and did what they wanted to with the Non-Native peoples Churches?

  28. Anonymous says:

    I HATE developers with a passion, they just juin the land. I mean really! Freken lazy ass people, if you arn't in shape to hike down the grand canyon then too freken bad you don't get to see it. OMG people are so lazy and selfish. This plan can not happen, it destroys the entire point of even visiting the Grand Canyon.

  29. Anonymous says:

    We (Native People) use to worry about the Anglos coming on the Reservation(s) and ruining our natural resources and our past! Only now to have our own People doing the bidding and destruction of these bad white corporate/confluence people all for a few bucks...just to get ahead of their own people (Dine&Hopi)!!! Mr. Albert Hale Jr. is a sell out to his own people & Mother Earth and is not a good steward in protecting the land and should be doing more to preserve it! Lets do a re-call on Albert Hale Jr. & a petition started ASAP!!!

  30. Anonymous says:

    This never stops, these Idiots are told they cant drill in one place, then they want to open a Tourist Place in Sacred Native Land, all of their Business and eyes are set on Native Land. The only one's involved in this is the Bad Crap that Be! You have to excust these people they are very SICK AND GREEDY! And their extremely extremely Old. These are the one's who are still trying to live back in the 1700-1800's, their big Corporations, here are some of them so you know who your dealing with. Walmart, Bank of America, Wells Fargo Bank, Citicorp, A.L.E.C., Time Warner Cable, the Koch Brothers, the Bidelbergs, just to name a few. No! Means No! Stay off of Native Land. The Government and the President told them, they can use Native Land for their Businesses, or Drilling. You can contact the Pentagon, the Department of Justice, Homeland Security, or the President 202-462-1111 tell him Stephen P. Fortune said to call. Tell those assholes to get lost, and stay lost.
    Stephen P. Fortune

  31. Anonymous says:

    I have been in the area of the confluence of the Colorado and the Little Colorado. We could feel the sacredness of the land. You can feel the ancient people and the ancient nature of God. It is so very real. It hurts to think of what will happen if they go through with the development. This sacred place should be left alone. If people want to go there, let them experience the sacred reality of the place for that reason ... not some concessioner's nightmare. Leave it alone. Please let us know if there is a petition to be signed or contac numbers and emails that can be used.

  32. Anonymous says:

    SAVE THE CONFLUENCE visit the website and sign the petition to stop this proposed gondola tram development and pass on the petition: Thank you.

  33. Anonymous says:

  34. Anonymous says:

    It's short notice by Albert Hale is invited to speak at Casino Arizona Friday 22, if anyone lives in the area or be in the area. Where everyone's invited. There is a post on GYCD(Grade Your Council Delegates) its connected to if you want to voice your opinion.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Need a petition!!!!!!!!!!

  36. Darri13 says:

    Point us toward a legally binding petition because the people will show our support. I also recommend starting a facebook profile with this heading as a group where it keeps supporters connected! Another helpful tip is to submit this to each Hopi Village leader to spread their strong voice to the whole Hopi Reservation. Thank you.


  38. Anonymous says:

    This should never happen, period!!! I can't believe that Albert Hale has a hand in this. Wasn't he the President of the Navajo Nation at one time??? It seems to me that his background would lead to opposition of the proposal... Obviously, money talks...

  39. Unknown says:

    Stop the destruction of our sacred lands. You want to save a house in chicago that one of our presidents lived in for 4 months as a baby but yet you have no problem wiping out years of sacred history to improve on something that needs no improvement. God made the Grand Canyons as they are. Would you redo a Picasso to make more room on a canvas that doesn't need it? Haven't you taken enough from our people?

  40. Anonymous says:

    Money hungry greed has stomped on destroyed their way of life from our beginning where does it end, appalling to witness more destruction in our day, What can be done What do we do, lets support our native American heritage

  41. Unknown says:

    Leave this treasure alone. Leave the people alone. There is other lands not so precious to the Indian that the whites can invade. The Great Spirit made plenty of land for everyone. Make the white government treat all people with dignity and respect. They are not our boss, we are theirs... E.H' Wolf (author)

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