Senate Bill 2109 Seeks to Extinguish Navajo and Hopi Water Rights

Guest Commentary
by Navajo Grassroots Representatives
Mr. Becenti serves as a spokesperson for Navajo grassroot’s people.

TUBA CITY, ARIZONA – Senators Jon Kyl, Arizona – R, and John McCain, Arizona – R, will be in Tuba City on Thursday, April 5, 2012, to persuade Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribal leaders to give up their peoples’ aboriginal and Treaty-guaranteed priority Water Rights by accepting a “Settlement Agreement” written to benefit some of the West’s most powerful mining and energy corporations.

They are doing so by trying to persuade the Navajo Nation and Hopi leaders to support and endorse Senate Bill 2109. Senate Bill 2109 45; the “Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Act of 2012” was introduced by Kyl and McCain on February 14, 2012, and is on a fast track to give Arizona corporations and water interests a “100 th birthday present” that will close the door forever on Navajo and Hopi food and water sovereignty, security and self-reliance.

S.2109 asks the Navajo and Hopi peoples to waive their priority Water Rights to the surface waters of the Little Colorado River “from time immemorial and thereafter, forever” in return for the shallow promise of uncertain federal appropriations to supply minimal amounts of drinking water to a handful of reservation communities.

The Bill – and the “Settlement Agreement” it ratifies – do not quantify Navajo and Hopi water rights – the foundation of all other southwestern Indian Water Rights settlements to date – thereby denying the Tribes the economic market value of their water rights, and forcing them into perpetual dependence on uncertain federal funding for any water projects.

Senators Kyl and McCain know well that without water, life is not possible. Yet, their Bill and the “Settlement Agreement” close the door forever to any possibility of irrigated agriculture and water conservation projects to heal and restore Navajo and Hopi watersheds (keeping sediment from filling downstream reservoirs) to grow high-value income and employment-producing livestock and crops for Navajo, Hopi and external markets; and to provide once again for healthy, diabetes – and obesity-free nutrition and active lifestyles for all future generations of Navajo and Hopi children.

Senators Kyl and McCain demand that the Navajo and Hopi people waive and give up all their rights to legal protection of injury to surface and ground water supply and quality in the past, present, and future – yet the Navajo and Hopi peoples do not even know the full extent and nature of the rights they are being pressured to waive because the details of the “Settlement Agreement” are not being shared with the public.

This is wrong.

Navajo and Hopi water and public health have already been damaged severely by past uranium and coal mining in and upstream of Navajo and Hopi communities. Senators Kyl and McCain are trying now to take away all rightful legal protections against the present and real danger of such contaminations occurring again.

S.2109 and the “Settlement Agreement” deny the Navajo and Hopi people the resources and means to assess comprehensive long-term water needs of every community, village, and watershed; and deny the resources and means to plan for, and develop sufficient domestic, municipal, industrial and agricultural “wet water” projects essential to the permanent well-being, prosperity and health of their homelands and children’s children. This is absolutely counter to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1908 Winter’s Doctrine that explicitly reserves and safeguards the water needed for that permanent well-being and prosperity.

S.2109 and the “Settlement Agreement” deny the Navajo and Hopi people the resources and means to bank their own waters, or to recharge their aquifers depleted and damaged by the mining and energy corporations that S.2109 benefits. S.2109 and the “Settlement Agreement” require Navajo and Hopi to give Peabody Coal Mining Company and the Salt River Project and other owners of the Navajo Generating Station (NGS) tens of thousands of acre-feet of Navajo and Hopi water annually – without any compensation – and to force the extension of Peabody and NGS leases without Navajo and Hopi community input, or regard for past and continuing harmful impacts to public health, water supplies and water quality – as necessary pre-conditions to Navajo and Hopi receiving Congressional appropriations for minimal domestic water development.

This is coercive and wrong.

Ed Becenti, Navajo, has lived on the Navajo Reservation his entire life. He grew up on tradition and culture taught by his elders in the Navajo language. Mr. Becenti serves as a spokesperson Navajo people in the political environment challenging sensitive Native issues in local, state, and national government. Presently, protecting sacred tribal water rights has become personal priority for him; not only on behalf of Navajo people, but for the neighboring Hopi Nation. He resides in Window Rock, Arizona.

posted April 4, 2012 7:57 am edt

Bookworms are Babe Magnets

Bookworms are Babe Magnets
by Ginger Meeder

I have a real issue with the world that surrounds me today. I really think reading is such an essential part of our lives and yet I find so many who don’t and won’t read. I find this reprehensible and I cannot understand this. Guess this is a leftover from my employment within the public library system of Wayne County when I was a part-time employee who re-shelved your books, checked out your selections and helped you at the computers whenever any issues arose or to put in a book request into the system for inner-loan because we didn’t have it on our shelves. And try making conversation with someone who lives in the very same world you live in and they function day-to-day, just enough to get by, but yet turns off or tunes out the news, pays no mind to what goes on around them and has no skills to see or connect with others that they come into contact with and can barely follow directives because of this disconnect with people, reading, and current events. I’d actually hate being in a bunker with many of you because of this other word, too. Alertness. The other day on the news the reporter mentioned that they could not believe that someone who had turned in a kidnapper of a small child here in Ohio, was ALERT enough to recognize them and ultimately turn them in. But somebody was and they appeared to be that diamond in the rough that helped save that child because they didn’t tune themselves out and here’s another key word, LISTENED to the news. It appears to have gone out of style. My goodness, your skills, senses need to be sharpened and honed for this planet we reside on.

In our small business it is imperative that we supply daily newspapers integrating it as a vital part of our atmosphere. We have a book rack upside the wall next to the entry door of this business stacked with cd’s, tapes & books for people to help themselves too. If they return them, then they do. If they don’t, that means they really liked reading it & will pass it on down the road or keep it, treasuring it always. What libraries discard becomes my 25 cent treasure and lands on my makeshift bookcase hand picked and chosen with you in mind. I also supply puzzle books, Suduko, word searches and crosswords. My favorite puzzle in the daily newspaper and you can find on my Kindle(thanks to my sister Wanda,for that Christmas gift) is the “Word Jumble”. Memory skills along with spelling and then there is always comprehension of the materials that you read. We also intentionally leave on the local news for those that refuse to pick up or read anything just because they have absolutely no ambition to pursue this act of reading that is a passion for some, obviously a chore for others.

Reading is the only way to travel, fly, experience adventure, possibly romance and who knows maybe even gain wisdom or comfort, excitement on those pages. Learn some new tidbit of information or find a different perspective fresh and exciting that you hadn’t even thought out or of in analytical thinking or problem solving. Words, poetry, prose or verses of a well loved book could bring you peace in a troubling moment. I know poetry can heal from my own personal creation of bringing my muse out through formation of clips and snippets of words. Books have broadened my horizons in so many ways. It has brought me comfort in sorrow, laughter in times of tears and appeasement of fears. Unspeakable joy in words compiled that evoke a strong emotion or mental picture. Oh the joys of reading are one of those pleasures few speak about in my corner of life. Maybe it’s the company I keep or attract, but I read because without it I’d feel less of a person.

I gain great satisfaction whenever I leave my kitchen perch and enter my dining area and see heads bobbing behind crumpled, edges curled over of newspapers, a hand coming from around the paper to reach for their piping hot cup of coffee and it’s eventual return after they sip some of the Arabic brew to it’s spot on the table. And I hear silence and see my customers turning the pages of a book. It is actually is a real turn on and I think to myself these are my kind of people, as I pick up my copy of the daily newspaper and begin scoping the editorials, police reports, comics, unusual news stories. Heck I don’t care what you read, but READ people, even if it is graffiti on the side of a building or in a bathroom stall. You are sure to find some sort of entertainment or a good laugh or two and it is another form of exercise for the brain I call it. According to the movie, “Napoleon Dynamite”, Napoleon & Pedro needed to develop skills in order to become babe magnets. Think of it that way. You are developing, honing and maintaining a lifetime skill that will keep you alert, thinking, spelling, learning and just might attract the right honey bee to your hive and that isn’t any jive talking…

Let your eyes do the walking on those pages living precariously through those storylines we painstakingly create. What a great way to flirt, through a flash of your bright eyes peering out and over the pages of your opened book, winking at some pretty girl or handsome stud muffin that could turn into a perspective dating prospect. Ah, we have come to another positive from reading, social networking which even is more than likely a healthier way to attract a date, by far even better then Facebook. Did I just say that? Yes, a sexier way to find someone who actually reads to interact and not via texting or online chatting. You might actually strike up a real live conversation over that good book in the palm of your hands or on that electronic book reader. I feel the reading force is strong within you Jedi’s…the force within you is STRONG…—©g.a.meeder, 2012®