Sunday, July 22, 2012

Protecting the Grand Canyon's eastern rim and the Navajo's western boundary lands

In the spirit of this blog recounting the past in order to understand what futures the Grand Canyon might face, here is one thought I had for cooperative action to protect its east side from the Paria down to the Confluence at the Little Colorado.

First step: Remember it is that entire stretch that is under threat: unregulated recreation, proposed water pipe lines, trespass on sacred land, and most presently, the heinous scheme to enrich some Phoenix whitefolk by using the weapons of mass industrial tourism to suck up investment dollars while destroying the Confluence and its nearby rim.

Second step: Remember that any action affecting the 1934 west Navajo boundary must be grounded in necessity; it must be a "required … use under the authority of the United States". I believe that thwarting the above threats, coupled with the manifest desire of United States citizens, Navajo and non-Navajo, to protect and preserve traditional Navajo and National Park System values in that entire stretch, is such a required use -- provided that the case is made fully, with examples, in public, and before & in consultation with appropriate Navajo and United States government entities and individuals.

Third step: With this requirement in hand, satisfying both the 1934 Navajo Boundary Act and the words of the Antiquities Act, recall what attorney-adviser for the Interior Field Solicitor in Santa Fe, R. C. Eaton, wrote in footnotes 5 & 6 of his 28 Aug 2003 work-product:

"The Navajo Nation Department of Justice has prepared an undated document stamped 'Draft' and titled "Preliminary Analysis of Navajo Nation Western Boundary." which Stanley M. Pollack, the Navajo National's Special Counsel for Water Rights, transmitted to Andrew F. Walch, Attorney, Environment and Natural Resources Division, United States Department of Justice, by letter dated February 28, 1997. (fn.5) In the "Preliminary Analysis of Navajo Nation Western Boundary," discussed in n.5 above, the Navajo Nation argues that the Antiquities Act authorizes the President to proclaim as a national monument only "lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States" and that that term does not include Indian reservation lands. However, the Navajo Nation's argument is contrary to longstanding Department of the Interior interpretation and practice. See, e.g. September 26, 1978, memorandum from Associate Solicitor, Conservation and Wildlife, to Manager, Federal Antiquities Program, re: Antiquities Act Permits on Indian Lands (concluding that "lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States" includes tribal trust lands). (fn.6)

                 Lets deploy that interpretation for the Navajo's, Grand Canyon's, and public's benefit by a
Fourth step: Use the Antiquities Act to proclaim, as a matter of requirement and necessity, a Grand Canyon - Navajo Rim National Monument, going from the east bank of the Colorado River up to the rim of the Grand Canyon (including the entire left river bank, and the Desert Facade and Marble Canyon's east side), and running from the Paria River junction downstream to the Little Colorado River junction. (There are already Little Colorado and Marble Canyon Navajo Tribal Parks in place.)

This GC-NR NM would be interpreted and declared as a matter of law and policy to be Navajo land in its entirety, as per the 1934 Navajo Boundary Act and given the rights and required concurrence of the Navajo under the 1975 GCNP Enlargement Act.

The GC-NR NM would be administered jointly by the Navajo Nation acting through its appropriate entities, local and tribal, and by the Secretary of the Interior acting through the administration of GCNP. 

The GC-NR NM would be fully protected against all new entry, use, or action under all public land laws, and any alteration in activities carried on as of January 1, 2012 would be forbidden unless and until approved by the administering authorities after full public review, as per for instance, procedures under the 1964 Wilderness Act. All existing valid Navajo rights are protected.

Fifth step: Until the Monument proclamation is made, no actions changing the physical, social, cultural, or natural environment of the area of the GC-NR NM are allowed.

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