Wednesday, June 26, 2013

River boundary of Grand Canyon National Park

Back to one of my favorite topics-- the placement of the Grand Canyon National Park boundary as determined by PL 93-620, the 1975 Grand Canyon National Park Enlargement Act. In rooting around the Morris K. Udall papers stored in the University of Arizona Library, I  came across an 23 October 1975 letter from the DC office of the Interior Solicitor to Senator Goldwater. Reading it triggered the thought that it is a good idea to now and then repeat the truth, in the hope that people will believe it just as supposedly we believe lies that get repeated.

The first page of the letter just states the truth that the law allowed no change in any Indian boundary without concurrence. Here is the second page:
The last sentence of the first paragraph is another truth. It is also irrelevant. PL 93-620 did not attempt to alter the boundary of the Hualapai Indian Reservation as set by the Executive Order of 1883, which said that the boundary went north "to the Colorado River" and "along said river". 

What the 1975 Act did was to set the boundary of GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK.

The GCNP boundary was fixed by P. L. 93-620 on the south bank, which in no way conflicts with the HIR EO, since that boundary still comes north to, and then runs along, the river -- along the south bank boundary of the Park set by Congress. This in no way stops the Hualapai from claiming whatever they please. But Congress determined that the Park includes the entire water surface of the River. 

The wording about concurrence on the Senate maps was removed for exactly this reason: setting the PARK boundary does not require the concurrence of the Hualapai, since there was no alteration in the EO placement of the Reservation boundary; the HIR northern boundary still goes north "to" and then "along" the Colorado River, just as it did before Congress fixed the Park boundary.

As a practical matter, the two boundaries are parallel: the GCNP boundary, incorporating the entire water surface of the Colorado River, goes to and along the south bank, along which the Hualapai boundary runs to take in all of the shore of the river.

So there may be overlap in what the Park and Hualapai each claim, but that is just chest-thumping and wilfullness. The 1975 law set the Park boundary; the 1882 EO set the Hualapai boundary, and aside from those who would paw the earth and whinny in would-be displays of territoriality, the result is clear and practical, and the two would best quit their prancing about, which only muddies the waters. 

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