LeRoy Shingoitewa: Hopi Tribe Against Grand Canyon Project



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.

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Susan Underwood's picture
Susan Underwood
Submitted by Susan Underwood on
I'm with President Roosevelt; leave the canyon as it is. Let the Native Americans have what little sacred land is left. The love of money ruins so many beautiful things.

Paulette Robles Mares & Fred Mares's picture
Paulette Robles...
Submitted by Paulette Robles... on
We are thoroughly in support of those opposing this project. So many people mourn our young people losing their sense of tradition, no matter where they originated. If we continue to destroy places sacred to those traditions, there is little hope for future generations to understand what makes them unique spirits in this quickly becoming homogenous world. Please keep us informed!

Katie Lee's picture
Katie Lee
Submitted by Katie Lee on
Sick! Sick! Sick! Arizona is filled with morons, and Albert Hale is the pride of the greedheads who neither know or care about the sacredness of a landscape. May they all rot in that hot-place known as Hell!

Sharon Hester's picture
Sharon Hester
Submitted by Sharon Hester on
Thank you for your well thought out letter and concerns, your words are spot on in my opinon. It is too bad some people only look at money and not other factors that are important for humans and the world in general.

Janet Dowling Sands's picture
Janet Dowling Sands
Submitted by Janet Dowling Sands on
Dear Chairman Shingoitewa: Please tell all those of us who love Grand Canyon, and recognize it is an irreplaceable treasure to many cultures and part of our world heritage, what we can do to help. I have forwarded your letter to approximately 100 people who have accompanied us on river and hiking trips into the Canyon over the years, with this comment: Dear fellow Grand Canyon adventurers: It seems absolutely unbelieveable, but there is a proposal well underway to develop a tourist "resort" at the confluence of the Colorado River and the Little Colorado, right in the heart of Grand Canyon. Right where we floated down that turquoise-blue stream and spent a wonderful few hours in a very unspoiled, pristine setting. This proposal is right up there with proposing a dam, in the view of many - including the leaders of the Hopi and Navajo nations. Please read this statement just issued by Hopi Chairman LeRoy Shingoitewa, just forwarded to me by Anne and Mark. They need our support. If you are so inclined, (and I hope you will be!) go to the link it mentions and voice your opinion, and write to anyone you know in Washington DC. This is an appalling idea! Next: A casino? So much for "sacred sites" and the sanctity of irreplaceable national treasures, not to mention World Heritage Sites . . . Thanks for giving this a few moments of your time - we need to raise a hue and cry! Best, Janet

Curtis Honanie's picture
Curtis Honanie
Submitted by Curtis Honanie on
Don't forget Roosevelt placed the Hualapai on a 518 acre reservation starting in 1903. That reservation didn't get expanded until 1975. If the U.S. elects another president like him during this battle, the already questionable, Navajo Nation boundary could be changed and more native lands would be lost to U.S. government. And here he is boasted like a hero to our native communities and our sacred sites when all he did was take them from us.

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on
This would be the worst thing ever in the best Park ever. What's next? Condo's on the rim and floor? Sound crazy? Just wait and see if this goes through.

Brian Sweeney's picture
Brian Sweeney
Submitted by Brian Sweeney on
I love the Grand Canyon as a spiritual destination. Any development would diminish this natural wonder. There are already National Parks with Fantastic accomodations if you can afford them. I takes a lot of planning for me to visit and I don't want to know that commercialism has ruined the experience like the zoo at the South Rim.

Lana Statler's picture
Lana Statler
Submitted by Lana Statler on
Please do not let this happen. It would be an atrocity not only to the Indians who revere this as scared grounds but to the entire Northern Hemisphere!

Adela Arredondo's picture
Adela Arredondo
Submitted by Adela Arredondo on
The Grand Potter of all the Earth, the Ancient of Days is one not to tamper with, nor with his creation. The beauty of time is well exposed in its majestic walls there in the Grand Canyon. I yet to see it in person but what I've seen in print, and film reaches into the depth of the eye, mind, and heart as it encourages contemplation of the Grand Creator of the Earth, the native of the land and all mankind, as to how insignificant we are. Leave perfection alone. Each and every layer and color has something to tell. Romans 1:20 "For his invisible [qualities] are clearly seen from the world's creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship, so that they are inexcusable." I heard when I was little that the Indian was the keeper of the land.--Amen (so be it). May our Creator Jehovah grant you success!

Peter Tadd's picture
Peter Tadd
Submitted by Peter Tadd on
What is sacred to us and especially the Keepers of the Land is not negotiable. The SanFrancisco Peaks already defiled by waste water "snow" by commercial I resort interests. We must join together to fight the corporates. EMAHO