The proposed development Canyon Forest Village (CFV) may not be popular to some area businessmen and cities, but it has won the endorsement of the Western Navajo Agency of the Navajo Nation. At time of press, the resolution which was voted in on June 24 had yet to be signed but passed with 27 officials voting for, 8 against with 13 members abstaining.
This action followed resolutions from 9 of the 12 Western Agency chapters in Coconino County, including Tuba City, LeChe-e, Bodaway-Gap, Leupp, Tonalea, Birdsprings and Inscription House.
This is not to say that there are not concerns. In each chapter resolution, there is a requirement, which is fully supported by CFV, that should a purchasing policy requiring authentic Native American products be violated, support of CFV would be withdrawn.
Tuba City’s resolution includes opposition to the pumping of water from the Little Colorado River and the drilling of wells from aquifers on and adjacent to the Navajo Nation. CFV has already committed to this provision before the Coconino County Board of Supervisors during the public hearings earlier this year.
Another concern, expressed by members of the Cameron Chapter, is that the Flagstaff organization Native Americans for Community Action (NACA) would be managing the Indian Marketplace. Part of the opposition rides on the fact that NACA does not service the reservation, and as such does not serve the Western Agency. It should be noted that Canyon Forest Village would not be built on reservation lands.
Terry Hudgins, who represented CFV at the meeting, pointed out that provision 13 of the resolution requests on behalf of the Western Agency that the NACA Board add four designated individuals from the Western Agency to a position on the NACA Board of Directors, or create a new vendors council with representation from all of the plateau tribes, so that concerns from the Western Navajo Nation chapters and other tribal vendors would be heard and represented. Hudgins encouraged a dialogue concerning this matter.
Native American support for CFV hinges on the open invitation for business arrangements with tribal groups and individual entrepreneurs, as well as CFV’s commitment to public education about the peoples of the Colorado Plateau and to market tourism related amenities and attractions on the various reservations, something that communities such as Flagstaff, Williams and Tusayan, many Native Americans say, have failed to provide. Added to this is CFV’s commitment to preserving the environment of the Grand Canyon.
Despite support from various tribes including the Navajo and Hopi, the political action committee "It’s Just Too Much!," which opposes CFV, collected thousands of signatures in March and April of this year to put the measure to a referendum vote in November.
"We’re pleased that the signatures for the referendum were verified, and we can finally bring this matter to a public vote," said Rick Lopez, chairman of "It’s Just Too Much." who also served as a Flagstaff Ctiy Councilman before he was defeated in the May election. "We’re confident that the voters of Coconino County will believe, as we do, that Canyon Forest Village is just too big for the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, and would have an extremely negative impact on northern Arizona communities."
Support from community leaders such as County Supervisor Louise Yellowman, Hopi Chairman Wayne Taylor, Jr., President of the Navajo Nation Kelsey Begaye has been won by CFV’s commitment to sustainability, community service and to Native American tribes of the region.
And despite fears that CFV might damage the economies of surrounding communities, others argue that the development would actually be beneficial to the economy by attracting tourism, keeping tourists in the area longer, and ultimately, protect the Grand Canyon by drawing commercial and community services outside the boundaries of the National Park.