Letter to the editor: Escalade project is ill advised

To the editor:

I am going to be very direct and candid in this letter. First of all, I am very upset with the leadership of the Bodaway Gap Chapter and proceedings of the special meeting held on Oct. 3, 2012, regarding the Escalade Project at the Sacred Site known as the Confluence in the Grand Canyon on the Navajo Nation reservation lands.

I am expressing publicly my anger and dissatisfaction with the heavy-handed decisions being forced down the people's throats by Gap Chapter officials. It is also disappointing to learn that they have been secretly consulting and meeting with Navajo Nation leaders, receiving instructions on how to conduct the meeting in order to move the Escalade Project forward.

On Oct. 3 a special meeting was called, which was posted at the last minute and also held in the middle of the week, purposely disenfranchising people from participating in the discussion and decision being made on their behalf. This decision to move forward ignoreed the rights of local residents (grazing permit holders and allottees) and excluded them from voicing their opinions on what is in their best interest in regards to development of their ancestral lands.

President Arizona barely called the meeting to order when he immediately called for a motion and vote to approve a resolution to rescind all prior resolutions opposing the Escalade Project and accept a new resolution in support of the project. This action was in complete violation of Robert's Rule of Order, because it purposely disallowed a discussion by the people before voting on such an important and contentious issue. It was then I stood up and protested and I was punished by being escorted out of the Chapter by two policewomen for voicing my concerns.

When it came to the vote, I could see Chapter Vice President Williams counting votes in a rapid and disorderly way. I witnessed also that even though there were many people outside peering into the crowded chapter trying to participate she was counting only those inside the Chapter building. The policewomen kept me from re-entering the chapter completely and effectively disenfranchised me from having my vote counted against the development of the Escalade Project.

The Gap Chapter leadership betrayed their moral and ethical obligation to respect our treaties, established to protect the peoples' rights in the development of our precious Dinetah, by conducting themselves the way they did to rescind the resolutions in opposition of the project.

I, Louise Yellowman, strongly urge the Navajo Nation President Shelly and Vice President Jim, State Representative Hale, Bodaway Gap Chapter Officials, and all leadership officials in favor of this project to reconsider their ill-advised support of the Escalade Project.

Furthermore, I ask that they cease and desist any development that exposes and exploits our sacred sites and allow the natural and beautiful to exist undisturbed.

It would be more prudent and wise of our leadership to consider other types of projects that empower the Dine, projects that benefit the people and respect the voice of the people who have a right to participate in discussions and decisions that affect their future and their livelihood.

Louise Yellowman

Former Coconino County Supervisor

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