as it is – A Grand Canyon VR Documentary
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as it is – A Grand Canyon VR Documentary

October 11, 2019

Anything that lies in this Canyon, the
Grand Canyon, is all sacred even the water. Water is life and so water made that
life to make that Canyon. The natural beauty of it right now is
still alive. It’s still there and that’s where our prayers are going. The Grand Canyon is among the Earth’s
premier natural wonders and home to one of America’s most beloved national parks.
The Canyon cuts a broad track across northern Arizona. A mile deep, over 18
miles wide, and 277 miles long, it has fascinated every human to lay eyes on it
for thousands of years. The national park now serves over six
million visitors annually, but each year only twenty thousand will see it from
the bottom up. A rafting expedition through the Grand Canyon is, for many, a life-changing experience. It’s a journey into vast wilderness, a
descent into deep geologic time. Exposed rocks formed hundreds of millions of years ago pass by as you slip further into the wild A river trip through Grand
Canyon is one of the only places where you can go and be away from the hubbub
of computers and cell phones. I think spending time rafting on the Colorado
River is a great way to connect with water in a very special and unique way. Without a motor, a river trip through the Grand Canyon can take as long as three weeks [yelling, laughing, screaming] Each day of the trip, the Colorado River
throws a variety of the monstrous rapids at you. “Suck rubber!” “Here comes another one! Suck rubber!” Upon his visit to the Grand Canyon in
1903, President Theodore Roosevelt said “Leave it as it is, you cannot improve on
it. The ages have been at work on it and man
can only mar it.” We have marred the Grand Canyon over the last 100 years. We have not left it as it is. We made the Grand Canyon a national park
in order to protect it, but now a radical new idea for development threatens the
very heart of the canyon. Developers based in Scottsdale Arizona want to
construct a major new tourist attraction on the eastern rim of the canyon, down
into an area known simply as The Confluence. “The Confluence is the area in the Grand
Canyon where a Little Colorado River meets the greater Colorado River in the
Canyon. In this space, where the rivers meet,
our stories say this is where life began. This is the emergence place.” “Sometimes I’ll be really feeling bad,
and I’ll go out there sat in the hill and pray. The Confluence is where people
meet to pray, to come together and pray as a family. I oppose the Escalade bill
because we hold that place as a sacred place. We do our offering there for the
sacred sites. The development, known as the Escalade proposal, outlines a resort
complex centered around a gondola system that would take crowds of visitors all
the way from the rim to the river. “Grand Canyon Escalade would include
five-star motels, a raised riverwalk, an amphitheater, a restaurant, and a tram, a
gondola system going all the way down into the Grand Canyon at our most sacred area.” Although 20,000 rafters visit the Grand
Canyon each year, very few will actually set foot at The Confluence. The
developers of the Escalade proposal plan to bring 10,000 people a day to this
secluded area The land on the rim of the canyon above
the confluence isn’t part of the national park. It’s the western edge of the Navajo Reservation. The developers went to the
Navajo Nation Council to get the project started
but the Navajo are not the only indigenous people with ties to The
Confluence. The Hopi and Zuni tribes also find The Confluence culturally significant. When somebody passes on, their soul will return back to where The Confluence is at. In Hopi, they call it Sipapu. That’s where they say
that your soul will go back to go back into Mother Earth. If you’ve never
seen a sacred site or a prayer site you walk right by it or you might even step
on it or walk over on top of it. We don’t want those things destroyed.
We don’t want them disturbed. “My first thought was that it was a
joke. A Laugh. And then
my second thought is: is this a joke? Angry. And then: this has to be a joke.
Sadness. Just great sadness. And I said:
this is a joke. I’m gonna fight it.” In response to the Escalade proposal
some of the Navajo families formed a grassroots organization called
Save The Confluence. Save The Confluence gathered thousands of signatures on a petition against the Escalade proposal Other communities have rallied behind
save the confluence to protect the Grand Canyon, including the Hopi, Zuni, and
Havasupai tribal councils They are supported by more allies like
Grand Canyon National Park, The Sierra Club, American Rivers, Grand Canyon Trust,
and the Grand Canyon River Guides Association, who are also working to
protect and preserve the Canyon. “I think that the Escalade project would very
much alter the place. In ways, it has already been altered through Glen Canyon
Dam, and so, we really want to continue to find ways to partner with the Native
American tribes that call Grand Canyon sacred. Keeping the river and that
experience wilderness is really important for future people getting to
have that opportunity to really experience The Canyon as it is “What are the chances that the Grand
Canyon Escalade project will be placed on the side of Grand Canyon?” “Very real. It’s not gone away.” “Really?” “Yeah. What I mean, the current Navajo Nation position and the president is great it’s a temporary
relief but as we speak the developers are forming their partnership. They’re
out searching for the next venue. They’re at every Navajo Nation Council meeting
lobbying all of the leadership. Everybody has to stay vigilant on this topic we
are working directly with the tribe for cultural and economic development
that’s sensitive, long-term sustainable and that we can help with that Grand Canyon
being the neighbor to the Navajo Nation. The Escalade proposal was introduced
right as the Bennet freeze was lifted. The Bennet freeze was a development ban
imposed by the United States federal government on 1.6 million acres of land
in the western region of the Navajo Reservation. It lasted over 40 years and
contributed to extreme poverty in the area. “I’ve been away from my homeland
almost 26 years. Coming home, things hasn’t really changed yet.
Meaning that opportunity for jobs there’s areas here are novel
unemployment’s as as high as 60%. Where I live, down in Nahata Dziil, I call it, 80% joblessness. Our people need money. They need. They need jobs. It’s not that I’m
supporting it. What I support is economic development on Navajo. “The revenue that they’re willing to give to the Navajo Nation would be at 8% of gross revenue. That’s for the entire Navajo Nation.
110 chapters over 350,000 members
of the Navajo Nation 8%. That’s like asking your whole
household to share eight pennies.” “How do you feel about us coming in with a project? How is it gonna effect you? Nobody came to me. Is it okay with you?
Nobody came to me. They just went right over that permanent holder.
Land user. On October 31st 2017, the Navajo Nation Council held a special session to determine the fate of
the Grand Canyon Escalade proposal. “I am here today to
express my concerns and why we are trying to destroy the sacred Mother Earth
and the sacred Grand Canyon that was put here by Mother Nature
millions of years ago. Why are we doing that? People that are trying to develop
this area is not good. They should listen more to their traditional people. I’d like to say to the Council here, that these preceedings here is illegal. Because you have not consulted with the water people. You have not consulted with the wind people. You have not consulted with the rock people. And all of these natural ways of life have never been consulted. So, this is an illegal meeting
that it’s going to take place.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. You know, what is the future of our
generation here, you know, our future generation will have nothing
and they will this only have scars to look at” “By a vote of 2 in favor, 16 opposed, the amendment fails.” “The Navajo Nation Council said No Escalade!” [screams, celebratory laughter] “Saving the Confluence!” “No More Escalade!” “We get to sleep now!” “I was happy with it and I was a good
feeling to come back home and tell my people that happened. I just want that
natural beauty to stay there for our future generation to say okay my
grandparents had fought for this place we just need to keep it the way it is.
That’s all I want is for people to leave it alone and respect that place.” The Grand Canyon still faces many threats. A 20-year ban on uranium mining is now
under review and might be lifted. Proposed residential development in the Tusayan region near the South Rim threatens groundwater supplies. “The seeps and springs they’ll all be impacted along this rim
by development and taking any water ground water out of the aquifers below
here. This is an unnecessary development that’s really promoted by a few wealthy
developers who want to have Grand Canyon in their portfolio and they want to be
the ones that yeah we own part of the Grand Canyon and I think it’s our place.” The fight against the Escalade proposal
isn’t over. Developers could resurrect parts of the plan and negotiate a new deal for development in the Grand Canyon “We need to keep working. There’s still
people, there’s still developers wanting to come in to take advantage of that
area. It’s become more than just a family everybody on the Navajo Nation, the other
grassroots groups that revere the water, that want to stop fracking,
that want to stop uranium mining, uranium transportation. That’s our whole family now. The petition signers all over the world, I just wanna express our
humble thank you, Ahéhee’. Stick with us. We still need all the support
in order to protect and preserve it for everybody.”

1 Comment

  • Reply sergeantsassy May 10, 2018 at 4:42 am

    This video needs way more views. Excellent job putting this together!

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