Navajo President Urges Lawmakers to Oppose Land Exchange

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Contact: Jared King
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For Immediate Release

Navajo President Urges Lawmakers to Oppose Land Exchange

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly strongly urged lawmakers to oppose HR 1904, the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act of 2011 and S 409, the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act of 2009. The U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing today on the bills. 

These bills would transfer lands from the U.S. Government to the Resolution Copper Company for a massive block cave mine that would destroy Native American sacred and cultural places in southeastern Arizona.

“For years, Native American communities have struggled to protect areas of this country that possesses fundamental cultural and religious significance for our people,” President Shelly said.

Sens. Jon Kyl and John McCain testified in support of the bills to promote economic development of the lands.

President Shelly said in a letter that the “Navajo Nation understands that these bills are driven by the need to promote jobs and revenue. As a tribe with large amounts of natural resources and mining interests of our own, this is an issue with which we are familiar. However, I implore you not to fulfill these needs at the ruin of a Native American sacred place and the subsequent violation of our right to worship.”

In a follow up remark President Shelly said, “It concerns me that a foreign owned company like Resolution Copper would seek to acquire a sacred place prior to any environmental reviews. I doubt the Navajo Nation would get such special treatment if it were to decide to open a mine within the Navajo Nation.”

The Navajo Nation stands with other Arizona tribes in opposing HR 1904. During its recent Winter Session, the Navajo Nation Council passed legislation opposing the land exchange.


Photo: President Shelly (center) stand with other tribal leaders in opposing HR 1904. Pictured, from left are Shoshone Bannock Chairman Nathan Small; San Carlos Apache Tribal Council Wendsler Nosie; Intertribal Council of Arizona Inc. President Shan Lewis; San Carlos Apache Chairman Terry Rambler; San Carlos Apache Tribal Council Simon Hooke; Zuni Governor Arlen Quetawki Sr.; All Indian Pueblo Council Chairman Chandler Sanchez; Santa Clara Pueblo Governor Walter Dasheno.Photo by Jared King / Navajo Nation 


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