Diné Hada’ Asídí
Navajo Vigilant Ones
(A Navajo People’s Public Interest Organization representing, in this specific release, a coalition of efforts by scores of groups and thousands of Navajos opposing S. 2109.)
Contact: Milton Bluehouse, Sr. 928-205-5558, or Ed Becenti firstname.lastname@example.org
e.s.: Milton Bluehouse, Sr.
(former Navajo Nation President, Vice President, & Council Delegate)
A NEWS RELEASE, FOR THE PEOPLE (April 28, 2012)
Vast Navajo Water Giveaway Exposed:
The old-time Navajos’ sacred Blue Springs complex, on the Little Colorado River, flows at 100,600 gpm. Starting some 35 or so miles below Cameron, the water goes 12 miles to the Colorado. This 160,000 acre feet per year (outside value one $billion), is used down river for free by Arizona. Rights to this water were secretly waived by lawyer Pollack in the failed 2010 Settlement. S. 2109 does it permanently. With this News Release, however, it’s no longer secret.
Image by H. Kent Hendrick
Lower Little Colorado River (LCR), Navajo Nation (Ariz.) ― “Water Attorney: We’re not giving anything away.” This was the headline of a front page Navajo Times article for Navajo Nation water lawyer Stanley Pollack, dated April 26, 2012. In the article, Pollack fails in his attempt to describe S. 2109 as an
“ultimate act of sovereignty” for Navajos. He also presents other biyoch’ííd (falsehoods), including the big one on “not giving anything away,” and the comical but tragic one about “The tribe is knowingly entering into an agreement to resolve its water right.” There’s no sugar-coating it. With the Blue Springs bombshell, Pollack continues his mass deceit. He also demonstrates his ultimate low regard for the Navajo People, including our leaders―many of whom can’t yet see how deep in himself Pollack rejoices in his veiled treatment of them as stooges. Those still loyal to him and not the People may discover, as we have, that devotion to Pollack is disaster for us. In 2010, our rights to Blue Springs water were temporarily and secretly waived by Pollack when he tricked the Council and Commission into accepting the first LCR Settlement―which was canceled only after he duped the Council and President into their final approvals. He’s doing the same thing again, to last forever, through S. 2109. (If, however, Navajo lawyers and leaders knew of the Blue Springs swindle, then, unfortunately, we have some very serious questions for them on breach of trust.) It’s necessary to quote here two rules for lawyer conduct from the American Bar Association (ABA). “RULE 1.4: COMMUNICATION. (b) A lawyer shall explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation.” “Disciplinary Rules. 8.4 Misconduct. It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to: . . . (c) engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.” We must add to these the common law rule on waivers: “In order for one to ‘waive’ a right, he must do it knowingly and be possessed of the facts.” Informed Navajo patriots cannot avoid thinking that Pollack’s water rights role is chock-full of dishonesty, fraud, deceit, and misrepresentation. Blue Springs is one of many damaging cons, but a huge and spiritually and financially harmful one. Our Blue Springs data come from the AZ Dept. of Water Resources (ADWR) 2012 Website, and a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and BIA report on the Springs. (Available on request.)
Completely left out of the much criticized S. 2109 water rights bill, and its companion Settlement Agreement, is the Nation’s Blue Springs. All indications are the Council and the Water Rights Commission have known little or absolutely nothing about it. One grassroots group member shared it last week with the completely unaware chair of the Water Rights Commission. It’s heartbreaking to think that the Commission’s supposed job is “securing, protecting, and preserving” our water rights. According to the USGS report on Blue Springs (titled: Springflow … in the Southwestern Part of the Navajo Indian Reservation, Arizona) this is the most productive spring complex within the entire Colorado Plateau physiographic region, which covers 130,000 square miles of the Four Corners States. The Springs literally gush out of the side, and up from the bottom, of the bed of the lower Little Colorado River. The closest nonNavajo land is Grand Canyon National Park, about four miles to the west. (See USGS topographic map on the page 5.) Although the Springs are 2,000 feet down in the LCR gorge, and they have high mineral content causing the turquoise hue, the water is highly prized and used by AZ far downstream from the Colorado River. The reasons are: (1) Pollack failed to claim Springs in water rights proceedings and (2) under terms of 1963 case, Arizona vs. California (and if the Nation keeps quiet and lets S. 2109 pass), Arizona will continue to make exclusive use of the Springs water and another 160,000 acre feet of annual LCR flow that goes through Navajo to the Colorado River. S. 2109 waives Navajo ownership, quantification, and/or priority rights to all this water. No matter what excuses Pollack makes responding to this News Release on Blue Springs, etc., he is caught yet again violating conduct rules and disadvantaging our People. Here’s another ABA rule to think about: “A lawyer also seeks a result advantageous to clients, consistent with ‘honest dealings’ with others.” In our case, “others” includes the Navajo People. This situation with Pollack is so bad, it’s like letting an outsider who is an abuser keep on living with and abusing your family. The ADWR Website (2012) and the USGS (1976), of the U.S. Dept. of the Interior (our alleged “trustee”), report that the Springs, which rise on the Nation up to 12 miles upstream from the Colorado River, annually
produce a relatively constant flow of over 100,000 gallons per minute, or 160,000 acre feet per year. This water flows down the LCR gorge and into the Colorado River, mixes with it, and is then used for free by Arizona.
(Image by Canyon Explorations).
Blue Springs water, downstream on Navajo, with minerals causing the classic Navajo turquoise hue. Average annual floodwaters of another 160,000 acre feet often turn the color to brown.
This water rises on and is the Nation’s. Sheepherders brought it to our attention again, after a ceremony’s guidance. It is evil to deceitfully waive our rights to this sacred water and abandon it to outside interests. The multi-year cover-up by Pollack (on this & other issues) is a betrayal of the Diné who, like the Hopi, are not to forsake the water provided us by the Creator. Pollack craftily misdirected our attention away from Blue Springs for so long. Research was done for us by Byron Huskon of Cameron and Oak Springs, a member of the former Navajo Water Commission (not the newer Water Rights Commission). Mr. Huskon was assisted by five Navajo professionals. They confirmed the Springs’ huge flow and the origin on Navajo. We’re alarmed again by the Commission’s lack of knowledge, Pollack’s continued misconduct, and his once again giving great advantage to outside interests at the cost of our People. (For the
Hopis, we remain aware of the sacred Sipapu and Salt Trail along the LCR, and of their own water rights dilemmas under S. 2109.)
Topographic map of the main Blue Springs location where it surges into the north-flowing Little Colorado River four miles east of Grand Canyon National Park boundary (pink north-south line).
ADWR table on Blue Springs flow in gallons per minute, or over 220 cubic feet per second. (2012 Website.) Flow has remained the same up thru today, according to ADWR and USGS.
On the lower Colorado River the total value of 160,000 acre feet of water rights in Arizona―based on recent prices of $6,000 per acre foot placed on the sale of mainstream water rights―is roughly $960 million. (In the early 2000s, Las Vegas home developers offered to pay the Nation $10,000 an acre foot if they could manage to lease long term any excess water rights. Nothing came of this. Yet the important point is the monetary value of water to outsiders in the Southwest, which is only going up with population, and as climate change and repeated drought continue to have their impact. While others are securing and holding tight their water rights, we’re giving away our sacred water rights to others to use and enjoy.
ADWR map showing Blue Springs (no. 1) downstream from Cameron.
Our Navajo Blue Springs water being enjoyed by Mr. Pollack’s corporate friends just above where the LCR flows into the Colorado. LCR water is enjoyed downstream even more by Arizona and the people, businesses, farms, and water banks it delivers the water to.
Pollack’s, Shelly’s, the AG’s & the Water Commission’s Giveaway Water rights giveaways are being done, so far, by Pollack, President Shelly, the Attorney General (AG), and the Commission. It’s evident to people attending the so-called water rights forums that Shelly is a naïve victim of Pollack. The Commission members are also naïve, and keep spreading misinformation at these meetings Pollack has trained them for. Unlike the conned President and Commissioners, however, the AG is held to the same ABA and Navajo Bar Association conduct rules as Pollack, and is equally responsible for misconduct of Pollack and himself. A summary of volumes and outside monetary values of the Navajo water rights giveaways associated with only S. 2109 includes: 1. The 160,000 acre feet per year of Blue Springs water. 2. The waiver of all Navajo prior and senior rights to waters addressed in the settlement. 3. The waiver of the BIA-proposed 20,000 acre Leupp/Bird Springs farm that quantifies another 105,000 acre feet of prior and senior water rights. 4. The remaining amount of the 160,000 acre feet of low-flow and
floodwater that goes past Cameron, on average, every year, none of which we own under the settlement, and all of which goes exclusively to Arizona, just like the 160,000 acre feet of Blue Springs water. 5. The 34,100 acre feet of the Nation’s Lake Powell water received by Navajo Generating Station (NGS), and that NGS has used for free for 30 years (a billion dollars’ worth) and will continue to get for free if Pollack has his way with S. 2109. (Our Navajo Nation Water Code industrial water use fees, in place since 1997, have gone unenforced all these years for NGS. The total past due since 1997 is over $400 million. The Resources’ Committee’s new industrial use fees, which for NGS’s 34,100 acre feet would be $44 million this year, have been in place since 2011. With Pollack’s influence, the AG (like past AGs) is not enforcing with NGS the Water Code law of the Nation and these legally established fees. The AG, by definition, is the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the Nation, and he is grossly failing in his duty at the expense of the Nation and our People.) Therefore, the total of all the water rights giveaways under S. 2109 involves over 450,000 acre feet of water and the Navajo values (spiritual, cultural, and economic) associated with them.
The Navajo sacred turquoise-blue Little Colorado River water flows into the Colorado River, coming down from the north, and is diluted and transported down the river to Arizona diversions.
We bring to a close our News Release by thanking readers and all the Navajo grassroots groups and individuals who have encouraged us and
helped provide us such critical and valuable information as presented here. Also, and in light of the latest and overwhelming revelation of our People being cheated on the vast potential Blue Springs water rights, we are studying and preparing an appropriate proposal to the Navajo Nation Council. It will be based on “The Best Course of Action” we have previously published: (1) Stop S. 2109 (which is founded on environmentally racist and other racist policies. Also, the S. 2109 groundwater projects are already a trust responsibility of the IHS, see, e.g., Title 25 U.S. Code sec. 1362), (2) remove Pollack, and seek his disbarment by the Navajo Nation Supreme Court, (3) seek federal public water system legislation through the pre-existing IHS trust legislation for such systems, (4) put out an RFQ (request for qualifications) for law firms/lawyers on Indian water rights, (5) hire appropriate lawyers/firm in six months or less, (6) during that time begin to involve and engage the Navajo people in a Navajo Renewal, making them feel and actually be a part of, and rallying around, a common goal, solidifying Navajo Nation unity and political power and votes in local, state, and federal elections for candidates who will support a Navajo Renewal and economic and water rights plan geared toward a much improved and reasonably sustainable economy, (7) completely overhaul the Water Rights Commission to reflect the People’s original idea for an informed Commission with a professional (and loyal) director who collectively dictate to the lawyers, rather than viceversa, (8) have all Navajo Nation leaders and staff who are involved in our water
rights strive to reasonably maximize all rights, at all times, and at all places, in an advocacy way entirely different from today, that constantly looks to the spiritual, cultural, and economic future of the Nation in an informed, sophisticated, comprehensive, and integrated manner, (9) establish a People’s Truth Commission to reconcile our people, root out and report the falsehoods that have abounded around our water rights, and inform the people of the honest truth of our water rights potentials, opportunities, economic realities, (10) promote and maintain a widespread belief among our people in our ability to accomplish our goals if we remain united on the most fundamental tribal survival issues, such as water rights, (11) vow to never again allow our Nation to be taken over by parasitic corporations and infiltrators and disloyal lawyers (who turn us away from ourselves, our cultural and spiritual values, our treaties, our opportunities, and each other) as we have suffered through for so long, and (12) continue to build on the Navajo Renewal, with its common goal, to improve appreciation and retention of our culture, our language, our children, and our opportunity as the largest Indian nation in North America, rather than squander and demean our opportunities for these things—as has been the case for too long under Pollack and his followers,
Image by H. Kent Hendrick
Blue Springs water just downstream from where it gushes into the LCR riverbed.