Flying the Navajo Nation over the LCR

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Flying the Navajo Nation over the LCR

Date: 11/05/2023     State: AZ     Issue: Watersheds     Partners: Grand Canyon Trust, Navajo Nation Airport Origin : Tuba City, AZ    


Take the Navajo Nation above the sacred Colorado River and Little Colorado Confluence to connect Navajo Elders with cultural sites and with the Grand Canyon Trust to discuss options to protect water quality and cultural resources from harmful development projects.

The Little Colorado River (LCR), and surrounding lands are the spiritual and cultural homeland for the Navajo people. Navajo people live in the region and rely on the LCR to drink, cook, and farm, and for ceremonial and cultural uses.

We flew above the river and the surrounding region that is scattered with shrines and areas of ceremonial practice. The LCR has faced many threats from development projects that jeopardize the river, sensitive species, and culturally significant lands. One of the current threats comes from a Phoenix-based company, Pumped Hydro Storage LLC, who withdrew two hydroelectric proposals for projects on the LCR, but has one remaining application for Big Canyon, a side canyon of the LCR. We flew over Big Canyon where, if approved, four dams will be constructed entirely on Tribal land. Billions of gallons of groundwater will be pumped from the same aquifer that feeds springs along the LCR, depleting the river's water source during a period of drought. Additionally, the dams' operational processes annually lose more than 3 billion gallons of groundwater to evaporation - while many surrounding Tribal communities lack access to running water. The Big Canyon Project overlooks Indigenous communities and will disrupt the spiritual and cultural practices of people who have called the Grand Canyon home since time immemorial. Sacred places where ceremonies are conducted, prayers are held, and people come to reflect and find peace would be destroyed by flooding, industrialization, and noise. Protection from hydroelectric projects is needed to protect the watershed, ecosystem, and cultural heritage of the Grand Canyon.


Click for geo-referenced photos from the flight. This .kmz file is best viewed in Google Earth

Flight Images

Flight Location