Grand Canyon Overflights = 4,000 Jobs - NAPT/AIROS Radio: Memorial Day To Honor Choctaw Code Talkers - Buffy Sainte-Marie Interview
By Kathy Helms
WINDOW ROCK – If the Navajo Nation can secure favorable air tour routes in the current Grand Canyon overflights rule-making, developments at the former Bennett Freeze chapters of Cameron and Bodaway/Gap could mean up to 4,000 jobs and between $16 million and $30 million annually.
Navajo Nation Vice President Ben Shelly, R. Lamar Whitmer of the Fulcrum Group of Scottsdale, Jack Colorado of Cameron Chapter, LeChee Delegate Tommy Tsosie, and Ivan Gamble of LeChee – Southwest representative to the American Indian Alaskan Native Tourism Association – met with the Resources Committee last week to discuss what the Nation has been missing out on and how that could change.
Whitmer worked with the Hualapai Tribe getting their exception into the Grand Canyon airspace as well as development of the Skywalk. In 2008, the Hualapai Tribe's Grand Canyon West hosted 500,000 visitors and grossed $50 million.
Shelly has requested a tribal consultation meeting in early June with representatives from Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar's office, the National Park Service and the Federal Aviation Administration.
“Mr. Shelly has been able to bring all these entities together at this point. With the Resources Committee educated on the matter, we have to create a Navajo preferred alternative at this point to be able to enter the market into the Grand Canyon,” Gamble said.
The Grand Canyon hosts just under 5 million visitors annually, contributing $800 million in direct spending, which supports between 9,000 and 12,000 jobs.
Approximately 4.5 million people visit the Grand Canyon South Rim annually by car, originating primarily from Interstate 40, and 800,000 by air, largely from Las Vegas.
According to Whitmer, the Navajo Nation is uniquely situated to take advantage of the Grand Canyon tourism market at Cameron and Bodaway/Gap.
Cameron has the potential to become the eastern hub into the South Rim for airplane and helicopter air tours, as well as bus tours. Bodaway/Gap has “tremendous long-term potential” through the development of an airport, retail, hotels and restaurants centered around a tram to the canyon floor overlooking the Colorado River.
The National Park Service and the Federal Aviation Administration are poised to announce their preferred alternative of final flight routes for Grand Canyon air tour overflights. It is critical that the Navajo Nation assert its rights to have tour routes established that can be the basis for future development, according to the Fulcrum Group.
Whitmer said the Nation should insist on equal consideration for Navajo as was given to Hualapai and demand an exemption to the cap on the total number of tour flights established by the park service 10 years ago.
In a May 3 letter to Salazar, Vice President Shelly stated that the Nation has met with the park service on numerous occasions regarding the forthcoming rule “only to find out later that important information was not shared with the tribe that would have been significant and critical for us to develop a meaningful response.”
This “selective” manner of dispensing information appears to have been “a chronic and intentional contrivance meant to give a strategic advantage to the NPS under the guise of meaningful consultation ... a practice that has been the norm, not the exception,” Shelly said.
As a result, the Nation is seeking more time for the tribe's leadership to be briefed on the park service's proposals for Grand Canyon overflights before finalization of the alternatives so the Nation can provide an appropriate response.
“It is critical that our voices be heard and our needs (be) considered in earnest,” Shelly said, adding that due to the constraints imposed by the recently lifted Bennett Freeze, which prohibited development for more than 40 years, Navajo has not had the opportunity to entertain the submission of meaningful proposals that could substantially improve the dire and impoverished conditions in those areas of the Western Navajo Agency.
Following the May 18 meeting, Shelly said people in the remote areas are seriously hurting. “Financially, they just don't have any revenue coming in. All they depend on is just the welfare check coming in, and as you know, the welfare check comes in and it is a certain amount. You have your inflation, your gas, your oil – all of this going up.”
Many of the elderlies have told him that they charge food and other items at the trading posts, and when their monthly welfare check comes in, they basically sign it and turn it over to the store owner.
“A lot of them are saying that for a four-week month they only have money in their pocket for one week. The rest of the time, they just don't have any money to deal with. They're in the survival mode. All they look for is 'How am I going to make it? Where can I get food?' And yet we're over here (in Window Rock). We turn our lights on, we turn the water on, we get big fat pay checks. We just don't know what's going on out in the remote areas,” Shelly said.
“When you go out there, you see all of this. They're our people. They're our mothers and fathers, they're our grandpas and grandmas. They're suffering out there and yet we're not paying attention. What do we need to do to get them some revenue so they have a good life? This is where I'm coming from.”
Navajo should be involved in the air route, he said, and should be allowed to provide tour permits which would generate money for the Nation's people. “Yet, here we're playing around with it politically – politics. 'This is my turf, I'd rather have it this way.' To me, it's baloney. We work for the Navajo people. We have a Nation to run. I think it's about time we wake up. If it's a policy that's in our way, let's fix it.”
The Cameron Chapter has been working on its helicopter route for more than six years and even has chosen the helicopter company it wants to work with. “All the environmental clearances have been taken care of, the archaeological clearances, it's just a matter of moving it forward,” Gamble said.
National Public Radio - Memorial Day Program
Greetings. I want to let you know about something you may want to mention on your website or in your blog. Tommorow, on, Memorial Day, NPR will feature on it’s website a slide show of photographs from this book: "America's First Warriors" by Steven Clevenger .
On Tuesday, June 1 at 3:40 pm, ET, Mr. Clevenger will be interviewed on NPR’s Talk of the Nation .
America's First Warriors, Steven Clevenger, a registered member of the Osage tribe, has documented the role of Native American soldiers in the war in Iraq, following them into battle and home again. This book is an evocative collection of rare photographs and personal interviews that records the warrior tradition and war experience.
Sue Goodwin, Executive Producer, Talk of the Nation, National Public Radio 202-513-2340
AIROS' Memorial Day Playlist & Blog
Memorial Day is reserved for the last weekend in May. This year AIROS will feature a playlist to commemorate this holiday with music from Native artists. So this year when the grill is blazing and the food is cooking, remember to log onto AIROS.org.
This Memorial Day, AIROS wants to honor Native warriors who have served their country. In 1918, not yet citizens of the U.S., Choctaw tribal members of the U.S. American Expeditionary Forces were asked to use their Native language as a powerful tool against the German Forces in World War I, setting a precedent for code talking as an effective military weapon and establishing them as America's original Code Talkers.
Another Native American who served in the military and many didn't know is Ely Parker who is an unsung hero. A member of the Seneca Nation, he wrote the Confederate surrender terms in 1865. In fact, Native Americans fought on both sides during the American Revolution. They were employed for scouting and harassment operations.
Some honor songs for our Native warriors on Memorial Day. -"Vietnem Song" (Whitelodge) - Whitelodge Singers -"War Dance Jam" (For Our Elders) - Omaha Whitetail Singers -"Honoring All People" (Straight Up Northern) - Black Eagle Singers -"Akičitá Odowan (Veterans Song)" (Father to Son) - Earlwin B. Bullhead -"Way of Life" (Way of Life) - Lakota Thunder Singers -"Honour Song" (Seven Clans 2nd Annual Pow Wow) - Mandaree Singers -"Carnegie War Mothers' Chapter (Kiowa) Veterans Songs " (American Warriors: Songs for Indian Veterans) -"Lakota (Sioux) Little Bighorn Victory Songs" (American Warriors: Songs for Indian Veterans)
It is with admiration and respect that AIROS dedicates a playlist for Native American veterans who lost their lives in their dedication of service and to those who are proudly with us today on this Memorial Day.
For more information about Native Americans in the armed forces, check out Way of the Warrior from VisionMaker Video. Stay tuned to VisionMaker Video and AIROS.org for more information about a documentary coming soon about the Choctaw Code Talkers.
Click here to view and listen to the AIROS playlist and blog for Memorial Day.
Native Sounds: Buffy Sainte-Marie
This month, AIROS.org will feature a podcast interview with Buffy Sainte-Marie. Buffy is an icon with Native media and music. In 1975, Buffy joined the cast of the PBS children's show Sesame Street and appeared on the show for five years.
Buffy's first musical release was in 1964 and since then, she has been recognized for her music and many accomplishments. Buffy recieved a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Up Where We Belong.
During our interview with Buffy, AIROS talked with her about her career and her great accomplishments. Since graduating from college, Buffy has done positive things for Native people through her music. Listen to the interview on the AIROS.org website. Be sure to check out the AIROS live stream for even more great Native American artists.
Interview with Buffy Buffy's MySpace Page Buffy's Official Webpage Some of our Favorite Buffy Songs
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