Shelly, Lovejoy both say defer decision

By Carolyn Calvin
Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, Sept. 30, 2010

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Navajo Nation presidential candidates Lynda Lovejoy and Ben Shelly agree on at least one thing regarding the Northeastern Arizona Indian Water Rights Settlement Agreement - wait until new leadership is in place to decide the issue.

"The water rights settlement agreement should be tabled and acted upon after public review, public hearings and review by the next leadership of the Navajo Nation," Lovejoy said in a prepared statement.

Shelly also issued a statement saying, "Water for us is precious. It's a way of life. Rex Lee Jim and I want the most for Navajo - Navajo today and Navajo in 200 years from now. When we come to a place of agreement, we will do so with the best solution for a settlement that ensures our future use. But it's not today."

Jim, who was absent from Wednesday's special session on the water agreement, explained his position in a written statement to the Navajo Nation Council.

"In our travels throughout the Navajo Nation, we have been approached by a significant number of Navajo citizens that have strongly expressed their opposition," Jim wrote. "This is their position because there are still too many questions unanswered."

"I hope and pray that the Navajo Nation Council not make a hasty decision to approve the proposed settlement in its present form. We need to send it back to the Navajo people and provide adequate public hearings," he wrote, explaining that he was absent from the council so that he could meet with former President Jimmy Carter in Washington, D.C.

Lovejoy said when the Council acts on the water rights settlement it will be a "life sentence for the Navajo Nation."

She alleges "our future grandchildren will not be allocated a cup of water for us. Navajo will be limited to nearly 92 gallons of water for their life time."

"Our livestock, wildlife, agriculture and future farmers are not calculated into the formula of the water rights legislation," Lovejoy said. "Our progenitors saw fit a future as they took part in constructing the Treaty of 1868. If enacted, any mention of water or agriculture in the Treaty of 1868 will be null and void for future Navajos."

According to Lovejoy, past water rights legislation, such as the Colorado River Compact of 1922 and the Rio Grande Compact, does not take into account decreases in precipitation and increases in evaporation due to a warming climate.

"Once any type of legislation is set into place, it is hard to modify its contents to accommodate changing times," Lovejoy said.

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