Colorado Confluence

A news item crossed my computer desktop this afternoon. Sometimes I think I’ve heard it all, and that I’m officially immune to further stupidity in the news. It is a dangerous place to let your mind wander, because something more stupid is always just around the corner.

The Navajo nation, owners of the land overlooking the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado Rivers, is about to sign a deal with a group called the Developers Confluence Partners to build a 420 acre attraction on this site. It will include a theater, restaurants, an RV park, and tram system to take tourists down to the river. There is, of course, dissension among the tribal members. The tribal president sees this as an opportunity for jobs for his people, who have high suicide rates and very low per capita income. Other members of the tribe see this place as sacred and the attraction as a defilement of the area.

I further learned that the Hopi and Navajo tribes dispute ownership of the land, which has put in place something called “The Bennett Freeze,” which allows no native development on the 1.6 million acres until the dispute is settled, causing further economic hardship.

This is a complicated problem, but it is not without a solution more reasonable than destroying a pristine section of the Arizona desert. Our native american brothers have been poorly treated by us. The conservative solution to the problems of poverty have been tested in their lives for decades now, and it would seem that the experiment should be declared settled. Conservatives seem to believe that if poverty is punished with more poverty, then those being punished will pull themselves up by their bootstraps and improve their lot in life. Progressives seem to believe that once a people are beaten down, it becomes less and less likely they’ll see a way out of their dilemma, and the cycle will only repeat. They believe punishment is not needed to get these people the resources they need; a helping hand is.

Wouldn’t it be interesting of we, the people of this country offered this helping hand? If we were to see to it that the children of this community were to receive adequate housing, resources, and educational opportunities? If this silly Bennett Freeze were negotiated away in good faith by both tribes and the federal government? If we were to put the required effort towards community development in this reservation similar to the efforts we’re recently made to destabilize the countries of Iraq and Afghanistan? It strikes me as a matter of priorities. A short term solution for the poverty stricken Navajo might be to turn one of the only economically valuable natural resources on their reservation into a theme park for a small percentage of the profits, or we could recognize the wrong we’ve done to these people and put our considerable energy into making things right.

One Response to “Colorado Confluence”

  1. Jim Lutzke says:

    Well said, Ted.

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