By Ivan Gamble, Navajo
Photo: Calvin Johnson, Navajo
The water rights settlement being proffered by bureaucrats, certain politicians, and longtime water attorney Stanley Pollack has been recently discussed at chapters of Western Navajo asking for their consent to the agreement.
The settlement, a fraction of the aboriginal claim of the Dine’, has been represented as the “best offer we could get." The question becomes who is it best for?
Once the Dine’ had great leaders like Manuelito and Barboncito, who defined Dine’ bi Keyah by 4 rivers and 4 mountains; these leaders understood negotiations; they had fought off the most powerful empire in history by skillfully playing faction against faction.
These leaders understood they must fight for the protection of the homeland and still leave a great legacy for the coming generations. Skillful leaders afterwards grew the Nation to its’ present size. Almost 100 years later a brave chairman asserted the same claim, calling out the empire for its’ illegal overthrowing of our Nation, and demanded that our compensation equal what is our birthright.
Read Ivan Gamble's editorial:
ALERT: Facebook suspended my account after I posted this comment beneath the editorial. I can no longer access my Facebook account:
After the removal of former Navajo Chairman Peter MacDonald, it was interesting to see where the attorneys went, who were involved in his removal. One of those attorneys were to DC and worked in water rights, and the others went to southern Arizona to "negotiate" Indian Nations water rights settlements with the federal government.
Earlier, during the federal trial of MacDonald, a Navajo businessman told me the bottom line of the imprisonment of Peter MacDonald. He said, "This about water rights."
Later, Peter MacDonald issued this statement on the Winters Doctrine, urging Navajos to hold fast to their ancestral Dine' water rights:
Former Navajo Chairman Peter MacDonald urged the Navajo
Nation Council to reject a San Juan River water rights settlement with the
state of New Mexico and instead take the battle for Navajo water rights to
court, under the Winters Doctrine, which gives precedence to Indian water claims.
”Once a tribe makes a settlement with the state, the tribe waives its
claims under the Winters Doctrine. That is the reason behind this settlement
initiated on the part of Congress,” said MacDonald.
MacDonald said Congress began urging Indian tribes in 1989 to agree to water
settlements with states in order to bypass the Winters Doctrine.
"It was done to quiet all the water rights questions in the West,”
"The carrot” being held out to Indian tribes, he said, is the promise of
federal money to develop water on Indian lands.