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Hopi Tribe Strongly Opposed To Little Colorado River Dam Proposal

National Park Service

The Hopi Tribe has weighed in against a large hydroelectric proposal that would build four dams on the Little Colorado River. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports. 

In a letter written to federal officials this week, tribal leaders say the proposal is “simply unacceptable” and would “forever adversely impact Hopi sacred places.” The Grand Canyon is among the tribe’s most culturally significant areas, and leaders oppose any development near the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers.

"It’s being proposed not too far from what Hopi calls their place of emergence to this world, called the Sipapuni … This is something that should be left protected … If it was to be flooded it would be just like flooding the Vatican," says Hopi Vice Chairman Clark Tenakhongva.

The tribe also says the proposal would violate the 2006 Intergovernmental Compact between the Navajo and Hopi that allowed both tribes to access millions of disputed acres for spiritual practice.

The proposal by the Phoenix company Pumped Hyrdo Storage on a section of the Little Colorado on the Navajo Nation would build four dams and four reservoirs. A preliminary application was accepted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, but doesn’t allow the company to disturb or enter the area.


Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom as executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.
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