Report: Navajo Council Won't Vote on Escalade Project in Spring Session

Lawrence Busch | Grand Canyon

A controversial proposal to build a tram ride to the bottom of the Grand Canyon won't see a vote by the Navajo Nation in its current session.

As The Arizona Republic reported last week, the proposal, known as Grand Canyon Escalade, has yet to be taken up by a Navajo Nation Council committee that must debate it before the council can vote on it. Observers say the proposal has struggled to gain support from council members, but it could be reintroduced in the summer session, which begins July 17.

The heart of the proposal is a 1.6-mile gondola tram ride that would take visitors from Navajo land on the Canyon's East Rim to near the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers. Commercial and retail space, a river walk, a multimedia complex and administrative buildings are also part of the plan.

Supporters of the proposal say it's a way for the Navajo Nation to benefit from the Canyon's immense popularity, while opponents view the Canyon, and the confluence, as sacred places that should remain unspoiled.

A recent in-depth story by The Republic explored the various sides of the debate and is, we believe, worth your time.


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Please understand that the 'opponents' include the Hopi Tribe and every Navajo Chapter near the project. To these people, it is not an academic, political issue, but a matter of cultural survival: the confluence of the Colorado and the Little Colorado is the site of their most important Creation story. Building a large complex there is comparable to the Romans destroying Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem in 70AD or proposing building a tourist complex in Mecca, complete with a beer hall and bacon-themed restaurants.

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