Change in location sought for Senate hearing

Noel Lyn Smith
Employees with Environmental Restoration LLC work at a temporary water treatment holding facility at the Gold King Mine north of Silverton, Colo., on Aug. 10 after Environmental Protection Agency workers released more than 3 million gallons of water polluted with mine waste into the Animas River.

UPPER FRUITLAND – The District 13 Council is requesting a change in location for the upcoming field hearing by the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs about the Gold King Mine spill.

The Senate committee is scheduled to conduct the field hearing next month in Phoenix.

The District 13 Council, which consists of officials from the Nenanezhad, San Juan, Tiis Tsoh Sikaad and Upper Fruitland chapters, approved the resolution Tuesday.

San Juan Chapter President Rick Nez, who serves as the council chairman, said the council would like to have the location moved closer to the communities that were affected by the Aug. 5 spill. He added some residents cannot afford to travel to Phoenix but would like to attend the hearing.

“The farmers and ranchers that are affected are here,” Nez said.

He said members of the San Juan Chapter passed a resolution that seeks the same relocation request.

Once the council’s resolution is finalized, it will be submitted to Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye’s office.

Members of the Navajo Nation's District 13 Council are seeking a change in location for a planned meeting of the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs that will focus on the Gold King Mine spill.

Council members will ask for a resolution to support the change in location from the membership of the Northern Agency Council during its March 19 meeting at San Juan Chapter, Nez said.

The council also approved a recommendation for former Navajo Nation Council Delegate George Arthur to serve on the board for the Navajo Agricultural Products Industry.

Arthur made the request for the recommendation during the meeting. In his remarks to the council, he said the term has expired for the person holding the District 13 seat, and that individual has expressed the desire not to seek reappointment.

The NAPI board consists of members who represent the Eastern Agency, District 13 and District 19, which is comprised of the Huerfano and Nageezi chapters, and the Chinle Agency and Western Agency in Arizona. Board members are appointed by the tribal president and confirmed by the Navajo Nation Council’s Resources and Development Committee.

Arthur, who represented the Nenahnezad, San Juan and Tiis Tsoh Sikaad chapters on the 88-member tribal council, also asked the District 13 Council to support his appointment to the Colorado River Water Users Association. The Navajo Nation is one of 10 tribes that belong to the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-546-4636.