“Navajo Land Consolidation and Archeological Protection Act” is way out for U.S. to save face and Navajo Nation to finish tribal farm

Navajo Agricultural Products Industry reported to Navajo Council Naabik’iyati Committee that the failure of the U.S. to uphold its 1962 agreement with the Navajo Nation for the construction of Navajo Indian Irrigation Project has cost the tribe $4 billion in water loss. NAPI is recommending that the tribe support its effort for congressional legislation, “Navajo Land Consolidation and Archeological Protection Act” that would have the federal government exchange federal land with oil and gas resources for the annual federal funding to complete NIIP.

We wanted to bring this issue to Naabik’iyati Committee to have “buy in” because NAPI knows what it wants to do. This report that we made is about actual dollars and the proposed Congressional legislation, ““Navajo Land Consolidation and Archeological Protection Act”.

The Council’s Advisory Committee in 1970s developed 1962 agreement with federal agreement for construction of Navajo Indian Irrigation Project and San Juan Chama Project.

The Navajo Indian Irrigation Project, NIIP was authorized for construction by Public Law 87-483, signed on June 13, 1962, and amended by Public Law 91-416 on September 25, 1970. The project, authorized as a participating project of the Colorado River Storage Project, has a principal purpose of furnishing 110,630-acres of irrigable land. The Act authorized an annual diversion of 508,000 acre-feet of water from Navajo Reservoir.

The Rio Grande Compact (appropriation of water between states of New Mexico, Colorado, and Texas) included the idea that a trans-mountain diversion could bring San Juan River water in to the Rio Grande Basin. Taking the ‘Winters Doctrine’ rights into account, the Navajos had a sizable claim to water in the San Juan, and therefore, as a condition of its support for the Navajo project, New Mexico insisted upon a non-Indian companion project that diverts 110,000 acre-feet of San Juan River water (portion of the Navajo Nation’s sizable claim) to the Rio Grande watershed through the trans-mountain diversion. At a 1957 tribal council meeting, the Navajo Tribal Council approved the reduction of their claim to the water in the diversion and agreed to support both projects in exchange for the Federal government’s guaranteed delivery system of 508,000 acre-feet of water annually to 110,630 acres of farm land.

The U.S congress agreed to build the NIIP in 1962, as a confirmation of the negotiated agreement among the Navajo Nation, the State of New Mexico and the federal government, in exchange, the Navajo Nation agreed to share water shortage from the San Juan River with other water users and agreed to allow the trans-basin diversion necessary for the companion San Juan/Chama Diversion. The NIIP was also viewed as a partial satisfaction of the Treaty of 1868, between the Navajo Nation and the United States of America.

The NIIP was authorized by Acts of Congress approved April 11, 1956 (70 Stat. 105); June 13, 1962 (76 Stat. 96); and August 4, 1977 (91 Stat. 565). The pertinent part of the 1962 Act (P.L. 87-483) reads:
“To authorize the Secretary of the Interior to construct, operate and maintain the Navajo Indian Irrigation Project and the initial stage of San Juan-Chama project as participation projects of The Colorado Rivers Storage Project, and for other purpose.”

In 1964, NIIP began through, P.L 87-483, authorizing Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to be responsible for the irrigation delivery system. Upon the development of NAPI, BIA was then introduced to contract with the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) to plan, design, and construct the NIIP infrastructure. BIA is responsible for the project oversight and making certain the project remains in compliance with environmental concerns.
On April 16, 1970, the Navajo Agriculture Products Industry (NAPI) was developed by the Navajo Nation Council as an enterprise to operate NIIP. The council not only created this enterprise to assist NIIP but to create economic opportunities for the Navajo people and to build a foundation of commitment, pride, and dedication to their nation. Upon the development of NAPI, BIA then introduced P.L 93-638, that included Operations and Maintenance (O&M), On-Farm Development (OFD) and Agricultural Testing Research Laboratory to perform on farm activities under contract P.L 93-638.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *