Newsflash: the Grand Canyon is not commercial real estate.

Yesterday, I got to the gym early for my morning BodyPump class, so I hung out in front of the low bank of lockers just outside the group fitness room. That’s where people wait when there’s a class in session before their class.

I set my stuff down on top of the lockers and noticed a copy of the day’s Arizona Republic, our newspaper, hanging off the edge. My eye was attracted to the small heading “Grand Canyon at risk” before moving on to the blaring headline beneath it.

 

 

Why is the Grand Canyon at risk? I wondered. What votes? I read enough of the article to get an idea of it before class.

Last night, I read more.

The Grand Canyon’s unfathomable majesty isn’t enough, it seems. The fact that its splendor already draws millions of visitors from around the globe each year isn’t enough. Or maybe it’s too much. It’s too much of an exploitation opportunity for out-of-state commercial real estate developers to pass up.

Plans have been made for large-scale development on a plateau on the Grand Canyon’s eastern rim… specifically, where the Colorado River meets the Little Colorado River. The site is known as “The Confluence.” It’s a sacred Navajo site.

Quoting from the Arizona Republic article:

“The heart of the project, known as the Grand Canyon Escalade, is a 1.6-mile gondola tram ride that would drop 3,200 feet into the Canyon, taking visitors from rim to river in about 10 minutes. The project would also include commercial and retail space, multimedia complex, a river walk and administrative buildings.”

Excuse me?

I read elsewhere that the multimedia complex is reportedly designed to cover over 400 acres. The commercial and retail space would include an IMAX theater, hotels, and shops. In addition to the gondola tram ride to the canyon floor, there will be an RV park.

This is the Grand Canyon, as in, sacred Native American ground. As in, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. As in, please remove your greedy developer fingers from the Grand Canyon… and also, while you’re at it, tell the government to get their hands off of our wild horses, more of Arizona’s native treasures. All of it should be left alone.

This is what developers are planning for the holy site:

 

 

Words fail me here.

Evidently, the Navajo Nation’s president supports this proposal. I get that it would help the Navajo Nation economically, but can’t another way be found?

“Opponents say it could desecrate the region and transform the Grand Canyon from a national park into an amusement park.”

Or background scenery as people shop, dine, and watch movies.

Who would think of coming to the Grand Canyon to catch a show at IMAX?

People go to the Grand Canyon to behold its grandeur. They can opt to hike, raft, and run. They can take helicopter tours to view the canyon from above. The Grand Canyon is nature. It is not commercial real estate.

Can we please just leave the Grand Canyon to be a natural wonder in the desert? Can we please refrain from trampling the sacred ground of indigenous people?

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“Instead of destroying our resolve, it gave us the strength to go on.” (#Veterans4StandingRock)

If we’re fortunate, Thanksgiving with loved ones brings joy… but this year, reflecting on the holiday in and of itself, it also brought frustration. Because you can’t think about Thanksgiving without thinking about Native Americans, and it’s unthinkable that our Native Americans are still fighting for their basic rights on the land that was theirs in the first place.

 

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Those who insist on defending their health and their heritage in the face of threat are justified in doing so. Those who join that defense on behalf of the threatened are justified in doing so. It wouldn’t make sense not to, in one way or another. Defending oneself and one’s people is an instinctual response to an unacceptable trespass. We need accountability from our government, but at its heart, Standing Rock is not a political issue. It is a human rights issue.

It’s a natural response to protest an action that could compromise well-being and desecrate cultural sites. Unnatural answers to this response include violence such as working over crowds of innocent, unarmed people with barrages of rubber bullets, clouds of pepper spray, and blasts of water in subfreezing temperatures.

Health and heritage. We all have a right to them, and it’s our right to demand them from those who are taking them from us.

The happenings at Standing Rock represent a breed of atrocity so perverse in its nature that honestly, I can’t even begin to comprehend it.

I’m one of many veterans outraged by this matter. In fact, thousands of veterans are planning a mission, a “deployment,” if you would (December 4), to Standing Rock to join in the fight.

There is a GoFundMe site to support the

Veterans for Standing Rock #NoDAPL

Please consider contributing to this effort of the Veterans for Standing Rock.

I’ve watched several videos made by vets regarding this matter. There are too many to watch, but I thought I’d share a few.

WARNING for language in this one [skip to the next if language is a concern]:

 

 

Here’s the #NoDAPL video brought to you by Disabled War Vet:

 

 

“Thugs on a payroll,” indeed.

Thank you for reading, watching, and considering offering a contribution to the efforts of the veterans preparing to join the masses at Standing Rock on December 4. “We are United States Military Veterans for Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.”