Thursday, October 03, 2013

Hale conducts site visit of the Havasupai Indian Nation

Hale conducts site visit of the Havasupai Indian Nation

SUPAI, Ariz. – Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), made a site visit last weekend to the bottom of the Grand Canyon to see for himself the conditions people there are facing with recent flooding in the area. 

“I could make a phone call and ask a few questions, but to me, it is more important and informative to actually speak to the people who face these situations daily,” Hale said.  “I was told by the tribal members at the top of the canyon that tourism has been slow this year. This is not good news. It is one more issue that the Havasupai people have to deal with.” 

Hale is referencing the issues of the high cost of food and of getting basic supplies to the Havasupai Nation and its people. A typical day to get groceries entails traveling up the canyon wall (a three to four hour hike), driving about 100 miles to the nearest large grocer, traveling back to the canyon, and hiking back in with groceries and supplies. If the individual is unable to make the hike, there are few choices. 

A mule could be used to transport supplies (at around $93 per load) or a helicopter could be used (at $50 per bag).  If an individual needs to reach the top of the canyon and is unable to walk, the helicopter ride price ranges from $15 to $25, each direction, for tribal members.

“Let’s put this in perspective,” Hale said.  “If I need to get drinking water for my family, I would be paying an additional cost of either $50 or $79 to actually get it to my home, making the cost of the case of water around $62 instead of $12. Then I have to either hike down for four hours or pay more money to get home. These are high costs for people who do not have much income. Economic development and employment opportunities are basically non-existent,” he explained.

Hale met with two important leaders while in the canyon. He spoke with Tribal Council Member Eva Kissoon, who invited him to meet with the Tribal Council to discuss the issues in more detail.
He also met with Carlos Powell, director of Head Start, who shared his concerns that the people in the canyon are suffering.

“We are not able to keep health professionals here,” Powell explained. “And that puts us all at risk, especially the little ones. We had a nurse but she eventually left because there isn’t any child care available.  Meeting our basic needs are daily struggles.” 

Hale agreed.

“We must work together to ensure this group of people is no longer denied access to fulfill their basis needs.  We intend to explore solutions and offer support,” Hale commented.

Rep. Hale is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation. He was born in Ganado and raised in Klagetoh, Arizona. He is Ashiihi (Salt), born for Todichiini (Bitter Water). His maternal grandparents are Hanaghani (Walk About clan). His paternal grandparents are Kiyanii (Tall House clan). He is a 1969 graduate of Fort Wingate High School, a Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school located east of Gallup, New Mexico. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona (1973), and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of New Mexico School of Law, Albuquerque, New Mexico (1977), and an honorary Juris Doctor degree from Phoenix School of Law (2012).  He is the former President of the Navajo Nation.


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