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« Freedom Count Zero: Faith in democracy takes a hit | Main | Heartbreak »

March 21, 2007


Rick Kelley

Not Who but What? GREED! Hualapai realized they could never build a casino so this was the next best thing. To actually walk out on this platform of shame cost $25 per person not to mention the cost to get into the National Park which is $25-$50. Of course this did nothing to solve the biggest problem faced at the park which is congestion and pollution.

Frank Warner

It just opens the floodgates to more desecration of the Grand Canyon.

Aren't reservations supposed to be held in trust by the U.S. Government? Then how does the U.S. Government let this happen?

Hualapai Indians are Americans, too. They might think about preserving America.

The news stories say there are about 2,000 Hualapais, about 1,000 of them adults, and 70 percent unemployed. For 700 guys out of work, is this the answer? Stick your tongue out at the Grand Canyon forever?

jj mollo

Hey, it's not like McDonald's or anything. This is a remarkable structure in its own right. The Grand Canyon is a marvel and ought to be protected, but you can't protect anything without covering the opportunity cost of that protection in some way. We have long passed the point where we can hope to use the power of sanctity to protect anything. Moreover, don't forget that humans themselves are part of the impressiveness of the Cosmos.

Personally, I would love to see them build a suspension bridge across the Grand Canyon just to show it could be done. Not likely I suppose, but wouldn't it be amazing?

Frank Warner

Well, no.

jj mollo

So gracious of you to elaborate. And now from the non-Minister of Contradiction ...

Frank Warner

I thought I had explained. There are some areas that should not be spoiled by human hands.

Out at Monument Valley, Arizona, the thought occurred to me that this vast range, with its awesome buttes and mesas, could be spoiled with one poorly placed McDonald's restaurant.

It was heartening just to see that such a defacement had not happened, and that all Americans had access to this wonder of nature, in all its glory.

Of course, I did notice that on the valley floor, a few ugly mobile homes and several discarded pickup trucks were collecting. My thought was, let's figure out how to clean these eyesores out, not put new human junk in.

I'm not an absolutists on no new development. Of course not. In Alaska, we should be drilling for oil in areas that are so far from population centers -- and so far from our esthetic interest -- that almost no American ever would visit.

At the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley, any American should be able to walk in and behold the same vision that the first Americans (from Asia) and then the second wave of Americans (from Europe) saw. We should have a chance to put ourselves in their shoes and imagine their first looks as we take ours.

That is the vision ruined by things like the Hualapai Skywalk. This blight ends up showing you less, not more, of the once-Grand Canyon.

jj mollo

So can you measure the severity of this affront? I think we've established that one McDonalds is much worse than a Skywalk. How about a Indian tribal monument such as cliff-dwellings or something like totem poles? If the skywalk had been rendered in adobe or carved from the stone would it be equally objectionable? If the discarded pickup truck were a discarded Conestoga wagon instead, would that be better?

I imagine that it makes a difference where the skywalk can be seen from and how visible it is. Who would have standing to sue for the diminishment of the value of the scenery? Does the government have a right to represent us to recover damages from the loss?

Frank Warner

Good questions. But no one seems to have asked any questions about this.

The problem, as I see it, is that this is the big foot in the door. It's permanent, and from now on, it can only become more intrusive.

American Indians never put totem poles up around the Grand Canyon, so adding one now would be pointless. At least a totem pole is made of biodegradable wood. The Skywalk they just installed is plastic and steel, and it will never disappear. It will only be added to.

The Grand Canyon has no record of cliff-dwelling pueblos, no ruins to imitate, so building some ancient-looking adobe structures might satisfy the crassest tourist, but they also would have no historical, cultural or archaeological point.

But the foot is in the door. Anything goes now. Look for flashy modern hotels going right up to the Grand Canyon rim. Look for giant Ferris wheels operating permanently between Monument Valley's right and left mittens (the landmark buttes).

Look for crap. Thanks, Hualapais, for nothing. Seven hundred guys couldn't find a job, so they make a quick buck mutilating Mother Nature. What's wrong with this picture?

jj mollo

But what is it they have mutilated? An esthetic feeling? I mean, I certainly agree with your sentiment. IMO, the whole country is despoiling itself by its behavior. But we have tried things to limit, for instance, the environmental impact of unchecked development, and it's not working. You have to be able to put numbers on these costs before you can hope to control them, and then you have to have a course of action open to you.

Our democratic system has great difficulty preventing the Tragedy of the Commons. The Hualapais have found a way to get paid at the common expense. Good for them. Bad for us all. But what action are you suggesting other than casting a guilt spell?

I'm looking for an actual mechanism that can stiffen the democratic spine and find ways to prevent incursions on the common wealth. If there were such a thing, we wouldn't need to agonize over these uncontrollable results. Libertarians thought they had such a mechanism in terms of making everything have an owner. The "owner" of the quantified beauty of the Grand Canyon could then sue people who diminished it. Unfortunately, the people who come closest to owning it, in this case, are the very ones who are doing the damage.

Frank Warner

In England, when you leave the cities for the countryside, that's what you find, countryside. Not one house. Stonehenge remains in the middle of nowhere because everyone who owns land around it knows they can't build there.

In the United States, we're bad enough at straightforward zoning that would keep our countrysides green (at no cost, by the way). But no one suspected we'd accidentally given American Indians the right to despoil our most precious natural wonders.

How do they get the right to ruin the Grand Canyon -- and to set up casinos anywhere, for that matter -- when no other American is allowed the same right? It's perverse.

jj mollo

Rigid algorithms, such as the Rule of Law, always have bugs that thwart the intentions of the law makers. Community values and the determination of individuals are required to repair the mistakes. Our community values are driven by a credo of individual wealth as opposed to common wealth. The result is what you see, but we do what we can.

My grandfather was a township building inspector most of his working life. As the suburbs expanded he was subjected to great pressure and inducements to relax the rules. His personality did not permit him to accept such inequities and he resisted strongly. The powers that be attempted to unseat him from his office, so he ran a door-to-door grass roots campaign and won on the basis of his popular support. To this day I can see his influence in the housing stock. His township has retained its real estate values better than those of the neigboring townships.

In the township where I was raised, one of my neighbors served on the zoning board for decades. He was an intelligent and incorruptible individual with great charm and persuasiveness. When he retired from the board, the developers had a field day. Open space began disappearing at an alarming rate and all sorts of unaddressed residential complaints became the fodder for local newspapers.

Its a Wonderful Life is closer to fact than fiction. There are a million George and Mary Baileys who control the excesses of the Henry Potters. These are relatively unheralded people who aren't even aware themselves what they are accomplishing. All the good things that we have are due to continuous self-sacrificing efforts, but we don't have any magic angels that can let us go back and see what things would have been like.

Frank Warner

That's why it's best to keep that first ugly foot outside the door.

Once the first bad precedent is set, the bad stuff flows in like a river.

jj mollo

So we have a situation where something has happened. Not everyone agrees that it's a bad thing, but we'll stipulate that it's bad. So how bad is it? Can it be measured? Who is it hurting? What should we have done to prevent it? Could we have prevented it? What measures should we take to prevent similar events in the future? What do you hope to accomplish by advertising the problem? What are the ensuing social consequences? What do you think we should do about them?

The New Orleans analogy comes to mind. Before the event we should have been asking, what are the possible or probable events that can occur? Does everyone agree on the events and which ones are bad? Do there exist ways to prevent the bad things? Can we minimize the consequences by actions taken ahead of time? What is the right course and how do we get the right things to happen? How do we prioritize and how do we execute?

Once something happens, then what do you do about it? How do you reduce the consequences, reverse the results, fix the damage? How do you predict what further consequences will follow (such as depopulation of the city)? How do you prevent it from happening again? And can you? How should we think about all this and what should we do about it? What should other cities do about it, for themselves and for New Orleans?

In other words, Mr. Mayor, the levee has been breached. What should we do?

Frank Warner

This is a case of misplaced trust. This also is a mystery story.

We all assumed that the Grand Canyon was protected from blight like this. We never thought any American had the right to deface it.

The mystery is how it happened. I can't say how to reverse this or how to prevent it from happening again, because no one in the news media has explained by what right this little group built this awful Skywalk.

How is it that, in more than 200 years of U.S.A. history, no one has done anything this hideous to the Grand Canyon, and then all of a sudden they got the green light?

What was the approval process? Why wasn't I invited to the hearing?

jj mollo

Here's some fuel for your mystery story. This project is in Arizona, but Nevada stands to benefit in two ways. 1) It's very close to Las Vegas, and there could be a real tourist boom. 2) The main contractors are out of Las Vegas.

Now, not to be paranoid, but I'm thinking that this thing is basically a bridge. There was recently another proposal for a bridge in Laughlin (?), which would have crossed the Colorodo some place in Nevada, something about earmarks, casinos, Indian tribes, and campaign contributions. Now if you like conspiracy theories, you can connect anything with anything else, but sometimes it seems that every place is like Chinatown. The only thing missing is water politics. Oh yeah, there's also two astronauts associated with this thing.

Frank Warner

That's the other mystery. Casinos. How, in the last 20 years, did American Indians find the right to operate casinos in states where no one else can operate them?

No one suspected they had that right before. All of a sudden, voila, they have a new way to ruin their own best customs and avoid becoming part of the real economy.

What next? We'll have tiny bands of 700 unemployed men suddenly discovering they have the right to test their own nuclear weapons?

Frank Warner
The Skywalk is also generating a great deal of excitement on the Hualapai reservation. Karren said that when the first truck rolled in carrying a piece of the walkway, tourists and tribe members ran over to greet it.

"How often do you see people running to see a piece of steel on the back of a truck?"

Yeah, Chinatown.

Rick Kelley

As I said before the congestion and pollution is the problem at the Canyon. I guarantee you that as soon as this walkway gets going the tribe will franchise the operations, the concessions, and future expansions.

Tourists will demand services, food, toliets, gift shops, lodging, casinos, more parking,

jj mollo

I'm not into the esthetics that much. I'm more interested in saving the planet. The ecology of the Grand Canyon is more precious in my mind than its looks. But maybe the contrast between the magnificent vista and the trash will help people think about our priorities. McDonalds and junked trucks can serve as symbols of our unchecked abuse of the eco-sphere.

I do think they should require some sort of commitment from people before they're allowed up. They should make them walk a ways for one thing, and they should prevent them from carrying anything that might turn into trash, like candy bars and beach balls. If they're going to promote the view of the Canyon for profit, they should also promote it for the purpose of education, enlightenment and the respect for the sacred feelings they profess.

Michael J. Whatoname

Hey, neither of you two know what the hell you are talking about! The numbers of 700 men who can't find a job is not true. Men do have jobs, as well as Women, do you both see your surrounding society, how many homeless people walk the streets. Sleep in boxes and pick in trash to eat. Who and what give's you the right to determine, or to simply judge anyone. You need to see youself in prospective and stay there where ever your are from and just keep talking, after all this is only your opinions not fact. What the hell do either of you know. If you have the balls come see me and I set you both straight, otherwise shut the hell up. Get a real job and take care of your own, after all we are. Were not relying on the crippled backstabbing Government to keep us going. Money that is received will and has always been put into programs, such as education, without education we are weak, with education we are equal. Programs for feeding elderly. Education needs such as computers, school equipment for students attending college. Assistance for children in elementry schools, high schools, eye glasses, medication, health programs. Not one member of the tribe pockets any real money, it benifits all. We do not devide any portion to any one individual. This money will also build and construct additinal buildings needed, just recently a school for headstart was built, a boys and girls club, so the real queston is what did you do that you are so proud of to be in your positions to judge. You both are not even full blooded americans, probably from families for another country. Perhaps it would be in the both of your interest and the society you live in to see yourself and others around you before you judge anyone, after all you are also being judged.


That's right, Michael. They are probably not even full blooded Americans. So who are they to judge those who desecrate the Grand Canyon?

What if they were Sioux? Could they judge the Hualapai? The Sioux came from the Dakotas. Even though they conquered tribes all the way from the Dakotas to Arizona, they are truly not full blooded Arizona Indians. Heck, some of them probably even came from Canada. Who cares what they think?

What if they were Mexican-Hualapai? Are they allowed to judge U.S.-Hualapai? I just want to set the record straight on who is actually quallified to judge this eyesore.

Michael J. Whatoname

And who are you? tell me what you do to help anyone, or to even, help your environmant, have you ever been in the Grand Canyon (south rim) and (north) to see how it has already been desecrated, by building resturants, motels, hotels, fast foods, railroad tracks. So then, who acutally desecrated it?


Answer my question first; then, we can talk about me. Who is qualified to judge this? You appear to have certain constraints.

Michael J. Whatoname

This is to all of you critics, each of you sit back and talk of each others. Did any of you listen and or see Al Gore's Global Warming effects on the earth's destruction. So tell me how each and any of you including Al, are doing anything about it?when he was in a position to do something about it, what did he do. All he did was to make money off of you to see his movie. Where do you think your trash goes, that you produce every day? Who's backyard, possibly even your grandparents yard, or your brother or sister or aunt or uncles backyard/ so who is really destroying the environment or creating the eyesore. Otherwise shut up, or do something about it. You don't know anything of our Tribe of as a matter of fact any Tribe at that. I was there when the first truck came in at the rim, the only one who walked (not ran) over to the truck was a white construction worker, followed by Indian Iron-workers. So linda maybe it was you who ran over to greet the men? As a matter of fact you and no other person's were not around, how do I know this is because I am a Iron-worker that unloaded the truck. When Teddy Rosevelt entered and claimed that the Grand Canyon to be a National Park,including all National Parks he was the one who gave the approval to desecrate it, by allowing tourisim.
The canyons are polluted from all of the industries, all over the world. Not by Indians in the U. S. simply by you. When you bought your home's or are renting, did they not desecrate the land, that you live on.
I say this because I've seen this with my own eyes, I been throughout the U. S. and other countries, it is all littered with the color white. So if this is such an ugly eyesore, I don't know what is. You probably claim to be an American then act like it and remember one thing color is what is protecting your country that you mock, color is giving you the right to be free. I am also a Veteran, are you? I don't see that a bullet or bomb segregates color of men and women fighting at Iraq or Afganistan. Everyone dies, and everyone cries. Do you think Pat Tillmans death or any other American Including Indians deserve to fight for poeple who put down and talk about the efforts of another color. Do you think that all service men and woman care who is watching there back as they walk down a street or kick down a door. They beleive and protect each others to survive, or do they shoot them like they did Pat Tillman and lie about it.
There are other real issues you should talk of, not a creation of efforts, by a people.

Frank Warner

The real problem with American Indian reservations is the set of rules preventing the people from taking part in America's national economy.

A lot of that has to do with tribes owning land in common, reducing individual incentives to care for the property they live on or to build local businesses.

What local businesses have the Hualapai come up with over the last 50 years? I don't know, but if the unemployment rate is as high as reported, something obviously is wrong. What incentives have the Hualapai had to go out and get jobs in the real economy?

Clearly, the system there hasn't worked. In many reservations, the government provides just enough minimal services to let American Indians get by without jobs, but they get by badly.

With reduced incentives to care for a house, a job or themselves, high joblessness and short lives are normal on reservations. And then the residents develop a dependence on a "windfall economy," an artificial economy, not related to finding or keeping jobs, but dependent on money that just shows up.

Maybe, in spite of desecrating the Grand Canyon, the Skywalk will create some real jobs. At first glance, it looks like more "windfall," but it might lead to something better, with more Hualapai Indians going to work each day and building for a better future.

Let's hope there's some benefit here.

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