Hundreds turned out on the Navajo and Hopi reservations to oppose a bill sponsored by Republican Senators Kyl and McCain and, until now, supported by their own tribal leaders.
The $300 million bill attempts to settle Navajo and Hopi claims to the Little Colorado River and to provide funding for water development projects in reservation communities where many people still haul water.
Navajo President Ben Shelly said Kyl and McCain asked to meet with tribal leaders in Tuba City to hammer out details of the bill.
But Shelly, himself, has now backpedaled on his support.
He told an angry crowd the Navajo Nation won’t agree to the plan unless tribal members are OK with it.
“Let me talk!” Shelly chided the crowd. “This agreement will have to be agreed to by the Navajo people.”
Protesters object to the plan being formulated between Washington, D.C. and tribal leaders without tribal member input.
Shelly announced tribal officials will hold seven hearings in April to gather public input.