Hualapai tribe could lose everything in Skywalk dispute

People walk on the transparent glass of the Skywalk as their shadows are cast on the cliff face below. / J.C. Amberlyn:Miner

Risky business for tribe

By Suzanne Adams

Kingman Daily Miner

The Hualapai Tribal Council could lose the Skywalk as the eventual result started by the recent $28.6 million ruling by an arbiter. Also at risk: The respect of some of its tribal members over the seizure of the famous landmark’s contract by eminent domain.

One former council chairwoman called the whole incident an embarrassment to the tribe. And a former tribal corporation board chairman called the council’s actions “inappropriate” and warned they could scare off future investors.

An arbiter awarded David Jin’s company, Grand Canyon Skywalk Development, $28.6 million in unpaid fees and damages in August. In order to make sure it got the award, the company filed a request to enforce the order in Arizona’s U.S. District Court on Tuesday.

However, the Hualapai Tribe’s tourism organization, Sa Nyu Wa, is claiming the order is invalid, because Jin didn’t get a federal court order forcing arbitration between the two parties.

Jin’s company, Grand Canyon Skywalk Development and Sa Nyu Wa have been arguing over the proceeds from Skywalk ticket sales and who is responsible for finishing the visitor’s center since 2009.

The Hualapai Tribal Council seized the Skywalk’s contract using its power of eminent domain and took over its operation in February while the two sides were in arbitration.


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September 2012