This memorandum, written by Floyd E. Dominy to the Secretary of the Interior, lays out how the Colorado River Storage Project should be run, how water should be allocated, and how disputes can be settled.
"The establishment of principles to govern the operation of the resevoir now under construction in the Upper Colorado River Basin is a logical prerequisite... we all hope will lead to the harmony in the seven States of the Colorado River Basin, and the use of their resources for the welfare of the greatest number of citizens."
- Floyd E. Dominy
This statement perhaps best illustrates the intentions of people like Floyd E. Dominy and other architects of the Colorado River Storage Project. The construction of dams and the management of water was not, by their measure, just an infrastructure project but a part of an almost utopian dream. Their hopes of creating an oasis in the arid West were realized in some part, but the legacy of their decisions, and the realities of environmental change cast a shadow over their project.
The intention for the Colorado River Storage Project was to create a large store of water that could be used by people in domestic, agricultural, and industrial work. This enabled thousands of people to flock to cities in the West, cities that might not have been able to sustain such populations decades before. But what about those people who had been living in the area for centuries prior to U.S. settlement?
The Navajo, the largest indigenous nation within the United States, had been living in (by mainstream economic standards) rural poverty for generations by the time of the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam. Members of the tribe were consulted during the dam's construction for various purposes and tribal leadership was even present at Glen Canyon's grand opening.
According to this pamphlet, the Colorado River Storage Project would revolutionize the lives of the Navajo people, providing water for "125,000 acres" of land, "economic stability and opportunity for progress," and keeping "some of the promises made... in the treaty of 1868." The pamphlet seemed geared towards American citizens sympathetic to the Navajo or perhaps Navajo citizens curious about what the construction of the dam would mean for their daily lives. Despite the goodnatured intention of the pamphlet, it is hard to ignore the eager promises that "Navajos make good farmers" and of opportunities to become "self-supporting" that echo previous American attempts at destroying traditional ways of indigenous life.