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2/13/2013 6:00:00 AM
$28.5 million Skywalk verdict stands
Tribe deliberating its next legal step
JC AMBERLYN/MinerThe Grand Canyon Skywalk on the Hualapai Reservation, which offers a glass deck for viewing the canyon from above, has been the subject of years of litigation.
JC AMBERLYN/Miner

The Grand Canyon Skywalk on the Hualapai Reservation, which offers a glass deck for viewing the canyon from above, has been the subject of years of litigation.
JC AMBERLYN/Miner
JC AMBERLYN/Miner

Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa
Miner Staff Reporter


KINGMAN - Grand Canyon Skywalk developer David Jin plans to go after $10 million in trust funds and 100 percent of the ticket sales for the glass-bottomed bridge on the Hualapai Tribe's property after a federal judge ruled Monday that Sa Nyu Wa, the tribe's tourism company, would have to honor a $28.5 million arbitration judgment in favor of Jin.

"Jin has no animosity against the Tribe. He knows that he invested $30 million of his own money to build the Skywalk and that the way he will recoup that investment and his future contractual rights is to resume operational control of the Skywalk," said Mark Tratos, an attorney for Jin's company, Grand Canyon Skywalk Development.

Sa Nyu Wa is mulling its options in light of the ruling.

"Tribal leaders are reviewing all options in response to the judge's ruling," said tribal spokesman Dave Cieslak.

The arbitration judgment only applies to Sa Nyu Wa.

Grand Canyon Skywalk Development and Sa Nyu Wa have argued since 2009 over the proceeds from Skywalk ticket sales and who is responsible for finishing the visitor's center. The Skywalk is a horseshoe shaped bridge with a glass floor that juts out from the side of the Grand Canyon on the Hualapai reservation.

In February 2012, the Hualapai Tribal Council seized control of the tourist attraction's contract and handed it over to Sa Nyu Wa.

In August, an arbiter awarded GCSD $28.5 million in unpaid fees and damages. GCSD filed a request to enforce the award in Arizona's U.S. District Court in September.

Sa Nyu Wa countered GCSD's request and argued that the award was not legal because GCSD did not get a federal court order to force both sides into arbitration. It also argued that the arbiter overstepped his authority when he continued the arbitration talks after Sa Nyu Wa took over the Skywalk contract and officially ended the talks.

Judge David Campbell dismissed Sa Nyu Wa's claims and confirmed the arbiter's award in his ruling on Monday.

Specifically, Campbell found that the tribal council could not take away GCSD's right to arbitration under the contract the two sides signed in 2003 and because of that, the arbiter did not exceed his authority when he continued the arbitration talks and ruled in GCSD's favor.

Cieslak declined to say what the next steps for Sa Nyu Wa would be.

"Tribal leaders have always considered a number of legal options in order to settle this dispute and protect the rights of the tribe, including paying fair market price for the contract," Cieslak said. "They've always been eager to resolve this situation."

Sa Nyu Wa could appeal the ruling to U.S. Ninth Circuit Court, where Grand Canyon Skywalk Development has another case pending against the Hualapai Tribal Court challenging its ruling that tribal council could takeover the Skywalk contract by eminent domain.

Cieslak said he didn't believe Monday's ruling would affect either the pending Ninth Circuit case or the Hualapai Tribal Court case.

ICT - Trotters RV
Related Stories:
• Another lawsuit tangles up Hualapai Tribe and a vendor
• Lawsuit: Hualapai tribe snatched away ranch unfairly
• Tribe calls Skywalk ruling 'significant victory'
• Bankruptcy makes Skywalk case even more twisted
• Hualapai tribe appealing $28.5M Skywalk verdict
• Last stretch of Skywalk road to be paved
• Hualapai tribe could lose everything in Skywalk dispute


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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Article comment by: Eddie Outrider

First off the SkyWalk has always been owned by the Hualapai Tribe! Non natives cannot own property on the reservation, thats a simple fact. This is a contract dispute, the tribe had a contract with a non natave NOT AN ANGLO by the way, to build and manage an attraction for them. If you had a contract with some one and were not satisfied with the outcome what would you do? Break the contract in a manner you have been advised was legal and manage it your self or find another manager. Nothing nefarious there.



Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Article comment by: anonymous anonymous

First of all the Hualapai management that run the gcw think they have power to kick who ever they want of their land without tribal cousil, And the management has often threaten the people who are in a contract with them of pulling the contract, just like they did with the developer of skywalk. This is why the hualapai nation has a bad reputation.

Posted: Friday, February 22, 2013
Article comment by: Cloyd Moody

I don't see why there is a problem at all, if both parties would abide by their contractual obligations, where is the problem?

Posted: Thursday, February 21, 2013
Article comment by: anonymous anonymous

I venture a bet the tribe wins in the end, appeals often take years, judgments often get delayed till the appeals are decided and one fact remains the tribe owns the land! I guess the fellow who thinks he won can think he won till the cows come home but its never over till the fat lady sings!

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Article comment by: anonymous anonymous

This case is going to be litigated in the federal courts for a long time, one judge is not final ruling, there is plenty of appelate appeals, someone is counting their chickens before they hatch!

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Article comment by: Knowing Much More Than You

For all of you who know diddly about the issue.
I work a GCW with the Hualapai native people. I have worked side by side with them for the last three years and have nothing but praise for my associates. The decisions made by the Corporation and Tribal Council is done by politics and not by the general tribal people, so do not condemn the many because of the few.
In this dispute it is more of a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Oh, and by the way, I am a person who is not of Hualapai descent but is proud to work side by side with them. Why not come to visit and talk to one of us employees about what we think, instead of voicing an opinion of which you know nothing about.


Posted: Monday, February 18, 2013
Article comment by: Regretful Regrets

Bet they regret shellin out all those millions to the locals a few months ago now, they might be needing it.

Posted: Thursday, February 14, 2013
Article comment by: Desert Angel

I will not visit any attraction that is fighting for the right to own the place. Sad that this had to come to such a fight. Many people will feel the ire from this. Hope they can stop the fighting and come to a respectable outcome. All American Indians are not greedy, or lazy. They just want what they feel is right.

Posted: Thursday, February 14, 2013
Article comment by: Hualapai Owned ,get over it!!!!

All these comments bout how bad everything is, but yet people from Kingman don't hesitate to try and get employment from the tribe, you all need to know the real facts before you go running your mouth... @ carol from Dolan if that's how you feel bout Grand Canyon West why do you promote it? GET OVER IT PEOPLE GRAND CANYON WEST IS HUALAPAI OWNED...

Posted: Thursday, February 14, 2013
Article comment by: last word mr.c.

@ Jack a lope Bet they don't............

Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Article comment by: marie lee

Well that's life guys- you must have issues with the hualapais cause I know for sure we all pay our bills like everyone else! I don't think that you should be talking about all hualapais in general. Please if you have nothing nice to say songwriter say of at all!

Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Article comment by: Randy --

@ CA Rivera-Miller

I know what you mean. I had one of the bus drivers yell at me like a child for turning up the blower on the bus' a/c. It was 90 degrees, many were sunburned from being at the Skywalk all day and the jerk had the a/c turned almost off as he was outside the bus somewhere for 30 minutes. He comes back on-board and treats the entire busload of middle aged adults as if we were school children until I "fessed up."
What a lousy experience.


Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Article comment by: CA Rivera-Miller

As I posted last year....Many travelers are getting tired of seeing the attitudes of confused workers get passed on to them. Customer service should still remain the top priority to maintain the interest in the Grand Canyon for visitors. The value diminished during these sorts of disputes. People end up not wanting to support either side and just avoid going altogether. Again, we are still happy to share the other beautiful attractions in Arizona where assistance is with a smile!

Posted: Friday, September 21, 2012
Article comment by: Carol Ann Rivera-Miller

Thank the Creator for allowing more attractions to bless us in Arizona. Traveling through our small town of Dolan Springs enables many visitors to see other scenic views that are breathtaking. Having access to other routes to the Canyon can provide magnificent experiences. Buses are finally realizing that it is SAFE to take a break, stop, relax, get refreshments, meals, treats & Southwest Treasures! I learned quickly that remaining exclusive with any management team prevents success. Sharing and learning more history has kept us going. Yes, this is the Gateway to Grand Canyon West. It is, however, also the place to start adventures on land, water & air journeys . Please don't let this negative issue keep you from visiting us! Stop by! Look for the Giant Roadrunner to get directions to many locations.


Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Article comment by: jack a lope

bet it closes

Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Article comment by: DID I MISS SOMETHING

@ Marie Lee - I think the term "Hualapais" was generalizing the group, council and/or corporation that took over the Skywalk and didn't pay for it - not necessarily a steroetype of the Hulapai People, at least that's nto the way I took it.

@ Desert Dweller - Anglos crapping on the natives? If you consider the story start to finish, I think some greedy people got in control and messed things up for everyone. Does it really have to have a Native Vs. Anglo twist. There was greed on both sides right is right and wrong is wrong could we just leave it at that?


Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Article comment by: desert dweller

Wull gully Vern...anglos crapping on the native Americans again...nothing new to see here folks, move along!

Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Article comment by: marie lee

Well that's life,guys- I would like to comment on your post. I do pay my bills like everyone else does, also lived off the reservation to serve MY country. So don't sit there and tell me how life is when you can pick up that rifle and stand the post! Oh yeah I am a proud Hualapai woman that works hard for my paycheck! So quit stereotyping all Hualapai people!

Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Article comment by: Donna Wickerd

They should use eminient domain to take back Music Mountain instead of just letting it rot!

Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Article comment by: Well, That's Life, guys!

The rest of us have to pay OUR bills- why did the Hualapais think it was alright NOT to pay theirs? I am glad they have to pay their debts. Welcome to the real world.



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