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home : opinion : opinion July 23, 2016


3/3/2013 6:00:00 AM
Council betrays Hualapai tribe
David Jin
David Jin
David Jin
Skywalk Developer

I'm very proud of the Grand Canyon Skywalk, a magnificent, translucent, horseshoe-shaped bridge that extends 70 feet out and over the west rim of the Grand Canyon. I built this extraordinary tourist destination as an economic development tool and jobs engine for the Hualapai Tribe. The Hualapai are wonderful people who, unfortunately, have been led astray by a handful of misinformed individuals on the Tribal Council and their hired lawyers.

I'm saddened that Sherry Counts, current Hualapai chairwoman, wants to invoke my 2003 Skywalk development and management agreement with the tribe's business arm, Sa Nyu Wa (SNW), only when it suits her. Chairwoman Counts says I didn't hold up my end of the contract, but critically fails to reveal that it was the Tribal Council's obligation to bring water, sewer and electric to the site so that I could complete construction of the visitor's center. She wasn't on the Tribal Council back in 2003, had nothing to do with our negotiations and is not listening now to tribal leaders who made the deal with me.

When I asked SNW to pay me my share of the management fees from Skywalk ticket sales in 2008, they said no. I asked for the management fees in 2009. SNW said no. I asked for the management fees in 2010. SNW said no. I asked for the management fees in 2011. SNW said no.

Our agreement contained a provision that either party could call for binding arbitration in the event of a dispute. SNW participated in the arbitration process, but when ordered to turn over point of sales information, they suddenly pulled out. They said there was nothing to arbitrate since they took over my rights through a hastily-enacted eminent domain law designed for me. Clearly, the arbitrator, and most recently the U.S. District Court, disagreed with the Tribal Council and awarded me a $28.6 million judgment, representing damages and unpaid management fees from 2007-2011. Experts estimate my total damages at $277 million for the balance of our contract.

The Tribal Council has filed a notice of appeal of the federal court's well-reasoned ruling. This delay tactic will be just more legal expense on the backs of the Hualapai people. My attorneys will act swiftly to require that the Tribal Council post a $30 million to $35 million bond (including post-judgment interest) to secure my $28.6 million judgment as we await the outcome of the Tribal Council's appeal in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

If the Tribal Council persists in trying to cut me out and pay what they claim is "fair market value" for my rights under the contract, they should not believe that their responsibility ends with the limited liquid assets held by SNW. Since the Tribal Council has sought to formally take over my rights in its Tribal Court, my attorneys tell me the tribe has lost the ability to hide behind the SNW corporate entity and has subjected itself to personal responsibility for the total value of the contract - estimated at $277 million.

Now, Chairwoman Counts has issued a letter to the tribe announcing SNW's intention to file bankruptcy. When I operated the Skywalk, it produced great income for the tribe. Now, they say that SNW can't pay its creditors and therefore its needs the protection of the U.S. Federal Bankruptcy Court. This desperate tactic is clearly designed to delay paying me my $28.6 million in past management fees. It should now be clear to members of the tribe that the bad management by the Tribal Council is bringing the tribe to economic ruin.

Anyone who wants to read the truth can find it at www.grandcanyonskywalkfacts.com.



David Jin is the president and CEO of Grand Canyon Skywalk Development, LLC.


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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, March 10, 2013
Article comment by: In the Know

Rivera-Miller, you are so correct. The tribe is a sovereign nation when it suits them. I personally am ok with them being a sovereign nation, just don't ask for protection from the US government when the fact that your a sovereign nation won't help in that respect. That truly is the best of both worlds. I've seen many documents and know who had responsibility for what. Also know who was behind this unethical business practice. But whatever, I believe if the tribe can ignore the rights of others, then the US government needs to ignore them!

Posted: Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Article comment by: Origional Kingman Resident

@ Mr Jin

I think the council revoked your contract, not invoked it.


Posted: Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Article comment by: C. A. Rivera-Miller

Has anyone who keeps claiming all this money being made thought about COST OF OPERATION for an attraction this remote? Hauled water, generators, maintenance, security, emergency services, etc. To present this magnificent experience without showing what is behind the scenes is complimenting the Hualapai people and other employees.
Another point to make. When originally accepted bids to build the Skywalk, they did so to avoid a PERMANENT structure. Watch any of the videos of how made. They built it, then ROLLED it out. Well, why not ROLL it back in...pack it up....take it away. Let the Hualapai show how they can share the TRUE views of the West Rim. The one Europeans come to see. The one Asians are in awe of. Something Mexico can never offer. Every continent sends visitors to the Western area of the United States JUST TO SEE THE CANYONS! Let's not let Anger and Greed, overcome Wisdom & Peace.


Posted: Monday, March 4, 2013
Article comment by: justanobody sr

Hey vock canyon.
are you aware by the tribes own admission, they take in close to $500,000 A DAY! ( 100 bus's @ 55 people per bus, and 750 cars x2 people per car) $85 per person, plus any trinkets.
you do the math, and ask if Mr Jin is due his amount.
and now they want to claim BK???
they failed at a casino also, does that tell you something??


Posted: Monday, March 4, 2013
Article comment by: C. A. Rivera-Miller

Hmmmmm. From article above..."Now, Chairwoman Counts has issued a letter to the tribe announcing SNW's intention to file bankruptcy. When Jin operated the Skywalk, it produced great income for the tribe. Now, they say that SNW can't pay its creditors and therefore its needs the protection of the U.S. Federal Bankruptcy Court. This desperate tactic is clearly designed to delay paying the $28.6 million in past management fees. It should now be clear to members of the tribe that the bad management by the Tribal Council is bringing the tribe to economic ruin."

NOW IT IS CONFUSING EVERYONE WHO IS TRYING TO UNDERSTAND HOW THE NATIVED TRIBES SOMETIMES DON'T WANT ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE OUTSIDE WORLD AND THE "WASICHU".....YET...EVEN AFTER PULLING THE "EMINENT DOMAIN" CARD IN ARBITRATION....THEY ARE NOW ALLOWED TO USE THE UNITED STATES COURT SYSTEM TO FILE BANKRUPTCY????? DOES THIS MEAN THAT ALL TRIBAL MEMBERS WILL HAVE NO CHANCE FOR ANY SORT OF CREDIT for the next ten years? It is only with appropriate documents that Native Americans can claim their benefits. Are taxes going to start being implemented on REservations to balance out when they DO USE THE US SYSTEM FOR PROTECTION?

I remember when many of the Elders DID NOT EVEN WANT TO DISCUSS THE SKYWALK. What happened to "RESPECT YOUR ELDERS". If the younger generation wanted to try something new....they should have waited until those who objected joined the Creator to overlook the next generations. Again, the West Rim was great just as it used to be. Natural , God Given, beauty. Something the Hualapai People were proud to share. Now it is causing more stress on the Elders and sadness to see the evil Spirits take control. Let us pray that guidance will allow this Natural Wonder to be enjoyed....not avoided.


Posted: Monday, March 4, 2013
Article comment by: Right On, Mr Jin

I would be interested in Chairwoman Counts' resume` and how she became Chairwoman of anything. The Hualapais have always been honorable people and, unfortunately, now with her "leadership" they will most likely find it hard to find contractors willing to deal with them. At least without posting a huge escrow - since they are proven to renege on their contracts. What a shame for the Tribe. I hope Mr Jin gets his payment and that the courts do not allow them to turn their backs on their legal responsibilities to pay the man. As for Patty Hertz- when is the last time anyone took your personal land away? Cry me a river.

Posted: Monday, March 4, 2013
Article comment by: me myself and I MR.C.

@ Patty Hertz Some wars are never forgotten HUH? But then who's counting right!!!!!!!!

Posted: Sunday, March 3, 2013
Article comment by: Not Surprised

Living up to one's obligations seems to be non
existend today. May it be private credit cards or something of this magnitude. Just file bankrupcy and be done with it.
Some people can't be helped or pushed forward to be independent no matter how lucrative it may be in the future. Never in a million years would I have engaged in this type of business deal knowing how the deck is stacked given the location.


Posted: Sunday, March 3, 2013
Article comment by: Gabby B

As I've said all along.... the Hualapai betrayed themselves when they went against their own religious beliefs.
The Hulapais made the only counsel they should be concerned about mad at them..... THEIR GODS!
Pay the man the money.... he deserves it a helluvalot more than the Hualapais do!


Posted: Sunday, March 3, 2013
Article comment by: vock canyon

Mr. Jin, no disrespect intended, but I think you are way over paying yourself.

Posted: Sunday, March 3, 2013
Article comment by: patty hertz

So! how does it feel?! It's okay for the Man to make claims and take from the indians with no opposition but lordy, lordy, not the other way around! what is this world coming to? LOL!

Posted: Sunday, March 3, 2013
Article comment by: randy ruble

I am with you this has gone on way too long...
Pay him his money as agreed and be done with this situation...


Posted: Sunday, March 3, 2013
Article comment by: Nancy Pico-Vogt

You article expressing your opinion on the Grand Canyon Skywalk is greatly appreciated and seems to me to be the most honest thing I have read yet. Thank you and I will keep informed on the website you listed.



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