Officials named the wrong natural arch in honor of the late wife of former Sen. Barry Goldwater, Navajo tribal members allege.
The Navajo communities at Kaibeto and Tonalea have passed resolutions opposing the designation of "Margaret Arch" named for Margaret Goldwater, who died in 1985.Goldwater had asked that an arch he is credited with discovering be named after his wife.
He wrote that the arch was near Tonalea, and in February the tribe's Tonalea Chapter and the Tribal Council approved the idea.
It was not until the week before the March 19 dedication, when the council received his photos, that members realized Goldwater had an arch in mind several miles from the one the tribe was to dedicate.Comment on this story
The ceremony proceeded despite that realization, a claim from the Kaibeto Chapter that the arch was in its territory and a Kaibeto resolution condemning the tribe for not asking for its permission and for not postponing everything until the matter was resolved.
Over the weekend, Tonalea rescinded its approval and asked the council to reconsider.
Tribal officials have admitted privately that there was some confusion over which arch Goldwater was referring to but have refused to acknowledge an error.
In a statement, the tribe added that the question of which chapter the Margaret Arch is in was immaterial.
"Only the Navajo Tribal Council has the authority to designate chapter boundary lines," the statement said.