Navajo Nation Purchases 65 Acres of Land, Revises Criminal Codes

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More than 65 acres purchased by the Navajo Nation in Farmington, New Mexico, will be used for commercial purposes by its Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise, according to a resolution signed by Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly.

Shelly signed the bill into law authorizing its purchase on Wednesday.

The Farmington Daily Times said that the $980,000 purchase price came from the tribe’s Land Acquisition Trust Fund and is currently being held in a trust. The land is less than a mile east of the Northern Edge Navajo Casino, and located off of Highway 371 and Navajo Route 36.

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"We support economic development efforts by the nation and if asked, will assist with its development," gaming enterprise CEO Derrick Watchman told the newspaper in an email.

In January, the owner, Rolling Mesa LLC, agreed to the purchase price, and in September, the Navajo Square, a community paper, reported that a bill was proposed for its purchase.

Also on Monday, Shelly made revisions to the tribe’s criminal code. He toughened sentencing and fines for threats, unlawful imprisonment, assault and theft, as well as adding new fines for assaulting a police officer, The Daily Times reported.

“This is a good law. It gives the Navajo Nation the opportunity to exercise tribal jurisdiction in a lot of these criminal cases," Shelly told Reuters. "We will continue to work with the federal government and the U.S. Attorney's Office when it comes to capital crimes committed on the Navajo Nation."

An FBI crime report says that the Navajo Nation is among the highest per capita crime rates in the United States.