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Strengthening the Navajo Nation Through Business, Sovereignty & Water

Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly on July 23 signed three different bills into law to benefit the Nation through business, sovereignty, and water.
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Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly on July 23 said he was “pleased to know that we are making progress in the Navajo Nation,” after he signed three different bills into law.

“Some of these changes are being made slowly, but we are preserving through and patiently creating change in the government that is stable,” Shelly said in a Navajo Nation press release.

The three pieces of legislation Shelly signed were CJY-37-13 for the Narbona Growth Fund; CJY-36-13 for Navajo sovereignty; and CYJ-34-13 for water permits for Navajo Tribal Utility Authority. All three pieces passed the Navajo Nation Council during the summer session last week.

The Narbona Growth Fund, a holding corporation, moved closer to becoming an economic benefit for the Nation. The Narbona Growth Fund, awaiting approval by the Secretary of Interior, “could provide tax incentives enticing large corporations to expand their businesses on the Navajo Nation. In addition, the fund could also provide an avenue for potential business to operate as a joint venture, LLC, or as other corporations and would be able to perform business without federal taxes” according to the release.

“We set this up from Division of Economic Development and the President’s Office to provide income to the people. When the fund gains traction, it will generate income. We envision that this action will attract manufacturing to the Nation. As an example, Raytheon Corporation, which exists on the Nation, if they received a new contract to build more defense systems and if they choose to go under this new corporation, they will be exempt from federal taxes. The company can save millions of dollars, which they can put into the Fund or the business,” Albert Damon, DED director, said.

The Navajo Nation people will benefit from the Narbona Growth Fund in another way. Once the fund is set up as a federal charter, Nation citizens would act as preferred stockholders and eventually collect dividends from the fund.

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“We are creating new ways to care for our people,” Shelly said. “We also hoping the Narbona Growth Fund will be a way to lure big businesses to the Navajo Nation. I want to see retail, manufacturing and other businesses help strengthen our Navajo economy.”

The second bill signed into law provides $354,297 to the Real Estate Department to develop a Navajo Land Title Data System in hopes to strengthen Navajo sovereignty.

The system would be a digital database for land records on the Navajo Nation in an effort to enhance data storage, protect data, and establish Internet protocols to allow Navajo home site lease holders the ability to make payments online; and finally create an online tracking system for land lease applications.

“We need to update one of the most important databases in the Navajo Nation. Having better records will strengthen our long term planning and will help keep accurate records of our lands. We need that to strengthen our sovereignty going forward. Strong record keeping is a sign of a strong nation,” Shelly said.

Finally, the third law, establishes water permits for Navajo Tribal Utility Authority for the San Juan River Animas La Plata Water Supply Project and the San Juan River “Run of the River or Native Flow” Water Project. These permits will be used to supply water to the Shiprock area from the two water projects. The law follows the completion of a water pipeline last year that allows more water to the area.

“The local Shiprock area will now have more safe drinking water to their availability making the community safer and healthier,” Shelly said.