Navajo Nation, Sandia National Laboratories to partner for economic development

WINDOW ROCK, Navajo Nation (Ariz.) — Recently the Navajo Nation and Sandia National Laboratories participated in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signing ceremony. The ceremony was held at the Crownpoint Institute of Technology in Crownpoint, New Mexico.

Vice President of the Navajo Nation Taylor McKenzie, M.D. along with the Navajo Division of Economic Development took the lead to cultivate a working relationship with Sandia National Laboratories to assist in the Navajo Nation’s economic development efforts. According to Vice President McKenzie, a working group was established to discuss current barriers and concerns regarding economic development, energy development, telecommunications, infrastructure, education and the environment.

Representatives from the Navajo Nation and Sandia National Laboratories met on three occasions over the past year to develop a working partnership that would enhance mutually beneficial activities and initiatives regarding regional economic development.

“The group, which named itself the Navajo Nation-Sandia Laboratories Technology Partnership, worked very hard to develop certain initiatives,” said Technology Partnership, worked very hard to develop certain initiatives,” said Vice President McKenzie, “This MOU can only enhance the efforts of both parties and it is a part of the work that has already been accomplished. With this MOU, we are experiencing the beginning of a prosperous working relationship which will develop joint projects to benefit the Navajo Nation and its people.”

Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson, Navajo Nation President Kelsey Begaye and Sandia Executive Vice President Joan Woodard participated in the signing. Sandia Vice President Bob Eagan, whose Energy, Information and Infrastructure Surety Division has worked closely with the Navajos over the years in various energy-related projects, said the MOU will encourage further collaboration between Sandia and the Navajo Nation.

“It will give us the opportunity to deploy technologies we developed in our laboratories on Indian lands — technologies like photovoltaics that will provide electricity to Navajo homes at remote sites,” he says. “This is an ongoing relationship and an important extension of a fruitful relationship we enjoy with the Navajo Nation.”

Sandia began working on the MOU effort in 1998 in response to a directive from Secretary Richardson that the national laboratories create partnerships with tribes and pueblos.

The MOU was approved by three Navajo Nation legislative bodies, including the economic development committee, natural resources committee, and the intergovernmental relations committee.

The agreement has several potential areas of collaboration and cooperation that promise to be win-win situations for both Sandia and the Navajo Nation, including developing strategies promoting regional economic development and quality education; offering broad services from Sandia’s Corporate Business Development and Partnerships Office; identifying mutual interests and concerns; and using Sandia’s expertise and resources to help address technical issues on the reservation.

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