Adoption of Enabling Legislation Ensures the Survival of Navajo Agricultural Products Industry
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – Speaker Edward T. Begay today praised the Navajo Nation Council for their foresight in the passage of a resolution that ensures that Navajo Agricultural Products Industry (NAPI) will operate as a business and not merely as a governmental agency.
“The Navajo Nation Council recognized the need to change the way NAPI was doing business,” Speaker Begay said. “The passage of the enabling legislation will assist the enterprise board in setting a new direction for NAPI.”
On July 20, 2001, the Navajo Nation Council adopted enabling legislation for NAPI by a vote of 44 in favor, 13 opposed and 2 abstained. The enabling legislation deletes the NAPI plan of operation from the Navajo Nation Code and places NAPI under the legislative oversight of the Economic Development Committee (EDC) of the Navajo Nation Council. With passage of the enabling legislation, the EDC gained authority to adopt a plan of operation for NAPI.
In addition, the enabling legislation clarifies the roles of the Navajo Nation government, the NAPI board, and the NAPI General Manager in the operation of NAPI and provides direction regarding the organization. The enabling legislation also prohibits elected officials from membership on the NAPI Board of Directors.
“For several months now, my staff and I have focused our time and attention on making NAPI a viable, profitable enterprise for the Navajo people,” Speaker Begay said.
On February 26, 2001, through Resolution CF-20-01, the Navajo Nation Council reappropriated $10 million, originally earmarked for a potato processing plant at NAPI, to cover some of NAPI’s long and short-term debts and begin the 2001 planting season. “After passage of Resolution CF-20-01, it became apparent that it was necessary for my office and the Office of the President and Vice President to provide guidance regarding the development of a new plan of operation for NAPI,” Speaker Begay said.
“First, we said that NAPI must concentrate solely on the farming aspect of its operation. Second, we saw that the Navajo Nation must play the regulatory role over the land, water and NIIP. Third, we saw that the Navajo Nation should become the lead agent on the Navajo Indian Irrigation Project. Fourth, we saw that elected officials should not occupy seats on the Board of Directors,” Speaker Begay said.
“Earlier this year, the Navajo Nation Council participated in the ‘Harvard Session’ at Flagstaff, Ariz., where we heard compelling reasons to prohibit the seating of elected officials on boards of directors for Navajo enterprises.”
“Even though NAPI is a tribal enterprise, it would have to apply for a water use permit and a master lease to use the land,” he said. “NAPI is situated on Navajo Nation land and uses Navajo Nation water, and the Council should not delegate the administrative responsibility over these resources to an enterprise or other party.”
“In addition, my office often heard reports about NAPI expending staff time and resources to lobby the federal government for additional NIIP construction funds,” he said.