Birdsprings Chapter moves into the future

Community Land Use Plan's certification a big step toward self-governance

BIRDSPRINGS -- Birdsprings Chapter President Eddie Kee Yazzie has spent a good deal of time thinking about the future and needs of his constituents. Part of this introspection has revolved around the process of the development of a successful Community Land Use Plan (CLUP).

The chapter recently celebrated the certification of its CLUP by the Navajo Nation's Transportation and Community Development Committee (TCDC), a big step in achieving self-governance.

Members of the TCDC were invited to Birdsprings to deliver its certification in order to allow the members of the community to witness the event on Dec. 20.

Yazzie and Thomas Walker, chapter delegate for Birdsprings Chapter, discussed the importance of certification in a joint interview on Jan. 6 at the chapter house.

"It's like a master plan for your community," Walker said. "There are many significant parts to this plan, but what is significant is that it reflects what the community wants. The beauty of it is that it was developed by the people of the chapter through many hours of hard work, discussion, prayer.

Members of the Birdsprings Community Land Use Planning Committee are John Slowtalker (chairman), Melvin Riggs (vice chairman), Milton Benally, Rosie Larson, Ernest Sam and Rose Bell Walker.

Walker pointed out that the committee members were appointed by chapter members via resolution, and purposely included both men and women from various areas of the area known as Birdsprings.

They did a lot of work and I commend them. I don't think they know the value of their contribution," Walker said.

"This process we are undertaking is new to the people of Birdsprings Chapter," Yazzie said. "We've depended on Window Rock and Tuba City to assist us with the paperwork necessary to reach this point. Honestly, I don't know if my community is ready for this."

Yazzie spent nine months helping gather the pieces necessary for certification, and said that he has learned a lot in the process. Yazzie pointed out that he was appointed to the office of chapter president with the passing of the elected president--an event that has caused him to put his education on hold while he serves the members of his community.

"We will have to educate our people about what we're getting into. I didn't used to worry about whether or not we achieved certification, but now I recognize the responsibility and think to the future. If I am replaced at the next election, I want that individual to know about local governance--we can't get someone who doesn't know what he or she is doing there."

Yazzie candidly admitted that he hasn't yet decided whether or not to run for the presidency of his chapter, but that he didn't want to lead and then leave his responsibilities.

Further, Yazzie looks towards the Land Use Plan to allow needed community development.

"I'd like to see some businesses started here. I'd like to see a community store where people could shop. We also need a service station and garage, a welding shop and Laundromat. I've got a good relationship with El Paso, having worked there for 20 years. I'd like to develop a partnership where we could tap into the pipeline and bring natural gas to the homes in the community."

Yazzie said that there were a lot of needs within the community, including recreational opportunities for the youth.

"We need to do something about the problems of alcohol addiction that our kids are facing," Yazzie said. "I'd like to get some computers and tutors out here. We could also use a basketball and tennis courts. To me, my years are almost up--what I would like to be remembered for is that I did something good for my community."

If he decides not to run for his position, or is not re-elected, Yazzie said that he would resume his education in business and computer sciences, and complete the flight hours needed for his pilot's license.

Walker firmly expressed that with the CLUP Birdsprings has a good foundation for self-governance.

"In my three years as council delegate, I've learned that planning is the key," Walker said. "They say planning is 80 percent of a project. This certification will allow us to plan for our future. Sometimes, opportunities are provided by the central government, but when a project reaches the local level, there is no plan in place to implement it. It's like putting the cart before the horse."

Walker again expressed his appreciation to the individuals who brought the process through.

"The members provided announcements and chapter reports. Their meetings were public, and specific public meetings were held to ensure that members of the community had a voice in the process," Walker said. "They even went door to door with surveys and went out to suggested sites to see for themselves rather than act on descriptions given in meetings. They did a lot of work and I commend them."

Walker also expressed his appreciation to the TCDC members who were very encouraging and supportive in their discussions through the process.

"They came through for us and we look forward to Local Governance Act certification in the near future. I can safely say that is part of our New Year's resolution for our chapter," Walker said.

The 20th Navajo Nation Council's Transportation and Community Development Committee members are Chairman Mark Maryboy, Vice Chairman Willie Begay and members Leslie Dele, Sampson Begay, Edward V. Jim Sr., Dave Rico, Johnny Naize and Willie Tracey. All but Naize and Tracey were present at the historic even

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