Guest Viewpoint: Navajo Nation Green Economy Commission
In the Spring 2009 Council Session, the Navajo Nation Council will be considering historic legislation to create a Navajo Nation Green Economy Commission to invigorate significant green economy growth within our Navajo communities, entrepreneurs, and people. Fortunately, this initiative offers the Navajo Nation the opportunity to be fully prepared to partner and participate in President Obama's National Green Economy and Renewable Energy investment projects.
"What does a green economy look like?" you may ask. A green economy is not a new concept to Navajo - in fact we once had one of the most vibrant green economies - raising and trading goods and services such as raising sheep, farming corn and melons, harvesting various plants and medicines, building healthy sustainable homes, all done with utmost care for mother earth - many of these economic mainstays were done to benefit the family and community, with a prayer and offerings. A sheep was raised from before it was born to the day it was butchered with the highest level of environmental and animal stewardship, plus ample amounts of positive energy. Thus, in today's health trends, mutton raised with such a background would qualify as premium organic meat. It can be further processed to meet kosher meat requirements.
Right now, this ancient way of life is in danger of vanishing, and along with it, hundreds of years of knowledge about livestock and land stewardship. This is due to several reasons, the most apparent being that there are no market mechanisms in place for the sheepherder to gain maximum value for their genuine efforts and for the average Navajo consumer to go into a marketplace and have confidence that the mutton they purchase is organic and raised in the traditional Navajo way. Creating that market mechanism is the exact purpose of the Navajo Green Economy Commission. We do not have to reinvent the wheel - just look to Wholesomeharvest.com to see what we can easily do on Navajo land. Investments can be made in human and capital resources to ensure a highly performing organic meat marketplace that is based on stewardship of landscape and animals, with no hormones, antibiotics, or preservatives.
We can take this further - we can create a market for the wool from the sheep. Wool carpets are in the highest end carpet category, is a green all natural product that demands high prices.
There are many other green business opportunities that fit perfectly with our culture and communities - perhaps you're auntie or brother wants to start a green construction company or architectural firm. Another may want to build the first ice cream parlor in a straw bale retail outlet powered by solar energy. A community may want to start an organic farmers market that also showcases traditional Navajo foods. Another community may need significant investment to attract a renewable energy manufacturer to set up shop to create green jobs and green tax revenues. There are many opportunities in the green economy and for once, we have an industry that fits perfect with who we are as Native people.
The world is changing. We are finding that the western economy, driven by bottom line profit with lowest cost inputs doesn't work for our Mother Earth and Father Sky. It is time for in-depth debate, discussion, solutions, and leadership. This is how are ancestors overcame the many obstacles as they settled here within the Great Sacred Mountains. We must once again hearken to such processes to truly build our own Native economy that puts high value on our tradition, old and modern economic pursuits. In this way, we will build a vibrant economy for the future generations while honoring our great ancestors.
I urge you, community members, Chapter officials, Council Delegates, my Dineh people to think about what is possible, what we have the power and talents to do. This dream is possible and approving the Navajo Nation Green Economy Commission is a vital step.