WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. - With the Navajo Nation close to entering into a joint-partnership with the National Parks Service to maintain and manage Canyon de Chelly, Navajo Parks and Recreation has hired on a new park manager to take on the task of operating one of the Navajo people's most sacred sites.
Since the early 1700s, the Navajo people have had a presence in Canyon de Chelly, or Tsegi, but have never had a hand in the preservation of the land as a tribal park.
Mike Rollins joined the Navajo Parks and Recreation after spending the last 11 years as Park Manager at Jerome State Historic Park for Arizona State Parks. The position of Park Manager for Canyon de Chelly was advertised three times with Rollins, a non-tribal member, being the only qualified candidate to be presented to the Navajo Park and Recreation Department from the Personnel Department.
"It's going to be exciting coming from the Arizona State Parks to the Navajo Parks and Recreation," stated Rollins. "Having a background from another park agency you can take the positives you've experienced before and then apply them to the new park; at the same time, you can also improve on the negatives."
"I really feel privileged to have the opportunity to share my experience with the Navajo Nation, and the chance to make Canyon de Chelly a better place for all."
Rollins, who just recently moved from Cottonwood to the Window Rock area, graduated from Northern Arizona University in 1997 with a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice, and minored in Psychology. He also did a four-year stint in Desert Storm with the United States Air Force.
While Rollins will be new to the Navajo Parks and Recreation, he will be bringing years of experience and extensive knowledge in historic management, construction management and exhibit design and construction.
The joint-partnership with the National Parks Service is currently only in the beginning stages, but eventually Navajo Parks and Recreation will become more responsible in much of the park's administrative duties.
Within the next fiscal year, Rollins stated that Parks and Recreation would be undertaking several objectives. Some of those goals include: drafting and enacting the long awaited Joint Management Plan between the Navajo Parks and Recreation Department and the National Park Service, amending the moratorium for residents living in and around Canyon de Chelly, and setting guidelines for use and improvements at Cottonwood Campground.
Rollins also stated that Parks will immediately start issuing Navajo Nation Tour and Guide Service permits, hiking, camping and climbing permits, and drafting vendor guidelines and a vendor village setup.
Because of the extensive history of not only the land, but the inhabitants of the area, Rollins is also planning on working closely with the residents of the area.
"I am concentrating on the needs of the Navajo and canyon residents. I am here to help them and hear their concerns, and address their issues regarding Canyon de Chelly National Monument."
Rollins and Parks and Recreation are currently operating out of the Canyon de Chelly Planning Office in the Chinle Chapter House, and if you have any questions, call