WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. - There were five Navajo Nation chapters that received Local Governance Act (LGA) certification on July 11.
The 22nd Navajo Nation Council Resources and Development Committee (NNCRDC) approved the Five Management System policies and procedures for Chilchinbeto, Leupp, Teesto, Tiis Tsoh Sikaad, and Tsidii To'ii chapters.
A quorum was reached with Katherine Benally, Leonard Pete, Roscoe Smith, and David Tom. Absent were George Apachito and Leonard Tsosie.
Navajo Nation Division of Community Development Director Arbin Mitchell said LGA certification is an opportunity for chapters to build their communities.
"When you become certified, you're given that opportunity to use those five manuals out there," said Mitchell.
He counted off the opportunities available to chapters: business site leasing, home site leasing, alternative form of government, local ordinances, and streamlining expenditure processes.
"It gives you that opportunity to go into contract, into sub-grant agreements with the Navajo Nation central government," said Mitchell. "It's all about opportunity and it's up to you to get it done."
Stanley Yazzie, deputy director for Community Development, agreed with Mitchell and said the opportunities available are contrary to conventional wisdom floating around out there at the chapter level.
"I wanted to cover one thing," Yazzie said, "Some people, even the delegates, say that when you become certified, you no longer receive help from the Nation," said Mitchell. "Regardless of certification, the Local Governance Support Centers still have the responsibility to assist all of the 110 chapters."
NNDCDC worked with the Office of the Auditor General and paid an outside consultant to conduct the FMS reviews, at a cost of $5,000 per chapter. Dreams Come True Incorporated of Albuquerque conducted the reviews via certified public accountant Eliot Stenzel.
Teesto Chapter was the first to become certified on July 11 at the Navajo Nation Council Chambers.
"It's an honor to come before the newly established Resources and Development Committee of the 22nd Navajo Nation Council," said council delegate Elmer Begay.
Tsidii To'ii Chapter Vice President Isabelle Walker was thankful for the opportunity to become certified.
"We are very thankful to all the people who spent their time preparing and reviewing our documents," said Walker.
Tiis Tsoh Sikaad brought supporters with them from New Mexico, including reigning 2011-2012 Miss Tiis Tsoh Sikaad, Gavelita Bitsui.
Council delegate LoRenzo Bates was thankful.
"On behalf of Tiis Tsoh Sikaad, we appreciate this opportunity to come before you today for this very honorable, well-thought out, and featured event for Tiis Tsoh Sikaad," Bates said.
Delegate Walter Phelps said he was happy and thrilled to be before the Resources and Development Committee with Leupp Chapter.
"I just want to share that this work, the Five Management System, started many years ago," Phelps said. "It dates several years back, to 2006."
He said the chapter received the financial system in June 2010, which was reviewed a couple months later by the LGSC in August. The public comment period took place during the same time and by January 2011, the three-month review was completed by the Auditor General.
Leupp Chapter President Thomas Cody was elated and optimistic about the future.
"I think our community really supports us in what we're trying to do," Cody said.
Delegate Katherine Benally sponsored Chilchinbeto Chapter for certification.
Speaking in Navajo, Benally said, "We usually hear that there is no work coming from the Local Governance Support Centers. Today is proof of otherwise."
Lee Gambler, chapter president, said it was a long road and a long struggle to get the FMS together for certification.
"It's been almost 16 years that I have been in office and I already said one day soon, we will have this chapter Five Management System in place," Gambler said. "I think this is really going to help us, the community.
All chapters received certification by a vote of 3-0.
The certified chapters all received a check for $160,000 and instructions on how to budget the funds. There is currently 27 LGA certified chapters on the Navajo Nation.