WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye signed legislation May 8 to invest $100 million from the Sihasin Fund for Navajo communities and families across the Nation to receive power and water lines and other capital projects.
The Navajo Nation Council originally approved the legislation in April. Begaye also line item vetoed $833,333 for the construction of a Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) road in Rock Point, Arizona and $350,000 for the planning of a BIA compound in Shiprock, New Mexico.
Speaker LoRenzo Bates (Nenahnezad, Newcomb, San Juan, Tiis Tsoh Sikaad, Tse’Daa’Kaan, Upper Fruitland) said the investment is a reflection of the council’s commitment to helping the Navajo people and to the Nation’s infrastructure development.
He said when the Navajo Nation received $554 million from the federal government as part of a settlement agreement in 2014, the council created the Síhasin Fund in order to grow the balance. The council held a series of public hearings to hear directly from the Navajo people for how the funds could be invested.
“The results of the hearings overwhelmingly showed that the people want water lines, power lines and other basic infrastructure — this council listened to the Navajo people,” Bates said. “This council initiated and approved a $180 million investment in bulk water projects in 2015, and a $150 million investment into economic development, community development and water projects in 2016. The fact that the 23rd Navajo Nation Council has invested more dollars into infrastructure than any other time is a reflection of our commitment to the people.”
Council Delegate Seth Damon (Bááháálí, Chichiltah, Manuelito, Tsé Lichíí’, Rock Springs, Tsayatoh), who first spoke of the idea of the investment plan months ago, said the $100 million will not only help many people in need of basic infrastructure, but it will also increase tax revenue, create jobs and help further develop communities for future developments.
“With this $100 million investment, the 23rd Navajo Nation Council is looking years down the road and planning for the future of our people and the great Navajo Nation,” Damon said. “We did this for every grandma out there who has no running water and electricity, for every child that has to do their homework in the dark and for anyone who has to struggle everyday just to meet their basic needs,” Damon said. “It was this council that put this plan together and pushed it forward and I am thankful to my colleagues for supporting it.”
Information provided by Navajo Nation Council