WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — For the first time in recent memory, the president of the Navajo Nation invited and met with the board and leadership of the Navajo Arts and Crafts Enterprise in the president’s office.
On Wednesday, Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren sat down with newly-appointed NACE CEO JT Willie and the members of the NACE board of directors.
The president said he was interested in hearing from the board how he could help.
“As president, I look out for the best interests of all our tribal enterprises,” said President Nygren. “Because at the end of the day, they can really help us move the economy forward.”
NACE leadership said the tribal enterprise, under the new CEO’s vision, is refocusing on Navajo artisans and is looking to grow its market globally. They noted Willie’s own background as a Navajo artisan in this approach.
In addition to NACE’s commitment to sharing updates with the president’s office, Willie said, NACE is looking to address the state of its flagship store and headquarters.
Willie said the building has served many purposes since 1962. “It used to be the home of NNTV-5, it used to be home of Navajo Radio, it was also home to Navajo Nation Museum.”
President Nygren said he looked forward to attending a board meeting soon to hear more about NACE’s accomplishments and it’s plans for financing expansion.
He said a couple years ago, he went to a NACE store to look at outfits. “This is not Navajo-made,” he said in recollection of looking through its clothing selections. NACE leadership nodded in understanding. He said he remembered a time when he saw Navajos making outfits for the facilities.
“This is an opportunity to really showcase everything Navajo,” President Nygren said.
NACE Board of Directors Chair Jerome Tsosie said they were thankful for the president’s invitation to meet at the president’s office.
PHOTO (Left to Right): NACE Executive Assistant Roger Beyal, NACE Board of Directors Member Ray Tracey, Chair Jerome Tsosie, Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren (seated), NACE CEO JT Willie, Member Tosha Laughing, Member Eugene Begay.