The Navajo Nation

Office of the President

     The Navajo Nation

Office of the President

Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren shares cultural background, priorities with Rep. Eli Crane during first Navajo capital visit

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren welcomed Rep. Eli Crane, R-Ariz., and his staff on their first visit to the Navajo capital in Window Rock on Thursday. 

The president met the congressman last week in Washington on his first official visit to the U.S. Capitol. 

President Nygren explained many aspects of Navajo history and culture, touching on the needs of the Navajo Nation today. He told the story of the Long Walk, the Treaty of 1868 and the esteemed Navajo Chief Manuelito, who, like the president, was born and raised in the portion of the Navajo Nation that is within Utah, as it is called today.

“I want to line up with your values,” President Nygren told the congressman, who shares a background in construction with the president. “It’s very honorable that you’re here.”

Congressman Crane, who represents the 2nd Congressional District in northern Arizona, thanked him for the welcome and replied President Nygren’s priorities of building homes, economic development and veterans are the same as his. 

“I want to hear about your vision, your values,” Congressman Crane said. “I want to be a part of helping.”

The president explained his priorities involve basic needs most American communities take for granted: running water, electricity, better educational opportunities, more police officers, fire fighters and general public safety. 

He said the Navajo Nation has not one waste landfill and needs gravel pits to repair and build roads.

He said a critical housing shortage exists across the Nation and is most acutely felt in the capital where thousands of employees travel hours each day with no other options to live nearby.

He said the Nation’s geographic isolation gives rise to problems that tribes closer to urban areas and city infrastructure don’t experience as severely.

A solution, he said, would be to reduce much of the federal regulation through the Bureau of Indian Affairs that delays tribal land development and progress.

For instance, he said, to develop waterlines, powerlines and issue homesite leases, federal deregulation of the right-of-way process on trust land will help speed-up growth for the Nation. 

Congressman Crane said everywhere he goes he hears people saying the same things. He said he would do what he could to help. 

President Nygren took time to explain aspects of Navajo culture, such as the intricacies of a traditional Navajo wedding, using his own as an example, and his riding many miles on horseback on his hot August wedding day. 

He described the standing of the Navajo Nation as a leader among the 574 federally-recognized tribes by virtue of its population and large land base exceeding the area of West Virginia.

Congressman Crane asked about the level of fluency in the Navajo language among school children. 

The president explained 15 percent of the population might have fluency. That is why teaching the language and increasing its use is one of his highest educational priorities, he said.

Turning to the large, carved wooden Seal of the Navajo Nation on the president’s office wall, Congressman Crane learned of its symbolic meaning, from the four sacred mountains, its corn stalks, its livestock, all contained within naats’íílid, the rainbow signifying sovereignty, and protected by a circle of arrowheads. 

Before their meeting concluded, President Nygren escorted the congressman, himself a veteran Navy Seal, through the new snow on the ground to Navajo Veterans Memorial Park where they discussed the pivotal role of the Navajo Code Talkers in the outcome of World War II.