WASHINGTON – Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren met today with the House Natural Resources Committee ranking member Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz.
They discussed the success and initiatives that the Navajo Nation has had to expand funding for several infrastructure projects.
“From the start of my campaign, I promised to ensure the delivery of basic services to our Navajo people,” he said. “I continue to stand by that commitment and will continue fighting for our people.”
President Nygren discussed the Grand Canyon Protection Act with Rep. Grijalva. and said that he supports the position of the Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians. He said he looks forward to continuing collaborative relationships with other tribes Rep. Grijalva’s committee.
Congressman Grijalva introduced the bill in 2021 with Reps. Greg Stanton, D-Ariz., Rep. Rueben Gallegos, D-Ariz., former Arizona Reps. Tom O’Halleran and other co-sponsors. In 2012, the Interior Department placed a moratorium on new uranium claims for 20 years on more than one million acres near the national park.
U.S. Sens. from Arizona, Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly introduced the Senate version of the bill in 2022.
In announcing the Senate bill, Sens. Sinema and Kelly said the Grand Canyon sees more than six million visitors per year, contributes $1.2 billion to local economies and supports more than 12,500 jobs in the region. They said tourism, rather than mining, is what powers northern Arizona’s economy.
Joining President Nygren to his meeting the Rep. Grijalva was Navajo Tribal Utility Authority CEO Walter Haase who presented NTUA’s progress to the congressman. NTUA is the largest multi-service utility owned and operated by a Native American tribe. It provides electricity, water, wastewater, natural gas and off-grid residential power to 186,5000 citizens spread across the Navajo Nation.
The president met with Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, chair the House Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies. He will testify before the committee next week.
He emphasized the need for increased appropriations for Indian affair programs and stressed the dire need to increase funding for public safety.
The president referred to a 2018 BIA report recommendation that reported needs for Indian Country that required $1 billion for tribal police officers, which is now funded at roughly 20 percent, $1 billion for tribal courts, which is roughly funded at 40 percent, and correctional facilities for $228 million, currently funded at roughly 3 percent.
President Nygren invited the Chairwoman Pingree to visit the Navajo Nation to see its challenges first-hand.
Additionally, the president met with Rep. Sam Graves, R-Missouri, chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and ranking member Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash.
He highlighted the challenges the Navajo Nation faces to implement of its needed infrastructure projects.
The president said he remains committed to work with the Nation’s federal partners and members of Congress to find ways to improve the livelihoods of Navajo people. He said he will continue to advocate for streamlined processes, unrestricted funding, and direct appropriations to tribes rather than competitive grants, which pit tribes against one another.