LAS VEGAS — Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren closed the 2023 Reservation Economic Summit by telling a ballroom audience the key to a thriving Indian Country is collaborating and sharing business knowledge like that gained at summits like this one.
“There are leaders and CEOs and executives that I’ve met here,” he said. “The sole purpose is, how do we move collectively together, and how do we collectively inspire the next generation?”
The President began his talk with laughter by describing his journey from the Navajo Nation and his arrival at Caesars, one of the largest conference and convention venues in Las Vegas.
He said he was pleased and humbled to be among relatives who are enthusiastic and who want to make sure they are building strong economies back home.
“That’s one of the reasons we brought our team all the way from Navajo, “ he said. “So if you see an SUV pull up in front of Caesars with mud and dust and all that stuff, it’s the Navajo Nation President. All the other vehicles were nice and waxed except ours.”
The President said it’s always important to remember where, as Native people, they come from.
“It’s important that we continue to advocate and be champions because you never know, one of your kids, one of your relatives, might feel like they can’t be a leader. But it’s totally possible as long as you always continue to remember where we come from, who we represent in many, many industries, hundreds of tribal nations, that are represented here at the best conference each year.”
He said the day he was speaking was his 87th as Navajo Nation president.
“One year ago this week, I announced my candidacy to run for Navajo Nation president,” he said. “At the time, it was a very big gamble because I’ve never been in politics. I’ve always been a working person. It was a big gamble where all my chips were on the table and I said, ‘Why not?”
He said the question he asked himself was not why he should or should not seek office but how does he help get the Navajo people out of poverty if he is elected.
“It was always a goal of mine,” he said. “One of the things I’ve said over the past year was I am anti-poverty.”
The clearest way to do that to help communities is to ensure people simply have a job and an income to support their families.
To accomplish that as a tribal leader, however, requires doing everything to bring needed broadband, electricity, water, and fulfill those basic needs.
“The best way to do that is to make sure we keep our enterprises accountable,” he said. “Make sure they’re bringing the bacon home, and at the same time making sure that they’re working with small businesses because that’s what really brings communities together.”
He encouraged tribal entrepreneurs and leaders to make sure they’re creating business environments where Native people can be successful using the latest technologies that are accessible.
“Let’s continue to work with one another, continue to pray for one another, and continue to share some of our successes,” he said. “Let’s continue to help one another and continue to build nations within nations that are thriving. We all want to create healthy and safe communities all across this country.”