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Navajo Nation pledges to go green


The Navajo Nation says it is going green.

On Tuesday, the Navajo National Council voted to enact the Navajo Green Economy Commission, which would oversee the use of federal, state and private funds for green job initiatives. Through the measure, community members could apply for funding to create projects that the commission deems "green."

"We're encouraging our people to come back and create weavers' co-ops and farmers' markets and revitalize our agriculture," said Nikke Alex, who works for the Black Mesa Water Coalition and organizes young people for the Navajo Green Jobs Coalition.

Alex said she hopes the initiative will encourage more young people to return to Navajo communities once they have graduated from college. 

"A lot of people that we work with and a lot of our family members and friends, once they graduate from high school and college, they end up moving to big cities because there aren't many job opportunities out here," said Alex, who graduated from the University of Arizona in 2007. 

In the past, the tribal government has fielded bids from companies seeking to mine uranium or build power plants on Navajo mineral-rich land in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. In April, the federal Environmental Protection Agency revoked an air permit for a massive coal-fired power plant on Navajo land that would have helped power cities in Arizona and Nevada.

Navajo President Joe Shirley opposed the EPA's decision, saying the coal mine would have brought needed jobs to the Navajo.

"Our people now have other job opportunities available to them," said Chelsea Chee, an organizer with the Black Mesa Water Coalition. "We're not going to be as heavily dependent on fossil fuel extraction or fossil fuel burning."

Chee added that she believes green jobs are in line with Navajo traditions. "When we pray, the first words out of our mouth are 'Mother Earth and Father Sky,' " said Chee. "We're supposed to be thinking about those two entities and trying to be in balance with how much we take and how much we give back."

-- Amy Littlefield

Photo: About 30 supporters of green jobs marched to the tribal coalition meeting Tuesday wearing green T-shirts to show their support for the creation of the Green Economy Commission. Credit: Kelvin Long, board member of Black Mesa Water Coalition, used with permission.

Comments () | Archives (11)

The comments to this entry are closed.

What about TRAINING for weatherization program that can create jobs for the tribal people while performing the task on the buildings and the houses to save energy . The Obama administration pays for performing the task.
Tom Tahmassian

I'm glad to hear the good news. I'm sure that Navajo Nation is headed in the right dirrection, makes me want to change my mojor to green building. Making a difference in the world. Not just for tommorow, but for our chlidren's childern's Much loive and respect for the Navajo Nation.

Is this an opportunity to create some Green Industries that could actually be exported? Thinking along the lines of starting a wind turbine company or solar cell manufacturing or other hi-tech type products. Everything else is there. Good size educated work force. Nearby universities. Lots of cheap space. Close by transportation. Am I missing something here?

Paul L

what did you expect me to think??... you wrote, "...the Navajo Nation's coal power plant in Page, Arizona..."

you used an apostrophe with a noun -- does it not indicate possession?

Green is good. Asthma and respiratory illness are measurably higher in the area That's a fact. Good luck.

Remember, Tourism is a great green industry, so support this effort everyone! Plan at least one vacation in Navajoland!
Plenty to see and do in the wide open spaces!
See you there!

Glen, you're correct about the ownership of the Page, Arizona, plant. I never said they owned it. This plant is still a major polluter on reservation land and the Nation has the ability to enforce more environmental progress there. More green dollars should be spent to make this plant less offensive to residents in the area.

wrong Paul L

the ownership of the generating plant at Page, AZ are as follows:

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation 24.3%
Salt River Project 21.7%
Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power 21.2%
Arizona Public Service Co. 14.0%
Nevada Power 11.3%
Tucson Electric Power 7.5%

it is true the Navajo Nation leases the site to the owners and sells coal to the plant operators.

I am glad to hear this good news.....and i am sure that the Navajo will make it right......
Congratulations to the Navajo Nation........

I'm glad the Navajo Nation wants to go green, but the Navajo Nation's coal power plant in Page, Arizona, is a major polluter. It will take a lot of green to offset the damage of this one plant

Kudos to the Navajo Nation for going green. I hope that this precedent-setting tribal green jobs initiative is successful, and that other tribes will follow this exciting, positive example. We all have an obligation to live more sustainably, and to find better ways to meet our basic needs without jeopardizing the ability of future generations to meet theirs.


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