Navajo Nation Leads Indian Country With New Green Jobs Legislation


The Daily Times

Date of publication: 
21 July 2009

Navajo Green Jobs Press Release

*High Res photos available at:

Window Rock, AZ – On July 21, 2009, the 21st Navajo Nation Council voted "green" and passed the enactment of the Navajo Green Economy Commission. Navajo Nation Speaker Lawrence T. Morgan and the Navajo Green Economy Coalition developed these legislation to support the creation of hundreds of Green Jobs on the Navajo Nation.

In the morning, over fifty supporters from across the reservation gathered in front of the Navajo Nation Education Building and peacefully marched a quarter of a mile in green "Green Jobs" shirts to the Navajo Nation Council Chambers in Window Rock, AZ. Supporters greeted Council Delegates while filling up the front row seats of the council chambers. Multi-generational supporters sat in to encourage and ensure that their community representatives pass the legislation.

"This is the just the beginning for Indian Countzry. We hope our efforts pave the way for other tribal nations to bring local sustainable green jobs to their communities," said Wahleah Johns, Co-Director of the Black Mesa Water Coalition.

"A green economy is not a new concept to Navajo. There are many green business opportunities that fit perfectly with our culture. We must once again hearken to such processes to truly build our own economy that puts high value on our tradition - old and modern economic pursuits. In this way, we will build a vibrant economy for the future generations while honoring our great ancestors. Today's decision is a critical first step towards making this dream a reality," said Tony Skrelunas, the former Executive D irector of the Navajo Nation's Division of Economic Development and a member of the Coalition.

"The passing of this legislation is monumental because it is a catalyst for economic development on the Navajo Nation with Navajo traditional values & community at it's core," says David Johns of the Dine' Haatali Association Vice-President (Navajo Medicine Men Association).

The enactment of the Navajo Nation Green Economy Commission was introduced and tabled during the Navajo Nation Spring Council Session in April 2009. After three months of additional work, the legislation was brought up as Old Business on the council floor and quickly went to a vote. The 14-month effort ended victoriously with a vote of 62 to 1.

The Navajo Green Jobs Coalition congratulates the Navajo Nation Council in taking this first, important step in securing green jobs for the Navajo people. This legislation will set up the infrastructure needed to capture federal money already earmarked for green job development. What’s more this legislation will focus on small-scale, community development—a form of economic development that empowers local communities and allows folks to work near their homes and communities. This moves the Navajo Nation and the Navajo people one step closer to a green economy. We look forward to the president’s signature on the legislation in the coming weeks.

Nikke Alex (505) 879-7461
Chelsea Chee (928) 637-5592
Fax Number: (928) 213-5905
navajogreenjobs [at] gmail [dot] com

Navajo Council to consider green building bill

— By Alysa Landry, The Daily Times -

21 July 2009

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — The Navajo Nation Council today will consider legislation that would establish a green economy fund.

The bill, backed by the Navajo Green Economy Coalition, is expected to create hundreds of sustainable jobs and revitalize the economy on the 27,000-square-mile reservation.

The vote is expected to come today during the second full day of the council's quarterly session.

The measure comes as hundreds of municipal, state and federal entities nationwide embrace green alternatives, said Wahleah Johns, who helped organize the Navajo Green Economy Coalition. The coalition comprises several nonprofit organizations and private citizens interested in job growth and green living.

"This could be a very historic moment," Johns said of the expected nod of approval from the council. "A lot of state and national legislation has been developed around green jobs, but this would be a first for the Navajo Nation."

A green economy also can help preserve traditional Navajo practices while paving the way for a healthier economy.
"This will help small-scale green projects revitalize sustainable life," Johns said. "For example, there are a lot of sheep on the reservation, and there are ways to use sheep in a gree n fashion. We need to make that more marketable."

Hundreds of jobs also are expected to emerge once the commission begins approving green building projects, Johns said. Such proje cts include weatherization and retrofitting existing buildings.

"A green economy is not a new concept to Navajo," Tony Skrelunas, former director of the Navajo Nation's Division of Economic Development said. "There are many green business opportunities that fit perfectly with our culture."

Today's expected vote marks the second time this legislation has come before the 88-member council. It needs 59 votes to pass.

Council Speaker Lawrence Morgan introduced the bill during the council's spring session in April, but delegates voted to table the measure.

Delegates needed more information, Johns said. Since then, the commission hosted work sessions dedicated to exploring the initiative. The council also instructed the Division of Natural Resources in April to draft an energy policy.

"The science, the technology, the brain power is all here," Enei Begaye, co-director of the Black Mesa Water Coalition, said in a prepared statement.

"What is needed is the Navajo Nation's political will to jump start this process.