Etta Arviso is one of the Diné – or, Navajo – women who I met last year in Counselor, New Mexico. She is an “allottee,” which means her family lives on land adjacent to the Navajo reservation that is held in trust by the United States government.
In this audio clip, she introduces herself, talks about the history of her homeland and people, and voices her opposition to increased oil and gas development on the checkerboard lands of the eastern Navajo Nation.
On Thursday night, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management hosted a crowded—and sometimes heated—public meeting in Santa Fe. Currently, the agency is considering a pipeline that would carry crude oil from northwestern New Mexico to rail lines along Interstate 40.
As it’s currently proposed, the 140-mile long pipeline would run across federal, private, state and Navajo Nation lands. After local residents and activists complained, the agency agreed to extend the public comment period and hold three additional meetings.
Sarah Jane White’s walking to the top of a sandy hill near the eastern edge of the Navajo reservation. Along the way, she points to footprints in the sand. Her 4-year-old grandson, Albino, crouches to look. She shows him the prints of a horse, then a cow. Each time, he’s delighted.
It’s sunny and warm, though just a few days before the official start of winter. We walk past juniper trees, an old sweat lodge. Albino powers across the sandstone arroyo and on up the hill. The sky’s a deep blue. And depending on the breeze, the air smells like either sage or pine.
Residents of the Navajo Nation will now be paying more for junk food. Last week Navajo President Ben Shelly signed the Healthy Dine' Nation Act into law, adding a tax on unhealthy food sold anywhere on Navajo land. Deswood Tome is Special Advisor to President Shelly. He spoke to KUNM about the law's implications.
"The law imposes a tax on junk food as a deterrent, so when people go to the store they'll make a conscious decision to buy nutritious food," Tome said.
Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly has signed an executive order aimed at improving 911 service and emergency communications across the reservation.
The order calls for collaboration between various tribal departments and private communication providers.
Shelly says no one should have to worry about their call going unanswered.
Tribal officials say the need to improve the existing communications system is evident. According to tribal statistics, 60 percent of homes on the Navajo Nation lack telephone lines and just over half of the reservation has wireless coverage.
Navajo President Ben Shelley has declared a state of emergency for drought conditions on the Navajo Nation. Officials are concerned ongoing drought may be creating unsafe conditions for people who need drinkable water.
With drought affecting much of the southwest, the Navajo Nation is working to bring water to it's citizens with the tribal government recently approving over $8-million dollars for water infrastructure projects. The Navajo Nation is roughly the size of West Virginia, has a population of around 170,000 people, and much of the Nations citizens are in need of water.
The New Mexico Court of Appeals has allowed the Navajo Nation jurisdiction over the Fort Wingate Indian School just east of Gallup, giving the Nation criminal jurisdiction over tribal members on the Fort Wingate site.
In 1999 a juvenile member of the Navajo Nation was charged with battery at the Fort Wingate High School, and McKinley County attempted to prosecute. The child in question claimed the county had no jurisdiction because Fort Wingate is “Indian Country.” This week, the New Mexico Court of Appeals agreed.
The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority says it's in the final phases of unveiling high-speed broadband and wireless services for the majority of the Navajo Nation. The project would bring telecommunications services to the nations largest reservation straddling Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico.
A few companies have offered broadband accessibility to parts of the Navajo Nation in the past, however, historically, the Nation has dealt with little to no telecommunications access.
A Gaming compact between the Navajo Nation and the State of New Mexico failed to receive a vote by the state legislature before the end of session. With no agreement in place between the Nation and the State, the Navajo gaming industry could now be at risk, as well as nearly a thousand jobs.
The current Navajo Nation Gaming Compact is set to expire in 2015. However, with the states next legislative session focused only on budget matters, tribal officials say there will be no chance for the bill to be heard next year, leading to an expiration of the agreement.
Navajo lawmakers have rejected a settlement that recognizes the tribe's rights to water from the Little Colorado River basin.
The Tribal Council voted 15-6 against the settlement Thursday during a special session in Window Rock.
U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl had introduced legislation to approve the settlement, but it needed the blessing of the Navajo and Hopi tribes to move forward. Kyl has said the settlement would address water needs on the reservations and provide certainty of the water supply for off-reservation communities.