“This money belongs to all the Navajo residents of San Juan County, and they – not the government – know best how to address their needs,” said Bennett.
“This bill allows the Navajo people to take control over their transportation, health care, and education without having to rely on the state to pass through funds that already belong to them. I am pleased to continue my father’s work on this issue and bring this law into the 21st Century.”
Red Mesa Chapter President Herman Farley, states that this is an “historic opportunity for San Juan Navajos to collectively manage our resources and invest for our children and future generations of our people. It would be foolish to let this opportunity to slip away”.
Since 1933 the state of Utah has managed 37.5 percent of the royalties from oil and gas production within the area known as the Aneth Extension.
This area – approximately 52,000 acres of land north of the San Juan River – was added to the Navajo Reservation to compensate for land that had been taken to establish Lake Powell. The Aneth Extension was the first area on the reservation to produce oil and gas.
In 1933, legislation mandated that 37.5 percent of the royalties from oil and gas production be used for the education of Navajo children, building and maintenance of reservation roads, and other benefits of the Indians living in the Aneth Extension.
In 1968, Senator Wallace F. Bennett amended the law to include all Navajos residing in San Juan County as beneficiaries.
Bennett’s bill would relieve the state of its trustee responsibilities by allowing Congress to appoint the Utah Dineh Corporation as the new trustee for the Utah Navajo Trust Fund.
It will also require the Utah Dineh Corporation to submit annual reports to the secretary of the Interior outlining how the royalties have been used.
If passed, the bill would go into effect March, 2010.