Navajo Commission hears reports
by David Boyle
Members of the Navajo Utah Commission received reports on the Manti-La Sal National Forest, the Restoring Ancestral Winds nonprofit, and a discussion on Traditional Food Program by Utah Diné Bikéyah at their latest meeting.
At their April 11 meeting, members of the commissioner received a report from San Juan School District leadership regarding district priorities, as well as the upcoming superintendent transition as Ron Nielson retires with Christy Fitzgerald taking over in the new school year.
Members of the commission also received a report from Restoring Ancestral Winds (RAW) Executive Director Yolanda Francisco. Francisco explained the initiatives and priorities of the Sandy-headquartered nonprofit includes its mission to support healing in Indigenous communities.
The initiatives and priorities include advocating for healthy relationships, educating indigenous communities on issues surrounding stalking, domestic, sexual, dating, and family violence, collaborating with Great Basin community members and stakeholders, and honoring and strengthening traditional values.
At the meeting, Francisco also reported on their efforts to host Navajo Tea Party events throughout Utah chapters to encourage conversations to increase safety and strengthen the movement to end violence against Navajo women and girls.
Francisco also reported about the organization involvement and support of the Navajo Nation-owned Gentle IronHawk Shelter, administered by Utah Navajo Health System.
At their latest meeting, members of the commission also received a report from the Manti-La Sal National Forest on the forest plan revision and tribal consultation.
Among the inputs highlighted are the Navajo Nation emphasis on cultural resource protection in the forest, as well as input regarding seeps and springs as well as content around plant materials and their value to the Navajo Nation and other tribes, as well as fire and fuels management.
The commission also received a report from Utah Diné Bikéyah regarding traditional food programs and a tour of an Oregon farm. The commission discussed the relevance of the report as Utah chapters prepare for implementation of the Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement.
The agreement signed nearly a year ago recognizes a reserved water right of 81,500 acre feet annually for Utah Navajo from the Colorado River basin largely via the San Juan River.
The settlement also includes $210 million from the federal government and $8 million from Utah to build water infrastructure on the Navajo Nation.
At the meeting, Executive Director Clarence Rockwell reported that the office is working to receive an update on the progress on water infrastructure from the Navajo Nation Department of Water Resources, along with the Navajo Nation Council Resource and Development Committee.