Navajo Nation OKs First Tribal Green Jobs Legislation

Navajo Nation OKs First Tribal Green Jobs Legislation

Two measures passed this week by the Navajo Nation Council establish a commission to promote green jobs and foster a green economy, an initiative that is the broadest of its kind to date, supporters say.

While a number of renewable energy and efficiency programs are under way in Navajo Nation and other tribes, the legislation approved by the council makes "the Navajo the leaders in green job promotion in Indian Country," Joshua Lavar Butler, the spokesman for the Navajo Nation Council’s Office of the Speaker, told GreenBiz.com.

Convening at its headquarters in Window Rock, Ariz., the council approved the Navajo Green Commission Act on Tuesday and passed further legislation Wednesday to set up the Navajo Green Economy Fund. It’ll take the better part of a year and a half to get the commission established, assess needs and priorities for the 110 Navajo communities, which are called chapters, Butler said. Among the first orders of business is to secure funding.

The initiative was more than a year in the making and is the result of efforts by Navajo Council Speaker Lawrence T. Morgan and the Navajo Green Jobs Coalition, Butler said. The legislation now goes to Navajo President Joe Shirley Jr. for final approval.

More jobs and economic opportunities are a welcome prospect for the Navajo.

Estimates of unemployment in the Navajo Nation range from 42 percent to 60 percent in a population of more than 250,000. The Navajo are the largest North American Indian tribe and their reservation spans 27,000 square miles in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

Recent green developments involving other tribes include an LED project by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians of western North Carolina, who chose Philips Lumec to light their downtown and upgrade a 40-year-old system, the lighting company said this week.

In May, the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council accepted the charter of the Oglala Sioux Tribe Renewable Energy Development Authority, enabling the new agency to go forward with renewable energy development on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation In South Dakota.


Navajo Green Jobs Supporters After Council Vote - Images by Joshua Lavar Butler, courtesy of the Navajo Nation Council.