The Navajo Nation Council made history during its 21st Summer Session July 20-24 by passing groundbreaking green jobs legislation. The Council voted 62-1 to establish a Navajo Green Economy Commission, a five-person commission that will seek funding and oversee the approval of small-scale green projects such as wool mills, farmers markets and home weatherization. The Council also voted to create a Navajo Green Economy Fund, which creates an account for receiving federal, state, local, and private funds to make these green projects possible.
Over forty supporters of the legislation, many of them in their late teens and twenties, gathered in Window Rock to urge the Council to pass the two bills. Wearing green t-shirts and waving green flags, the supporters marched into Council session on Tuesday, July 21, to make their presence known and to demand Council delegates’ attention. As passage of the legislation became evident, the supporters stood and cheered enthusiastically.
At a press conference following the vote, Delegate Jonathan Nez remarked on the power the young supporters had in making this effort possible. “Your legislation shows that grassroots people can persuade their lawmakers. I see a lot of young people getting involved in their government here; it’s a component that’s missing from the Navajo Nation government.”
The Navajo Green Economy Coalition worked with Navajo Nation Speaker Lawrence T. Morgan, chief sponsor of the legislation, for over a year to secure delegates’ support and educate members of the community about the importance of promoting green jobs on the Navajo Nation. After the legislation was tabled in April during the Council’s Spring Session, members of the Coalition worked with the Speaker’s legislative staff and other delegate sponsors to clarify the intent of the legislation and spread the word about the vast opportunities that would become available once the Commission and Fund are established.
In the spring of 2008, Diné Binaanish Yá’át’éehgo Nooséél (Navajo Green Jobs), formerly Navajo Green Economy Coalition was formed to organize a Green Jobs Initiative for the Navajo Nation. The Coalition is made up of Navajo citizens and supporters who want to help transition and diversify the Navajo economy to one that is long lasting, sustainable, and healthy. We are Navajo mothers, fathers, students, community members, veterans and grandparents. In addition, Navajo Green Jobs consists of several organizations throughout the Navajo Nation including but not limited to the following: the Speaker of the 21st Navajo Nation Council, Black Mesa Water Coalition, Sierra Club, New Energy Economy NM, Grand Canyon Trust, New Mexico Youth Organized, Dine Policy and Institute and Dine C.A.R.E.