President takes action on council resolutions

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye takes action on three resolutions the tribal council passed last month

Noel Lyn Smith
Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye, right, and Vice President Jonathan Nez present the State of the Nation address to the tribal council on April 18 at the start of the spring session in Window Rock, Ariz.
  • President Begaye vetoed a resolution to fund fence line restoration in the Tiis Tsoh Sikaad Chapter.
  • The president approved a bill to use earned interest from the Permanent Trust Fund over five years.
  • Begaye also cleared the way for Navajo Head Start to get an additional $48K in funding.

FARMINGTON — Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye has vetoed a tribal council resolution that would have provided supplemental funding to restore fence lines within the boundaries of Tiis Tsoh Sikaad Chapter.

The resolution proposed allocating $270,000 in supplemental funding from the Unreserved Undesignated Fund Balance to reconstruct fences between District 13 and Districts 12, 14 and 15. The fences would have been a way to control livestock from crossing district lines.

The Navajo Nation Council approved the bill with the request during the spring session in April.

Begaye vetoed the resolution on Saturday, the same day he also signed two different resolutions into law.

The president signed a five-year expenditure plan to use earned interest from the Permanent Trust Fund. The plan will appropriate $150 million over five years to fund infrastructure development, economic development and agricultural projects.

That marked that first time the tribe approved using the fund's earned interest, according to a press release from the Office of the Speaker.

Begaye signed the resolution at a ceremony in Window Rock, Ariz., according to a press release posted on his office's Facebook page. He was joined by members of the former Navajo Tribal Council, whose legislative action in July 1985 established the Permanent Trust Fund.

In April 1985, the tribe received $217 million from a lawsuit Kerr-McGee Corp. filed against the Navajo tribe. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Kerr-McGee's claims, affirming the tribe's ability to impose taxes on non-tribal entities conducting business on tribal lands.

The Navajo Tribal Council passed a bill to use a portion of the money to establish the Permanent Trust Fund. They also agreed the fund income would not be used for 20 years and developed laws for how the income and principal could be spent.

"The men who put this vision together knew that when 20 years was over, the nation would benefit from the interest of this trust fund," Begaye said in the release.

The president also gave his approval to use approximately $3.6 million from the UUFB as a cash match for a grant awarded to Navajo Head Start by the U.S Department of Health and Human Services.

The federal department awards 80 percent of the cost of a Head Start program and expects the grantee to fund the remaining 20 percent from cash or in-kind donations or services.

Begaye’s signature also cleared the way for Navajo Head Start to receive an additional $48,000 in supplemental funding.

The additional funding will provide $500 to each of the 96 Navajo Head Start centers to purchase caps, gowns and promotional items for graduation ceremonies.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-546-4636.