SHIPROCK — A proposal to build a new facility here to house law enforcement, tribal courts, prosecutor's office and detention center remains in progress.

An update about the Shiprock Northern Justice Complex was presented to the Law and Order Committee on Monday during a regular meeting at the Shiprock Chapter house.

The judicial and public safety complex is needed since current structures encounter problems with infrastructure and, as a tribal police captain described, have become "inadequate."

The complex is slated for construction on land that held the Boys & Girls Clubs of America in the north section of the community.

Last August, the vacant two-story building was destroyed by fire and was demolished under the direction of the tribe's Risk Management Program.

Delores Greyeyes, director for the Department of Corrections, said risk management issued a primarily report about the fire but her office is waiting for a full report because it would provide details about clean-up work that occurred when the building was razed.

In the meantime, Indigenous Design Studio and Architecture, a Navajo-owned firm in Albuquerque, was hired to complete design work, which is scheduled for completion in March 2019, and advertising for a general contractor will start this month, Greyeyes said.

She added preliminary figures estimate the cost of construction at approximately $45 million and work continues to secure funding for development.

Project stakeholders have toured the recently built justice centers in Crownpoint and in Chinle, Kayenta and Tuba City in Arizona, examined those structures and collected recommendations for design.

"This is always a very exciting process. The type of building and its size will be determined by the budget," Greyeyes said adding the project has been requested for more than 20 years.

Shiprock Chapter President Duane "Chili" Yazzie said chapter officials met with staff for congressional lawmakers and talked to them about securing federal support for the facility.

"We gave them the full scope of the project. …They were very pleased to see that this project is happening," Yazzie said.

Navajo Nation Council Delegate Tom Chee, who represents the Shiprock Chapter, said the justice complex should receive adequate funding.

"The purpose of a government is to provide public safety," Chee said.

Delegate Otto Tso, who serves on the committee, commended efforts to bring the facility to the community and its ongoing development depends on entities working together.

"We have to move forward to complete our build out of public safety facilities," Tso said.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at

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