Member of Navajo Nation to direct Utah Division of Indian Affairs
FARMINGTON — A member of the Navajo Nation has been appointed as the new director for the Utah Division of Indian Affairs.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert named Dustin Jansen to the position on Jan. 31, according to a press release from the governor's office.
Among the director's responsibilities is to serve as a liaison between the eight federally recognized tribes in Utah, the governor, state legislators, local governments and federal and state agencies.
"Dustin Jansen's background, expertise and dedication have prepared him to serve with great effectiveness in this new capacity. I look forward to working with him," Herbert said in the announcement by his office.
Jansen has been an assistant professor at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah since 2015, where he taught American Indian Studies and Political Science.
He is a licensed attorney in New Mexico and the Navajo Nation. He was an attorney for the Office of Legislative Counsel and in the water rights unit at the Navajo Nation Department of Justice.
In the governor's office press release, Jansen said he was grateful and humbled to have been asked to serve.
"It is my hope that I can open up effective communication and consultation between the Indigenous nations of Utah and the state," he said.
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez congratulated Jansen in a Feb. 3 press release from his office.
"We look forward to working together with his office and other tribes to advocate for stronger partnerships at the state level to improve roads, education, health and many other issues that are important for many tribes," Nez said.
Former director Shirlee Silversmith retired last October. Jansen will start his service on Feb. 8.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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