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Navajo Nation considering buying property in Washington, D.C.

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The Navajo Nation may buy property to house the Navajo Nation Washington Office in Washington, D.C.

A bill introduced last week seeks to use approximately $5.1 million from the principal of the Land Acquisition Trust Fund to purchase the parcel at 11 D St. SW in the metropolitan area.

The amount would also pay for any repairs or renovations to the two buildings that occupy the property.

Expenditure of the principal requires 16 votes or more in favor of passage by the Navajo Nation Council, where final authority rests.

The Navajo Nation Washington Office was created in 1984 as an entity of the tribal government to represent the tribe's concerns to federal leaders and agencies in the U.S. capital.

A screenshot from Google Maps shows 11 D St. SW in Washington, D.C. The Navajo Nation is considering buying the parcel.

Among the responsibilities of office personnel are to monitor and analyze federal legislation, disseminate congressional and federal agency information, develop strategies and decisions regarding national policies and budgets that affect the tribe.

Santee Lewis, the office's executive director, recommended the real estate purchase in a June 16 memorandum to Rudy Shebala, executive director of the Division of Natural Resources, and Land Department Manager Mike Halona.

"This property will help fulfill the purpose for which the Navajo Nation Washington Office was created and save money for the Navajo people in the long term," Lewis wrote.

Shebala wrote in a May 7 memorandum that the office has spent more than $3.5 million in rent for office space from November 2003 through December 2019.

The memorandum also states that the office's current monthly rent is approximately $24,691.62 and is adjusted annually depending on market variables including a minimal 3% annual escalation.

"This land acquisition and office building acquisition will provide the Navajo Nation with a suitable facility and alleviate the future expense of paying rent. This is a cost savings to the Navajo Nation," Shebala wrote.

The bill, sponsored by Delegate Wilson Stewart Jr., notes that the office's current location at 750 First St. NE, Suite 940 was "severely damaged" in May by water from a broken tank situated on top of the building.

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

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