Letter to the Editor: Money should benefit the Navajo Nation
Let's look at our trust fund from a business and investment prospective.
In November of 2017 my Cheii, Peterson Zah, pointed out the "wisdom of the Navajo people," in voting "no" in the "Oct. 24 referendum on the Transportation Stimulus Plan." The vote was to take $216 million out of the Permanent Trust Fund for reservation roads.
What was not pointed out was the vote was pointless as the money is not ours and will never be ours because a vote of two-thirds of the Navajo People is needed to take out any part of that money. Which is practically impossible. As a business person and a person of a political position, I have never seen a voter turnout of two-thirds even at the state and federal election level.
Only 19,000 plus people voted in the Nov. 24th referendum election. We have approximately 82,000 registered voters. That means more than 54,000 Navajo people must vote to dip into the Trust Fund. Having that many Navajo people come out to vote has never happened and is highly unlikely to ever happen. In addition, recently over 52,000 voter names have just been purged from the election office for not voting in the Navajo elections.
In reality, unless there are changes in the law, the billions of dollars in the Permanent Trust Fund might be long gone. The Trust Fund and all its billions is not just sitting there in the bank collecting dust waiting for 'tour future generations." Instead it's being used or "invested," by RVK, Inc., one of the biggest investment consulting firms in the United States. And remember a 90 Million plus of the Trust Fund was lost last month when the stock market went down, that means that money will never be recovered.
The Permanent Trust Fund money is being used outside the Navajo Nation, given out to banks who loan out 'tour" money (making money off the principle) to companies who build infrastructure projects like: Skyscrapers, Highways, Transportation, Constructions, mortgage loans, small business loans, shopping centers, auto loans, etc. *Side note: The Navajo Nation banks with Wells Fargo but, ironically, some of our funds were used by Wells Fargo who loaned money to the construction of the South Dakota Keystone Pipeline which the Navajo Nation was against.
The Trust Fund is being used outside the Navajo Nation. While on the Navajo Nation we need basic infrastructure: paved roads, running water, power lines and other tribal services and assistances at the Chapter House level. Not to mention basic economic development projects.
For the 2019 fiscal budget year, the Navajo Nation will have a shortfall of several million dollars because power plants, coal, and oil company revenues will be depleted and will not put enough money into the Navajo Nation government.
If we, as Navajo Nation governmental officials, were serious about the Oct. 24 referendum vote, more information should have been shared. Real, honest, pros and cons of the Permanent Trust Fund.
The Navajo people can make wiser decisions if given better education and information on how our money is being used and "invested" off the Navajo Nation. And why we can't use it, while companies outside the reservation are having a heyday with our money, jumping for joy that our referendum vote in Oct. 24 was defeated so they can continue using our money to benefit the development of their communities outside the Navajo Nation,
David L. John
Farmington/Navajo business person
Mexican Water Chapter Vice President
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