August 15 became a memorable day for Lena Fowler and the Navajo Nation as she started her term as the first Navajo to be named chairwoman of the Coconino County Board of Supervisors.
Fowler, the District 5 supervisor, along with Matt Ryan, District 3, elected as vice chair, were appointed by fellow supervisors at a board meeting on August 9. They will serve through April 16, 2012.
“Like many other Navajo officials I know, from county supervisors to Navajo Council delegates and presidents, to state senators and representatives, it is an awesome feeling to have come from herding sheep and the dirt floor of the hogan to representing the people in a position of great responsibility,” Fowler said. “I will continue to do my best to be worthy of the people’s trust.”
According to a press release Coconino County is the second largest in the country, next to San Bernardino in California, and one of the most geographically and culturally diverse. The county comprises the Grand Canyon, Glen Canyon National Recreational Area, Sunset Crater, Wupatki National Monument, Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, Lake Powell, the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers, BLM land and four national forests. It is home to six tribes including the Hualapai, Havasupai, Navajo, Hopi, Kaibab-Pauite, and San Juan Southern Paiute, and large ranches.
A rural county with a population of 134,421 people, that is split with about 26,000 people per district; has 13 Navajo chapters and is 27 percent American Indian.
Fowler was also appointed chairwoman of the National Association of Counties Intergovernmental Affairs Subcommittee on County and Tribal Government Relationships. She was the director of the Diné College Office of Continuing Education, has served on the Navajo Nation Water Rights Commission, Coconino Plateau Water Advisory Council, and more.