Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly joined tribal delegations from the Pueblo of Laguna, Cochiti Pueblo, Southern Ute Indian Tribe, the Pueblo of Zuni, who made up part of the 40 people that attended the Southwest Tribal Rural Council Roundtable on July 19.
Shelly presented ways the United States Department of Agriculture could help the Navajo Nation as members of the USDA were also in attendance of the event hosted by the White House Rural Council according to a Navajo Nation press release.
The release stated that Shelly’s outline included “a need for a conservationist assigned to the Navajo Nation from the USDA, updated about drought conditions on the Navajo Nation, and the need for match funding from the USDA.”
“A Navajo liaison service area would provide services to the Navajo Nation as a whole rather than as three entities in three states to assure unity in provision of services,” President Shelly said during the meeting.
The Navajo Nation, the largest tribal area in Indian country, spans the states of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.
June Roxie, senior programmer with Navajo Nation Department of Agriculture, said the Navajo Nation has about 17 million acres with more than 16 million grazing and farming acres and that drought and livestock overpopulation hinder people’s ability to make use of the farming and grazing lands.
“These factors create a vicious cycle, which requires active land management through conservation and increased water development,” Roxie said.
Shelly who toured Navajo Agriculture Products Industries July 20 with USDA Senior Advisor for Tribal Affairs Janie Hipp feels provisions should be established individual needs like the Navajo Nation – matching the priorities that have been established.