Navajo President Shelly Calls the Sequester an Opportunity for Indian Nations


Indian country, just like the rest of the country, is looking at the sequester as a thorn in its side, however Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly sees the sequester as an opportunity as well.

On June 11, Shelly gave opening remarks at a tribal leaders round table discussion at the Developing Tribal Energy Resources and Economics Conference where he pointed out that this is an opportunity for American Indian nations to reduce federal red tape. Especially as tribal nations depend on federal funding according to a Navajo Nation press release.

“We’re part of the deficit. Give me the power to become more energy independent,” Shelly said. “We have the opportunity to shoot a big buck.”

The conference featured tribal leaders from throughout the country that addressed topics that included protecting tribal culture while developing energy; gaining more young people involved with government; and other tribal economic issues.

“I think that people need to bring productive solutions is really key,” Tex Hall, chairman of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikira, said.

Shelly said policy change and allowing younger professionals a chance are key to getting younger people involved in government and policy issues.

“Tribal leaders need to look at their tribal policies,” Shelly said.

Using the Navajo Nation as an example Shelly discussed how some Navajo college graduates aren’t qualified for positions at the Nation due to existing policies. He also said these policies are being looked at but that change is difficult.

“We are trying to amend it. It’s tough. It’s like trying to pull out an old tree with a lot of old roots,” Shelly said.

Shelly also commented on giving young people an opportunity to get into government. He said some need to step aside to let the young come up.

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