President Shelly Meets at White House on Violence Against Women, Water, and the Federal Budget

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Contact: Jared King

Navajo Nation Washington Office

Cell (202) 421-9207

Office (202) 682-7390

jking@nnwo.org

 

For Immediate Release

 

President Shelly Meets at White House on Violence Against Women, Water, and the Federal Budget

Addresses Tribal Leaders and Advocates for Projects to Congress

 

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Navajo President Ben Shelly this morning met with a host of government officials at the White House on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization, Land Into Trust, and budgetary matters.  

“The epidemic of violence against Native women is a problem on the Navajo Nation just as it is in other parts of Indian country,” said the president this morning to U.S. Associate Attorney General Thomas Perrelli.  “The Navajo Nation supports the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, the president said.  “It needs stronger tribal components to empower us to deal with the epidemic as an equal and adequately funded partner.”

In the last three years, the Navajo police have responded to 1,389 calls for rapes, 544 sex offenses, and 19,932 calls for domestic violence.  Some 3,945 arrests were made, including 31 non-Native arrests for domestic violence.  The reauthorization of the bill would provide more funding to the Navajo Nation to respond with increased law enforcement and services.

The president also advocated for the Navajo Generating Station, the Arizona Water Settlement, the Utah Water Settlement, and the Navajo-Gallup water pipeline project.

“We are working to keep the Navajo Generating Station open,” President Shelly said to Larry Echo Hawk, the assistant Interior secretary.  “The loss of the power plant will impact both Navajo and Hopi, other Arizona tribes, and the state.”

The Navajo Nation has responded to the rule-making period facilitated by the U.S. EPA with comments which favor pro-growth in maintaining the Navajo Generating Station near Page, Arizona.  The president following his White House meeting, met with the U.S. EPA, with a delegation from the Navajo Nation EPA.

“We need for the administration to lay the foundation for a complete settlement of our water claims on the Colorado river and to ensure water for Window Rock,” the president said to the assistant Interior secretary.  “We are in the final stages of a settlement with Utah for our claims in Utah for the San Juan river.”

Yesterday the White House announced full support for the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project in a statement in which the administration selected 14 national infrastructure projects.  The White House priority places the Navajo Gallup Water Supply project on the list for expedited permitting and environmental review.  The project represents 280 miles of pipeline, replete with 24 pumping plants which will bring water to Navajo Nation communities along U.S. highway 491 from Shiprock to Gallup.  http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/10/11/obama-administration-announces-selection-14-infrastructure-projects-be-e

Congress has funded $24 million for pre-construction and construction activities for the project.  An additional $60 million will be made available for the next three years for construction from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.  The project is part of the Navajo infrastructure build out which will bring thousands of jobs during the construction period expected to take several years.

The Navajo Nation in an unprecedented alliance is a co-participant in Tribal Unity Impact Week with nine other tribes as well as with the National Congress of American Indians.

During a leadership meeting at the Senate Dirksen building yesterday, the president addressed tribal leaders who filled the hearing room to capacity.

“Be united as one,” President Shelly said as he spoke to tribal leaders.  “I’m talking about uniting right now.  We’re not on the same page.  We need to get serious,” he said.  “We are going to build a United Nation of Indians,” the president said.  “Our business people can use the new buildings,” the president said, referring to a proposed twin office towers planned for Window Rock costing some $45 million.  “If you want to work with us,” he told tribal leaders, “that’s where we’re going to be.”

The president spoke on sovereignty and the needed changes to federal laws and policies to reduce bureaucratic ‘red tape’ to allow tribes to develop their resources, take control of land, and expand business opportunities.  The president encouraged tribal leaders to take control of areas currently overseen by the FCC, the FAA, and the U.S. EPA.

“That’s the way to go,” he said.  “We can’t sit here everyday and say trust responsibility,” as he drew applause from the group.

The president has been speaking this year on sovereignty and self-sufficiency as part of his vision of economic prosperity, a central theme to his priorities for growth.

The president met with Congressman Ben Ray Lujan, NM-D-3, Congressman Raul Grijalva, AZ-D-7, and Senators Tom Udall, D-NM, John McCain, R-AZ, and Jon Kyl, R-AZ.  The president addressed concerns on funding for the Navajo Housing Authority, transportation, Navajo Abandoned Mines Lands fund, the Arizona Water Settlement, Headstart, Utah Navajo Trust Fund, and uranium clean up on Navajo land.  The president spoke to protecting federal programs and funding in the federal budget crisis.  Tribal programs have historically been under-funded.  “Reducing funding for tribes would cruelly punish a vulnerable segment of the U.S. population,” the president said.

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