DINEH CHAMBER OF COMMERCE URGES NAVAJO LEADERSHIP TO ENFORCE NAVAJO PREFERENCE LAWS AND BUY-NAVAJO POLICIES IN THE EXPEDITURE OF $600MM DESPITE STATEMENTS THAT NAVAJO CARES ACT PROJECTS ARE TOO BIG FOR NAVAJO BUSINESSES
NAVAJO MOUNTAIN, Utah – Officers of the Dineh Chamber of Commerce urge Navajo Nation Leadership to legislate policy that mandates use of Priority 1 and Priority 2 registered Navajo Businesses for the expenditure of the $600 million the Navajo Nation received from the United State CARES Act.
This would ensure that current Navajo laws for Navajo preference in contracting is complied with and enforced. In addition, the Chamber further supports and urges Navajo leadership to legislate that a minimum of 25% of the $600 million in purchase orders and construction contracts go through qualified Navajo businesses.
“Our over 2,000 plus Navajo owned businesses stand ready, are qualified, are capable and have the capacity of delivering products and construction services, like water lines, for the Navajo people to combat the Covid-19” says Jeff Begay, Chairman of the Dineh Chamber of Commerce Board.
The Dineh Chamber was excited to hear that the Buy-Navajo Policy and use of Navajo owned business language was included Navajo Nation Council’s CMY-44-20 legislation but unfortunately the bill was vetoed by President Nez. This is unfortunate since the Chamber has been in full support of this Administration’s stated promotion of the laws and policy of “BUY-NAVAJO.” Nonetheless, the Chamber remains hopeful since a second Navajo CARES bill, no. 116-20, is going through the Council’s legislative process.
But on Tuesday, June 2, 2020 in deliberation of 116-20 by the Budget and Finance Committee, Navajo Nation President stated the Navajo Nation “should not tie its hands“ by mandating use of Navajo owned businesses in the $600 million expenditures – even though that is the current law of the Navajo Nation. Nez further said “our Navajo businesses don’t have the equipment and manpower to complete the work” as the B&F Committee deliberated the ‘Buy/Use Navajo” amendment.
In more Budget & Finance Committee deliberation, it was commented that “these projects are too big our us” – too big for Navajo owned businesses.
The 116-20 amendment to add “Buy/Use Navajo” language in the $600 million legislation was not approved. 116-20 was approved by the Budget & Finance Committee and next goes to the Naa’bik’iyati’ Committee which has not been scheduled.
We are not saying you must give business to Navajo business, just because they are Navajo. What we are saying is to give qualified Navajo business first priority in contracting – just as the current laws mandate. For too long, these laws have been ignored and not enforced. Especially in this time of the virus pandemic when many Navajo business have been closed; we need our leadership to make sure Navajo business are utilized.
The Chamber is deeply disappointed with President Nez not supporting and the Budget & Finance Committee for not voting for “Buy Navajo-Use Navajo” provisions in the Navajo CARES Act legislation. If our Navajo Nation government does not consider Navajo owned businesses for the $600 million, the Navajo Nation will continue to dismiss and ignore Navajo business. The Navajo Nation has received billions of dollars and most of that was spent off the Navajo reservation. This cycle continues and makes our Nation further dependent on the non-Navajo businesses. It further stifles our Nation building efforts and self-reliance and ignores Navajo teachings to be self-sufficient.
“The CARES $600 million can change and improve the Navajo economy by buying and using Navajo owed business. The Navajo Nation and its Enterprise need to lead this effort. Also, our Navajo owned businesses have equipment, have manpower, have the capacity, and most importantly create Navajo jobs and they spend their money locally near our Chapters. Using non-Navajo businesses will only see the $600 million spent off the Navajo Nation.
This is not economic development” Chairman Begay further states. Dineh Chamber of Commerce (DCC). Established in 2013 as a non-profit organization under the laws of the Navajo Nation, the Dineh Chamber of Commerce represents the interest of its members who own and operate businesses on or near the Navajo Nation. DCC advocates for and assists Navajo-owned businesses and organizations by collaborating and partnering with businesses, organizations, and government that promote economic development and diversity in commerce on the Navajo Nation by creating opportunity, success and to sustain ííná (life), sih’haasin (self-sufficiency) and ke’ (family).
The Dineh Chamber of Commerce includes members from business diverse organizations, tribal entities and individuals interested in entrepreneurship and small business success and development. DCC’s work enables growth in the private sector economy on the Navajo Nation, providing much-needed jobs for the Dine’ people as well as goods and services for the larger community. We build the community that helps inform and create the policies, laws, regulations, and opportunities that enable a successful business climate on the Navajo Nation.
Acting Executive Director