Here at Resources and Development Committee where Navajo Department of Agriculture Director Leo Watchman reporting on proposed Range Land Management Act.
RDC COMMITTEE MEMBER LEONARD TSOSIE
There are issues regarding Feral Horses and there appears to be a meeting in Crownpoint, NM, to once again attack the Council over the Range Land Management Act. Does the Agriculture Department allow its employees to be part of such gatherings?
And there are individuals claiming that Range Land Management Act and feral horse roundup is anti-Dine Fundamental Law. I disagree!
RDC CHAIRPERSON ROSCOE SMITH
Thank you for your presentation in Phoenix. But in ur report on foundation of Grazing Act, the foundation is from federal government. So this proposed Range Land Management Act is opportunity for Navajo people to create its own document. Are we ready to give this to people? Do we need another 15 years? Or are we ready to take on that challenge? This documents deals with sovereignty, legal concepts based on Navajo courts. Old Grazing Act is based on federal laws and federal interpretations. I have no questions, just comment.
And this Range Land Management Act will be presented April 19?
We are working on Act and Department of Justice is still working on it and we have include the concerns of Naabik’iyati. But we want to complete Act as soon as possible. And the public comment period is still open.
When did we meet with Grazing Officials in Many Farms? Their biggest concern was over-grazing land and we invited Bureau of Indian Affairs where report made about “devastating” condition of land. Also meeting at Fire Rock was standing room only and we allowed everyone to speak. There was a huge array of concerns. But at end of day, comments finalized and six areas: people kept saying that laws fine but problem is enforcement, we don’t have proper or adequate enforcement. So who are enforcers of our laws? We pointed to Grazing Officials. Solution: make grazing officials full time employees and gave that to DOJ, which would also eliminate conflict of interest. Watchman did analysis and there are 108 grazing officials and he can court five that are actually enforcing laws, doing tally counts. Watchman also reported that making full time employees was asked of 108 and 60 percent said no cuz they have full time employment. 85 percent said it wud jeopardize retirement requirement that cud only work part time.
Second Problem heard over and over was Land Locking, which means that Grazing Permittee blocking construction of homes, businesses until approval by Permittees. You heard from young adults in tears that they hear that elected officials ask why they don’t return and they said it was becuase no place to live. They asked for majority approval of permittee and not all to approve.
BRANDING OFFICE came from department of agriculture.
PROBATE: as navajo pple we don’t plan for death, the inevitable so they let their remaining family members decide who gets grazing permit and then there are family disputes over grazing permit. so RDC asked how to resolve or prevent such conflicts. One solution was identify co-permit holder. Had gud discussion on how works: how get permit, permit for designated area but also that those issues/concerns not about Dine’ Fundamental Law.
And remember that greatest opposition is from grazing officials.