Benally stresses need for career tracks
By Terry Bowman
WINDOW ROCK, July 3, 2014
"This leadership of ours doesn't really understand the economic conditions that are necessary to create careers, not just jobs," Benally said, in a phone interview with the Times, "but careers for our people."
Benally's idea for restructuring the Navajo Nation government financially and technologically involves helping the Navajo Nation provide an honest and fresh change following the 2014 election.
Benally said if he is elected his first plan consists of doing a series of internal management evaluations for all the departments and divisions that make up the executive branch.
He is looking for two things: wasteful spending and barriers to collaboration and co-management.
Benally said he wants to address things that need attention immediately within the executive branch.
"The whole idea is to find those gaps of government service and to find what is hindering the efficient government services to those who need it the most," Benally said.
While he evaluated spending Benally noticed that the management practices being used in programs, departments and divisions across the nation are outdated.
Benally said he plans to update how the tribe manages its funds and businesses because he wants to create a new infrastructure that would create new careers, improve education, economy, water, electricity and technological advances on the reservation.
The management world has moved on and new strategies have been developed, Benally said, adding that the innovation for modern day management practices is needed on the reservation but unfortunately the Navajo Nation hasn't caught up with the times.
"The Navajo Nation has to understand the importance of technology, we have yet to harness its power," Benally said.
He believes that technology itself is power and to jumpstart the Navajo Nation into the 21st century it needs to take advantage of technology.
"Technology is the stepping stone itself," Benally said and technological advances on the Navajo Nation could result in advances in land development and public policy procedures on the reservation.
Asked if the Navajo Nation is currently thinking this way, Benally replied, "My guess is probably not."
Benally is originally from Sweetwater, Ariz., is Naashaashi (Tewa Clan), born for Bit'ahnii (Within-His-Cover People Clan). He was the secretary-treasurer to ToLikan Chapter.
He went to high school in Shiprock and after graduating he enrolled at Stanford University to pursue his bachelor's degree.
Upon graduation from Stanford, he returned home to the Navajo Nation only to find that there were no jobs available for him -- even with a college degree.
"It even came to a point where I applied at McDonald's and they wouldn't even hire me," said Benally.
After being turned down for most of the jobs he had applied for, including at McDonald's, Benally thought that the best thing to do was to continue his education.
So he enrolled at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, where he earned his master's degree in public economics and social policy. It was through that degree that Benally said he developed an interest in Navajo policy.
Benally said after he earned his master's degree he began his career working for the Diné Policy Institute before moving on the Navajo Tax Commission. Those job experiences lend him to pursue his Ph.D.
Now Benally is a professor at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., teaching public policy.
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