Guest Column: Navajo needs to create new pathways to capture and keep nation’s best, brightest
By Amber Kanazbah Crotty
23rd Navajo Nation Council
This month our nation celebrates the accomplishments of our graduates and students promoting to the next grade. As a leader, I wonder what pathways has the Navajo Nation created to capture our nation’s best and brightest?
The reality is current Navajo Nation laws and policies prevent a majority of talented Navajos to return home to help our people. For years, Navajo college graduates have applied for Navajo Nation jobs in their field only to be sent a notice that they “do not meet the minimum qualifications” or “over qualified.” Navajo Nation employment laws have been changed but applicants continue to be rejected creating a “Navajo Brain Drain.”
The Navajo Brain Drain is when educated or skilled Navajos depart the nation in order to obtain better wages or working conditions, or other more promising opportunities unavailable at home. How can we stop this?
First, we need to recognize the Navajo Nation government currently is inefficient and bloated with bureaucracy. Second, the layers of jurisdictions and red tape strangle the non-profit and business sectors. If the Navajo Nation creates pathways for development, rather than over-regulating, we can nurture innovation and opportunities.
As a nation, we pray every Navajo child realizes their passion and talents. How can we assure our children are supported? Create a Navajo Nation Youth Education Endowment Trust Fund.
In 2014, the Navajo Nation Council formally accepted the Mismanagement of Tribal Trust Fund Assets Settlement (now Sihasin Fund) of $554 million. The Office of the Speaker conducted a total of seven public hearings to gain input and recommendations as to how the settlement award should be used and/or invested to best serve the needs of the Navajo Nation. The Navajo Nation people overwhelming requested allocations in the area of capital improvement, infrastructure/roads, education and human services.
At the very least, we can invest just over $112 million to establish the Navajo Nation Youth Education Enrichment Trust Fund to provide a secure source of funding for education and enrichment activities. Let’s support our children and Navajo owned enterprises can take out loans to cover their deficits.