Thursday, June 1, 2023

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80 years later, federal government still not fully funding NIIP

80 years later, federal government still not fully funding NIIP


Things are going pretty good for people running the Navajo Agricultural Products Industries.

Profits – in the millions – have been steady for the past several years, new state-of-the-art computer equipment has made it a lot easier to track what’s going on out in the fields and the tribal enterprise is seeing only positive feedback for the efforts it is doing to make the enterprise successful.

However, there is one area that concerns not only officials for the enterprise but officials for the Navajo Nation as well – when will the federal government follow through with promises made in the early 1970s to complete the project?

Just last week, Speaker of the Council LoRenzo Bates (Nenahnezad, Newcomb, San Juan, Tiis Tsoh Sikaad, Tse’Daa’Kaan, Upper Fruitland) told Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn that the Navajo Nation continues to lose revenue each year due to lack of funding to complete the Navajo Indian Irrigation Project.

“The Nation’s position is that we want NIIP completed as soon as possible,” said Bates.

Actually, tribal leaders have been saying that for more than 30 years as the amount of federal dollars provided for the project seem to decrease almost on an annual basis.

The project goes back to the early 1930s when federal government officials decided to take steps to reduce the dependence of tribal members on ranching and bring back the idea of farming as a way to bring economic growth to the Navajo people.

The proposal from the very beginning was to take water from the Navajo Lake near Farmington and transport it by pipeline to an area south of Farmington where the tribe could set up a huge farming complex that would not only create hundreds and maybe even thousands of jobs while proving the tribe millions of dollars officials could use to bring services to the Navajo people.

Approved by Congress in 1964, actual construction for the project began about 1972 with plans by the federal government to provide irrigation to some 110,000 acres of land in San Juan County no later than 1985.

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About The Author

Bill Donovan

Bill Donovan wrote about Navajo Nation government and its people since 1971. He joined Navajo Times in 1976, and retired from full-time reporting in 2018 to move to Torrance, Calif., to be near his kids. He continued to write for the Times until his passing in August 2022.


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