Tuesday, January 31, 2023
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Letters: Time for tribe to take back NTEC

It is always about the money. The Navajo people had high hopes for owning their own coalmine. The people thought their communities would flourish from the profits of the Navajo coalmine.

The legislation to make Navajo Transitional Energy Company do that was put in place. Instead, a crew of non-Navajos saw the opportunity and seized it.

The profits of the Navajo coalmine now all sail up to Wyoming, Montana, and Broomfield, Colorado. As the NTEC executives sit in their multi-million dollar building in Colorado, the Navajo people and communities watch hopelessly once again from afar.

This isn’t the first time non-Navajo executives have taken advantage of Navajo peoples’ money. It won’t be the last either. The Navajo Nation has to take some strong steps to correct a serious wrong. It begins with establishing an independent audit issued by the Navajo Nation. The tribe has to know where the money (profits) is being spent.

Estimated profits are at $35- to $40 million per year. The tribe must start with basic information like looking at executive salaries, travel, board stipends, consultant fees, bonuses, etc., all the things NTEC executives have been able to keep away from the Navajo Nation leadership’s eyes. Next, the tribe must make some basic amendments to the legislation that created NTEC, starting with amending how the board of directors is selected.

A new board will allow the board to truly examine the CEO and his practices. Next, DOJ needs to provide a venue for people to testify on the record of what they have seen or see.

That is how you get to the truth. There are many professionals out there that can manage NTEC. The first few years of NTEC’s creation had an all-Navajo board and all-Navajo management team. The tribe has to think about the people. It’s their money from their land, which includes the coal.

Why should non-Navajo communities in Wyoming and Montana enjoy the profits of Navajo money? For over 50 years, the Navajo people saw non-Navajos get rich off of the tribe’s resources. We cannot and should not go another 10 years like this. The Navajo people deserve better. It’s time for the tribe to take back its company.

Lastly, the tribe has to establish an independent commission with authority to make sure the practices of NTEC are in the best interest of the Navajo people.

Tommy R. Begay
Shiprock, N.M.


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