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Area Briefs | Fort McCowell-Yavapai Nation celebrates 30th Sovereignty Day


The Fort McDowell-Yavapai Nation celebrated its 30th Sovereignty Day May 12, which commemorates the standoff with federal agents that paved the way for Indian gaming in the state.

Following a posting of the colors, veterans will lead a four-mile march starting at 7:15 a.m. from the Fort McDowell Recreation Center to the We-Ko-Pa Casino Resort.

This will emulate the 1992 protest march from Fort McDowell Casino to the Arizona State Capitol.

The walk will be followed by a program, luncheon and entertainment at the old Fort McDowell Bingo Hall.

Thirty years ago, 25 to 50 federal agents and U.S. marshals raided the Fort McDowell Gaming Center.

Before they could leave with the 349 slot machines they had confiscated, more than 100 tribal members, residents, casino employees and casino guests blockaded the only road out.

The subsequent three-week, non-violent standoff culminated in the state signing compacts with Arizona tribes – paving the way for Indian gaming throughout the state.

Bernadine Burnette, president of the Nation, said, “At this time every year, we honor our parents, grandparents, friends and other tribal members who so bravely – and peacefully – deterred the efforts of government officials to attack our tribal sovereignty and self-determination.”

The Fort McDowell-Yavapai Nation is an 889-member tribe that calls central Arizona’s upper Sonoran Desert home.

The 40-square mile reservation is a small part of the ancestral territory of the once nomadic Yavapai people.

Agreement for water & wastewater projects

FORT DEFIANCE – The Navajo Nation, Navajo Tribal Utility Authority and U.S. Indian Health Service have signed a memorandum of agreement that will allow NTUA to start construction of community water supply and waste disposal facilities for the Navajo people.

This collaboration will increase water access and improve waste disposal services for an estimated 11,684 Navajo homes.

The IHS received a historic investment of more than $9 billion in COVID-19 funding to provide resources to fix long-standing health inequities faced by American Indians and Alaska Natives.

A portion of the funding will support cooperative development and construction of safe water and wastewater facilities.

Ten projects on the Navajo Nation, totaling over $19 million, were funded from the IHS American Rescue Plan Act ARPA allocation through the MOA signed on March 14, 2022. These projects will be managed by NTUA.

“This agreement will help to address some of the pressing water and wastewater needs of the Navajo Nation,” said NTUA General Manager Walter Haase. “As pointed out by IHS, the vast inequity was very apparent when the pandemic hit the Navajo Nation.”

Projects that are part of the MOA include expanding water well capacity in Fort Defiance, Hunter’s Point, Rock Point, and Sawmill.

Other projects include rehabilitating portions of the Window Rock/St. Michaels sewer collection lines and a partial financial contribution to the new Shiprock wastewater treatment plant, currently under design.

“We have made significant achievements such as partnering with the Navajo Nation, the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority and other organizations on projects to support the installation of 59 transitional water points on the Navajo Nation,” said Navajo area IHS Public Information Officer Genevieve Notah.

“These efforts have increased water access for over 9,600 homes without piped water,” she said.

The MOA also allows for the construction of regional septage receiving stations in Chinle, Kayenta and Window Rock. These facilities are designated for waste disposal from residential septic systems.

“Septage waste is very concentrated and should not be deposited directly into a typical wastewater lagoon or treatment system,” said NTUA Deputy General Manager Rex Kontz.

He said currently NTUA wastewater treatment facilities cannot accommodate the disposal of septic waste so it must be put into a pretreatment system before it can be processed. These additions to the wastewater plants are for that technical purpose.

The designs for these MOA projects are expected to be completed by the end of 2023 with construction to follow and be completed within the next four to five years.

Bashas’ celebrates Navajo Police Officer’s Day with free treats

CHANDLER, Ariz. – On Friday, May 13, Navajo Police officers can enjoy free pumpkin cookies, donuts, and 12-ounce coffees or 24-ounce soft drinks at Bashas’ Diné Markets’ nine stores in the Navajo Nation.

This is in honor of Navajo Police Officer’s Day.

Officers will need to visit the store in person, either wearing a uniform or presenting their badge. Each officer is limited to one cookie and/or donut and one coffee or soft drink.

Each Starbucks inside the Window Rock, Tuba City, and Kayenta stores will also offer the freebies.

“Navajo Police Officer’s Day is a time to recognize law enforcement officers across the Navajo Nation who have dedicated their lives to protecting and serving the community,” Bashas’ stated.

“Keenly aware of the sacrifices they make and challenges they face every day,” the statement continues, “Bashas’ Diné Markets are steadfast supporters of the Navajo Nation law enforcement community.”

Bashas’ stores in Chinle, Dilkon, Kayenta, Piñon, Tuba City, Window Rock, Crownpoint, Sanders, and Shiprock are participating from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Prez candidate Branch welcomes missing, murdered tribunal attendees to 2nd day of meetings

WINDOW ROCK – On Friday, May 6, presidential candidate Ethel Branch gave the welcome address for the second day of the Navajo Nation Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women & Relatives Tribunal.

The tribunal provided testimony and stories from victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, which will be presented to legislators to help guide policy decisions and program funding.

“The stories that our people have are important and they need to be heard,” Branch said. “We’ve repeatedly shared these stories of pain and we need to see meaningful change come from this.”

Branch, a former Navajo Nation attorney general, said she was wearing purple in remembrance of Ashlynn Mike, a nine-year-old Navajo girl who was sexually assaulted and murdered in May 2016.

The results of the investigation into Mike’s case highlighted inadequacies in the public safety system where emergency response and Amber Alert systems failed to protect her.

Branch said issues in the Navajo public safety and judicial systems need to be corrected for efficient apprehension and prosecution of dangerous and violent criminals.

Branch also called for increased detox and rehabilitation facilities to confront alcohol use, which underscores much of the crime taking place on the Nation.

“The top four crimes that our police officers respond to can all be traced back to alcohol,” she said. “It’s vital that we take this on and stop it.”

Branch said domestic violence affects four out of five Native American women, which is three times the national average.

“Probably every woman who comes up here today will tell you that these issues have touched their lives,” she said. “We need commitment to solve these problems and to provide for a better and brighter future for our people.”

Branch closed by saying that hopefully these stories of truth will reach the hearts of lawmakers and legislators who will be inspired to invest in the critical infrastructure and capacity that is needed to tackle the challenges that our tribal communities face every day.


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Dewpoint: 17.1 F (-8.3 C)
Humidity: 23%
Wind: South at 5.8 MPH (5 KT)
Pressure: 30.10

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