Navajo Nation Council Members Seek to Bridge Telecommunication Gaps for Public Safety on the Navajo Nation

Council Delegate Kee Allen Begay, Jr. speaking at the FirstNet leadership meeting at Twin Arrows Navajo
Casino Resort on July 25, 2017.

Published July 31, 2017

LEUPP, ARIZONA – 23rd Navajo Nation Council members met with the First Responder Network Authority, or FirstNet, on Tuesday to discuss the expansion and improvement of telecommunication networks on the Navajo Nation, specifically relating to public safety.

FirstNet was established in 2012 by the U.S. Congress in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, in which the system was designed to deliver a nationwide broadband network dedicated to public safety, to strength­en public safety users’ communications capabilities enabling them to respond more quickly and effectively to accidents, disasters, and emergencies.

Law and Order Committee member Council Delegate Kee Allen Begay, Jr. (Low Mountain, Many Farms, Nazlini, Tachee/Blue Gap, Tselani/Cottonwood) and the Office of the Speaker coordinated the leadership meeting, and said the purpose of the discussion is to seek cooperation and collaboration between the Navajo Nation and surrounding communities, counties, and neighboring tribes.

“Understanding that the state’s governors are the final authority in considering to opt into the FirstNet system, I implore the governors to prioritize the Navajo Nation and surrounding rural communities,” said Delegate Begay. “I also want to encourage my colleagues to be fully aware of what FirstNet can do for the Navajo Nation, it’s so important that we take advantage of this program.”

Delegate Begay added that it was important for all entities to continue maintaining partnerships to coordinate an effective public safety telecommunication system. He also thanked the county officials and law enforcement, city mayors, and other neighboring tribes for attending the leadership meeting.

FirstNet is led by a board composed of individuals from the public safety community, federal, state, and local governments, as well as technology, finance, and wireless sectors. FirstNet has a staff of about 200 employees with expertise in public safety, telecommunications, customer service, technology, procurement, and other areas needed to develop the network.

In an address at the FirstNet leadership meeting, Speaker of the 23rd Navajo Nation Council LoRenzo Bates (Nenahnezad, Newcomb, San Juan, T’iis Tsoh Sikaad, Tse’Daa’Kaan, Upper Fruitland) expressed appreciation to FirstNet for providing vital information regarding the telecommunications network and how it can supplement the Nation’s public safety initiative.

“The Navajo Nation is eager to work with and understand the states’ proposal and deployment of their FirstNet integration plans. It is very important the tribes are consulted as progress is made regarding telecommunications expansion in Indian Country, especially the Navajo Nation which lies in three states,” said Speaker Bates.

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