Left to right: OPVP Staff Assistant Juan Massey, Executive Director of the Navajo Nation Washington Office Jackson Brossy, Entrepreneur and business owner Romero Brown, Economic Advisor Al Henderson, Director of Economic Develop-ment Crystal Deschinny, President Russell Begaye, OPVP Ambassador and Eco-nomic Advisor Peterson Zah, Economic Advisor Mark C. Maletz, Economic Advisor Manley A. Begay Jr., and OPVP Chief Operating Officer Robert Joe.
Published July 18, 2016
WINDOW ROCK – A lot of people had an opportunity Friday at the first meeting of the newly created Council of Economic advisers to talk about the problems of the past and how they created problems in the past to the economic growth of the Navajo Nation.
But people who attended the conference also spoke of a new day when the tribe would overcome these obstacles and pave the way for increased employment on the reservation.
Many, like Mike Nelson, one of the largest business owners on the reservation, said the current system that has been in place for decades isn’t working and if tribal officials are serious about creating more jobs, things have to change and change soon.
Nelson, like most of the Navajo businessmen on the reservation and off, have been extremely critical of the tribe’s Navajo Preference Program, which is supposed to give Navajo businesses an advantage in getting tribal business.
But several people during the conference said the program has never worked because the people in the tribe responsible for making sure it is followed often ignore it and give contracts to non-Indian companies that they have worked with because they know these companies are reliable as opposed to Navajo companies who may not have a track record known to the people who are responsible for the buying.
“I’ve tried for years to get contracts with the Navajo government and it’s a difficult thing to change,” Nelson said. “For a Navajo business to succeed, each division director needs to be cognizant of using the private sector and how their business can develop the private sector.”
Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the Navajo Times. Used with permission. All rights reserved.