Supporters of the Grand Canyon Escalade project understand the economic conditions on the Navajo Nation. By supporting projects such as the GCE, we are supporting the empowerment of the Navajo people and projects developed in collaboration with our Navajo leaders, business people, and community members. Supporters realize there are many opportunities to support Economic Development and business creation though investing in the people. They know what the government can do to help them start businesses and be successful in creating jobs and generating revenue. These are the people the Navajo Nation should recruit for the newly created Navajo Economic Advisory team.
In a recent article published by various news outlets “The Navajo Nation says its new advisory council will be made up of a senior fellow from the Harvard Business School, a Ford Foundation professor and co-director of the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, former Navajo President Peterson Zah and others.” Though these are big names in the world of academia and in Indian Country, the article does not identify individuals with hands-on experience with Navajo communities in implementing projects for economic development.
Former President Zah, is best known for his advocacy for Natives in higher education and setting up a the Permanent Trust Fund with a $28 million settlement in 1985. Since then the trust fund term is much larger thanks to the interest earned and the half-billion dollar settlement. Zah is launching a campaign to preserve the trust fund now that it has matured and is eligible for spending. Others say we need to invest more money into project that will empower the people, such as the recent waster water project investment by the Navajo Nation.
The GCE project brings diverse groups of Navajo people together for a common goal: to creating opportunities while maximizing our human and natural resources. As revenues from Navajo Coal has consistently reduced over the past five years, tourism is a renewable resource that the Navajo Nation has not maximized. The project brings in outside investments and would only require a small cash investment for infrastructure and ensures the Permanent Trust Fund remains intact. With $63 million in interested accrued each year, the Nation should be in a comfortable position to make such an investment for a high return in the form of over 3,000 Navajo jobs created, tax revenues generation, infrastructure expansions and protection of cultural resources.
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