ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., -- The District welcomed Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly, March 15, 2013. Shelly visited the District’s office as part of executive level discussions on how to improve coordination and collaboration between the Corps and the Navajo Nation for current and future projects. The status of several ongoing projects was also reviewed.
The District has a history of working with the Navajo Nation, particularly supporting educational infrastructure. In cooperation with both the tribe and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the District replaced a high school and dormitory for 800 students at Fort Wingate, N.M. At Crownpoint, N.M., the District completed a school for 500 kindergarten through eighth-grade students.
The District has also discussed the potential to partner with other Navajo Nation entities, including the Navajo Nation Housing Authority.
The Navajo Nation occupies parts of northeastern Arizona, southeastern Utah and northwestern New Mexico. It is the largest Indian reservation in the U.S. and, at a little over 27,000 square miles, is roughly the size of West Virginia. There are approximately 300,000 enrolled members of the Navajo Nation.
Ben Shelly, president since January 11, 2011, is the first New Mexican to hold the office and the first person to be elected both president and vice-president of the Navajo Nation.
Because Federal recognition of an Indian Tribe constitutes designation of a Native community as a political sovereign within the U.S. federalist system, the Corps has a unique ‘Trust relationship’ with each tribe based on the U.S. Constitution, treaties, statutes, court decisions and executive orders.
The Corps can partner with Tribes in several ways. One method is the Section 203 Program, named for Section 203 of the Water Resources Development Act of 2000, which provides authority for the Corps in cooperation with Indian tribes and heads of other federal agencies to study and determine the feasibility of carrying out projects that will substantially benefit Indian tribes.