Towards Rebuilding the Navajo Economy

I am so inspired by the new direction the Navajo Nation is taking. Our new administration under President Nez has reached out to, and brought in, individuals who are smart, motivated, and have a deep love of our people & our homeland. And, when you have a love for your people, it shows in the work you do & in the initiatives you launch. Today, #TeamYKD met w/ the newly appointed Executive Director of the Navajo Nation Division of Economic Development, JT Willie, and with Byron Shorty, the newly appointed Public Information Officer for the NNDED to discuss a collaboration of our various networks that will benefit entrepreneurship & small business development on the NN. We are excited to continue building our professional relationship w/ them over the next 4 years!


Something we talked about today was how during the Scorched Earth campaign, our enemies took away our ability to feed ourselves when they intentionally burned  fields of crops, orchards, and murdered our livestock. Mike pointed out ‘Through White Man’s Eyes’ by J. Lee Correll, a 6 volume set of books that documents the daily destruction of the Navajo political economy. He stated that when a people can’t feed themselves, they can’t defend themselves. And, when they can’t defend themselves, they surrender and sign treaties that are not meant to serve the best interest of the people. This is the historical context we need to frame our conversations about the NN economy with.

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Without this historical context, people place blame on themselves, on their community, on their leadership, on their Nation, on and on… and suddenly it makes more sense to leave the Rez and try to build a life elsewhere. When frustrated and pessimistic, it’s difficult to see the opportunities in front of us. That is why this conversation is important and necessary.  It allows us to lift that weight we’ve been carrying around, put it down, and move forward. With the ability to lighten the load, we can FOCUS, STRATEGIZE, and GROW. Suddenly we have the energy to collaborate and give more of ourselves to the initiative we care about. That’s how Native innovators, entrepreneurs and change-makers are created.

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