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Navajo & Hopi Leaders in the Loop on State Budget

Navajo & Hopi Leaders in the Loop on State Budget
May 10
18:55 2021

Navajo Delegate Kee Allen Begay Meets With Arizona and Hopi Leaders

By John Christian Hopkins

Kee Allen Begay, Jr.

Navajo Nation Council Delegate Kee Allen Begay, Jr., met with state and Hopi officials May 7 to discuss funding issues for the 2022 Arizona budget.

“I appreciate this multi-government effort and the individuals here taking the time to join Navajo and Hopi leadership in addressing these long-overdue priorities,” said Begay. “I believe we can really get these projects done for both tribes here.”

Among the issues addressed were road projects, rural broadband and housing development.

 

Begay voiced the need for repairs along Hopi Route 60, a 13.5-mile federal Bureau of Indian Affairs road. H60 begins near the southern end of Polacca and connects to Navajo Route 65 in Low Mountain.

According to the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), the road has remained on both Navajo and Hopi project priority lists since 1963. H60 continues to see an average of 495 daily travelers and gets washed out every two years, on average.

Because the H60 project lies outside the Navajo Nation’s boundaries, funding opportunities for improvements to the road remain limited under recent federal aid packages related to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

While meeting with Rep. Jasmine Blackwater-Nygren, D-07, Begay was joined by Hopi Tribal Council Member Wallace Youvella, Jr. and former Hopi Tribal Chairman Ivan Sydney who both indicated new letters of support for the H60 project would be provided.

“I think it is important for both nations to work together on this and I am glad to reconnect with this movement once again.” Sydney said.

Blackwater-Nygren began addressing Arizona State Representative Arlando Teller’s bill for the H60 project after she was appointed to fill his seat.

That bill, House Bill 2215, calls for a $35 million state appropriation to support the route improvement.

“I am humbled to be meeting with two nations here today in order to make sure that we can continue to help as best we can from the state level,”  Blackwater-Nygren said.

During a meeting with Governor Doug Ducey’s policy advisor Ben Blink, Begay advocated for smart highway corridors for roadways on and near the Navajo Nation. Recently, the Navajo Nation Council has heard from technology and broadband partners regarding opportunities to expand broadband access to the Navajo Nation and similar projects. Blink informed Begay that Governor Ducey’s office is reviewing House Bill 2596, which requires the Arizona Broadband Office creating a priority list for installing broadband conduit across Arizona.

Blink also indicated that H60 and US Route 191, which traverses the Navajo Nation, are on the ADOT priority list.

“From the government’s standpoint the Navajo Nation is really critical. It would not be a success if we did not connect those communities,” Blink said.

Begay said he is looking forward to working with Council Delegate Otto Tso and the Navajo-Hopi Land Commission to continue advocating for these projects and to build more support moving forward.

Navajo & Hopi Leaders in the Loop on State Budget - overview

Summary: Navajo Delegate Kee Allen Begay Meets With Arizona and Hopi Leaders

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