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President Nez in Washington for Conference

President Nez in Washington for Conference
November 21
20:02 2021

Nez Attends White House Summit

Navajo President Jonathan Nez

On November 16, the final day of the White House Tribal Nations Summit, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and First Lady Phefelia Nez spoke about the COVID-19 pandemic on the Navajo Nation and the opportunities to change federal policies to help advance infrastructure improvements for water, electricity, broadband, roads, housing, and a new Executive Order to support missing persons initiatives.

“In 2019, a modern-day monster known as COVID-19 entered our communities — impacting the lives of many of our elders, our children, frontline warriors, and many others throughout the world,” President Nez said. “The onset of COVID-19 forced us to close our schools, government offices, and it magnified the lack of basic infrastructure on the Navajo Nation and all tribal communities.”

Last year, the Navajo Nation received $714 million in CARES Act funds, which allowed over 700 Navajo families to receive electricity, over 300 off-grid solar installations, 117 water and wastewater upgrades and replacements, 105 water cistern system installations, 30 waterline connections to homes, 139 broadband installations and upgrades, and four new broadband/cell phone towers.

Approximately half of the $714 million was distributed to the Navajo people in the form of hardship assistance.

President Nez pointed out that more long-term improvements could have been completed using CARES Act funds, if not for the initial deadline of December 2020 and the federal requirements and clearances needed to advance more projects.

“Some of you may have seen photos of our Navajo children with their grandparents on hills and mountains with their laptops in order to gain access to the internet so they could participate in virtual learning. Unfortunately, these situations were all too common,” President Nez said.

The Navajo Nation is expected to receive additional funds from the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Bill that was signed into law on November 15 by President Joe Biden.

President Nez joined President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, their cabinet members, and Congressional members for the signing of the Infrastructure Bill at the White House where he also spoke with U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and other high level officials regarding infrastructure development.

“While funding is made possible, we need to address the burdensome red tape that exists,” Nez added.

“On behalf of the Navajo Nation Office of the First Lady and Second Lady, we are committed to restoring unity, healing, and the well-being of our Navajo children, women, elders, and families,” Phefeloa Nez said. “As mothers and leaders, we continue to raise awareness to focus areas that impact our Navajo families, including childhood development and education, culture preservation, health and wellness, parenting, reducing trauma of children and women, behavioral and mental health issues, violence against women and children, and many others.” 

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