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Navajos push green jobs

By Daniel Kraker

Flagstaff, AZ – The Speaker of the Navajo Nation council is expected to introduce two pieces of legislation today with the goal of creating hundreds of "green" jobs on the country's largest reservation.

The legislation would create the Navajo Green Energy Commission and a separate green energy fund to support renewable energy projects and green manufacturing. Nikke Alex is a spokeswoman for the Navajo Green Economy Coalition, which developed the legislation. She says the goal isn't to support large projects like wind farms, but to back small, local start-ups.

"So a community could apply for the funding to create jobs, such as creating a weavers coop, or a farmers market, it's wide-open, to basically create small scale ventures."

The hope is that one job will be created for every 15 thousand dollars allocated. A seven member green energy commission would decide which grant applicants to fund. The legislation would not allocate any funding from the Navajo Nation. Rather the coalition hopes to direct some of the money in the federal economic stimulus package and in federal grant programs to green energy development on the Navajo Nation. Organizers believe the green jobs effort could serve as a model for tribal nations across the country to follow.