State Tribal Leaders Meet with Gov. Ducey for Inaugural Summit
State tribal officials met with Governor Doug Ducey this week for the first Tribal Leaders Summit. It was designed to establish a stronger dialogue between the Arizona officials and Native Nations. Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports.
Leaders of several tribes including the Navajo, Hopi, and White Mountain Apache discussed economic development and job creation on tribal lands. Infrastructure and education initiatives were also on the agenda for the four-hour meeting.
“We can now sit down across the table or in this case in a circle to talk. One sovereign nation – several sovereign nations to another sovereign, and be able to work out situations that benefit both sides,” says LoRenzo Bates, speaker of the Navajo Nation Council.
Bates says he pressed the governor to reinstate funds for a program that provides career and technical education for tribal high school students and young adults.
He also spoke with Ducey about plans to shutter a coal-burning unit at the Navajo Generating Station near Page to comply with federal environmental regulations. Speaker Bates says he’s concerned about how Navajo jobs will be affected as the tribe reduces its use of coal and transitions to renewable energy sources.
In a statement e-mailed to KNAU, a representative with the governor’s wrote, “Governor Ducey appreciated the opportunity to meet with tribal leaders to discuss issues important to Arizona. He is committed to maintaining regular meetings with tribal leaders and building a relationship that will enhance collaboration between the state and these communities.”
Tribal leaders and the governor plan a follow-up meeting to the summit.