Navajo Nation Home Construction Begins on Former Bennett Freeze Area

Jan 5, 2018

The Navajo Nation has broken ground on three dozen modular homes in an area where development has been off limits for decades. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports, it’s an effort by tribal officials to revive the economy on more than 1.5 million acres known as the Former Bennett Freeze.

A Navajo Nation employee documents living conditions on the Former Bennett Freeze Area.
Credit Ryan Williams/Navajo-Hopi Observer

All construction in the area was halted in 1966 by former Bureau of Indian Affairs commissioner Robert Bennett. It arose from a dispute between the Navajo and Hopi tribes, and prevented residents from making even simple repairs and improvements to homes. The freeze was lifted in 2009 by President Obama, but the area still suffers from high unemployment and poverty.

The tribe allocated $3 million earlier this year for home construction, 45 renovations, and to process more 54 home-site leases.

Navajo President Russell Begaye says the tribe is making up for past wrongs imposed by the federal government, and hopes to continue development in the area.