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Posted: April 14, 2022
Navajo Ramah Chapter

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, Ramah Navajo Chapter officials, and Ramah School Board members in Ramah, New Mexico, on April 13, 2022. Photo: Navajo Nation Office of President and Vice President

The Navajo Nation 

Office of the President and Vice President

April 14, 2022

President Nez discusses ARPA infrastructure priorities with Ramah Navajo officials

RAMAH, New Mexico – Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Division of Community Development Executive Director Dr. Pearl Yellowman met with officials from Ramah Navajo Chapter and Ramah Navajo School Board in Ramah, N.M. on Wednesday, to discuss infrastructure priorities under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and other federal funding sources. 

Last week, the Navajo Nation Council voted down legislation that originally sought to provide approximately $1 billion for water and wastewater projects, electricity for homes, broadband connectivity, housing for families, and other critical need-based infrastructure. Unfortunately, the original legislation was amended to have the $1 billion divided “equally” among the 24 Council members to use at their discretion, according to the sponsor of the amendment.

Since then, technical experts have worked to develop new legislation that will soon be introduced based on many meetings with chapter officials, agency councils, Council members, and proposals submitted through the Division of Community Development’s online portal. Each proposal is carefully reviewed to ensure compliance with the U.S. Treasury’s guidelines for the use of ARPA funds. 

“We are thinking of our Nation as a whole, looking generations ahead to make our communities stronger for future development and that requires investments in basic infrastructure. The plan that we will put forth is based on the priorities at the local level, which will also benefit the most remote communities that are in great need of running water, electricity, and other basic necessities that larger communities already have. We are also looking to invest in more PPEs, isolation facilities, and other proactive measures in the event of future surges of COVID-19 or other viruses. It is a comprehensive plan that will help in many areas related to health care, mental health, infrastructure, chapter priorities, and much more,” said President Nez.

Navajo Ramah Chapter

Photo courtesy Navajo Nation Office of President and Vice President

Wednesday’s meeting with Ramah officials focused on the need to replace the outdated electrical system at the Ramah Navajo School and providing more running water, electricity, and broadband service for the 3,500 plus residents. The new legislation will include an additional $3.6 million for the electrical system and millions more for water and electricity service for the Ramah community. 

Regarding broadband, the Navajo Nation Telecommunications Regulatory Commission Office submitted an application for 80 broadband projects in various communities on the Navajo Nation, which is supported through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) using funding from the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act approved by Congress and signed by President Biden.

“There are funds available through other federal sources such as NTIA, Indian Health Service, and others that supplement the ARPA funds. The technical experts, most of whom are Navajo professionals, considered all federal resources to leverage funds. ARPA is just one source of funding. The plan that will be presented soon is comprehensive and we are looking at the entire Navajo Nation, not just 24 delegate regions,” added President Nez.

The Office of the President and Vice President extends its appreciation to the Ramah Navajo Chapter and School for hosting the discussion and working together to help build critical infrastructure for the Navajo people.

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