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Hopi, Navajo, Apache Work With DuVal, Goddard, Rotallini To Solve Problems
Caption David Garcia, center with hand on chin, candidate for superintendent of public instruction, meets with tribal members, school superintendents and teachers, as conference co-host Dawnafe Whitesinger (standing) looks on.

Native American Issues Conference in Winslow

Hopis, Navajos and Apaches worked with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Fred DuVal and others on Friday to develop solutions to problems ranging from jobs to reservation roads.

Other candidates attending the Northeast Arizona Native American Issues Conference included Terry Goddard, secretary of state; Felecia Rotallini, attorney general; David Garcia, superintendent of public instruction; Jim Holway, corporation commission; and candidates for the Legislature.

County officials from Navajo, Apache and Coconino counties participated in the discussions. The event at the La Posada Hotel in Winslow was chaired by Navajo County Supervisors Dawnafe Whitesinger and Jesse Thompson, the board chairman.

“The cuts are over – not another dime,” said DuVal in addressing education funding. He added that he does not support further taxes because two decades of tax cuts have not encouraged economic growth in Arizona.

DuVal decried raids on gasoline tax revenues which have reduced investment in roads and highways. He mentioned that Arizona needs “smart people” as a resource to bring jobs into the state. He also pledged to create a cabinet-level Tribal Relations office to make sure Native Americans have a voice at a high level within state government.

Goddard said the Secretary of State should not be sitting on $10 million in Help America Vote money, but should be using it to get Native Americans involved in the election process. “If we can move these numbers up, we can have a very different Arizona.”

Rotallini promised to return the attorney general’s office “to its core mission of prosecuting criminals and protecting Arizona families.” She added, “The job of the Attorney General is to keep Arizonans safe.” She pledged to fight consumer fraud, senior fraud, white collar fraud and work for child protection and to fight human traffickers and sex trafficking. Rotallini promised to work very closely with tribes. “What is sacred to you is sacred to me,” she said.

Whitesinger introduced the “Intertribal Cup” a contest among the tribes for the best voter registration and voter turnout numbers. Based on the 2012 election cycle, Navajos are leading with 68% of the population registered and 47% voting. White Mountain Apache are second with 50% registered and 48% turnout.

Also speaking at the conference were Lanny Morrision, candidate for the Arizona House in District 6; Eric Descheenie and Jamescita Peshlakai, candidates for the Arizona Senate in District 7; and Jennifer Benally, candidate for the Arizona House in District 7.

Here are the issues identified by the committees at the conference:

  • I. Jobs
  • a. Tourism to Native American areas is down and needs to increase.
  • i. High taxes, especially by Tribes, can discourage local entrepreneurs
  • ii. Tourism needs to be more actively promoted.
  • iii. Higher value tourism, like eco-tourism, should be promoted.
  • iv. More efforts should be made to make tourists, especially those passing thorugh the area, aware of what is available
  • b. Starting Businesses
  • i. Tribal members need access to capital
  • ii. Community colleges should provide knowledge to start businesses.
  • iii. The regulatory climate needs to provide stability for Native and non-Native entrepreneurs – perhaps using state-tribal compacts to create a framework.
  • c. Energy
  • i. Take advantage of coal jobs as long as possible
  • ii. Lay transition to wind and solar
  • d. Support renewal of farming and ranching
  • i. Water availability
  • II. Public Safety (This committee included sheriffs of Apache, Navajo and Coconino counties along with Attorney General candidate Felecia Rotallini.)
  • a. Intoxication and Suicide
  • i. Coconino comprehensive approach as a model
  • ii. Revive Terry Goddard’s anti-meth initiative
  • iii. Alcohol industry should pay more for the problems they create
  • iv. Behavioral Health System should be adequately funded.
  • v. Bootlegging should be addressed
  • vi. Revive culture to end “brokenness” on Reservations
  • b. Fire fighting
  • i. Fund emergency response.
  • III. Transportation, Infrastructure and Funding
  • a. Keep federal government accountable for roads on reservations
  • b. Re-authorize federal funding for reservation roads.
  • c. Re-authorize special funding for school bus routes
  • d. Waive environmental clearance for work on roads that have long been bladed as part of the BIA or Tribal road inventory.
  • e. Return sales tax dollars collected from non-Native businesses on reservations to Tribes
  • f. Special funding for Polacca to Little Mountain road to link Navajo and Hopi Nations.
  • g. End diversion of gasoline tax (HURF) to fund non-transportation government functions
  • IV. Education
  • a. Hierarchy of needs for food and safety block many Native children from being successful in education.
  • i. Backpack programs to meet basic needs
  • ii. Pick a few things to start a foundation for families
  • b. We need to empower families so education can be successful
  • c. Need stability in policy
  • d. Pre-school opportunities are limited compared to the need
  • e. Less focus on high-stakes testing
  • f. Need services to diagnose mental illness in children.
  • g. Need adequate resources for Division of Social Services to address issues
  • h. Need more foster homes

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