Navajo Nation Wind Farm Near Flagstaff - Mark Trahant Examines Indian Health Service
By Kathy Helms
WINDOW ROCK – The Navajo Nation took a major step forward Tuesday in the world of renewable energy. Council voted 63-1 to approve lease and financing agreements for Navajo Tribal Utility Authority to lead the development of a wind farm at Big Boquillas Ranch near Flagstaff.
Phase 1A of the wind project is expected to produce approximately 85 megawatts of “green” power.
“Never before has the Navajo Nation had this opportunity,” said resolution sponsor George Arthur, chairman of the Resources Committee.
He made reference to Monday's work session on the reopener lease with Peabody Western Coal Co., and discussion earlier in the day Tuesday when Council tabled the measure.
“Yesterday and this morning we listened to various concerns and issues involving the general way of doing specific energy development. This legislation brings to you the new concept – not only the form of energy production, but also the form of how the Navajo Nation can take the lead and be the majority owner in this initiative,” Arthur said.
The Big Bo wind project is the first for the Navajo Nation. It is also the first large-scale wind energy development to be led by a Native American tribe, with a majority interest of the project owned by a tribal enterprise, NTUA.
“In this particular legislation we have figured a way how the Navajo Nation can become 51 percent majority owner. In addition to that, this is the first time that the Navajo Nation will be able to produce and sell power and energy to the metropolitan areas and other areas that have market capabilities,” Arthur said.
“In return, the Navajo Nation is in the position through NTUA and its subsidiary to bring back to the Navajo people a means of energy resources that could be utilized in residential and commercial use here on the Navajo Nation. We have never done this before.”
NTUA is working with partners Foresight Wind Energy and Edison Mission Group to develop, finance, construct, and operate the project.
NTUA General Manager Walter W. Haase said he was thankful for Council's vote of confidence. “I'm grateful that we were given this opportunity to lead the Nation a step forward. This is a huge step. This is a historic day for the Navajo Nation and for NTUA.”
Big Bo is located in a checkerboard area and Haase said NTUA is negotiating with the state to get that part of the lease worked out. Also, they are in negotiations to find buyers for the power. “You can't build a project until you have a willing partner that wants to take the energy. One of the problems was they weren't certain we had a project – that we had control of the land,” Haase said.
NTUA also will be going back to Washington for assistance. “A lot of times when I talked about certain projects, there was a certain amount of doubt that they have just because we've had difficulty in the past following up and getting some things done – not just NTUA, but the Nation itself. This is going to go a long way with helping improve our relationship and bring more credibility on certain things,” he said.
Ideally, 5 percent of the project is expected to be done by next December. Haase said he is very hopeful that will happen. “Without the vote we would have had no chance at all. We'd have lost roughly $26 million.”
Resolutions, Experiments For A New Year
The Buffalo Post
by Mark Trahant
Mark Trahant is a Kaiser Media Fellow examining the Indian Health Service and its relevance to the national health care reform debate. He is a member of Idaho’s Shoshone-Bannock Tribes.
This New Year I am experimenting, instead of resoluting. (I know, it’s not a real word. But it just sounded right.) I’m interested in how technology can play a role in behavior change, how to eat less, drink enough water, exercise more, and sleep better.
The tool I’m playing with is called a Fitbit. I’ll write more about that later, but it’s already interesting because it measures steps, your sleep pattern (although I am quite ready to argue about falling asleep in the chair while watching TV. The device (and my family) says “yes,” but I know better.
I see how this technology could be helpful to wellness programs. Sunday I walked 11,289 steps (not quite 3 miles), consumed more than 2,000 calories and slept 8 hours, waking up 7 times during the night.
We change what we measure – and that includes our own behavior. Just by watching my personal data, I am inclined to walk more and eat less.
But that’s only part of what could make Fitbit important to a wellness routine. Part two will come when others I know are on the system and add their stats through social networks. Think of a community of folks who are rooting for your success, for your better health, as you urge them forward.
This is more experiment, than a resolution. But this is the season for resolutions – and for many that means it’s time to quit smoking.
A story in Indian Country Today reported about the Tulalip Tribe’s tobacco cessation effort. “Here at Tulalip and throughout Indian country we face an uphill battle in addressing use of tobacco. Some tobacco companies use Native American images and cultural symbols in their advertising, such as warriors, feathers, and regalia. They also slip in words like ‘natural’ in the brand names to build image, credibility and sales within the Native American community,” Mel Sheldon, chairman of the Tulalip Tribes, told the newspaper.
I also like the innovative program run by the California Rural Indian Health Board– Keep Tobacco Sacred – because it reminds people about the traditional protocol for tobacco (instead of its recreational and commercial uses).
Smoking is a significant health concern for Indian Country. About a third of all American Indian and Alaskan Natives are smokers, according to the National Tribal Tobacco Prevention Network. It represents the highest use rate for commercial tobacco in every age, ethnic and gender category in the U.S. We die in greater numbers because of tobacco use.
And it’s not just the act of smoking itself. Smoking complicates the management of chronic diseases, including diabetes.
But this is a complex problem for tribal leaders because some tribal enterprises depend on the sales or use of tobacco. Smoke shops are a source of reservation capital and jobs and tribal casinos market to smokers in states where other casinos, bars and just about any facility open to the public is smoke-free.
Unfortunately it’s better for the casino business when there’s smoking. Even the casinos with separate non-smoking facilities find that people gamble significantly more per hour on the smoking side than in the non-smoking areas.
But what if the incentive framework was changed? What if the entire country – tribal casinos and their competitors alike – went non-smoking? That sounds far-fetched because the economics of a casino make this problem seem intractable.
But then again Indian Country has another history.
It turns out the Indian Health Service was one of the first hospital systems to go entirely non-smoking in 1985. “In late 1983, the PHS Indian Hospital on the Hopi Reservation at Kearns Canyon, Arizona, became the first to reach this goal,” the Centers for Disease Control said in a 1985 report.
“Now, virtually all IHS facilities have become smoke-free. In addition, this initiative led to a smoke-free policy in the American Indian schools on the Navajo Reservation at Zuni, New Mexico.”We don’t think of smoking at a clinic any longer. Could that be how we think of casinos one of these days? Some resoluting might be ahead
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