Navajo Tribal Chairman Peter MacDonald and Gov. Garrey Carruthers have signed what they say is the first-ever economic development agreement between a state and an Indian tribe.
"We enter into this agreement with the understanding that the futures of New Mexico and the Navajo Nation are inextricably linked," MacDonald said Monday during a press conference in the governor's office.The agreement calls for exchanging staff, identifying the location of potential industrial development sites within the Navajo reservation, and developing data on Navajo labor statistics for use by both governments.
It also supports expanded tourism through the creation of a Navajo tour guide training program, a directory of Navajo businesses, a Navajo arts and crafts promotion program, and development of a Four Corners monument and information center.
In addition, Carruthers said he is proposing legislation creating college scholarships for Indians and for the state to work on programs to attract Indian students to higher education.
MacDonald said similar agreements are being negotiated with the cities of Gallup and Farmington in New Mexico and with the state of Arizona.
The tribe has committed $400,000 for improvements to a Gallup industrial park in exchange for similar commitments from Gallup city officials, he said.
Carruthers said the state would also be working on similar agreements with other tribes.
The Navajo reservation also could be a good site for twin plants, those run for a foreign company in an area with cheap labor, Carruthers said.
Carruthers, who returned this weekend from a trade trip to Taiwan and Japan, said officials in those countries have a high interest in setting up factories in the United States.