New Mexico Navajo chapter wins certification

Naschitti, New Mexico (AP) January 2011

The Navajo Nation’s Naschitti Chapter in northwestern New Mexico has won the right to exercise local control in making government decisions.

The Naschitti Chapter becomes the 13th among the tribe’s 110 communities to be certified under its Local Governance Act.

The Navajo Transportation and Community Development Committee granted certification Nov. 22, and the tribe announced it this month.

Certification means the chapter will operate under the Five Management system, which are guidelines set up in the Local Governance Act of 1998. The chapter must use certain procedures in fiscal reports, records, personnel, property and procurement.

In a year, the Navajo Nation Office of the Auditor General will review the chapter’s financial records to ensure all policies and procedures are being followed.

Community Service Coordinator Christine Barney said the certification process wasn’t that difficult.

“I knew what needed to happen and we did it,” Barney said.

Employees of the chapter began getting financial records in order in March, Barney said. The chapter held a strategic planning meeting in April, and by the end of June the chapter had everything ready for auditors to review.

Certification was a priority, so the chapter concentrated on finances and reports and redid its record-keeping system, Barney said.

Barney said the next move is to draft five- and 10-year plans.

The chapter also will begin shifting oversight of the chapter’s employees and finances to local control.

Certification means authority goes back to the voting members of the chapter, Barney said.

As a certified chapter, Naschitti can administer business-site leases, create business plans, enforce local taxes and establish a postal service.

The chapter plans to build a multipurpose building and basic infrastructure and update the chapter’s land use plan.

Future plans call for a senior home, fire and police stations, office complex, day care facility, a new Head Start school, a post office and a youth center.

“We got mountains, land, people and U.S. Highway 491, which is ideal for economic development,” said Michael Clani, president for the Community Land Use Plan Committee. “We are the halfway point between the cities of Gallup and Shiprock. We have the resources to be successful.”