Radio Actuality

Secretary Salazar, Navajo President Shirley Confer on Water, Education and Job-Creation Projects


Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today met with Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley to discuss water, education, road and job training initiatives aimed at improving the quality of life for residents of the Navajo Nation, other American Indian communities and residents of New Mexico. A major topic of discussion was the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project, authorized in the recently enacted Omnibus Public Land Management Act.

Topic / Summary / Transcript
Topic: Secretary Salazar called today's meeting important and said there were many issues to discuss.
"We have many issues that we have to deal with concerning Indian country including matters of Navajo reservation. They include major challenges that we face with economic development opportunities where we have unemployment rates on Indian reservations that are as high 50 percent, major challenges that we face with respect to law enforcement issues because of the high crime rates that we have on many of the reservations across the country. We have major challenges ahead with respect to the education of young Native Americans. And what we are committed to is working and partnership and government to government consultation with the Indian tribes of the United States of America to fulfill the trust responsibilities of the United States of America to the Indian tribes. I feel confidant that the relationships we are establishing are very good ones. It is a high priority for President Obama that Native Americans have their rightful place at the table and we are doing everything we can in our power to make that happen. This meeting with President Shirley, of the Navajo nation today has been one of those very important meetings."

Topic: Secretary Salazar says he looks forward to making the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project a reality
"I am committed to upholding the President's pledge to work directly with American leaders to fulfill our treaty and trust obligations. One of the major things that we have done is to move forward with the authorization of the Navajo and Gallup water supply project. That project was recently authorized in legislation signed by President Obama. It will provide a reliable water supply to a quarter of a million people, 250,000 people in the eastern portion of the Navajo nation, to the city of Gallup and to the Jicarilla Apache Nation. An estimated 70,000 Navajo Indians today are without access to running water and residents of part of the Navajo Nation have had to haul water for generations. This is a vital project, something that is very important our Native American neighbors and citizens and also very important to the senators and members of congress from New Mexico as well as Arizona. I'm looking very much forward to working on this project and making it a reality."

Topic: Secretary Salazar said New Mexico and the nation will benefit from the recently signed Omnibus Public Land Management Act
"Legislation which was signed by President Obama will authorize about 13 different projects here in the state of New Mexico, over 150 around the nation. It creates a thousand miles of wild and scenic rivers. It creates for the first time by law, the 26-million acre Bureau of Land Management national landscape system. It adds two-million acres to our national wilderness system. It greatly expands our parks and protections to places like Rocky Mountain National Park and Mount Hood in Oregon and does a host of other things. And it’s appropriate and important that we do that in New Mexico here today to celebrate that bill because of the fact that Senator Bingaman played such a keystone role as chairman of the energy committee in pulling this bill together. So I’m very proud to be here in New Mexico today celebrating this piece of legislation."