SHIPROCK, NM – Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer were joined by students, families, 24th Nation Council Delegate Eugene Tso, and Shiprock Chapter officials as they signed into law resolution CJN-29-22, appropriating $4 million from the Navajo Nation’s Unreserved, Undesignated Fund Balance for youth employment funds for the 110 Navajo chapters. The funds may be used throughout the year to employ Navajo youth.
“With today’s signing of the resolution, we are demonstrating our commitment and support to provide employment opportunities for our Navajo youth throughout the year,” said President Nez, while also thanking the 24th Navajo Nation Council for approving the legislation sponsored by Council Delegate Eugene Tso. “Youth employment is a great strategy to ensure that our youth gain valuable workforce experience, create networks, and foster positive traits such as independence, responsibility, and interpersonal skills. The wages they earn will also help cover their expenses for school clothing, supplies, and other necessities. We are confident that by providing jobs for our youth, that our Nation will see the benefits as they become adults and give back to their communities.”
During the signing ceremony, President Nez recalled that, as a summer youth worker at Shonto Chapter Governance years ago, his interest in government and public service grew and inspired him. Youth summer employment can lay a strong foundation to future career or post-secondary education, and so youth are encouraged to explore different professions within the Navajo Nation, he added.
The $4 million appropriation will be distributed to the 110 chapters based on a “50/50 formula,” meaning that $2 million will be distributed evenly among all chapters, and the remaining $2 million will be distributed based on the number of registered voters at each chapter.
“The Nez-Lizer administration continues to support the youth employment program each year,” said Vice President Lizer. “With the approval, chapters can begin hiring more high school and college students to earn income to help cover academic expenses or cost-of-living expenses. Youth employment enhances academic aspiration and performance and improve social and emotional development. We will look forward to the success stories of our children at the end of the summer.”
“We do this for our youth first and foremost, not for ourselves,” said Council Delegate Eugene Tso. “With this approval, chapters will have the opportunity to provide and expand job placements for our young people. Thank you to my Council colleagues for supporting this.”
Shiprock Chapter President Nevina Kinlahcheeny, Vice President Debra A. Yazzie, and Secretary/Treasurer Dr. J. Kaibah Begay also spoke in support of local youth and expressed their appreciation for the approval of the funding for youth.
The 24th Navajo Nation Council approved the legislation with a vote of 20-1 during a special session.