Elerina Yazzie, 2008
My name is Elerina Yazzie, I am an alum from the University of Kansas, Class of 2008, National Champions! I am originally from Thoreau, New Mexico and an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation. I have a son who is born in Lawrence, Kansas and tells people he is a Jayhawk! He is eight years old. I have a daughter I brought into this world on March 7, 2014, she is three years old. I am a single mother, I reside in Gallup, New Mexico and work for our Navajo Nation.
I am a Department Manager that oversees the General Land Development Department (GLDD) that is established under the Navajo Division of Natural Resources, Executive Branch. The purpose of the (GLDD) is to administratively process applications for land withdrawals, non-mineral leases, permits and rights-of-way on and across Navajo Nation lands. The most significant accomplishment is the GLDD is rapidly working toward exerting the Navajo Nation’s authority to issue our own leases without the Bureau of Indian Affair’s approval, which is outlined under the General Leasing Regulations of 2013. No other tribe has this authority granted to them by BIA. The Navajo Nation Division of Natural Resources is the backbone of the Navajo Nation government. It is also the first point of contact and approval for all community and economic development projects on the Navajo Nation. As a young, educated Navajo member, there have been many challenges that I have encountered in terms of transitioning in general, the main challenge was technology. For years, the general notion is that when you submit project packages to the Navajo Nation it may take years to process, this was due to paper manual processing. The new department has opted to switch to an electronic processing of project packages through the Navajo Nation System that was developed by the Land Department and is owned by Navajo Nation. Rather than different departments (Historic Preservation, Fish and Wildlife, Navajo EPA, Water Resources, Dept. of Justice, Legislative, etc.) process individual land-related documents at different times the electronic process sends the documents to all the departments at once, monitoring and ensuring that packets are not pending.
Most recently I have been elected as the Vice-President for the Smith Lake Chapter (or Local Government) of the Navajo Nation. In this position there are several priorities I have in line that include renovating the Navajo Housing Authority homes, purchasing land for new home development, and extending power and water lines. I want to use my experience in working with GLDD to assist my chapter on the technical details of obtaining rights-of-way, service line agreements, home site leases, etc. It seems that most chapters lack that capacity, in which I do not blame them it is a full time job for me, especially working with other entities such as Minerals, EPA, telecommunication companies, state, county, elected officials, etc. Thank you professors for your dedication and patience with me as a student, I feel like I am a valuable asset to my tribe and other tribes.