Tribal Leaders Meet with Utah Governor for 10th Summit
Tribal leaders convened at Utah Valley University Thursday for the 10th Annual Governor’s Native American Summit.
The summit of Utah’s eight sovereign tribes was hosted by the newly elected president of the Navajo Nation Russell Begaye. His election was delayed by questions over another candidate's ability to speak Navajo, but Begaye finally assumed the position in May.
“The Navajo Nation stands ready to work hand in hand with the office of the governor to improve the lives of our people, tribal communities throughout the great state of Utah,” Begaye said. “Thank you for the opportunity just to come and address this distinguished body of state and tribal leaders.”
Begaye highlighted issues he wants to work on in Utah, including economic development, infrastructure, drinking water on tribal land, and the protection of Bears Ears, a region of the four corners sacred to many Native American tribes. Utah Governor Gary Herbert says relations between the tribes and state government have improved over 10 years.
“We’re addressing significantly important issues to the Native American like education, healthcare, infrastructure needs, water, roads, challenges that the Native American faces in disproportionate amounts than the rest of the state,” Herbert says. “I think our Native American Summit has fostered better dialogue and better understanding, which is going to give us better outcomes in the future.”
The summit began as a meeting between Utah’s governor and tribal leaders. The inaugural event was attended by 60 people. This year, there were 600 in attendance, including children.