CREATION OF THE NAVAJO NATION DIVISION OF NATURAL RESOURCES
The Navajo Nation Division of Natural Resources (DNR) is located in Tségháhoodzání – which means hole in the rock in Navajo – Window Rock, Navajo Nation. In May of 1976, the Navajo Nation Resource Committee and Parks Commission passed Joint Resolution RCM-110-76 by a vote of 9 in favor and 1 opposed, which grouped six existing departments under a newly established Division of Natural Resources. While some departments retained their title, some were also given a new title. The six grouped departments under DNR were known as Parks & Recreation, Fish & Wildlife, Extension Programs, Agricultural Lands, Range Resources, and Forestry.
Furthermore, in the spring of 1994, the Navajo Nation Council passed resolution CAP-41-94, which amended and repealed the Division of Natural Resources Departments and Program Plans of Operation from Title 2 of the Navajo Tribal Code. This allows the Navajo Nation Council to not have to amend the Tribal Code every time a department or program wants to make organizational changes. The master plan of operation for DNR was also approved during this time with passage of Navajo Nation Council Resolution GSCJY-48-94. These resolutions/legislations of 1994 were then signed into law on May 2 of 1994 by then President of the Navajo Nation, Peterson Zah.
To Manage, Protect, Conserve, and Preserve the Navajo Nation’s Natural and Cultural Resources for the Benefit of the Navajo People.
DNR is one of 12 major divisions within the Executive Branch of the Navajo Nation government. The Resource and Development Committee of the Navajo Nation Council works closely with DNR by introducing legislation and developing policies. There are approximately 780 permanent employees under DNR who work throughout the Navajo Nation.
The Navajo Nation Division of Natural Resources Executive Director and six staff within the DNR Administration oversee 12 different departments who all work cooperatively to attain DNR’s main mission. Each department has its own sub-mission, goals and objectives to provide direct services to help the Navajo people.
- Department of Agriculture
- Abandoned Mine Lands/ Reclamation UMTRA Department
- Archaeology Department
- Fish & Wildlife Department
- Forestry Department
- Historic Preservation Department
- Navajo Land Department
- Minerals Department
- Navajo Nation Museum
- Navajo Parks & Recreation Department
- Department of Resource Enforcement
- Department of Water Resources
LAND BASE ABSTRACT
Diné Bikéyah or the land of the Navajo Nation, is comprised of approximately 17.2 million acres. The majority of the land base is located within or near the traditional boundaries (except two satellite communities) of the four sacred mountains of the Diné or Navajo people. Much of Eastern Navajo Nation is comprised of checkerboard lands, where rectangular plots of Tribal Trust, Tribal Member Allotted (Private), Federal Lands, and State lands make a matrix.
To give a comparison, the Navajo Nation is a little more than two million acres larger than the state of West Virginia; however, it has a population which is approximately 92 percent lesser than that of West Virginia. It is the largest Native American trust land holding (reservation) of any Native American community or nation in the United States.
The land found within the Navajo Nation is made up of differing landscapes, habitats, and climate zones, with some mountain ranges nearing 10,000 feet in elevation where Alpine forests and cool spring fed mountain lakes sprawl and dot the land scape. Going lower, the terrain changes to piñon and juniper pygmy forests, and even lower it changes to high semi-arid and arid deserts, where sand dunes, bare rock buttes, and spring fed oasis can be seen.
The highest point on the Navajo Nation is 10,348 feet at Naatsis’aan (Navajo Mountain) and the lowest altitude is 2,700 feet at the confluence of the Colorado River and Little Colorado River – a sacred place dear to many Diné, Hopi and other Native Americans. This vast differing culturally rich landscape holds tremendous amounts of various natural resources within it.