Interior Presents Coveted Award to Minerals

Navajo Nation Minerals Audit Program Receives Coveted Award

WINDOW ROCK, AZ. – Demonstrating excellence in audit and investigative activities to ensure the collection of every dollar due to the Navajo Nation.

That’s how the U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR), described the Navajo Nation Minerals Audit Program, which is a program under the Minerals Department that was created to conduct audits and investigations of financial obligations due to the Navajo Nation under mineral leases located on tribal trust lands.

In recognition for the Navajo Nation’s outstanding audit and investigative performance, ONRR awarded the Navajo Nation with the Joan Kilgore Award. The Joan Kilgore Award is named in honor of Joan Kilgore, who was a staunch advocate for Indian royalty issues. ONRR based the award on the Navajo Nation’s active participation in royalty collection and compliance activities and contributions to ongoing initiatives undertaken in partnership with ONRR.

ONRR Director Greg Gould stated, “We congratulate the Navajo Nation for working closely with ONRR and for developing a strong and robust royalty compliance program.” He added, “In testament to your professionalism and commitment to excellence, the Navajo Nation received a top ranking on the 2014 peer review.”

The peer review was conducted late in 2013 by Williams, Adley & Company, a CPA firm based in Washington, D.C. The peer review examined audits performed by the Navajo Nation’s Minerals Audit Program. Under the peer review process, an audit organization can receive a rating of pass, pass with deficiencies or fail. The Navajo Nation’s Minerals Audit Program received a rating of pass, which is the highest rating that can be received.

ONRR Director Greg Gould noted the Navajo Nation also received a top ranking in the annual attestation engagement, adding that the Navajo Nation “has demonstrated a commitment to excellence and a spirit of cooperation that is critical to the success of ONRR.”

Erik Tsosie, a Senior Minerals Auditor with the Navajo Nation, described the dedication of the audit program’s staff, “We often come to work early, and leave late in the evening.” He added, “Auditing is hard work, but we are dedicated to verifying that the extractive industries on the Navajo Nation fully comply with all federal laws, regulations, and lease terms, and pay what they are required to pay to the Navajo Nation.”

In closing, ONRR Director Greg Gould thanked the Navajo Nation for the tribe’s efforts to ensure that the Navajo Nation receives the full return of royalties due. He added, “The Navajo Nation is truly a leader among ONRR’s state and tribal partners.”

Navajo Nation Division of Natural Resources Executive Director Bidtah Becker, stated, “I would like to congratulate all the Navajo Nation Minerals Audit Program staff for their steadfast dedication and commitment. As a result of their efforts, the Navajo Nation has one of the best royalty compliance programs in the country. Their work truly benefits the Navajo people and the Navajo Nation.”

Navajo Nation Minerals Department Director Akhtar Zaman, emphasized the importance of the audit function, which provides assurance to the Navajo Nation about the accuracy of revenues derived from the tribe’s vast mineral resources.

According to Zaman, the Navajo Nation is one of only a handful of tribes across the United States that performs its own audits of royalties and other financial obligations derived from mineral leases. He explained, “It’s a testament to the Navajo Nation’s resolve for self-determination and control over its mineral producing assets.”

In support of continued collaboration between the Navajo Nation and ONRR, Brian Bex, a Minerals Auditor with the Navajo Nation, will be joining ONRR for a two-year period under the agency’s Intergovernmental Personnel Act Fellowship Program. Participants in the program develop additional audit and compliance experience and gain special knowledge related to minerals asset valuation and enforcement.

The origin of the Navajo Nation’s Minerals Audit Program can be traced to the Federal Oil and Gas Royalty Management Act of 1982. Sections 202 and 205 of the Act provides the authority for tribes and states to enter into cooperative agreements or delegations with the Secretary of Interior to conduct audits and investigations of mineral leases.

The Navajo Nation entered into its first cooperative agreement in 1984.  The Navajo Nation is one of a small number of tribes and states that are currently performing audits and compliance reviews under agreements with the U.S. Department of Interior, Office of Natural Resources Revenue.

The Minerals Audit Program is led by Rowena Cheromiah who is the Principal Investigator under the cooperative agreement and Marlene Nakai, Minerals Audit Manager.  Both have provided decades of service to the Navajo Nation in support of the tribe’s minerals management function through audit and compliance related activities.

The Navajo Nation Minerals Audit Program performs audits and investigation of mineral royalty payments and other lease-level obligations to the Navajo Nation including bonuses, water usage fees, scholarship payments and all other financial obligations that are specifically required under Navajo Nation oil, gas and solid mineral leases and agreements.

The audits are performed in accordance with the Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards promulgated by the Comptroller General of the United States.

Unsung Navajo Heroes – Navajo Ranchers

Unsung Navajo Heroes
WINDOW ROCK, AZ. – Unsung Navajo Heroes.
That’s one way to describe the handful of Navajo ranchers who work quietly yet ardently behind the scenes to make a living.
And adding to their repertoire….satisfying five-star palates who enjoy premium beef.
A whole new level of deliciousness with rustic elegance and unbridled luxury.
That’s how Navajo beef captivates even the most sophisticated palate.
And just think, it all originated from the hard-working hands of Navajo ranchers on the Navajo Nation.
Although many Navajo ranchers have raised cattle all their lives, it wasn’t until recently that Navajo ranchers have taken it to a whole new level.
Due to their steadfast efforts to raise premium quality cattle, Navajo Angus beef is now being sold outside of the Navajo Nation.
From sun up to sun down…more than 60 Navajo ranchers from throughout the Navajo Nation saddle up their horses and are working tirelessly to produce one of the top cattle in the country.
It is not easy, but it is a way of life.
For others, it is a tradition that must continue.
And for this kind of business, there is no room for error.
Navajo ranchers who are part of the Navajo Angus Beef Program have to abide by stringent standards to assure they produce superior quality beef.
Some of the trademarks of a stellar Navajo rancher are Prayer….Dedication…Down-to-Earth Values….Good pasture management…Rotating the herd to prevent overgrazing…Installing water facilities…Vaccinating their herd…Mending fences…Weathering a dry spell…and the list goes on…So it is a constant work in progress.
But at the end of the day, it all pays off.
Just ask any Navajo rancher.
In fact, you might even get selected as Outstanding Conservation Steward of the Year and Rancher of the Year by the Navajo Nation Department of Agriculture. Such was the case for three Navajo ranchers: Ruth Holgate Watson and Herbert Holgate who were presented a certificate for Outstanding Conservation Steward of the Year and Edward Tom who was selected as the Outstanding Rancher of the Year.
Watson said, “Ranching has always been a part of our life. We see ranching as our only source of survival. Ranching provides opportunities for our family, kids and grandchildren to learn about how to make a living with animals and our land.”
Her brother was not able to attend the quarterly rancher’s meeting so his sister Ruth Watson received the certificate on behalf of her brother, noting, “I give all the credit to my brother Herbert.”
Ruth and her brother Herbert lease a Navajo ranch south of Chaco Culture National Historical Park. At peak season, they raise 65 heads of cattle, but sometimes they have to reduce their herd depending on the amount of forage on the ranch.
Ruth, Herbert and many Navajo ranchers stated they constantly make ranch improvements on the ranch to maintain a healthy head of cattle, increase animal growth and take care of the land.
Yes it takes a lot of sweat and hard work to get the job done, but Navajo ranchers say the hardest part of being a rancher is not having enough moisture to keep the grass growing.
And there are some ranchers who have never made a profit.
Take for example Navajo Rancher Dean Gamble of Tuba City, Arizona. Gamble said he was given a lease about 10 years ago and finally broke even in the year 2014. He has 70 heads of cattle south of Chaco Culture National Historical Park.
“I’ve had to use a lot of my own resources to make improvements to the area,” Gamble explained. “We didn’t make a profit for the past 10 years. It depends upon the market.”
Not every Navajo rancher is part of the Navajo Angus Beef Program, which is why Labatt Food Service Branch Manager Ken Monacelli is working to get more Navajo ranchers to participate. He was one of several speakers at the first Quarterly Rancher’s Meeting in January 2015.
Labatt Food Service has a business partnership with the Navajo Nation, which was discussed as a concept in 2011 and became a formal partnership in 2012. More specifically with the Navajo Nation Tribal Ranch Program’s purchase of calves from 14R Ranch of NahataDziil and Padres Mesa Ranch of Chambers, Arizona.
Today, Labatt Food Service continues to purchase calves from Navajo ranchers. The end product is sold to Navajo-owned casinos who include it on their menus.
In fact, Monacelli explained that Navajo beef is now being purchased by the Santa Ana Pueblo for their Tamaya Hyatt Regency Resort and Restaurant. The demand for quality Navajo beef continues to rise, Monancelli continued.
He stated Navajo ranchers who are part of the Navajo Angus Beef Program are paid top dollar for their cattle compared to other buyers in the region, noting, “We give dividend checks for high performance cattle.”
He has traveled the world and tasted beef from other countries.
“Cattle from the Navajo Nation has out-performed in taste, tenderness and quality against any other cattle in the world,” Monacelli said. “The demand of Navajo beef continues to rise.”
According to Monacelli, the number one user of Navajo beef is the Navajo Nation Gaming Association and the Navajo casinos. Just within the past year, Monacelli said there was a 75 percent growth in pounds used, adding, “They can easily use 100,000 pounds. We’re looking for more Navajo ranchers.”
In the year 2013, Labatt Food Service purchased 481 calves and paid back $439,768 and in 2014 they bought 552 calves and paid back $745,940 to Navajo ranchers.
Monacelli stated that the Navajo people use about 24 percent of their own beef.
The Navajo Nation owns 25 ranches, which are leased to individual Navajos, livestock and grazing associations and livestock companies. About 22 ranches are located in New Mexico and three are located in Arizona.
So when you’re enjoying one of life’s simplest pleasures…remember the Unsung Navajo Heroes who are working tirelessly behind the scenes to produce one of the finest beef in the world….It’s Navajo Beef with Pride.
Navajo ranchers…a hallmark of the Navajo people who speak volumes about the aesthetic tastes and values of a beautiful culture.

Navajo Nation Zoo Festival – Fun in the Sun

Arizona Fish and Wildlife Staff and Eagle Reformatted 

 There will be a presentation about eagles at the Annual Navajo Nation Zoo Festival on May 2, 2015 in Window Rock, Arizona.




Navajo Nation Zoo Planning for Fun in the Sun

           WINDOW ROCK, AZ. – Fun in the sun.

            That’s what’s in store during the Annual Navajo Nation Zoo Festival on Saturday, May 2, 2015 here in the capital of the Navajo Nation.

            Navajo Nation Zoo Director David Mikesic said “The Navajo Nation Zoo staff is working ardently to prepare for its annual Navajo Nation Zoo Festival here in Window Rock, Arizona.  This unique spring event is especially geared toward Navajo youth, but everyone is invited to attend.”

            The Navajo Nation Zoo is the only tribally-owned zoo in the U.S., which features more than 100 animals birds and species that are indigenous to the Navajo reservation.

            One highlight of the spring event will be a free education presentation about eagles, which will be provided by the Arizona Game and Fish Department and Hawks Aloft.

            Mikesic stated, “This great presentation about eagles has always been very interesting and popular not only among the youth, but adults as well.”

            The Navajo Nation Zoo Festival was created as a way to provide an opportunity for Navajo youth to learn about animals that are an integral part of the Navajo culture while providing outdoor activities for the youth to engage in.

            Other activities will include bead crafts, games, an inflatable jump house, giant slide, a mechanical bull, magician, balloon animals, temporary tatoos, education booths, Navajo Nation Zoo coffee, treats for sale and food vendors.

            The free event begins at 8 a.m. and will end at 5 p.m.  For more information, please call (928) 871-6574.