Clean up abandoned federal buildings for Navajo entrepreneurs

Clean up abandoned federal buildings for Navajo entrepreneurs

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Change Labs started this petition to Arizona Congressman O’Halleran

Native American tribes built a trade economy thousands of years ago. There’s archaeological evidence of a robust trade network between our ancestors between 500-200 B.C, nearly 2000 years before Christopher Columbus set sail from Spain. Our entrepreneurial spirit thrives in Native communities to this day, evident in our flea markets, roadside vending, seasonal farmers’ markets, and bazaars. Tuba City, Arizona on the Navajo Nation houses hundreds of Navajo and Hopi-owned business owners, but the vast majority operate from their home by necessity. 

Although we possess the largest tribal land mass in the United States—roughly 27,000 square miles—most of that land is off-limits to Navajo people and businesses. More than 90% of reservation land belongs to the U.S. government, held in trust by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). Less than 1% is “fee land,” land owned by individuals who can freely sell it or build on it. According to a study that analyzes the ease of doing business on the Navajo Nation, getting permission to access land or physical space to do business can take months or even years on the Navajo Nation. As a result, most entrepreneurs give up and limit their dreams to roadside stands, flea-market stalls, or working from remote homes.

The subsequent invisibility of Native American businesses has a detrimental impact on our economy. According to a study commissioned by Navajo Nation Division of Economic Development, the Navajo Nation loses an estimated $216 million annually in sales tax revenue to off-reservation spending by our own residents. The invisibility of Native businesses also means that the 600,000+ tourists traveling across the reservation eat their meals at chain establishments, purchase Native American jewelry in border town galleries, and pay for tours led by non-Native people. 

The BIA owns and manages several buildings along Main Street in Tuba City, AZ and occupies valuable real estate. The buildings are dilapidated and vacant and have been for decades. Meanwhile, our local business owners struggle to find a building or available land to attract new customers and grow their business. 

We are asking for your signature on a petition asking Arizona Congressman O’Halleran to request congressional funds to clean up the vacant BIA buildings littering our town and to repurpose them for local Navajo and Hopi small businesses. 

Supporting local Native American owned businesses and using our dollars to help them grow in our community will make the biggest difference in the generations to come. Please help us drive this change and support Native owned businesses! 

0 have signed. Let’s get to 2,500!
At 2,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!