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Utah to Allow Sunset of Navajo Trust Fund


Location: Salt Lake City, UT

Utah to Allow Sunset of Navajo Trust Fund

Salt Lake City - Since Utah's Navajo Trust Fund statute is set to sunset in 2008, Utah Governor Jon Huntsman and Legislative Leadership have joined together in asking Congress to create a new disbursement system for the royalties.

Currently, 37 1/2 percent of oil and gas royalties derived from the Utah portion of the Navajo Nation are administered by the State of Utah for the benefit of the Utah Navajos. The State of Utah is the only state in the Nation administering a trust fund for the benefit of American Indians whose lands are within state boundaries.

"The State of Utah has worked to administer this fund in the best interest of Utah Navajos," Governor Huntsman said. "We are committed to helping the federal government and the Navajos find a more suitable way to distribute the royalties."

"The people of the Navajo Nation deserve to actively create their own future without the interference and oversight of the State," House Minority Leader Brad King said. "Congress will now have the opportunity to recreate the trust fund in a manner which recognizes their right to self-determination with respect to the Utah Navajo Trust Fund."

The Utah Navajos have sought to have a more active role in the distribution of the royalties and this would present that opportunity. Legislative leadership has committed to provide a way to make the transition process as seamless as possible for the beneficiaries.

"We have been locked into a uniquely awkward relationship since 1933 but I know it can be better," Senate President John Valentine said. "By resigning our stewardship we are inviting Congress, the Navajo Nation, and San Juan Navajos to create a new distribution mechanism for those royalties. We look forward to a new relationship with our citizens and friends on Navajo lands."

"The Utah Navajos should be in control of these royalties," Senate Minority Leader Mike Dmitrich said. "Our congressional delegation must create a vehicle to distribute these monies in a way that all of the Chapter Houses have input."

"We have a unique opportunity to support the creation of a more appropriate system that will assign the rights and responsibilities of the royalties to the beneficiaries," Speaker Greg Curtis said. "The commitments made by the trust fund will be fulfilled and we're hopeful the Navajos' best interests will be served by this change."

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