Navajo Nation Exploring Manufacturing

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Navajo Nation Exploring Manufacturing

September 02
06:00 2017
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by John Christian Hopkins

Navajo Nation

The Navajo Nation is looking to improve its economy through advanced manufacturing.

The Southwestern Polytechnic Institute (SIPI) could play an important role in the future, according to Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye.

Begaye addressed the SIPI staff on August 21, at the invitation of SIPI President Dr. Sherry Allison. SIPI, is located in Albuquerque. SIPI and similar institutions have the important task of developing a workforce of technical leaders for Native America, Begaye said.

“The Navajo Nation is exploring a new paradigm in developing advanced manufacturing,” he said. “We are looking to SIPI and other tribal colleges and universities to develop this workforce.”

Advancements in technology call for research and production of materials to assist in building satellites, cell phones and renewable forms of energy, Begaye said. The potential for the Navajo Nation to be a part of this technological boom could be furthered through education and specified training, he added.

“For this technology to come from the Navajo Nation is amazing,” Begaye said. “We need our education to evolve at a much higher level to train our students to be leaders in this developing industry.”

In addition to the instructors, Begaye tasked all Native American students with increasing their skill-set to position their tribes to be technological leaders in emerging fields.

Begaye said Navajo students are dreamers and innovative. “They’re looking to gain knowledge. With many emerging fields of technology, we need SIPI to continue to expand and to train our people,” he said.

By fostering technological paradigms within our students and workforce, the Navajo Nation can change its economic and technical landscape, Begaye said.

Begaye recently joined SIPI’s Board of Regents.
Unfortunately, there will need to be a major paradigm shift in the attitudes toward education among the Navajo people in order to make this work. I attended Fort Lewis College in Durango CO, which was an Indian school in the 1800's and has offered free tuition to native students by federal mandate since 1910. I was in the pre-Engineering program for three years, and in those three years I met one Navajo student. That doesn't appear to demonstrate a significant interest in technical fields. Of course this was 2000-2003, and things may have changed, but if it has I haven't been made aware.
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