KAYENTA, AZ- It was a cool and crisp Monday morning on March 01, 2010 after the recent, heavy snowstorms that new Town Manager Keith Betsuie drove into his home community of Kayenta from the City of Maricopa, where he worked in the City Manager’s Office on Intergovernmental Relations and as the Tribal Liaison. For an early Monday morning meeting at the Township, there was quite a flurry of activity as administrative staff, locals, and commissioners came around to say their first “Hellos” to Mr. Betsuie.
That morning, the Commissioners gathered all of 30-plus Township staff members into the Town Hall, and Madame Chair Helen Bonnaha formally introduced Mr. Betsuie as the new Town Manager. Each staff member introduced themselves first to the new boss, and then he was given the floor.
Keith is Kinlichii’nii, the Red House clan born for To Aheedliinii, Water Flows Together. His maternal grandparents is Kinyaa’aanii, Towering House. His paternal grandfather Ashiihii, Salt clan. He was born in Gouldings, Utah and raised in Kayenta, Arizona.
“It’s a good feeling to come home and work with my community and the Navajo people in this capacity. I’ve always had it in my mind to come home and work with my community as well as the Navajo Nation,” he said after introducing himself in Navajo.
Mr. Betsuie’s previous experience includes working in Washington D.C. as a Legislative Associate. While there he worked on many issues such as: Public Safety, Judicial Courts, BIA Trust Reform, the Tribal Sovereignty Protection Initiative, Homeland Security, Navajo-Hopi relocation and monitored U.S. Supreme Court cases important to the Navajo Nation. After telling of his professional background, he said, “So, it has been quite an experience to come to this point today.”
As an active citizen, Keith is a member of the Navajo Green Economies Commission, which was hand-picked by the Navajo Nation Intergovernmental Relations Committee. This Commission was founded based on legislation that was passed by the Navajo Nation Council called the Navajo Green Economy Fund of 2009. For several years, he also served as Vice-President on the Kayenta Chapter Community Land Use Planning Committee. Keith is also a member of the Nahata Dziil Leasing Corporation, the Arizona County City Managers Association, and an Executive Member of the Construction in Indian Country Board.
“There are many bright young professionals out there who are doing good, high-quality work. I’ve met many who are also from the Kayenta area. We need to tap into these resources and encourage our young professionals to become active in their community. For the last two years, we have seen the Lady Mustangs win back to back championships in Volleyball and last year in basketball,” he explained. “That shows that we have families who’ve raised their daughters to become strong athletes and leaders.”
“Local governments have much to learn about Kayenta teams winning State Championships. Team work, the offensive scheme, leadership on the court, to be goals oriented, the will to prepare and to have a winning approach, these are all aspects that have a correlation to how municipal governments can be successful.”
To conclude the morning’s meeting, he explained a lot of interesting work that many Navajos were doing in their communities, some of which he learned about at the Rez Economic Summit. He talked about presentations he saw about the future of telecommunications, strategic partnerships, commercial development, solar and wind energy projects that are coming to fruition on Navajo land. “Right now, I have many ideas that I would like to see implemented. And I would like to learn from all of you as well,” he said to his new staff.
In the short introductory meeting on Monday, the meeting ended with applause, and the Commissioners whisked the new Town Manager away to meet officials at the Kayenta Chapter, and it was back to the task at hand.
He is scheduled to attend his first Town Hall meeting on March 08, 2010 beginning at 5:30, Monday, at the Kayenta Town Hall.