Tribe will request full funding for Head Start


The Navajo Nation will continue to ask for its full appropriation for Navajo Head Start, even though the feds are threatening a drastic budget cut.

People walk across empty parking lot to new building.

Navajo Times | File
After a 20-year wait, Black Mesa Chapter finally got a Head Start building this past summer.

For the past 10 years, Navajo Head Start has failed continuously to meet federal enrollment quotas, leaving the U.S. Office of Head Start no other option than to consider decreasing its funding, the office stated in a recent letter to President Russell Begaye.

Navajo Head Start spoke with the Health, Education and Human Services Committee during its Monday meeting to answer a few questions on the issue. Department of Diné Education Director Tommy Lewis was also there to give the perspective of DODE, which oversees Navajo Head Start.

With grant applications due tomorrow, Lewis said after speaking with the Office of Head Start he questioned what the repercussions would be if the Nation applies for the full funding of $22.3 million, rather than the $15.7 million the Office of Head Start has proposed starting in March of 2018, along with decreasing Navajo Head Start’s quota requirement from 2,150 students to 1,309.

“’If we submit our application at $15 million, it’s going to appear as though we are conceding to what you’re telling us and we’re not about to do that,’” Lewis said he told the feds. “We deserve that $22 million. ‘What is going to happen… are you going to penalize us? Are you going to defund us? What’s going to happen?’”

It wasn’t until after the meeting Monday that HEHSC met with Vice President Jonathan Nez to discuss, among other things, the amount they should request and in agreement the committee, along with Nez, said they will continue to request the full amount.

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Categories: Education

About Author

Arlyssa Becenti

Arlyssa Becenti reports on Navajo Nation Council, Business, Fort Defiance Agency, New Mexico State politics and Art/fashion. Her clans are Nát'oh dine'é Táchii'nii, Bit'ahnii, Kin łichii'nii, Kiyaa'áanii. She’s originally from Fort Defiance and has a degree in English Literature from Arizona State University. Before working for the Navajo Times she was a reporter for the Gallup Independent. She can be reached at