Home News Local News Navajo Nation, State Land Office sign land exchange deal

Navajo Nation, State Land Office sign land exchange deal

A land exchange deal will improve land management and land development efforts and provide the Navajo Nation with lands of historical and cultural significance, say Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye, left, and New Mexico State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn. (Submitted Photo)

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A land exchange between the Navajo Nation and the New Mexico State Land Office was finalized Friday, a deal that has taken almost three decades to bring to fruition.

The agreeement signed by Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye and State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn conveys about 45,562 acres of trust lands in Cibola, McKinley and San Juan counties to the Navajo Nation in exchange for about 41,083 acres of Navajo Nation property in Cibola and Socorro counties.

The trust lands are valued at $15,020,597. The Navajo acreage has been appraised at $15,010,000. The Navajo Nation will pay the difference to the State Land Office.

“This is an historic occasion and something that I am very grateful to complete before the end of my term,” Dunn said. “For more than 27 years, the Land Office has attempted to exchange these lands, which are interspersed with Navajo Nation lands. … I am hopeful that this will be the first of many exchanges between us.”

Among other benefits, the exchange will remedy the inadvertent placement of Navajo dwellings and two Navajo cemeteries on trust lands.

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The exchange was also lauded by Begaye.

“Along our eastern border, the Navajo Nation is fractionated with private, county, state and allotted land. This makes it difficult to work on roads, power lines and water lines,” Begaye said. “This land exchange is historic. For all these years, our people have wanted to make their lands whole.”

Dunn and Begaye also executed a Memorandum of Understanding regarding continued work on future land exchanges to benefit each entity.