Through Native News Online Staff
CROWNPOINT, NM – Former Governor Bill Richardson and a delegation from the Cherokee Nation visited Navajo Technical University (NTU) on Thursday, January 20 to tour NTU’s award-winning culinary institute and high-tech science programs that create good jobs for Navajo students.
They then drove to Crownpoint Elementary School to deliver 100 pairs of Nike shoes to Navajo children, donated by Governor Bill Richardson/Peterson Zah COVID-19 Navajo Families Relief Fund. The Fund also purchased shoes for 100 students at the nearby Lake Valley Navajo School. During the Covid19 pandemic, the Fund purchased nearly 800 pairs of shoes for children in need.
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“The Navajo people and our communities in New Mexico have suffered heavy losses in 2021, but we will continue to work to help overcome this pandemic,” Governor Richardson said. “It takes all of us working together to protect our families, and I am grateful to the many friends and donors who have contributed to the Fund so that we can do more.
“I came back to Crownpoint on the Navajo Nation to promote job creation, education and thank teachers who are doing their best in this pandemic. We need to remind everyone that it’s not over and we need to stay safe by getting vaccinated, getting vaccinated, wearing masks and keeping safe distances.
At Crownpoint Elementary School, 10 masked students accepted the donation of 100 boxes of shoes while the Navajo language class gave thanks with Navajo songs. The Cherokee Nation’s Special Envoy for International Relations and Language Preservation Joe Byrd spoke to the students in his language as they accepted their gifts. The students gave her dozens of Navajo-language thank you notes. Language preservation is a priority for both tribal nations.
“Cherokee Nation was able to help out with a small donation because we’re in this together,” Byrd said. “As a former teacher, what Governor Richardson does to help children touches my heart. When the two largest tribes in the nation with one million citizens come together for the good of our people, it strengthens Indian Country as a whole. Some of the New Mexico students who received shoes are Cherokee, and some are from multiple tribes. In this pandemic, we are stronger together as allies.
CES Principal His Robinson said his school is one of the most diverse in McKinley County, with many nationalities represented.
“Our greatest asset is our youth, and despite the unpaved roads, lack of electricity, water or internet, our students come to school every day and do their best,” he said. -he declares. “We are delighted that they have chosen our school to receive shoes and a Good Sports donation for sports equipment and clothing. We send you our sincere thanks.
At the NTU Visitor Center, students, faculty, administrators and Navajo Nation Council delegate Mark Freeland warmly welcomed Governor Richardson and his guests to tour the state-of-the-art manufacturing lab and listen to presentations students and teachers.
“Governor Richardson helped lay the foundation for NTU with a National Science Foundation grant for infrastructure,” said NTU Provost Dr. Colleen Bowman. “He was instrumental in creating the welcome center we are in and helping to expand the culinary arts degree programs. NTU will be forever grateful for his advocacy for our Tribal University.
Governor Richardson, who has also served as U.S. Secretary of Energy, said he was impressed with NTU’s fabrication lab, where students train in cutting-edge technologies to research, test, and fabricate parts. aircraft and satellite, medical instruments, prostheses, hearing aids or spare parts. for old windmills. The lab houses unique metal 3D printing machines for state-of-the-art manufacturing.
“We are creating jobs for the future, high-tech, high-paying jobs that will greatly benefit society and the Navajo Nation,” said NTU President Dr. Elmer Guy. “We are the only tribal university with ABET-accredited engineering programs. This counts for international companies like Honeywell, Boeing and National Labs. Our students do internships at their sites and are hired as employees, so it’s a direct pipeline to good jobs.
Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) degrees ensure graduates meet high standards for critical STEM fields in emerging technologies. NTU has partnered with Sandia and Los Alamos National Labs to create internships and jobs for its industrial and electrical engineering graduates.
In an interview with NTU’s radio station, KCZY, Governor Richardson praised the university for its 99 percent vaccination rate for the fall semester among students and faculty. He said they were a great example for other schools to follow. NTU requires masks and takes temperatures for campus visitors to prevent the spread of the Covid virus.
At a lunch prepared by the students of NTU’s Culinary Institute, Dr. Guy congratulated the students and chef Bob Witti who sold his restaurant and joined NTU in 1999 to help build the culinary and baking programs. Since 2000, Culinary Arts students have won multiple Bronze, Silver, Gold and People’s Choice awards and showcased their skills at the 2002 Olympics. Graduates of the program have gone on to become Sous Chefs, Chefs de cooking and instructors throughout the country.
At the closing of the event, Dr. Bowman and Vice President Jason Arviso presented Governor Richardson with an NTU-designed warrior blanket to thank him for his commitment to the Navajo people and their university.
“In our culture, when someone helps you, you reciprocate by giving thanks,” Dr Guy said. “You can’t just go on without giving thanks, or those good things you receive might not stay. Today we had the opportunity to properly thank Governor Richardson for always being in our corner.
Governor Richardson thanked everyone as he departed and said, “I leave with true gratitude to have been able to serve the Navajo people for so many years. I hope I may have made a difference.
For those interested in donating to the Fund or receiving assistance for children, please contact Project Consultant Valerie Taliman at 505.270.3092.
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