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Know the West

Navajo Nation bails out timber mill

  The Navajo Nation has fired the remaining workers at its defunct sawmill and paid $500,000 from general funds to bail out Navajo Forest Products Industry, the business it created in Navajo, N.M.

Tribal leaders say they had no alternative: Defaulting on the company's loan would have damaged the tribe's credit rating and lost the mill to creditors. Diné CARE, a Navajo environmental group which fought to have the mill shut down, worries that the tribal leaders plan to someday reopen the mill. "Giving Navajo Forest Products Industry money has always been a Band-Aid," says Earl Tulley of Diné CARE, who adds that three of the company's board members are also on the tribal board.

The mill closed in 1994 amidst charges of overcutting and mismanagement of Navajo forests, but the company still owes more than $16 million, including $6 million to the Navajo Nation, reports the Navajo-Hopi Observer.

"Elizabeth Manning