Draft Bennett Freeze funding bill released

Flagstaff, AZ – The so-called Bennett Freeze was imposed by the US commission of Indian Affairs in 1966. The ban prevented about 10 thousand Navajo people from making any improvements to their homes or communities without the approval of the neighboring Hopi Tribe. Roman Bisoui is executive director of the Navajo Nation's Navajo Hopi land commission office.

"So it's basically been sitting idle for over 40 years, because of that there has been very few development in terms of electricity, running water, new homes. There's a lot of need to the existing homes and the lack of infrastructure within the area."

A federal judge lifted the freeze in 2006, but very few improvements have been made because of a lack of resources. The bill proposed by Kirkpatrick would create a new trust fund to help pay for new infrastructure. Bitsoui estimates it will cost between one and four BILLION dollars to repair and replace homes, and make other improvements. He hopes the bill will be approved by early 2011.