Advocating for Native American jobs and economic development

Targeted campaign raised awareness of threats to traditionally underserved and economic depressed tribal communities.

The Navajo Transitional Energy Company (NTEC) is the third-largest coal mining company in the United States. As a Navajo Nation-owned company, NTEC serves a diverse community that includes Diné and English speakers, influential elders, elected officials, tribal workers, Chapter House politics, and young Navajos concerned about their future.

New Mexico-based NTEC came under threat by 2018 Arizona ballot initiative that would require public utilities to provide 50 percent of generated electricity through renewable sources. Because of increasing interest in green energy, this appeared to be a reasonable mandate to many, but the whole story was not being told honestly or openly. This missing keystone was the fact that adoption and implementation would have cost more than 500 jobs for Navajo workers in mining, power generation and supporting industries.

Agenda has long worked with and advocated for Native American communities across the United States.  With fewer than three months before the election, Agenda collated voting and public opinion data to develop an aggressive, high visibility strategy for defeating the initiative.  Agenda worked with NTEC to establish the Save Native American Families Committee to educate and gain the support of Arizona’s other native nations and tribes. Our targeted broadcast and digital in the Diné language drove home the message that despite good intentions, the ballot measure would bring real harm to traditionally underserved and economic depressed tribal communities. Through targeted digital and social media promotions, voters received versions of our web videos daily on their devices.

The coalition defeated the ballot initiative with a campaign lasting just 11 weeks.  It is estimated that our campaign shifted votes from support to opposition by more than 10 percent – protecting essential jobs and livelihoods on The Navajo Nation.  Agenda maintains our commitment to serving and defending Native American communities and to ensuring that they are equal participants and valued contributors to the larger climate change and energy transition conversations.