Funding Collaborative Allows First Nations to Support the Implementation of the Healthy Diné Nation Act on the Navajo Nation, the First Junk Food Tax in the Country


LONGMONT, Colorado (February 28, 2017) – First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) announced today a unique funding collaborative formed to support the Diné Community Advocacy Alliance (DCAA) in its efforts to implement healthy foods legislation passed by the Navajo Nation. In 2014, the Navajo Nation passed two new and innovative policies to encourage healthy living and lifestyles on the Navajo Nation:

• Navajo Nation Council Resolution CJA-05-14 removed the Navajo Nation 5% sales tax on healthy foods sold on the Navajo reservation, including fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, water, nuts, nut butters, and seeds, and;

• The Healthy Diné Nation Act (HDNA) of 2014 authorized an additional 2% sales tax on unhealthy foods and sugar-sweetened beverages in all retail locations on the Navajo Nation, the first junk food tax in the United States.

Launched with a leading gift from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, the funding collaborative will support DCAA with a combined gift of $262,000. This includes funding from:

• Robert Wood Johnson Foundation - $100,000

• Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) under its national Seeds of Native Health campaign - $80,000

• The Christensen Fund - $75,000

• Anonymous donor - $7,000

First Nations is proud to support DCAA and this innovative legislation on the Navajo Nation. Revenue raised from the collected taxes is directed into a fund to support Community Wellness Projects at all 110 Navajo Nation chapters. “These two pieces of legislation really demonstrate the potential for Native nations to exert their sovereign powers to improve health and well-being in Native communities,” said Michael E. Roberts, First Nations President & CEO. “We are honored to be able to bring these needed resources to help with implementation efforts across the Navajo reservation.”

“To improve Native Americans’ dietary health, tribal communities must take control of their own destinies,” said SMSC Chairman Charles R. Vig. “We are pleased to have our Seeds of Native Health campaign work with First Nations and other funders to support the Navajo Nation’s groundbreaking policies to better the health of their people.”

With this support, DCAA will work with departments and chapters on the Navajo Nation to ensure that Navajo communities can access funds to create healthy living programs and ensure accurate tax compliance.

“This support is a gift to healthy future Navajo generations,” said Denisa Livingston of DCAA. “This unique collaboration is one vital component toward the movement to empower our communities to create positive, sustainable, healthy environments. The investments are an opportunity to build capacity both at the local level and at our tribal hill to expand toward improvement, efficiency and consistency. We look forward to continuing to improve the quality of life for our Diné people while creating lasting working relationships with our tribal government.”

“We are thrilled to support this initiative that models both the power of Indigenous communities to innovate precedent-setting global policy, and a pathway to resilient economies based on community and environmental health,” said Kyra Busch, Program Officer at The Christensen Fund.

About First Nations Development Institute

For 36 years, using a three-pronged strategy of educating grassroots practitioners, advocating for systemic change, and capitalizing Indian communities, First Nations has been working to restore Native American control and culturally-compatible stewardship of the assets they own – be they land, human potential, cultural heritage or natural resources – and to establish new assets for ensuring the long-term vitality of Native American communities. First Nations serves Native American communities throughout the United States. For more information, visit Join us on Facebook and Twitter!

About the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is a federally recognized, sovereign Indian tribe located southwest of Minneapolis/St. Paul. Following a Dakota tradition of generosity, the SMSC is one of the top 10 philanthropists in Minnesota and is the largest contributor to Native American tribes and causes across the country. It is a strong community partner and a leader in protecting and restoring natural resources. The SMSC’s government, Gaming Enterprise, and various other enterprises are collectively the largest employer in Scott County.

About Seeds of Native Health

Seeds of Native Health is the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community’s philanthropic campaign to improve Native American nutrition. Launched in 2015, the $5 million campaign has provided grants to local communities and funded research, education, and capacity-building efforts. Partners include the American Heart Association, AmeriCorps VISTA, First Nations Development Institute, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, the Notah Begay III Foundation, the University of Arkansas School of Law’s Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative, and the University of Minnesota. More information is available at

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are working with others to build a national Culture of Health enabling everyone in America to live longer, healthier lives. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter at or on Facebook at

About The Christensen Fund

The Christensen Fund is a private foundation dedicated to backing the stewards of biocultural diversity. In partnership with Indigenous peoples and communities in six geographic priority regions, the Fund works at a landscape and community level to support the resilience of living diversity. More information can be found at and


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