Donald Trump picks Navajo man for agriculture advisory committee

Tsosie Lewis. Photo from Tribalinx

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump finally has a Native American connected to his campaign.

Tsosie J. Lewis, a member of the Navajo Nation, has been named to Trump's new agricultural advisory committee. He appears to be the only Native person on the 64-member panel, which will offer guidance to the campaign on agricultural and rural issues.

“The members of my agricultural advisory committee represent the best that America can offer to help serve agricultural communities. Many of these officials have been elected by their communities to solve the issues that impact our rural areas every day," Trump said in a press release. "I’m very proud to stand with these men and women, and look forward to serving those who serve all Americans from the White House.”

As the longtime former CEO of Navajo Agricultural Products Industry, the Navajo Nation's agricultural arm, Lewis has plenty of experience on that front. Before he stepped down from the post last November, he was in charge of a 72,573-acre farming enterprise that grows and sells produce under the Navajo Pride name.

"The Navajo Nation is well known for NAPI. It’s the largest farm owned by an Indian Nation and Tsosie Lewis had a huge role in making it possible," President Russell Begaye said in a press release at the time.

Despite the official praise, The Navajo Times reported that Lewis left amid financial questions. He had told the paper earlier in the year that NAPI was making money but Navajo Nation Council delegates indicated that wasn't the case.

Lewis first joined NAPI in 1974 and took on the CEO title in 2002, The Farmington Daily-Times reported. His contract wasn't renewed by the entity's board last year, the paper said.

Lewis now serves as CEO of Tribalinx, which he helped found in 2009. The firm focuses on energy, infrastructure, technology and other projects in Indian Country.

Trump hasn't talked about Indian policy during his campaign or announced any prominent Native supporters. But he has won some fans in Indian Country -- Shawn Redd, a Republican who is running Congress in Arizona, has proudly supported the controversial real estate mogul. Redd is also a Navajo citizen.

Incidentally, in announcing the agricultural committee, Trump's campaign managed to mangle the name of both the Navajo Nation and of NAPI by reporting Lewis as the former CEO of "Navaho Nation's Agricultural Products Industries."

Republican Party Platform Documents:
2016: Honoring Our Relationship with American Indians | 2012: Honoring Our Relationship with American Indians | 2008: Supporting Native American Communities | 2004: Native Americans | 2000: Native Americans

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