Leaders on the Navajo Nation have cracked down on one of its members who they say has used immigrant labor to transform 400 acres of crop land into hemp farms in the reservation’s northeastern corner.
The crops — illegal under Navajo law — have pitted residents and reservation officials against entrepreneur Dineh Benally, who has formed a partnership with a Las Vegas company that says it develops hemp and cannabis businesses on Native American lands.
Navajo Nation leaders took Benally to court and got an initial victory last week: District of Shiprock Judge Genevieve Woody granted a temporary restraining order halting the hemp farming.
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said the order grants tribal law enforcement officers authority to stop hemp production. Navajo Nation police have begun asking some workers on the hemp farms — people law enforcement officials claim are immigrant workers from Asia — to leave tribal land.
The ruling appears to provide a brief break in the dispute that came to a head this summer over the legality of Benally’s operation, which he claims has also provided employment for more than 200 members of the tribal nation.
The hemp farms are located around Shiprock on the Navajo Nation, which encompasses northeastern Arizona, northwest New Mexico and a sliver of southeastern Utah. [Read More @ AZCentral]