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Why shouldn't Navajos dig for bitcoins?

5 min reading

Bitcoin mining is developing really fast and is giving opportunities to Navajo Nation to be a part of this growth.


Navajo Nation is a leader in bitcoin mining.

While Texas and Wyoming have been in the limelight after the Bitcoin mining ban in China, the basis for Bitcoin mining already lies in the American Southwest. It's also a good coincidence: Bitcoin mining has fueled the healthy economic growth that the Four Corners region has desperately needed for generations. In 2017, West Block, a Calgary, Alberta company, turned to Navajo to build a mining center on Navajo land. Earlier in the year, the Canadian company began expanding its mine to double its size to 15 megawatts (MW). With energy from the surrounding area, the mine can spit out about 400 bitcoins per year (depending on network conditions).

However, it is petty to think of bitcoin as the only way out of mine. Mining creates prospects for multiple avenues for social growth, including financial access and energy consumption, which have long been a thorn in the Navajo side, as have many face-to-face interviews with Navajo members, tribal delegates, and government officials. as part of the current documentation on this Topic. And not in a selfish sense, but completely for personal gain. Bitcoin promised sovereignty, Navajo and other First Nations were always promised but never received.

Bitcoin Case

The Navajo are the largest Native American reservation in the United States and the second largest tribe with about 300,000 members. It is also one of the poorest communities in the United States. A third of the Navajo population live below the poverty line, while chronic unemployment has become the norm at around 48%.

Much of that poverty is rooted in an 1868 agreement with the US government, Amber Kanazba Croti, the Amber tribal representative, told Compass Mining. His legacy lives on, especially in the country's relationship with the banking sector, he said. “We are a nation that works with the nation of the United States. But they will not recognize this interstate agreement in terms of the US currency,” said the Croti delegation. "You want complete control." This control is most often observed in the status of Indians with insufficient banking or the so-called "deerskin curtain". In fact, Indians are the least-represented American minority group in the US banking system today.

This exclusion leads not only to limited possibilities, but also to structural weaknesses, including intergovernmental interactions. Croti said he was deeply concerned that working with the US banking system could jeopardize Navajo sovereignty. For example, is it in the interest of the Navajo Nation to interact with the political network of dollar-backed financial institutions? Would it undermine the Navajo's sovereignty as a "nation-within-nation"? Even so, the Navajo as a nation remained in a strange predicament. Its citizens must pay federal taxes in dollars, but cannot access the myriad of financial instruments created for the currency 2,000 miles off the east coast. The situation led the Navajo to look for alternatives, Croti said.

In fact, Bitcoin mining is an almost perfect alternative to places with access to high-energy resources. The Navajo lands are full of non-renewable and renewable resources such as coal, hydropower, natural gas, and sunlight. In addition, bitcoin's demand for cheap and reliable energy is increasing renewable energy, said local company Navajo. And the need for renewable energy has been realized. The Navajo mine is 59% renewable. Compared to 19% for the US power grid itself.

Digital alternative

With Bitcoin, the topic then became marketing. Can the bitcoin industry convince the Navajo and other early nations that bitcoin is not only in their financial interests, but also in their country's best interests?

From the point of view of the Bitcoin mining industry, the case is clear. From a financial point of view, Bitcoin invites everyone to participate. Anyone can freely make transactions, enforce rules with nodes, or even earn bitcoins just by joining the network. Compare this to the current financial system, which has removed millions from the Navajo since 1868. In terms of energy consumption, Bitcoin mining stimulates energy use at the source, a major differentiator from previous energy consumers in large cities hundreds of kilometers away. On top of that, Bitcoin has always needed cheap energy – something the Navajos have in abundance in the sun. The current mine is a good example as most of its electricity comes from renewable solar sources. In fact, it stimulates even further formation of solar reserves and consumes constant primary energy.

But the story has not been played. Bitcoin has yet to gain the trust of most Navajos, and educational initiatives remain important. Meanwhile, more mines are expected to emerge in the coming months. And with the increasing use of Bitcoin mining, the awareness of Bitcoin as an asset for self-sovereignty is increasing.

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