Just Transition - header
Ed Moss

Just Transition - legacy of coal

Just Transition - legacy of coal
Ted Grussing

The legacy of coal

For at least two generations, the coal industry has provided high-paying jobs to Navajo and Hopi families, plus revenue to tribal governments. But those benefits are short-lived — the economy comes to a grinding halt when the resource that's being extracted is gone. It has left behind ravaged strip-mined lands and diminished local groundwater. Now that the largest coal-fired power plant in the West has closed, how do Indigenous communities rebuild their livelihoods?

Just Transition - art graphic

Just Transition - art graphic

Life after coal: what does a just transition look like?

Momentum is building for the just transition movement. In 2020, Navajo and Hopi community members met virtually to paint a picture of what new economies could look like for the region. Food security — being able to grow and source food locally — and equitable access to water are the building blocks. Once those basic needs are met, the charge is to expand the economy utilizing skilled workers, educated individuals, technology, and innovation.

Examples of economic projects

Just Transition - Trust support

The Grand Canyon Trust stands behind Native communities and supports community-created solutions that work toward a more just economy. 

Just Transition - supporting a just transition

Supporting a Just Transition

Just Transition - 3 columns

Photo by Raymond Chee

Process matters

We convene gatherings and create space for community members, local organizations, and leaders to design their dream economy. Achieving an equitable economy requires local drivers of change.

Photo by Raymond Chee

Supporting Native businesses

Change Labs is breaking down barriers for small business owners on tribal lands and building an entrepreneurial ecosystem that creates multiplier effects throughout the region. Learn more ›

Photo by Deidra Peaches

Help find resources

The Trust helps find investment dollars and form equitable partnerships to increase resources available to communities for their sustainable economic development projects.


Just Transition - map and reclamation

Just Transition - map and reclamation

Cleaning up from coal

The clean up of Navajo Generating Station and the Peabody coal mines presents an opportunity for people in the region to reclaim their land and water. The Navajo Nation, with support of the secretary of the interior, can require Peabody to contract with Native-owned businesses for the clean-up. Getting local people and former mine workers involved in the restoration is a way to invest in skilled workers and local communities. 

Just Transition - what you can do

Everybody has a role in a just transition, no matter where you live, no matter who you are.

A just transition necessarily starts from within Indigenous communities, but it's not all on their shoulders. You can help support a just transition by paying attention to policies around power generation, water use, and climate change. Collectively, we need to rethink our economic systems, figure out how to live in balance with nature, and put sustainability in place for all communities.

Change Labs Blog


First-generation jeweler Thomas Deel is back at his jeweler's bench crafting statement pieces out of silver, turquoise, coral, and gold.

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Summer and LaMandez Brown knew there weren't a lot of jobs on the Navajo reservation. So they made their own.

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Marisa Mike, a Diné fashion designer, combines traditional styles with contemporary twists in her line of special-occasion wear.

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