The Navajo Nation Healthy Diné Nation Act: A Description of Community Wellness Projects Funded by a 2% Tax on Minimal-to-No-Nutritious-Value Foods

Del Yazzie, Kristen Tallis, Caleigh Curley, Priscilla R. Sanderson, Regina Eddie, Sonya Shin, Timothy K. Behrens, Carmen George, Ramona Antone-Nez, Shirleen Jumbo-Rintila, Gloria Ann Begay, Hendrik Dirk De Heer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Context: To promote the health of the Navajo people, the Navajo Nation passed the Healthy Diné Nation Act (HDNA) in 2014. The HDNA included a 2% tax on “minimal-to-no-nutritional-value” foods and waived 5% sales tax on healthy foods, the first such policy in the United States and any sovereign Tribal nation. Uniquely aligned with Tribal government structures, revenue was directly allocated to 110 small local government entities (Chapters) for self-determined wellness projects. Objective: To characterize HDNA-funded wellness projects, test for variation in project type, and funding amount over time by region and community size. Design: Longitudinal study assessing funded wellness projects from tax inception through 2019. Setting: The Navajo Nation. Participants: One hundred ten Navajo Nation Chapters receiving funding for self-determined wellness projects. Outcome Measures: The categories and specific types of wellness projects and funding over 4 years by region and community size. Results: Of revenue collected in 2015-2018, more than 99.1% was disbursed through 2019 ($4.6 million, $13 385 annually per community) across 1315 wellness projects (12 per community). The built recreational environment category received 38.6% of funds, equipment/supplies 16.5%, instruction 15.7%, food and water initiatives 14.0%, and social events 10.2%. Most common specific projects were walking trails ($648 470), exercise equipment ($585 675), food for events ($288 879), playgrounds ($287 471), and greenhouses ($275 554). Only the proportion allocated to instruction changed significantly over time (increased 2% annually, P =.02). Smaller communities (population <1000) allocated significantly higher proportions to traditional, agricultural, and intergenerational projects and less to the built environment. Conclusions: Through 2019, more than 99% of HDNA revenue was successfully disbursed to 110 rural, Tribal communities. Communities chose projects related to promoting the built recreational environment, agriculture, and fitness/nutrition education, with smaller communities emphasizing cultural and intergenerational projects. These findings can inform other indigenous nations considering similar policies and funding distributions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E471-E479
JournalJournal of Public Health Management and Practice
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2022


  • Chapter
  • HDNA
  • Junk food
  • Navajo Nation
  • Rural
  • Sovereignty
  • Tax
  • Tribal
  • Wellness projects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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