Being of the Year: the feral horse controversy stole the spotlight in 2013

By Cindy Yurth
Tséyi' Bureau

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(Times photos)

TOP to BOTTOM: Johnny Naize, Jack Jackson, Byron Shorty, Leandra Thomas.

While Republicans and Democrats glared at each other across the aisle in Washingdoon, the Navajo Nation also seemed paralyzed by conflict this past year.

When we thought about the top newsmakers, they seemed to emerge in opposing pairs: President Ben Shelly and traditional practitioner Leland Grass locked horns over what to do with the feral horses; the Resources and Development Committee hammered at NHA head Aneva Yazzie over unspent federal funds; Arizona State Rep. Albert Hale and newly appointed state Sen. Carlyle Begay squared off over Begay's residency.

Meanwhile, though this hardly seems like news any more, the special prosecutor's net spread ever-wider in the slush fund scandal, encompassing Speaker Johnny Naize and many other present and former Council delegates.

Former NHA director Chester Carl was acquitted of accepting bribes from contractor William Aubrey, but Aubrey is headed to federal prison this month.

Another scandal in the news involved Sage Hospital, where CEO Ahmad Razaghi was accused of contracting with his own staffing company and accepting a $1.8 million bonus while some staffers had gone years without a raise.

Making good news was Jack C. Jackson Jr., who left the Arizona state senate to claim a newly created post at the U.S. State Department as its liaison to the tribes.

Miss Navajo Nation Leandra "Abby" Thomas turned the crown over to Natasha Hardy, after commissioning a commemorative shawl from the Pendleton Woolen Mills that she dedicated to Diné women of all ages.

And speaking of culture, the latest generation set out to prove that the Navajo language isn't dead yet. Videos emerged on YouTube of 10-year-old Quinton Kien of Steamboat telling stories in perfect Navajo. Not to be outdone, third-grader Ian Meade -- a blond, blue-eyed Anglo -- joined Piñon Elementary's Atsá Native Club and learned traditional songs and dances.

Twenty-something Byron Shorty combined an ancient language and modern technology to produce the "Navajo Word of the Day" website in an effort to get people into their language one word at a time. He's currently working on a smart phone application.

Here at the Navajo Times, it was the end of an era as photo editor Paul Natonabah retired after 40 years capturing life on the Navajo Nation.

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