Letters: A constitution is needed since Code fails yet again

Many months ago, the Navajo Nation was entrenched in the quagmire of Navajo Code crisis over who was to be president.

Then, the Navajo Code clearly named the Speaker of the Council as interim president in the event that “no elected person” could be offered the oath, because he was elected, and therefore accountable in theory of the “elders” who wrote the Code. But the Speaker, and this modern council, decided that the Code was not good enough law for them to follow, and making up things as they went along, they appointed the loser Ben Shelly. (Never mind that Shelly not only lost this primary election, but also that he had no qualms over ignoring the Navajo Code either, and fully supported the Navajo Council and its departure from the conscription proscribed in the Navajo Nation Code. He, rather enjoying their newly-minted-council-role as kingmakers regardless of whether the Navajo people and their chapters at large voted for this king or not.)

Months later, we are now reading that the Navajo Nation Council has once again proven that it cares neither for the Navajo Nation Code or for the Navajo people who would like to see their government run by more than just ninnies let loose out of the sheep corral. The Council has not only once again made action that flies in the face of the letter of the law outlined in the Navajo Tribal Code, they have openly defied the point of embodying mitigating laws in a Code in the first place.

The removal of the Navajo Nation Controller Jim Parris is no more surprising in the wake of the Council’s blatant disregard of the Code than in the presidential line of succession matter, than the actions that have yet to come out of Window Rock to the detriment of the chapters and the people. And this is putting aside how racist this controller showdown looks. Until the Navajo people install an operating constitution that holds government accountable, and that creates government by the people, the current Navajo Code will continue to fail at safeguarding the Navajo Tribe from woeful council actors like today.

The U.S. government created the Code, not the Navajo people. The Code protects the council, not Dinétah. Until the Navajo people enact a constitution that creates a limited Navajo government for Dinétah and her people, one that is held accountable to those people and their lineage, and not the “Council Boys Club” in Window Rock, the likes of our current council speaker and his faction will continue to run roughshod over any culture of good government Navajos hope to set up in Window Rock.

Nathan Shorty
Ganado, Ariz.

(Editor’s note: the recent contested election involved current President Russell Begaye, not former President Ben Shelly.)

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Categories: Letters