Language fluency override bill fails
ABOVE: Attending audience members react when the bill that would be have over rode President Ben Shelly’s veto, fails by a vote of 13-5 on Thursday evening during a special session in Window Rock. (Times photo – Donovan Quintero)
The bill to override Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly’s veto failed by a vote of 13-5 on Thursday evening during a special session at the Navajo Nation Council Chamber.
Known as the language fluency bill, if passed, it would have allowed Navajo voters to decide if a candidate running for tribal office is fluent in Navajo.
The bill needed 16 votes or two-thirds for passage.
Karletta Chief, an agent to the bill, addressed the Navajo Nation Council.
“Fluency is a term not quantified, is subjective, and is of personal opinion,” said Chief. “Getting a college education typically results in speaking less Navajo but this does not mean one can improve their language proficiency.”
Leonard Tsosie, who co-sponsored the resolution that sought to amend language requirements within the Navajo Nation Election Code, said he was disappointed that the bill did not pass.
“(The) override would have begun the healing process,” said Tsosie. “The Navajo Supreme Court, President Ben Shelly, and five delegates, deprived thousands of Navajo people of their votes and leader of their choice.”
“It’s a sad part of Navajo history,” he added.