Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez wasn’t in the crowds in Washington D.C. to see Donald Trump take his oath of office as the 45th United States President early Friday.
Rather than accompanying Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye, Navajo Nation Speaker LoRenzo Bates, Navajo Code Talkers and former Arizona State Sen. Carlyle Begay (R-Dist. 7), Nez was in Santa Fe to represent the Navajo Nation and its “relationship with the (New Mexico) State legislature.”
Invited by New Mexico’s speaker of the state House of Representatives Brian Egolf, Nez, along with other tribes from New Mexico, attended an open house to “build a strong working relationship…and to seek counsel for the best way to work together.”
“I’ll be representing OPVP at the invitation of Speaker Brian Egolf…which we will be discussing capital outlay projects (among other things),” said Nez in an interview with the Times. “The government still has to run even if there is an inauguration, or not.”
Nez, who supported Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign, said, however, it was “unfortunate” that winning the popular vote by 2.9 million did not solidify Clinton as president, there still would’ve been “gridlock” for her as a Democratic president having a “Republican controlled congress.”
With Begaye attending the inauguration, Nez said it is Begaye’s “duty” to attend the event in order to represent the Navajo Nation, as well as educate the new administration about Navajo and its issues. One huge concern for not just Navajo, but all of Indian Country, is what will happen once the Affordable Care Act is repealed without a replacement.
“It is important that our President (Begaye) be there to educate those potential cabinet members… He’s not just going there for the inauguration, he also has to work with the incoming administration, but there has to be that relationship,” said Nez. “That’s the partnership that President and I have, it’s his duty to be that person to be at the inauguration, and I stay here and take care of the fort.”
Besides Bates and Begaye attending, this is a list of other leaders who are said to have attended the inauguration: Seth Damon (Baahaali/Chilchiltah/Manuelito/Red Rock/Rock Springs/Tsayatoh); Davis Filfred(Mexican Water/ To’likan/Teesnospos/Aneth/Red Mesa); Otto Tso (Tónaneesdizí) ; Lee Jack Sr.(Dilcon/Indian Wells/Teesto/Whitecone/Greasewood Springs); Raymond Smith Jr. (Klagetoh/ Wide Ruins/Houck/Lupton/Nahata Dziil); Tuchoney Slim, Jr. (Coppermine/ K’aii’to/LeChee/Tonalea/Red Lake/Bodaway/Gap); Amber Crotty (Toadlena/Two Grey Hills/Red Valley/Tse’alnaozt’i’i’, Sheepsprings/Beclabito/Gadiiahi/To’Koi) Tom Chee (Shiprock); Norman M. Begay (Alamo/Ramah/Tohajiilee); Nathaniel Brown (Chilchinbeto/Dennehotso/Kayenta); Kee Allen Begay, Jr. (Tachee/Blue Gap/Many Farms/Nazlini/Tselani/Cottonwood/Low Mountain).