St. Mike’s chapter prez to fight recall group


Janis Damon said this past weekend she plans to fight efforts by a group of disgruntled members of her chapter who want to force her out of office.

The group, headed in part by Willie Keeto Jr., who lost to Damon in the 2016 election for chapter president, contends that Damon’s leadership in the chapter is disorganized and is hurting the chapter.

Damon, however, contends that whatever problems the chapter now faces is due to efforts by Keeto and his group to take over control of the St. Michaels chapter, no matter how adversely it affects chapter affairs.

Accusations that the recall movement has been put into effect because of her actions during the past six months are not accurate, she said.

Str. Michaels chapter house locator mapShe pointed out that after the election Keeto and his group went to the Navajo Election Administration to do the recall then but was told they had to wait six months so six months later, the recall movement is going forward.

She said the current problems facing the chapter can be traced back to before she became president and problems with the community service coordinator who “kept making mistakes and wouldn’t work with chapter officials.

Damon said she had the same problems but was told that chapter staff members report to the Division of Community Development and not to elected chapter officials.

She said chapter meetings are continuously disrupted by seven individuals, all of them who are listed as members of the recall committee.

“These individuals express their views loudly and halt decisions and the progress of the chapter,” she said.

During chapter meetings, she said, members of this group make changes in the agenda by adding or subtracting items that benefit them without any thought for the rest of the community.
She also addressed the charges that her not being able to understand Navajo is hurting the chapter.

She said while she does not speak Navajo fluently, she can understand it well and speak it to a certain extent.

“I feel this is a minor issue because most of the community does understand the English language,” she said.

She said that the group’s insistence to make Navajo the primary language of chapter meetings results in younger Navajos who do not understand the language refusing to come to meetings.
“If we continue to limit individuals that do not speak Navajo fluently than what is the purpose of community?” she asked.

She also disagreed with accusations in the petition calling for her recall that she lacks compassion.

“I am compassionate to the people,” she said, “because I am one of the people and I understand the hardships. But we all still need to go by the rules and laws to officially provide assistance.”

She said that she has come under fire from this group because she has refused to support efforts to give their relatives tribal scholarships after they either don’t turn in an application or fail to meet grade standards.

Other students have been rejected for these same rules so it’s important that the chapter treat everyone the same, she said.

She added that she feels it is important that the community members who voted her in office stand behind her and refuse to sign the recall petitions.

“We, the new officials, have only been in office for six months and we are making changes and working with the community to get our chapter certified so we can tap into local economic resources to improve the lives of our community members,” Damon said.

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Categories: Politics

About Author

Bill Donovan

Bill Donovan has been writing about the Navajo Nation government since 1971 and for the Navajo Times since 1976. He is currently semi-retired and is living in Torrance, California, and continues to report for the Navajo Times.