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Tsosie: Shelly took ‘a gutless punch to this democratic movement’

Tsosie: Shelly took ‘a gutless punch to this democratic movement’
Leonard Tsosie

Leonard Tsosie

By Delegate Leonard Tsosie
22nd Navajo Nation Council

On Oct. 28, I went to the president’s office with optimism that Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly will sign Res. CO-47-14, which amended the fluency requirement for the election of Navajo officials, including the president. I met many Navajo persons beaming with their democratic movement on Navajoland.

With the stroke of a pen, President Shelly took a gutless punch to this democratic movement. He had to “duck” into his black-shaded SUV to avoid the Navajo people. Such a sad sight and day.

Many people have misconstrued Res. CO-47-14. It does not erase the Navajo language. It leaves the choice of determining the fluency of potential Navajo leaders to the voters.

Even OHA and the Navajo Supreme Court can’t decide what fluency is. They had to adopt a test offered by a private litigant that was never vetted through the Navajo democratic process, and they never heard the case on the merits. We are all at fault for the decline of the fluency of Navajo speakers, including the courts. We now need to resolve ourselves and re-commit ourselves to breathe a life back into the Navajo language and give this wonderful language back to our youth.

The president’s action only pushed the youth farther away. The president did not want to stand up to command leadership in this crisis. Instead, he claims to be obeying the Navajo Supreme Court. Little did he realize that signing a legislation is not an unlawful act.

I cannot let unfairness and illogical reasoning be in the way of Navajo democratic movement. It is not only the youth that is moving.

I have seen many elders walking with their grandchildren to allow for the young to be at the leadership table. They are not wrong and the Council should not let them down.

In that vein, an override legislation has been introduced to lawfully enact the law. All Navajos should have a respectful dialogue and convince their Council delegate to vote for the override legislation, which will be posted on the Internet. Please remember that democratic discussion cannot be done with civil unrest. May the Creator continue to bless our homeland.

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