Monday, October 2, 2023

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Letters | Inflation concerns linger

There is a recent Navajo Nation Council legislation for a referendum to increase the number of delegates from 24 to 48. While that is making its way to the ballot, I want us to think about their current annual salary and the impacts of inflation.

We are feeling the impacts of inflation right now in our gas prices, food prices, lumber, and just about anything we have available on the market. Prices are skyrocketing!

Inflation has an impact on our salaries, too. Rising inflation reduces our purchasing power. I was curious about the purchasing power of a Council delegate’s annual salary of $24,000 a year. The Council delegates’ salary has not changed in such a long time.

Plus, Title II says that a delegate cannot have another job while serving as a Council delegate. This is very restrictive, considering the only salary a delegate will receive is $24,000. That amounts to $12 an hour for a 40-hour work week. Council delegates work seven days a week.

So, I googled the inflation issue and found a website ( that does inflation calculation. The numbers were surprising, to say the least.

Before we delve into it, I thought we should better understand purchasing power. What is it? Simply, as defined by, purchasing power is the value of a sum of money.

If inflation exceeds the cost of living, we lose more purchasing power. Therefore, if a delegate’s salary was $24,000 in 1991 and has not changed, then a $24,000 salary doesn’t have the same purchasing power as it did in 1991.

A Council delegate would have to make $49,817 in 2022 to meet the same purchasing power as $24,000 in 1991.

Now, let’s go back to the legislation to change the number of delegates from 24 to 48. If a change were to happen, would the approval of the referendum include the salary of the delegates to remain at $24,000?

Wouldn’t it make more sense to update the delegates’ salary to 2022 dollars with a cost-of-living increase on an annual basis than to increase the number of delegates to 48?

Increasing the number of delegates would increase the expenditures of the Navajo Nation budget. We have to remember we haven’t added any new significant revenue in years.

Jarvis Williams
Kayenta, Ariz.


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