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Council’s attack on free speech

By Marley Shebala
Special to the Times

WINDOW ROCK – It’s a year since the 25th Navajo Nation Council took office, convened its annual five-day winter session, and elected Navajo Nation Council Delegate Crystalyne Curley as their speaker.

During Curley’s campaign speech for speaker, she promised to improve the livestreaming of Council meetings, which also included its standing committees, commissions, boards, subcommittees, leadership meetings, et cetera.

But now, she and Navajo Council Delegate Danny Simpson are sponsoring Legislation 0012-24, the Navajo Legislative Branch Media Police & Procedures, which would give the speaker, one Council delegate, the authority to decide what newspaper, photographer, radio station, student newspaper, television station, and small Diné female media business, like mine, will be allowed to report on the Council meetings, how Council meetings will be reported on, with what equipment will used to report meetings, and what meetings will be reported on. And if the speaker, one Council delegate, decides that the media policy has been violated, then that news agency, or that freelance news reporter, will have their approved press credentials revoked.

The Curley-Simpson the media policy, Legislation 0012-24, only requires the Council’s Naabik’íyáti Committee approval to become Navajo law. Naabi is scheduled to meet Thursday and 0012-24 is on their proposed agenda.

I looked on the Navajo Council website to do a story on the 2024 annual five-day winter session, which is scheduled to convene Monday, Jan. 22, but Curley had not posted a proposed winter session agenda.

What I did see and have been seeing is a poster by Navajo Council Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty announcing a Human Trafficking Awareness Gathering inside an outdoor tent at the Navajo Council chambers in Window Rock from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., Jan. 22, the first day of the Council’s winter session.

Crotty posted that the Navajo Council Human Trafficking Awareness Gathering was organized by the Missing and Murdered Diné Relatives Task Force and herself and everyone is welcome to attend. She urged everyone to dress warm.

Curley posted the “Winter Session Daily Colors” on the Council Facebook page this morning. According to her post, “Each day of the 2024 Winter Council Session will have a color that corresponds with an awareness day. Please join us in supporting these causes by wearing the daily color.”

Day one is wear blue day to support the awareness of human trafficking. Day two is wear red day to yearly observe the first Friday in February dedicated to the education of heart disease.

Days three, four and five have no color designated, but the lettering and design for each of those three days are a specific color. The color of the lettering and design for day 3 is turquoise, which is for cervical cancer awareness. Day four’s primary color is purple and that’s to bring attention to World Cancer Day Feb. 4. And the primary color for day five is green, which is to recognize National Glaucoma Awareness Month and educate the public about how glaucoma is one of the leading causes of vision loss and blindness.

And day one of the Council’s annual winter session has always been when the sitting Navajo Nation presidents the State of the Navajo Nation Address before the Council and then the Council does a question-and-answer session with the president. But President Buu Nygren gave his winter session state of the nation address to the public at Nakai Hall on the tribal fairgrounds in Window Rock Jan. 9.

During the first day of the Council’s annual five-day fall session, Nygren was called on by Curley to present the 2023 fall session State of the Navajo Nation Address, but Nygren was not in the Council chambers. By the time Nygren and his entourage arrived at the Council, Curley was presenting her report. The Council had voted to accept Nygren’s written state of the nation and called on Curley to do her quarterly speaker’s report.

I telephoned Nygren’s public information officer, George Hardeen, to find out if Nygren would be presenting his winter state of the nation before the Council on Jan. 22, day one of their winter session. I’m waiting for a call back.


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