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Capital Briefs | Notice of ‘uncontrolled spread’ sent to 55 chapters


On Monday the Navajo Department of Health issued a health advisory notice to 55 chapters due to the uncontrolled spread of COVID-19.

This is based on the number of cases from Oct. 29 to Nov. 11.

The chapters include Aneth, Baca/Prewitt, Birdsprings, Black Mesa, Bodaway-Gap, Cameron, Casamero Lake, Chichiltah, Chilchinbeto, Chinle, Church Rock, Coyote Canyon, Crownpoint, Hogback, Houck; and
Indian Wells, Inscription House, Iyanbito, Kaibeto, Kayenta, LeChee, Leupp, Manuelito, Many Farms, Naschitti, Nenahnezad, Newcomb; and
Oak Springs, Pinon, Ramah, Red Valley, Rock Point, Rock Springs, Rough Rock, Round Rock, Sanostee, Sheep Springs, Shiprock, Shonto, St. Michaels, Tachee/Blue Gap, Teec Nos Pos, Teesto; and
Thoreau, Tohatchi, Tonalea, Torreon, Tsaile/Wheatfields, Tsayatoh, Tselani/Cottonwood, Tuba City, Two Grey Hills, Upper Fruitland and Whippoorwill.

Council opposes Biden’s 10-mile buffer zone proposal

WINDOW ROCK – The Navajo Nation Council opposed the Biden administration proposal to place a 20-year ban on oil and gas drilling within a 10-mile radius of the Chaco Canyon park, the speaker’s office reports.

Delegate Mark Freeland, who represents the area, said, “The Interior Department unilaterally made this withdrawal proposal without proper tribal consultation, now directly affecting our families on the Navajo Nation.

“Our families from the allotted land areas are ignored and they deserve very opportunity to be heard now,” Freeland said.

The Council’s position is for a five-mile buffer zone, said Speaker Seth Damon.

Damon said, “The Biden administration bypassed previous requests to Congress for field hearings and for leaders to hear directly from our Navajo families affected in the Chaco Canyon region.”
Biden announced the plan during the first day of the White House Tribal Nations Summit in Washington, D.C.

The Interior Department plans for the Bureau of Land Management to initiate consideration of the 20-year withdrawal of federal lands in the coming weeks.

“It is important that the federal government consider and work with our Navajo allottees to further advance development,” Damon said. “The administration must respect our tribal sovereignty and what the government-to-government relationship entails.”

Delegate Rickie Nez, chairman of the Resources and Development Committee, said, “Protecting the interests of the Navajo people in the Eastern Agency is vital to our roles as the governing body of the Navajo Nation.

“The Navajo Nation through a resolution has provided a compromise to also protect this sacred area from mineral development,” Nez said. “The Biden administration has to work with us to find a solution that meets our needs and that is this five-mile buffer zone.”

Delegate Jamie Henio said Congress commissioned a cultural resource investigation that is still ongoing.

“The Biden administration must wait until study results are completed before initiating this 20-year withdrawal,” Henio said. “It is through our nation-to-nation relationship that our sovereignty is inherently important and should be respected at all costs.”

Flags at half-staff in honor of WWII veteran, former delegate

All Navajo Nation flags were at half-staff on Tuesday in honor of World War II veteran Steven Ashley Sr., who passed away on Nov. 8 at the age of 95.

Ashley was Kiyaa’áanii, born for Tsi’naajínii. He lived in Houck, Arizona.

Ashley served five years in the U.S. Army during World War II. He returned home to Allentown, Arizona, and supported his family, working with the Navajo Office of Economic Opportunity’s Home Improvement Training Program.

Ashley also served on the Sanders School Board and as president and secretary for Lupton Chapter.

Several members of his family followed Ashley by enlisting in the military, including his sons Stanley and Justin Earl, and a grandson, two granddaughters, two great-grandsons in the U.S. Army, and a great granddaughter in the Marine Corps.

He is survived by his wife of 75 years, Pauline Stanley Ashley, nine children and 36 grandchildren, 52 great-grandchildren and two great-great grandsons.

He was laid to rest Friday, Nov. 12, at the Ashley family plot in Allentown, Ariz.

Funeral services for David Tom, a former delegate from Beclabito, N.M., were Friday a in Shiprock. Burial was at the Beclabito Community Cemetery.

Tom had served as a delegate from 2003 to 2014, serving the Cove, Toadlena/Two Grey Hills, Red Valley, Sheepsprings, Beclabito and Gad’ii’áhí chapters.

Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty said, “Councilman Tom is a loving husband, father, and grandfather who served our communities for over twelve years on the Navajo Nation Council.”

Crotty presented a Navajo Nation Flag to the Tom family to honor this service to the Navajo people.

Nez, first lady commends Biden’s order on missing, murdered

WINDOW ROCK – On Monday, President Jonathan Nez and first lady Phefelia Nez commended U.S. President Joe Biden for issuing an executive order directing federal officials to work with tribes to build safe communities and support law enforcement, prevention, intervention, and support services to address the missing and murdered Indigenous people crisis.

Nez said, “Far too many of our Navajo people continue to endure the heartache and frustration of a missing loved one. We have to continue to work together to do more for our people.”
Phefelia Nez said, more needs to be done, including reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.

“The executive order will help agencies at the federal, state, and tribal levels to better communicate and work together to address data sharing and collecting, responses by law enforcement, and support for families of missing persons,” she said.

On Monday, at the Tribal Leaders Summit at the White House, Biden said, “Today, I’m directing federal officials to work with tribal nations on a strategy to improve public safety and advanced justice.”

On Tuesday, President Nez joined a panel discussion about tribal priorities on the second day of the summit.

Veterans air needs to Arizona congressman

WINDOW ROCK – On Friday, the Navajo Veterans Advisory Council met with Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly to discuss the lack of direct services for veterans and the establishment of a Navajo regional office by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Advisory Council members included Vern Lee of the Northern Agency, Tim Johnson of Chinle Agency, Cici Baker of Chinle, and Olin Kieyoomia of the Fort Defiance Agency.

Lee said, “There are only four Navajo Code Talkers alive after 76 years since World World II ended. Our veterans continue to wait for direct assistance in dilapidated homes with no electricity or running water.

“We need access to quality health care services,” he said, “and for the United States to uphold its commitment to the warriors that fought bravely in all foreign wars.”

Army veteran and Delegate Kee Allen Begay Jr. urged the senator to introduce congressional legislation to create a Navajo Nation VA regional office and establish a VA hospital.

“The United States has an obligation to help our veterans and to be there for them,” Begay said. “A majority of our warriors lack the transportation to make doctor appointments, must travel many miles for their basic needs, and have no clean water or electricity in their homes.”

Kelly’s response was not included in the news release from the speaker’s office.

HUD announces community block-grants

WASHNGTON – The Navajo Nation and Acoma Pueblo are among tribes receiving part of the more than $73.9 million in Indian Community Block Grant-American Rescue Plan awards to 68 tribal communities.

The Navajo Nation will receive $3.4 million for 69 cistern and/or septic systems, install drain fields, and repair water lines all to improve sanitation services.
Acoma Pueblo will receive $1 million to for high-speed internet and connectivity.

In a Monday announcement, HUD stated these awards underscore the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to deliver COVID-19 relief to tribes.

These funds will help protect the health and safety of tribal communities, particularly low- and moderate-income individuals and families, by expanding access to safe housing, a suitable living environment, and economic opportunities, HUD announced in a news release.


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