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Capital Briefs: Mariano Lake hears updates on road improvements

MARIANO LAKE, N.M.

On Tuesday at Mariano Lake Chapter, the Navajo Division of Transportation and Navajo Engineering and Construction Authority provided updates on road improvements for Navajo Route 11 and Navajo Route 7113, which were recently completed.

The first phase of the N-11 project included new pavement for 3.7 miles of the 12-mile road. Funded by the Federal Highway Administration’s Tribal Transportation Program, the project included grading, a bridge, fencing, cattle guards, gates, and new signage. The roadway sees an average of 250 vehicles per day.

The N-7113 project, nearly three miles south of Mariano Lake Chapter, included a three-inch gravel base, two culvert installations and signage.

Delegate Edmund Yazzie said Mariano Lake Chapter officials for years worked to secure funding for the projects.

Yazzie said, “I am very happy for the students, parents, grandparents, and all of our community members who have better roads.”

Vice President Myron Lizer said, “To build an economy, you have to have good quality roads to increase commerce and improve transportation. Not only will it provide safer routes for students, parents, and first responders, but it will help to grow the local economy and lead to other developments such as housing, public safety resources, and other factors that help to build a nation.”

The day was hosted by Mariano Chapter President Jay DeGroat, Vice President Henry Begay, Secretary/Treasurer Henry Begay Jr., and Community Services Coordinator Leandra James.

Biden praised for expanding Bears Ears

WINDOW ROCK – Navajo Nation leaders praised President Joe Biden who on Friday signed a proclamation that restored protections for the Bears Ears National Monument. Biden’s signature reinstates 1.36 million acres as a protected area for the national monument.

In 2016, the Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe, Pueblo of Zuni, Ute Indian Tribe, and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe worked together with President Barack Obama to designate the Bears Ears region as a national monument.

In 2017, President Donald Trump signed a proclamation that downsized the monument by 85 percent and opened the land to natural resource extraction.

President Jonathan Nez was at the White House on Friday along with tribal, state, and federal leaders, as Biden signed the proclamation.

Nez said the signing is “a victory for our people, our ancestors, and future generations. We are here today through the strength of our ancestors and our prayers.”

The speaker’s office also praised Biden’s action.

Delegate Herman Daniels said, “Bears Ears National Monument is our home and a sacred place close to the heart of the Navajo people.

“We have lived, farmed, hunted, gathered herbs, and conducted ceremonies on this sacred land for hundreds of years,” he said. “Bears Ears is a sacred site that will be protected for future generations.”

Damon: No consultation

However, a news release from the speaker’s office issued on Saturday states that Speaker Seth Damon and members of the Navajo Nation Council continue to encounter resistance from the Navajo Nation Washington Office and the president’s office.

The news release says the lack of recognition from President Jonathan Nez for the laws created by the legislative branch is cause for concern.

In 2019, the Naabik’íyáti’ Committee of the Navajo Nation Council unanimously approved a resolution to support congressional legislation that would expand the boundaries of the sacred site.

On Friday, Nez and other tribal leaders joined President Joe Biden and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland as Biden signed the proclamation restoring protections for Bears Ears National Monument.

Damon said, “It concerns us that the Navajo Nation Washington Office did not consult or meet with the Navajo Nation Council about this historic moment.

“President Nez and the Washington Office closed the lines of communication with the Council which directly impacts our Navajo people,” Damon said. “Without a unified voice on national issues – the land, water, and livelihood of our people are left unprotected.”

As of this morning, there was no reply or comment from President Jonathan Nez’s office.

Nez signs on to Indigenous Peoples’ Day

WINDOW ROCK – A proclamation was signed on Monday in honor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, the second Monday of October, the president’s office reports.

President Jonathan Nez said, “The Navajo Nation has long been opposed to celebrating Columbus Day because it celebrates colonialism, oppression, and injustice inflicted on Indigenous peoples.”

Columbus is credited with “discovering” the Americas, but the land was already inhabited by many people.

“Transforming Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day will encourage young Indigenous peoples to have pride in the place and people they come from and to be a part of a movement to reteach the history of the country,” Nez said.

Last Friday, U.S. President Joe Biden signed the first proclamation in honor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

In 2019, the New Mexico Legislature voted to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. A total of 13 states and more than 100 cities have recognized Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

A new bill introduced by U.S. senators Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., and Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., and U.S. Rep. Norma Torres, D-Calif., would replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day as a federally recognized holiday.

The proclamation signed by Nez on Monday recognizes Oct. 11as “Navajo Nation Indigenous Peoples’ Day.”

Tribes discuss NM redistricting plans

ALBUQUERQUE – On Monday, tribal leaders met to discuss ongoing efforts to redistrict voting boundaries in New Mexico, the president’s office reports.

President Jonathan Nez said, “It’s critical that the Navajo Nation and all New Mexico tribes stand united when it comes to redistricting for the state of New Mexico. Just as we saw with the recent successful restoration of the Bears Ears National Monument, we are stronger when we stand together and advocate on a government-to-government basis with states and at the federal level.”

Nez joined All Pueblo Council of Governors and Jicarilla Apache Nation representatives at the Indian Pueblo Culture Center.

Navajo Nation Council Speaker Seth Damon, Council delegates Daniel Tso and Wilson Stewart Jr., and Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission Executive Director Leonard Gorman also attended.
In New Mexico, approximately 12% of the total population is Native American.

The Navajo Nation has 48 chapters in the state within McKinley, San Juan, Cibola, Rio Arriba, Sandoval, Bernalillo and Socorro counties.

In Arizona, the Independent Redistricting Committee continues to work with the Navajo Human Rights Commission on redistricting plans.

Information: https://www.nmredistricting.org.

Interior Department welcomes Biden-Harris appointees

WASHINGTON — The Department of the Interior on Wednesday announced key members of its leadership team who will work to advance President Biden’s agenda.

Chief of Staff Lawrence Roberts said, “These new team members will help serve our mission to honor the federal government’s trust responsibilities to Indian Country, strengthen the nation-to-nation relationship, and conserve our public lands and waters for current and future generations.”

Interior’s political team reflects the diversity of America, with more than 60% identifying as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous or people of color) and 70% as women.

The appointees are listed below in alphabetical order:

• Joaquin Gallegos, special assistant, Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs
• Wizipan Little Elk, principal deputy Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs
• Mike Martinez, deputy assistant secretary, Fish and Wildlife and Parks
• Matthew Strickler, deputy assistant secretary, Fish and Wildlife and Parks


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