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Capital Briefs | O’Halleran praises Hardship payments


On Monday Rep. Tom O’Halleran, D-Ariz., attended a virtual town hall meeting with Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, Vice President Myron Lizer, and Senator Mark Kelly to discuss relief made available to tribes via the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan Act.

A newly-approved Navajo Nation Council resolution will provide a second round of Hardship Assistance checks for Navajo citizens of $2,000 for adults and $600 for children via ARPA.

This week, the Nation’s controller’s office also began distribution of CARES Act Hardship Assistance of $342 for Navajo elders, additional monies approved by an end-of-year Council resolution.

“These bills were designed to provide ongoing support from an everchanging pandemic,” O’Halleran said, “and these decisive actions by the Navajo Nation will ensure that elders are properly equipped throughout this next wave of the pandemic.”

O’Halleran voted in favor of the CARES Act in March of 2020 and ARPA in April of 2021, working to ensure each package put the needs of Indian Country at the forefront.

Council supports beef labeling act

WINDOW ROCK – The Naabik’íyáti’ Committee OK’d a resolution (No. NABID-54-21) that supports the American Beef Labeling Act of 2021.

The act seeks to reinstate labels that indicate the country of origin to ensure the authenticity of beef.

It was passed unanimously and sponsored by Delegate Edmund Yazzie.

The current U.S. labeling system allows imported beef from animals that are neither born nor raised in the country to be labeled as a product of the USA.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated in 2012 that 18% of beef in the U.S. marketplace is sourced either as an imported product or from imported cattle from more than 20 countries, which is converted to beef in a U.S. packing plant.

Yazzie said, “Our Navajo ranchers raise premium beef for the American consumer, and we need to protect the integrity of their product in the marketplace.

“We just want to make sure our beef products are properly labeled and represented so families can make an educated decision about what they want to put on their table,” he said.

In September, U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., introduced the American Beef Labeling Act of 2021.

As a result of this, the Navajo Nation Council advocates and supports the passage of Thune’s bill.

January named human trafficking prevention, awareness month

WINDOW ROCK – On Tuesday, the president’s office reported that President Jonathan Nez signed a proclamation that recognizes January as the “Navajo Nation Human Trafficking Prevention and Awareness Month.”

The proclamation states that trafficking, also known as modern slavery, includes forced labor and sexual exploitation.

Presentations aimed at preventing human trafficking will be offered this month by the first and second ladies’ office along with Tyesha Wood, a former Crimes against Children detective, Yolanda Francisco-Nez, of Restoring Ancestral Winds, Thomas Alberti, of the New Mexico U.S. Attorney’s Office, Matthew Holgate, a student of Vanguard University, and the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety.

First lady Phefelia Nez said, “We also recognize advocates, social service agencies, and counselors for providing support to survivors and families, and law enforcement personnel who work to bring offenders to justice.

“To help their efforts,” she said, “we encourage every Navajo business, community, organization, faith community, family, and individual in the Navajo Nation to educate and protect each other. Together, we can reunite, heal, and restore Navajo communities.”

The president’s office encourages everyone to wear blue during the month of January to recognize and promote “Navajo Nation Human Trafficking Prevention and Awareness Month.”

If you suspect human trafficking in your community, please call the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free at 888-373-7888 or contact local law enforcement.

Members wanted for panel on derogatory names

WASHINGTON – On Friday, the Department of the Interior announced it is seeking nominations for members of the new Advisory Committee on Reconciliation in Place Names.

The committee will identify geographic names and federal land unit names considered derogatory and solicit proposals on replacement names.

On Nov. 19, 2021, Secretary Deb Haaland directed the National Park Service to form the committee as part of a broad effort to review and replace derogatory names of the nation’s geographic features.

Haaland also declared “squaw” to be a derogatory term and instructed the Board on Geographic Names – the federal body tasked with naming geographic places – to implement procedures to remove the word from national usage.

Haaland said, “Too many of our nation’s lands and waters continue to perpetuate a legacy of oppression. This important advisory committee will be integral to our efforts to identify places with derogatory terms whose expiration dates are long overdue.”

In addition to 17 discretionary members appointed by Haaland, the committee will also be composed of:

• At least four members of a tribe.
• At least one representative of a tribal organization.
• At least one representative of a Native Hawaiian organization.
• At least four people with backgrounds in civil rights or race relations.
• At least four people with expertise in anthropology, cultural studies, geography, or history.
• At least three members of the public.

More details on the committee and applying are available in the Federal Register.

Nominations for the committee must be submitted to Joshua Winchell, Office of Policy, National Park Service, at

AZ tribes hold roundtable with Sinema

WASHINGTON – Members of the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona held a virtual roundtable on Monday with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., on the investments the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs law makes to expand jobs and opportunities in tribal communities.

Arizona tribes will benefit from investments in transportation and water infrastructure, broadband deployment, and security programs – while respecting tribal sovereignty.

The law provides $3.5 billion for tribal water and sanitation infrastructure, $2 billion to expand high-speed broadband in tribal communities, and $2.5 billion in funding for Indian water rights settlements – including settlements with the Tohono O’odham Nation, Gila River, and White Mountain Apache.

Shan Lewis, vice chairman of the Fort Mojave Tribe and president of the ITAA, said, “Tribes must have a prominent voice in implementing the infrastructure funding in order to address needed improvements for tribal roads and bridges, energy development, clean drinking water, housing, broadband, and many other structures and facilities.”

The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona consists of 21 tribes and was established to provide a united voice for tribal governments located in Arizona.

New Veterans Advisory Council members sworn in

WINDOW ROCK – On Jan. 4, six new members of the Navajo Nation Veterans Advisory Council were sworn in: Tim Johnson, Linda Onesalt, Elouise Brown, Gabriella Mehl, Gilbert Platero, and Olin Kieyoomia.

They join returning members Elciena Baker, Billy Goodman Jr., Vern Roy Lee, and Marie Zwierlein.

Following their oath of office, the Veterans Advisory Council elected Johnson, from Central Agency, to serve as the new chairman; Brown, from Northern Agency, as vice chair; and Baker, from Chinle Agency, as secretary.

The Navajo Nation has more than 10,000 veterans.

Lizer endorses Blackman for Congress

SNOWFLAKE, Ariz. – Walt Blackman for Congress announced Jan. 3 that Vice President Myron Lizer endorsed Blackman.

Lizer co-founded Native Americans for Trump and spoke at the 2020 Republican National Convention.

Blackman was the first black Republican elected to Arizona’s Legislature and a veteran with nearly 22 years of service in the U.S. Army.

“I want to thank Vice President Myron Lizer for his endorsement of our campaign for Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District,” Blackman said. “Much of my district in the Arizona House of Representatives includes portions of the Navajo Nation, and I’ve been proud to represent them and fight for their interests.

“When we win in 2022, Native Americans all across Arizona will have a fighter,” he said.


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