Halona on homesite regs: ‘We’re going to use k’e’

Man pointing to document surrounded by crowd

Navajo Times | Cindy Yurth
Chinle Chapter Vice President David Yazzie shows a homesite lease as he addresses a crowd of about 60 in the Chinle BIA building last Wednesday.


It was, to say the least, a tough crowd.

As Navajo Nation Land Department Director Mike Halona last Wednesday explained the new home-site lease regulations in Navajo to about 60 mostly elderly residents in Council Delegate Kee Allen Begay’s chapters (Low Mountain/Tachee-Blue Gap/Nazlini/Tselani-Cottonwood/Many Farms), several people asked if it was too late to change them.

“Let’s put this one in the referendum vote next year,” suggested one attendee at the meeting at the BIA building conference room in Chinle.

“Everything here is going against k’e,” asserted Marvin Chee.

Helen Nez, an elder from Blue Gap, Arizona, asked in Navajo if the Diné people are “going on another Long Walk,” while Nelson Tsosie, who identified himself as a 93-year-old World War II veteran, described the new rules as “Communism.”

Halona explained most of the new rules aren’t that new … the 750-foot setback from a highway, for example, dates to 1950. It’s just that they were never enforced. “The BIA should have been doing this 50 years ago,” he said.

“They should have been doing it since the 1920s,” remarked Chee.

Nonetheless, said Halona, the BIA is now out of the home-site lease game and the tribe has to start somewhere if it wants to plan its development and keep the peace between ever-closer neighbors.

It’s possible that by lobbying their Council delegates, people could get some changes made to the regulations, which were adopted in October by the Resource and Development Committee, Halona said. However, his department must proceed with planning for and enforcing the regulations until then.

“I know it’s tough. It’s painful,” he said, “but people are saying, ‘You’d better enforce this.’” He added the enforcement will not be as apocalyptic as “rumors and misinformation” are making it out to be. “We’re not going to go out looking” for violations, he said. “We don’t have time for that.”

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Categories: News

About Author

Cindy Yurth

Cindy Yurth is the Tséyi' Bureau reporter, covering the Central Agency of the Navajo Nation. Her other beats include agriculture and Arizona state politics. She holds a bachelor’s degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University with a cognate in geology. She has been in the news business since 1980 and with the Navajo Times since 2005, and is the author of “Exploring the Navajo Nation Chapter by Chapter.” She can be reached at editor@navajotimes.com.