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‘Turmoil happening’: Work environment at president’s office not healthy Part I

WINDOW ROCK – The president’s office is heavily contaminated with a toxic masculinity stew, according to several Buu Nygren appointees who have had short service tenures of their respective offices.

The former appointees described how some of the administration’s women staffers experience violence and abuse – from sexual assault to sexual harassment – and are now dealing with serious physical and emotional effects.

The former appointees suggest that the president’s and his staff’s travel habits across the country are excessive. According to them, the president and his staff are flying more hours than a rookie on a beer run and Nygren is focusing too much on urban issues at the expense of his duties to the Navajo Nation.

Numerous purchase requisitions – signed by Patrick Sandoval, the president’s chief of staff – obtained by the Navajo Times reveal that Nygren and his staff spent thousands of dollars on items purchased online and outside the Nation. Several requisitions show items were bought on Amazon and shipped to Alray Nelson’s house in Gallup. Nelson is Nygren’s personal assistant.

The former appointees revealed how Nygren’s bungled presidential transition and his choice for some shambolic team members – a few from the Joe Shirley Jr. Administration – set the template for his administration.

The former appointees also revealed Nygren’s staff turnover as the administration has been marked by a series of exits.

‘Yideeską́ądi Ntsáhákees’

It was a cold Jan. 10 when the Nygren and Richelle Montoya became the youngest president and vice president, rising higher in the Navajo Nation’s leadership than any woman before her, respectively.

Nygren, a young Red Mesa, Ariz. man who grew up in a 10-foot travel trailer with no electricity and running water, had won. His supporters say he won because he “outcampaigned” his opponents, ran a nearly flawless campaign, and proved to be a cool kid with a doctorate degree who could be the successful leader of change the Nation needs.

In the end, Nygren’s message to Diné voters allowed him to turn his vulnerabilities into assets and outmaneuver Jonathan Nez.

Melinda Arviso-Ciocco, a former executive staff assistant in the president’s office, said she was excited for the new administration with the promise of hope and “yideeską́ądi ntsáhákees.”

“My name was good,” Arviso-Ciocco said. Working for the president and his chief of staff, she says, has ruined her reputation and defamed her character.

“It’s been very difficult,” said Arviso-Ciocco, who was terminated from her position in September after the president’s inner circle members charged over $20,000 on her Wells Fargo P-card (a WellsOne Commercial Card) ending in 2259-5805, a Visa expiring in February 2026.

Read the full story in the Nov. 30 edition of the Navajo Times.


About The Author

Krista Allen

Krista Allen is editor of the Navajo Times.

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