Delegates debate increasing Council to 44

Navajo Times | Donovan Quintero
Navajo Nation Council delegates Raymond Smith Jr. (Houck/Klagetoh/Nahata Dziil/Tse Si áni/Wide Ruins) and Tuchoney Slim Jr. (Bodaway-Gap/Coppermine/K’ai Bii’ To/LeChee/Tonalea-Red Lake) read results in the “2016 Navajo People & Chapter Survey: Effectiveness of the Reduced Navajo Nation Council” report.

WINDOW ROCK

Delegate Edmund Yazzie remembers the accomplishments he had been a part of when Thoreau was the only chapter he represented when the Navajo Nation Council had 88 delegates.

Then with the 22nd Navajo Nation Council the re-elected Yazzie had not only Thoreau but also Church Rock, Iyanbito, Mariano Lake, Pinedale and Smith Lake chapters to represent after the Council was reduced to 24.

The reduction meant lawmakers were responsible for more than just one chapter. Since then Yazzie said it has been a challenge and he hopes the Council will look into increasing the number of delegates to at least 44.

“I’m trying to represent six chapters and I feel bad that the representation is not at a 100 percent,” said Yazzie. “It’s like you’re being pulled everywhere.”

Yazzie reminisced of a time when he did not miss one planning or chapter meeting when he was the delegate for Thoreau. But that has changed since he has to attend six chapter meetings, as well as being in Window Rock.

He said Thoreau’s accomplishments such as purchasing land and getting the Indian Hospital Service to open a clinic gave him the momentum to run again, believing he could get the same done for five other chapters.

“I knew it would be a lot of work but we took the challenge,” said Yazzie.

With his concern of representing all constituents equally, Yazzie sponsored a bill, which was approved by the Naabikiyati last year, to have the Navajo Government Development perform a study on the effectiveness of Navajo Nation Council since its reduction.

During the Jan. 11 Naabikiyati Committee meeting, lawmakers heard the report and it ended with more questions than answers.

Edward Dee, director for NGD, explained that there was 445 participants who took part in this survey, both citizens and chapter officials.

Questions included if delegates attend chapter meetings and the results for this question was 61 percent said “no” and 30 percent said “yes.”

Another question was to rate delegates on their effectiveness at their jobs. This was considered to be a loaded question but was considered to show the relationship between a delegate and his constituents is complex.


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Categories: Politics

About Author

Arlyssa Becenti

Arlyssa Becenti reports on Navajo Nation Council, Business, Fort Defiance Agency, New Mexico State politics and Art/fashion. Her clans are Nát'oh dine'é Táchii'nii, Bit'ahnii, Kin łichii'nii, Kiyaa'áanii. She’s originally from Fort Defiance and has a degree in English Literature from Arizona State University. Before working for the Navajo Times she was a reporter for the Gallup Independent. She can be reached at abecenti@navajotimes.com.