Daniels seeks re-election; Stevens seeks seat
He assumed full responsibility for his late father’s latter year as a delegate in 2010.
Herman M. Daniels Jr. was appointed to Council after his father, Herman Daniels Sr., died.
At that time, the younger Daniels told his constituents he would work with them and plan for projects. He said he never made them promises, making clear that doing so may well affect opportunities and the future of the NÁÁS region of Naatsis’áán-Rainbow City, Ooljéé’tó-Tsébii’ndzisgaii, Shą́ą́’tóhí, and Ts’ahbiikin.
“When I first took office, I didn’t set a goal,” Daniels said. “I just told my people I’m going to work hard, and we would work on projects together. I never made promises.”
Daniels is running against Henry “Hank” Stevens of Naatsis’áán-Rainbow City, Utah. In the Aug. 2 primary election, Daniels garnered 243 votes while Stevens counted 282.
If re-elected, this would be Daniels fourth term in office. He said he would continue to work with his people and complete the projects he and the chapters started.
“There’s still a lot of work to do,” Daniels said. “We’re not done, and we have a lot of projects within this region.
“We have some old projects we’re working on right now, (such as) the Naatsis’áán-Ooljéé’tó road project,” he said. “But right now, it’s still in the talking stage.”
The roadway would run through the Utah Navajo communities of Navajo Mountain, Paiute Mesa and Oljato and connect to the Beehive State’s highway system.
Naatsis’áán has less than 1,000 residents who drive to Ts’ahbiikin, Dá’deestł’in Hótsaa, Tónaneesdizí or to Tódinéeshzhee’ to access basic services.
Daniels said he’s communicating with President Jonathan Nez, Utah legislators, and San Juan County representatives about the road proposal that would shorten drive times to Monument Valley, Gouldings, Blanding, and other Utah Navajo communities.
“Recently, the Council approved $1.1 billion in ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds, and within my region, we got over $34 million,” Daniels explained. “That’s one of the road projects I’m looking at if eligible.
Nez announced during the Council’s summer session that the money would be for water, infrastructure, COVID-19 mitigation, chapter priorities, and hardship assistance.
“We have a lot to do in this region,” Daniels said. “It’s not only in this (Bears Ears) region but for Shonto and Inscription House too.”
Utah Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson said the road from Oljato to Navajo Mountain isn’t only crucial for ease of transportation but has a much more significant meaning and impact in Utah Navajo.
“It’s difficult for students to get to school on the roads that exist right now,” Henderson said in an interview with the Navajo Times in Monument Valley.
“When it rains, buses can’t get through,” she said. “The distance that needs to be traveled makes it difficult for people to access fresh food and medical attention.”
Henderson said she, along with Daniels and other Utah and Diné lawmakers, has traveled the long dirt road between Oljato and Navajo Mountain to see the condition of the roadway.
Henderson said she has Utah legislators by her side to make those policy decisions and help gather the funding to install a paved roadway.
Daniels said he would work closely with the upcoming 25th Navajo Nation Council to ensure that this road project is completed.
“That’s the most important thing, being in a leadership role – communication,” he said. “We have a lot of work to do still.”
Daniels is Bit’ahnii, born for Tł’ízíłání-Kinłichíi’nii. His maternal grandfather is Tó’aheedlíinii, and his paternal grandfather is Hashk’ąą Hadzohí. He’s originally from Tsébii’ndzisgaii.
Meet Hank Stevens
His opponent, Stevens, is fluent in the Diné language and is Bit’ahnii, born for Naasht’ézhí Tábąąhá. His maternal grandfather is Nóóda’í-Áshįįhí, and his paternal grandfather is Tódích’íi’nii.
He’s the former Naatsis’áán Chapter president. He’s a member of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition and is the Utah Diné Bikéyah board co-chair.
He’s also part of the Naabik’íyáti Tó Niłtólí Task Force and represents Diné Bikéyah on Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante Advisory Committee.
Stevens’s people, who expressed a desire for innovative action and sweeping changes in the region, said he can stave off threats to the desecration of lands, and climate policy, among others.
“I’m looking at some of the terrains that BLM (Bureau of Land Management) is asking the Division of Natural Resources (about) hunting licenses,” Stevens said. “And it looks like we’re (Utah Navajo) is in the desert area (whereas a lot of non-hunters) are privileged to have the mountain areas for hunting.”
Stevens said he obtained a general big game season permit to have a visual of the land for Utah Navajo.
“It’s out in the desert,” Stevens said. “I’m concerned about that because I sit on the Grand Staircase-Escalante Advisory Committee. These are areas we (Diné) need to have input in on how we used to hunt back in the early days.”
Stevens said he’s working on reintroducing big game hunts in Utah Navajo and to the Nation.
“These are very important to our Native American heritage,” Stevens explained. “These buck skins that we use are our medicine bundles that our practitioners use.
“So, at some point in time,” he said, “we need to start collaborating with these agencies to secure these areas for hunting.”
Another thing he’s also looking into is the Utah Diné grazing lands where LDS church/Mormons have occupied.
“Navajos don’t have the opportunity to have livestock (because of the non-Native squatters),” Stevens explained. “These are some things I’m working on, including acreage for Navajos to run their cattle.”