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Signs of change: Election, population shifts


One of the big events of the past year and one that likely will have an affect on Navajos for years to come was the election of a new president.

By the end of 2017, there were signs that the two frontrunners would be the current president, Russell Begaye, and a former leader of the tribe, Joe Shirley Jr. – in other words, a rematch of the 2014 election.

Four years ago, Begaye surprised a lot of people – and maybe even himself – by easily defeating Shirley, who was trying for a third term. After all, Shirley still had a lot of support among the Navajo people, especially in the Chinle area.

However, by 2018 there were a lot of rumors that Jonathan Nez, the vice president, was considering running for president as well.

Nez had been chosen four years ago by Begaye to be his running mate and although he was not known to New Mexico voters, Begaye probably could not have made a better choice.

In the western portion of the reservation, Nez, who was born in Tuba City and was running unopposed for his seat on the Navajo Nation Council, is revered by younger members of the tribe.

When Begaye was sworn in as president in 2015, a lot of people thought the credit should go to Nez, who decided to give up more than $200,000 in salary over the four years he would serve as vice president.

According to rumors, Begaye and Nez by 2017 were barely speaking. While the two were practically glued together at the beginning of their administration, sitting together for press interviews and meetings, by 2018 they seemed to have gone their separate ways.

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About The Author

Bill Donovan

Bill Donovan has been writing about the Navajo Nation government since 1971 and for the Navajo Times since 1976. He is currently semi-retired and is living in Torrance, California, and continues to report for the Navajo Times.


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