Marathon Q&A with Navajo Prez & VP

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez gave the State of the Nation Address, which was fairly simple.

COUNCIL DELEGATE SETH DAMON motion to accept State of Nation Address without a question and answer. Delegate Walter Phelps seconded Damon’s motion.

COUNCIL DELEGATE LEONARD TSOSIE says there are 10 delegates that have questions to ask of the President and Vice President.

Motion to accept President’s State of Nation Address without questions and answer and every Council Delegate has right to ask questions.


DELEGATE SHEPHERD each delegate has right to ask questions.

DELEGATE TSOSIE motion is accept written report but president gave verbal report. And we have journal system so what put in journal cuz what president verbally reported different from written report. He mentioned former Delegate Katherine Benally. Verbal and written report don’t fit and your ruling is in error. So call Damon’s motion out of order and allow us to debate State of Nation Address. If no delegate wanted to ask questions, then I would not challenge. But delegates want to ask questions. Rule 1 says no delegate should be deprived and to protect right of each delegate to express his or her view before Council.

SPEAKER BATES based on rule that every delegate has right to ask questions, I rule Damon-Phelps motion out of order.


DELEGATE OTTO TSO there is no leadership in Navajo Hopi Land Development Office and so there is no movement in former Bennett Freeze Area. And what is the plan to help Navajo ranchers during this drought. I have been listening to a lot of your radio address and I repeatedly hear “i” “I” “I”. But the Council has also been helping with the projects that you claim. I would like to hear “we.”

DELEGATE NATHANIEL BROWN elders don’t support Vice President Nez’s run from Bosque Rodondo. And you want Navajo Nation to ask for forgiveness from U.S. as part of recognition of US-Navajo 1868. That is wrong. The US should apologize. We should not apologize for the astrocities committed against us, Navajo people, by US.

And we should make Navajo language our official language.

Glad you brought staff here cuz want to emphasize work on preventing Human Trafficking. Three cases involving Navajo girls who were trafficked by their familes

and we need to talk about Indian Chld Welfare Act.

DELEGATE KEE ALLEN BEGAY thank you for signing contract for road between Nazlini to Chinle. I wrote letter to veterans director on march 13 and i listed 17 issues. biggest one is housing. another obstacle and that is home site lease and applilcatoin process. the five chapters i represent completed applications for housing and then stopped when got to Navajo veterans office. and more than 80 Navajo veterans filed claims but not on Navajo veterans services officer has filed a claim. so i’m asking for federal VA office. here is march 13 memo.

pinon chaper president Bessie allen has been asking for public safety. district court is located in chapter which is wrong.  response time for police from chinle to pinon is almost 2 hours.

DELEGATE TSOSIE don’t sign anymore contracts to construct jails. Construct substations. And Council voted down police substation in Pinon. Hope we’ll be fair and give Pinon police substation. No pavement White Rock Chapter and Ricon. Some chapters have no pavement to chapters. We need to look at fairness of paving access roads. I realize u instructed land board and grazing officials to meet with permitees. Ask you to instruct them to chase livestock off public highways. we don’t have credible drought report and it was from 2003 and more of a plan of operation. How man windmills? Repair earth dams? Don’t have that today. Know price of hay go up and so how address that to help people out there. And appreciate your work on holding chapters accountable.

DELEGATE CROTTY concern with status of Navajo Agency on Aging. Heard from Chinle about food, activities. Like to hear commitment from president & vice president on who will address. Simiar concerns about spoiled food, unable to attend activities. And federal Older Americans Act mandates healthy food, activities. So how use federal and tribal funds to improve life for elders. And focus should be care of elders. I started career by caring for elders and nothing more wonderful than hear stories from them and get hug. Lot of children never hear words I love you from family. for some children, their home is most destructive. Parents traffick children. Nation should protect children. So let us have those strategic conversations. For my district, Arizona senior citizens deserve funds cuz not like New Mexico where get funded. And also work on tele-medicine. Water is so important for all. We saw from Gold King Mine spill how important water is. Drought intense. So watershed studies are paramount.

DELEGATE DWIGHT WITHERSPOON assign Navajo department of justice to Navajo agency on aging  to help with financial management and an attorney and possibly a new director for Navajo Hopi Land Development Office. The Navajo Hopi Land Commission is told by director that she takes her direction from president.

DELEGATE JONATHAN PERRY reports to Resource & Development regarding chapters and discussion current issues to move beyond chapters that are sanctioned. Staff are involved but ask for participation by you. When get audits and sanctioned chapters, ask that you be available.

DELEGATE WITHERSPOON thank administration for their efforts in addressing number of pillars for veterans, youth, infrastructure. like comment about $100M for infrastructure.

PRESIDENT BEGAYE we pulled together document on all promises not kept by federal Office of Navajo Hopi Indian Relocation Office and gave to Sen. McCain. there are pple that say that we hve given enough money to federal relocation office so close it. but our position is they cannot close because they have not kept promises. if we have to we will take legal action against federal government which removed thousands of our people.

the drought is something we have been getting ready for, for over year. we are saying drill more wells, repair earthen wells and windmills. first appropriation was more than $300,000 to repair earthen dams in eastern Navajo. without rain or snow, the earthen dams are not filling up. so drilling wells but there ate high levels of arsenic and contaminants from uranium. maybe way to filter wells that are capped. and there is law that says cannot transport contaminated radioactive water. So cheaper drill more wells.

and whole US is checkerboard and where blocks come together, moisture is monitored since 1943, how much moisture in each section, including Hawaii. Farm Bill gave us opportunity to insure rangeland. check for more than $17M for Navajo getting less moisture on land and now there is opportunity to renew insurance. and have to address entire ecosystem, such as feral horses and cattle, horse and sheep. 70,000 feral horses on reservation. Elk and deer and big horn leaving cuz not enough grassland. and no grassland so sand dunes. have to deal with feral horses and protect wildlife and livestock and forage. but up to each chapter to decide if have feral horse roundup and if approve then our staff help. like my chapter, Shiprock, opposed. like hoover dam is 44 percent below level. lake powell is at 50 percent. drought is here. two areas on rez where extreme drought and then there is severe drought – four cotrner, Shiprock, red mesa, teecnospos is least moisture. other is down south. there will be report to Resources and Development Committee next week on where spend $4M. we need to put water from San Juan into aquifers so bring up later.

Signature Review Process bill approved by council has really helped. old sytem took 6 months to year to go thru process. let’s keep review process that way.

To Delegate Brown, Treaty Run – Vice President Nez addresses and says, let me go back to Delegate Tso regarding drough relief. We are in fire season too. We just had a close call in eastern agency on fire at Blue Water. And you are talking about using Ramah Settlment so put some in emergency disaster fund which can be used for drough and fire. Naabik’iyati amendment 2, only Budget and Finance signature cuz removed president and vice president from approving funds from Public Safety Fund. That will not sit well with president and vice president if approve and we will take to court.

Also mention, regarding Delegate Brown’s concern about Run from Bosque Redondo. Incorrect that majority of people oppose. People want to share their stories. But at same time, language and culture going downhill. And confuses young people when told not talk about history especially this part of history. Run not enacting or reliving. how many of us know that when returned, not straight back, they went to Santa Fe, cuz they wanted to parade Navajo people defeated and show if mess with US this is what would happen to you. When got to Albuquerque, miles and miles of Navajo, and not one Navajo lost their life on way home.

Fort Sumner run will go through same communities and villages to show we are still here. tried to exterminate us but we are stronger and healthier than before. we ask for help from outside but our answers our here. to fight diabetes our answer was to run every morning and that was fighting diabetes.

we need to tell everybody that we can overcome tough time. we are strongest indigenous nation. i respect those that oppose but if want to send strong message to those that tried to put us down that we are strong and endured.

To Delegate Brown, the Utah Gov. came to Navajo and there will be construction of round-about at Monument Valley. And it was an effort to resolve Bears Ears without litigation.

So we will finish three pages of questions.

PRESIDENT BEGAYE to make Navajo official language, we will support and will impact many things. it impacts everything. for Arizona, they pushed English only. it will preserve language for years to come.

To Delegate Kee Allen Begay, we have not received March 13 memo. as far as housing. up to 15 houses per agency and that was goal for funds allocated. but let us not just depend on Navajo money, let’s look to other funds. housing looking at are ones that are prefabricated. and materials going into veterans’ homes are quality and got reimbursed $4M. Some veterans moved into houses without electricity and running water.

And to get homesite lease you are required to get signatures of people already living in area and if one opposes then can’t get lease.

know public safety priority, but when about to lose millions of dollars to build Ramah facilties, it slowed down money to Pinon. WE did sign off on some dollars for Pinon and happened recently. in the $100M, Undesignated Unreserved Fund Balance, some of those funds need to be used for public safety building. when go to twin arrows, that same building can be put at pinon and cost less than $4M. Pinon proposed $32M building. we back up that request but from 5 percent tribal tax, use 1 percent to address Pinon and do in phases. and have pinon building faster.

Navajo Area Agency on Aging – Caroline Massey is attorney assigned from justice department. if look at social services budget, the largest amount goes to elders. And drivers required to have Commercial Drivvers License and when hire they see better pay off rez. Working w Navajo Technical University to help Navajos get CDL.

Homeless veterans – we are first tribe to get coupon to pay for rent and part of utilities but issued only 20 and that large amount compared to other tribes. we have estimated more than 20,000 homeless veterans and we need lot more of these coupons. On top of that, through federal housing program, we have more than 20 veterans in houses rent free. but goal is get more than hundred into these free rent homes. right now going through application process.

the eastern regional business development office issue: and we appreciate economic development divison director sean mc cabe. next quarter open RBDO in Aneth. closed cuz audit but findings resolved so reopen in next quarter. that is moving forward.

MISSING PERSON REPORT from Vice President Nez, every Monday 6-7 am with pastors from region and prayed for this council and all leadership across rez. good to start up again.

Churchrock C-store, hope to get going. there is also agreement to use facioity that was suppose to be for rubber glove business and just signed off on lease, with economic development director. recently got land back from fort wingate so looking at outlet mall. glove factory generate more than 300 jobs. so also need to establish food business for those workers to go and eat.

agree there shud not have been prescribed burn. wind also created huge black out. concerned cuz no power until 6 or 7 am the next day. what if happened during peak winter season.

and in declaring emergency on rez then cud reimburse chapters with account established rather than wait for federal emergency management to reimburse and tribal government would file for reimbursement from federal emergency management.

PREZ set aside funds for emergency dams. and in repairing windmills, blades go missing and these people that take, sell for money. i wish people didn’t do that cuz people depend on these windmills. Dont’ steal blades off windmill. whole community suffers. ask people to take care of windmills and not allow blades to be stolen. and take months to replace blades. and in drilling for water, no  permission to drill. when get water from river there will be legal battle. have good water from aquifers.

we will call Navajo agricultureal products industry about why selling more hay to non Navajos than Navajos.

We will support $100M from Sihasin Fund for basic infrastructure such as water lines and power lines. But if do water lines then have to have money for bathroom additions. so when do bathroom additions then get running water. Electricity – the last report from NTUA, $60M requests from houses across reservation.

You guys know we have $10.8M in UUFB and asking to spend $60M in UUFB requests. So don’t send $60M in requests from UUFB to office of president and vice president.

we have lot of ranchers that depend on income. we really, really need to make sure we are hit to address drought which will hit us in a month or so.

VICE PRESIDENT we do recognize concept of sovereignty is inherent sovereignty at local level and based on that is we want to re-teach community self sufficiency and self reliance. good example is what president mentioned earlier, housing renovations and repairs for elders and veterans that can’t help selves. some tribal employees volunteered time to help and show self reliant. President is there on roof and tearing out walls.


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