Navajo Council Delegate Walter Phelps says Navajo language “sacred.”

Council takes up Legislation No. 0289-14: Relating to Law and Order, Naabik’iyati’, and the Navajo Nation Council; Amending Language Fluency Requirements of the Navajo Nation Election Code at 11 N.N.C. §8(A)(4) (Office of President/Vice President), §8(B)(8) 5 (Office of Council Delegate), §8(D)(2)(c) (Land Board) and §8(D)(3)(e) (Farm Board)
(Sponsor: Honorable Lorenzo Curley)

remember that the council approved similar legislation and President Shelly vetoed and said that the question should go to the people as a referendum. And i have drafted language for my legislation 0289-14 to be a referendum.

i realize late in day and we had debate on fluency past 1 a.m. when it went before Council. I realize Curley’s legislation strikes all the F-word for all elected offices. To help him along, and to allow leader of Navajo Nation to speak English and Navajo and it would be the people’s vote that would determine if presidential candidate speaks Navajo language fluently.

I thought legislation was what Council approves and then President Shelly vetoed. So why are we doing same thing?

speaking to amendment, Delegate Tsosie said compromise but this only deals with one position and in talking with constituents, they want this question to be a referendum. There is no political pressure when they go into ballot box. but we are doing that to ourselves. why not give it to the people? and Delegate curley offered to have his legislation amended to be a referendum. A referendum brings people closer to government and it would be more stabilized. There was also confusion about Council also speaking Navajo language fluently. And there is still confusion over what is Navajo language fluency? And this legislation only requires simple majority of the Council to approve this, while out there, there are thousands of voters and Navajo people.

if we are respectful of language and culture and understand importance of language and speak language with elders and children, i think it is important that we as leaders adovate for speaking to elders in our language. if our language really is and it is sacred because God gave it to us. it is one of the hardest languages to learn and if we are ot exemplify it and use it as criteria for leaders, this amendment is hypocritical. and we need to apply to all elected officials.

I think that we need to continue support of Navajo language and speaking fluently and being teaching children at home and importance of language.

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