/ Modified apr 17, 2015 3:07 p.m.

Navajo Nation Presidential Election Scheduled Tuesday

5-month postponement because one candidate did not speak Navajo, as required in Nation's constitution.

Navajo Nation map SPOT
Public domain


By Laurel Morales, Fronteras Desk

If all goes as planned, Navajo voters will finally get a chance to cast their ballot for the tribe’s president Tuesday.

The election was postponed five months ago over a language issue. Former candidate Chris Deschene was disqualified for admitting he did not speak the Navajo language fluently.

Russell Begaye came in third in the presidential primary and will now face off against Joe Shirley Jr. Both candidates are fluent in Navajo and campaigned almost exclusively in the language.

Manley Begay, no relation, is an indigenous studies professor at Northern Arizona University. The “election crisis,” as he calls it, has become much more than a language issue. It’s exposed a bigger problem about the tribal government.

“Laws and rules must not change at whim to accommodate personal political agendas,” Begay said.

Begay says the Navajo Nation is at a crossroads and the tribe needs to make changes, so the Navajo people can count on a stable government.

“We must have a politically independent judiciary,” Begay said. “We must have a separation of powers and we must have checks and balances.”

Navajo voters will tackle the language issue separately in June, when they vote to change or keep the requirement that their president be fluent in Navajo.

By posting comments, you agree to our
AZPM encourages comments, but comments that contain profanity, unrelated information, threats, libel, defamatory statements, obscenities, pornography or that violate the law are not allowed. Comments that promote commercial products or services are not allowed. Comments in violation of this policy will be removed. Continued posting of comments that violate this policy will result in the commenter being banned from the site.

By submitting your comments, you hereby give AZPM the right to post your comments and potentially use them in any other form of media operated by this institution.
Arizona Public Media broadcast stations are licensed to the Arizona Board of Regents. Arizona Public Media and AZPM are registered trademarks of the Arizona Board of Regents.
The University of Arizona