Navajo lawmakers can serve as county officials and school boards

Window Rock, Arizona (AP) 10-07

Navajo Nation Council delegates serving as county officials or public school board members can continue to do so.

The council voted 51-15 during October against a bill that would prohibit delegates from serving two governments.

The bill would have extended an existing law that bars tribal lawmakers from simultaneously holding elected or paid positions in federal or state governments.

Supporters of the bill said it would have enforced loyalty to the Navajo Nation government.

A critic of the bill, Leonard Tsosie, urged tribal lawmakers to vote down the measure, saying they should be represented in off-reservation roles.

“We tell our children to be all you can be, to go out and get an education, and yet here we are now, trying to make an expansive law to prohibit everything,” he said. “It’s doublespeak.”

Tsosie was forced to resign from the New Mexico Legislature earlier this year after he was elected to the Tribal Council.

Delegate Francis Redhouse, the bill’s sponsor, chided delegates who claim they can do it all, saying time constraints would keep them from fulfilling their responsibilities to the Navajo Council.

“If you’re missing these council sessions, then you’re not upholding your sworn oath,” he said. “Where does your loyalty stand? This is your first job and everything else is secondary.”