SHIPROCK — Northern Navajo Nation Fair Director Lloyd Smith spent Monday night in jail after he was accused of disorderly conduct at the tail end of a marathon, eight-hour fair board meeting.

Smith, when reached by phone Tuesday, said he was not charged in the incident that occurred at about 1:45 a.m. The meeting began at 6 p.m. Monday.

"All they did this morning was wake me up and tell me to go home," Smith said Tuesday. "No paperwork, no arraignment, no court. I got a lawyer to find out what I'm charged with."

Three Navajo police officers responded to a call from the Shiprock Chapter House after Smith allegedly approached Wallace Ben, organizer of the fair's Indian Market and Ye'ii Bi' Chei events, outside the building as board members inside were holding an executive session.

Ben was scheduled to provide to the board a report on his events, but he was not heard until midnight, said his niece, Red Dawn George. During his report, Ben allegedly said something in Navajo about Smith.

Smith, who does not understand Navajo, approached Ben after the board went into closed session and asked what he said.

"Lloyd got within inches of my uncle's face," said George, who called for police assistance. "My uncle was leaning against the chapter house when Lloyd walked toward him. I heard Lloyd's voice. He was yelling. I told Lloyd to leave him alone."

George said she called the police because Ben is elderly and she feared for his safety.

Smith, who said Ben is a friend, said he never raised his voice, but that he asked three times what Ben had said in Navajo.


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"He made accusations about me," Smith said. "So I went up to him and asked what he said. My hands were in my pockets the whole time, so I wasn't trying to fight him. I didn't raise my voice. I just questioned him."

Smith confirmed he was arrested after talking to police officers, but he said they didn't advise him of any charges.

"The arresting officer said that because three officers were called out, they were going to arrest someone," Smith said. "They handcuffed my hands in front and took me to jail. When morning came, they released me without paperwork."

The board went into executive session early Tuesday morning to discuss some of Ben's comments, said Terry Smith, Lloyd's brother.

Ben, during past meetings, has raised questions about financial mismanagement within the board and specifically in Smith's financial reports.

Ben, however, is accused of insubordination and conflict of interest after he tried to hire himself to do necessary repairs on the Ye'ii Bi' Chei and Indian Market grounds.

George said Ben was calling for better financial transparency during the meeting.

"There were issues he brought up, concerns about the fair board, things he brought up in Navajo," George said of her uncle. "After his presentation, they said they would go into executive session."

Ben is seeking a restraining order against the Smith brothers, George said.

Alysa Landry:

alandry@daily-times.com