Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly and Vice President Rex Lee Jim were among the many Navajo Nation leaders that gathered at the Walter Collins Center in Upper Fruitland to watch as officials raised their hands and swore to abide by tribal, state and federal laws.
Most of the officials sworn in were from the Northern Navajo Agency, the northeastern-most of the five agencies of the Navajo Nation. Each agency represents a region of the reservation.
The Northern Navajo Agency includes 20 chapters, or community governments. Officials from chapters outside of the agency also attended, as some of them had missed inaugurations held in their own agency earlier this week.
"There are going to be times when you want to throw up your hands. It's going to be tough," said Navajo Nation Council Delegate LoRenzo Bates.
Shelly and Jim both encouraged local leaders to come up with new ways to bring in revenue, and better ways to spend it. Both emphasized the need to invest in health and education.
"Come together," Shelly said.
Newly elected District 4 State Rep. Sharon Clahchischilliage also appeared as the keynote speaker, noting that the regard for chapter governance has suffered in recent years and needs to return to its once high esteem.
"People used to travel for distances in pickups, on horses and in wagons," Clahchischilliage said. "Chapters don't attract the same interest today.
Several positions still are vacant within chapters in the Northern Navajo Agency. Positions include a grazing committee member from the Mexican Water Chapter; a secretary/treasurer and a farm board member from the Nenahnezad Chapter; a grazing committee member from the Red Mesa Chapter; and three at-large farm board members from the Red Valley or Cove Chapters.
Additionally, school board members still are needed for Aneth Community School, Beclabito Day School, Cove Day School, Nenahnezad Community School, TiisNazbas Community School, and Tohaali Community School.
If interested in any of the above positions, contact the Northern Agency Election sub-office at 1-866-659-5842 or 505-368-1333.