Diné Policy Institute director is among seven candidates for delegate seat representing seven Northern Agency chapters

James Fenton
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Amber Kanazbah Crotty, director of the Diné Policy Institute, is making her first run for a council delegate seat.

Crotty decided to run for council delegate after years of working in policy and law with the institute, which is housed in Diné College in Tsaile, Ariz. The institute was formed as a partnership between Diné College regents and the Navajo Nation Council.

In May, Crotty filed her application for delegate for the Beclabito, Cove, Gadii'ahi-Tokoi, Red Valley, Sheep Springs, Toadlena-Two Grey Hills and Tsé Alnaozt'i'í-Sanostee chapters. All of the chapters are in New Mexico, except for Red Valley and Cove, both in Arizona.

The tribe's primary election is on Aug. 26, and the general election is on Nov. 4.

Last month, Crotty was endorsed by former Navajo Nation Chairman and President Peterson Zah.

"I track policy for a living and in my own life, and I was checking to see who was submitting candidacy paperwork or picking up their paperwork. I kept checking with the elections office, and it was two weeks before the deadline, and there wasn't really anybody. It was questionable whether they were serious or committed to the issues," Crotty said during a phone interview on Friday. "I went and had a conversation with my family, my grandmother, and she said, 'You have learned from the outside world, and then you come back and help the community.' So I submitted my paperwork in May."

Crotty is one of seven people running for the delegate seat representing the seven Northern Agency chapters.

Also vying for the seat are incumbent David L. Tom, of Beclabito, J.R. Hunt and Stanley Hardy, of Toadlena/Two Grey Hills, Everett Howe, of Cove, and Larry Duncan and Eloise Brown, of Tsé Alnaozt'i'í-Sanostee.

Efforts over the last several weeks to reach those candidates at their representative chapter houses were unsuccessful. The candidates did not return calls or did not leave updated or complete contact information with their representative chapter houses.

Crotty, 35, is from Sheep Springs, a small community of less than 300 people along U.S. Highway 491 and N.M. Highway 134, near the foothills of the Chuska Mountains. After earning a master's degree in American Indian Studies-Law and History at the University of California, Los Angeles, Crotty followed her grandmother's wish and returned to work as a policy analyst at the Diné Policy Institute. She worked as a legislative district assistant before assuming the director's chair at the institute last fall.

"My professional life has focused on Navajo Nation law and policy, including a whole range of issues, in particular government reform, environment and education," Crotty said. "I also believe in accountability and transparency, so I make every effort within reason to be accessible to anyone who wants to engage in a conversation."

Crotty said she has been busy discussing issues on the campaign trail. She has participated in two-hour rallies on KNDN radio, a debate forum in Red Valley, Ariz., and family and community gatherings to raise awareness of critical concerns that face the Navajo Nation, including its tribal government, which Crotty sees as part of the problem.

"Starting in 2008, there was a conversation about restructuring (the government). I believe a decentralization model would give the people more power in the decision-making process," she said.

One of her passions is farming and education, both of which coalesce in the vision to build a multi-purpose building in Sheep Springs. Crotty wrote a grant for the project this year.

"Sheep Springs is a sleeping gem, and I think we have a lot of great people. A multi-purpose building could have a recreation area for youth with classrooms, gardening space and a place for veterans, so they have a space to meet with others or to meditate," Crotty said. "I'm really excited and proud of my community."

James Fenton covers Aztec and Bloomfield for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4621 and jfenton@daily-times.com. Follow him @fentondt on Twitter.