Appeal about dismissed election grievance filed in Navajo Nation Supreme Court

Noel Lyn Smith The Daily Times
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Former presidential candidate Dale E. Tsosie has filed an appeal to the Navajo Nation Supreme Court regarding the dismissal of a grievance he filed with the Navajo Office of Hearings and Appeals.

On Sept. 5, Tsosie filed a grievance against presidential candidate Chris Deschene that challenged Deschene's qualification for the top tribal office because he does not speak or understand the Navajo language fluently. Deschene is running against Joe Shirley Jr. for the seat.

Chief hearing officer Richie Nez dismissed Tsosie's grievance on Sept. 10.

Tsosie's attorney, David Jordan, filed the appeal with the Supreme Court at 4:57 p.m. on Monday with the court in Window Rock, Ariz.

When reached for comment on Tuesday, Dale Tsosie's wife, Charlotte, said he was unavailable for comment and referred questions to Tsosie's spokesman Jeff Davis.

Davis said Tsosie filed the appeal because the Office of Hearings and Appeals failed to address the nature of the grievance. He said it is important for leaders to know the Navajo language because it preserves the culture.

Rather than examine Deschene's qualifications, the office based its decision on a technicality, he said.

"Dale believes the will of the people outweighs the technicality like that," Davis said. "Those qualifications are there for a reason."

When asked if Tsosie filed the grievance because of his finish in August's primary race — he finished 10th out of 17 candidates — Davis said that was not a factor.

In Nez's dismissal order, he wrote that Tsosie waited too long to file his grievance. Deschene was certified on April 25, and Tsosie had 10 days after that date to file a challenge with the Office of Hearings and Appeals, he wrote.

"The time period to challenge the qualifications of Mr. Deschene has since expired," Nez wrote.

According to Davis, the Supreme Court has scheduled the oral argument for 9 a.m. on Sept. 26 in the Tuba City District Court in Tuba City, Ariz.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 and

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