Tribal leaders heading to Trump inauguration

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye, Council Speaker LoRenzo Bates plan to attend Trump's inauguration ceremony

Noel Lyn Smith
Workers on Friday install handrails for bench seating along Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House in Washington, D.C., as preparations continue for next week's Inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump.
  • The tribe's president and the council's speaker plan to take meeting in D.C. before the inauguration.
  • Tribal officials say Trump has not not released a platform on Indian Country and Navajo Nation issues.
  • Navajo Code Talkers will participate in the inaugural parade along Pennsylvania Avenue.

FARMINGTON — The top two leaders of the Navajo Nation will be among those who descend on Washington, D.C., for activities surrounding the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump.

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said in an interview on Friday that he was invited to the inauguration by the Republican National Committee. Several members of Congress also invited the tribal president to participate in festivities surrounding the event on Friday.

"We have a number of meetings — these are Native American national groups — that want to pull together principles, goals for the Trump administration that we will present in the various meetings that are taking place prior to the inauguration," Begaye said.

The tribal president added  he will meet with the National Congress of American Indians, the Coalition of Large Tribes, the National Indian Health Board and the National Indian Education Association.

"I will be meeting with each one, and we will build a listing of things we want the Trump administration to address and maintain," said Begaye, who was elected last month as chairman of the Coalition of Large Tribes, a partnership of federally recognized tribes whose land base is larger than 10,000 acres.

President-elect Donald Trump speaks on Friday with reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York.

Navajo Nation Council Speaker LoRenzo Bates said he and several council delegates will also attend meetings and inaugural activities.

When asked about the outlook for the incoming administration, Bates said Indian Country still has not heard a platform from Trump and how it would apply to the Navajo Nation.

"That's one of the important aspects of being able to get in front of folks, to get the gist of where they are coming from and how their platform impacts the Navajo Nation," he said.

The meetings will also provide members of the council opportunities to outline priorities, he added.

"This is one of several, if not many more, meetings that have to take place," Bates said.

After the swearing-in ceremony, the inaugural parade will travel along Pennsylvania Avenue from the U.S. Capitol to the White House.

Among those who will participate in the parade will be the Navajo Code Talkers, according to a press release from the Office of the Speaker. The code talkers, who used the Navajo language to communicate military messages during World War II, were invited by the presidential inaugural committee to represent the Navajo Nation in the parade, according to the release.

Former Arizona state Sen. Carlyle Begay, who serves on the planning committee, confirmed the code talkers will participate in the parade, according to the release.

"Their participation in the inaugural parade highlights their contribution of Native American culture and language of the Navajo people," Begay said in release.

A number of prominent celebrities and officials have declined to attend Trump's inauguration, and several national groups have planned demonstrations to coincide with the event.

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