Begaye considers emergency funding for chapters

Noel Lyn Smith

FARMINGTON — Emergency legislation to provide $242,576 in supplemental funding to 33 Navajo Nation chapters to use for emergency services is now under consideration by the tribal president.

Navajo Nation Council Delegate Seth Damon addresses tribal lawmakers during the winter session on Monday in Window Rock, Ariz. Damon sponsored emergency legislation to provide supplemental funding to 33 Navajo Nation chapters for emergency services.

The Navajo Nation Council took action on the bill during the winter session in Window Rock, Ariz. It was introduced after the tribe's Commission on Emergency Management declared a state of emergency for the tribe on Monday.

Jared Touchin, spokesman for the Office of the Speaker, said the resolution was submitted today to Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye for review. He has 10 calendar days to sign, line-item veto or veto it.

Among the 33 chapters on the list are five that are in San Juan County — Nenahnezad, Tiis Tsoh Sikaad, Naschitti, Tooh Haltsooí and Tsé Daa K'aan.

The council amended the bill in order to restrict the chapters from using the money for nonemergency-related services, according to a press release from the speaker's office.

Delegate Seth Damon, who represents the Bááháálí, Chichiltah, Manuelito, Rock Springs, Tsayatoh and Tsé Lichíí chapters, sponsored the legislation and spoke to the council about the need for the funds on Wednesday, the release states.

During Damon's presentation, he told the council the 33 chapters have less than $10,000 available to provide emergency assistance.

"The funding will allow the 33 chapters to help their community members. I ask that we move on this quickly," Damon said in the release.

The release also mentioned that the tribe's Office of the Auditor General previously had reported the nation's 110 chapters had a total of $3.4 million in emergency funds, but the 33 chapters had less than $10,000 to address such services.

The bill proposes that the Nenahnezad Chapter receive $469, the Tiis Tsoh Sikaad Chapter receive $7,475, the Naschitti Chapter receive $8,833, the Tooh Haltsooí Chapter receive $9,714, and the Tsé Daa K'aan Chapter receive $9,911.

Tiis Tsoh Sikaad Chapter Manager Juanita Dennison said today the chapter would use the funds to purchase hay and corn for livestock because residents are requesting those items.

She added the recent winter storm caused muddy roads throughout the chapter's territory, resulting in transportation issues for many residents.

In response, the chapter president declared a state of emergency for the chapter on Wednesday, she said.

Dennison said the community is grateful for the action by the council, and she was waiting for price quotes for the hay and corn from the Navajo Agricultural Products Industry.

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