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FARMINGTON — Navajo Nation lawmakers approved a bill Thursday to recommend that the state designate a portion of U.S. Highway 491 after tribal leader Chief Manuelito.

The Naa'bik'íyáti' Committee voted 12-0 to pass legislation to designate the section of the highway that travels on the Navajo Nation the Chief Manuelito Highway.

While the bill recommended using the Navajo word for highway on signage, the committee amended the legislation to use the English word, according to a press release from the Office of the Speaker.

The release states Delegate Jonathan Perry made the recommendation to use the word "highway" to avoid mispronunciation and to prevent delays in response time by emergency personnel.

"What if an emergency occurs, and the person calling for emergency assistance cannot pronounce the name? That is a serious liability, and we should highly consider safety first," Perry said in the release.

The New Mexico State Transportation Commission has the authority to name roads and to consider requests by government entities to designate structures such as highways, according to the state transportation department.

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