Navajo Nation opposes BIA reorganization, regional director reassignment

The Daily Times staff
Navajo Nation

FARMINGTON — The Navajo Nation is opposed to plans by the U.S. Department of the Interior to reorganize the Bureau of Indian Affairs and reassign Navajo Regional Director Sharon Pinto.

Members of the Navajo Nation Council expressed their opposition in two pieces of legislation they approved this week, stating the Interior Department's decisions were made without tribal consultation and the decision to reassign Pinto lacked input, consultation and concerns from the tribe.

The Navajo Regional Office is based in Gallup and is one of 12 regional offices across the United States, according to the BIA website.

Both bills were introduced as emergencies and approved Wednesday at the council's spring session in Window Rock, Arizona.

Speaker LoRenzo Bates told council delegates during the session Thursday that copies of the bills were sent to federal officials.

Bates informed delegates on Tuesday about the changes to the BIA and to Pinto's role.

In the bill that addresses Pinto's placement, the council calls on Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and other appropriate supervisors to reconsider the reassignment or removal.

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said in a press release Pinto has been an "invaluable ally" to the tribe, and her work has been critical in addressing various issues.