Navajo Nation Council sets committee membership

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times
Navajo Nation Council Speaker Seth Damon, right, responds to a question on Monday about his assignment of delegates to serve on the council's standing committees.

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — The Navajo Nation Council approved legislation today to confirm the assignment of 23 delegates to serve on standing committees.

Each delegate, excluding the speaker, serves on either the Budget and Finance Committee, the Health, Education and Human Services Committee, the Law and Order Committee or the Resources and Development Committee.

The membership of each committee must have at least one delegate from each of the five agencies. The assignments were determined by Speaker Seth Damon.

The vote was 14 in favor and nine opposed during a special session at the council chamber today.

Damon provided some insight into the selection process in his presentations during a special meeting for the Naa'bik'íyáti' Committee and a special session for the council.

The speaker said 13 delegates submitted resumes for his review, and he used that information in the selection process.

Delegate Raymond Smith Jr., left, talks about a bill to assign delegates to standing committees during a Navajo Nation Council special session on Monday in Window Rock, Ariz.

One challenge was assigning delegates to the Budget and Finance Committee and to the Resources and Development Committee because more than half of the council membership sought assignment to either committee, Damon said.

Because the two committees each have six seats, it was not possible to grant each request, he said.

"By working together with each other's committees, I definitely know that we can get things done," Damon said.

After the composition of the standing committees are confirmed, they can start meeting next week, he said. He added that among the first actions is selecting a chairperson and vice chairperson.

The council's support for the bill came after more than an hour of discussion, where several delegates expressed concern about the appointment process.

Delegate Eugenia Charles-Newton listens to comments during a Navajo Nation Council special session on Monday in Window Rock, Ariz.

Delegate Charlaine Tso said certain appointments undermined the experience those delegates could provide to further a committee's work.

Delegate Thomas Walker Jr. said it was important to set the committee assignments because constituents, chapter officials, divisions and departments are waiting for the information to move forward with requests.

"It's like a nation waiting for completion of this process," Walker said.

Delegates assigned to committees

Budget and Finance Committee

Amber Kanazbah Crotty from Northern Agency
Jamie Henio from Eastern Agency
Elmer Begay from Fort Defiance Agency
Jimmy Yellowhair from Central Agency
Nathaniel Brown from Western Agency
Raymond Smith Jr. from Fort Defiance Agency

Health, Education and Human Services Committee

Charlaine Tso from Northern Agency
Daniel E. Tso from Eastern Agency
Pernell Halona from Fort Defiance Agency
Edison Wauneka from Fort Defiance Agency
Nelson BeGaye from Central Agency
Paul Begay from Western Agency

Resources and Development Committee

Rick Nez from Northern Agency
Mark Freeland from Eastern Agency
Wilson Stewart Jr. from Fort Defiance Agency
Kee Allen Begay Jr. from Central Agency
Thomas Walker Jr. from Western Agency
Herman Daniels Jr. from Western Agency

Law and Order Committee

Eugenia Charles-Newton from Northern Agency
Edmund Yazzie from Fort Defiance Agency
Vince James from Fort Defiance Agency
Eugene Tso from Central Agency
Otto Tso from Western Agency

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