Navajo Nation Council passes bill to cancel fair season
GALLUP — The Navajo Nation Council supported a bill to cancel fairs, rodeos and roping competitions for the remainder of the year on the reservation.
The bill, proposed to protect the public from further transmission of the novel coronavirus, was part of the consent agenda on the July 1 special session.
It passed in a vote of 19 in favor and two opposed. The consent agenda included another bill to declare the second Friday in May as "Navajo Police Officer Day" on the Navajo Nation.
The resolution to cancel fairs, rodeos and roping competitions will be submitted to Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez's office for his review and consideration.
Delegate Eugenia Charles-Newton, who represents Shiprock Chapter, introduced the bill on May 14.
"The concern is for the people," Charles-Newton said in a telephone interview on July 2.
She reiterated that physical distancing would be difficult to achieve in large gatherings and maintaining hand hygiene would be challenging.
"At least with me and my experience, the wash stations are usually full and ready to go maybe the first couple of days," she said about the fairs.
"After that, it's kind of a hit or miss and wash stations are very important at this time," she added.
The bill did receive some comments from the public that called on the council to oppose it.
When the legislation went to the Resources and Development Committee in June, delegates questioned whether it would cancel traditional ceremonies and religious gatherings as well.
Charles-Newton said that she told committee members that it has no effect on traditional ceremonies or religious gatherings.
"I am not going to be the delegate to say, 'no you can't have ceremonies' or 'no, you can’t go to church.' I think the faith of our people right now is what is getting them through each day. That's why I made it very clear that had nothing to do with this legislation," she said.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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