Delegates support chapter government operations, proclamation for Diné Pride Week

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times
Clockwise from left, the transgender flag, Navajo Nation flag, gay pride flag, equality flag and inclusive flag fly on June 26 in front of the Navajo Nation Council chamber in Window Rock, Arizona.

FARMINGTON — Before ending the summer session this week, the Navajo Nation Council voted in favor of authorizing chapter governments to continue holding meetings by telephone or by video conference and with a three-person quorum.

Chapter houses have been closed to the public since the first cases of the novel coronavirus were confirmed on the Navajo Nation in March.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez mandated the closures in an executive order to minimize the spread of the new virus in communities.

In April, the council authorized chapter officials to meet by telephone or video conference for them to provide disaster relief services and to discuss issues affecting chapter members during the pandemic.

The front door to the Newcomb Chapter house is pictured on March 24. The notice informs visitors about the closure of the building in Newcomb due to the coronavirus.

That resolution ended on July 15.

Under the new resolution, which passed on July 22, this authorization will be in effect until restrictions on large gatherings are lifted.

Council delegates passed a bill to continue operating the tribal government under the fiscal year 2020 budget through March 31, 2021.

When the bill went to the Naa'bik'íyáti' Committee this month, delegates amended it and pushed the end date from Dec. 31 to March 31.

Information about the coronavirus and a closure notice for the Tooh Haltsooí Chapter house are pictured on March 24 in Sheep Springs.

The new fiscal year starts on Oct. 1. Because of the coronavirus, Delegate Raymond Smith Jr. sponsored the bill to carry on the current fiscal year and allow more time for tribal leaders to conduct a thorough budget process for fiscal year 2021.

Delegates approved amending the Navajo Nation Code for the president's line-item veto authority to reflect ballot language that was approved by Navajo voters in 2009.

The council also passed legislation to proclaim the third week in June of each year as Diné Pride Week on the Navajo Nation.

Participants in the Diné Pride Cruise on June 26 pass the Navajo Nation Council chamber in Window Rock, Arizona.

The annual proclamation would coincide with Pride Month, which recognizes and celebrates the LGBTQ community.

Since the bill did not propose changes to policy or laws, it does not go to President Nez's office for his review and consideration.

The council did refer one legislation to the Naa'bik'íyáti' Committee for further discussion.

That bill sought the tribe's support to request Congress to extend the deadline for Native American veterans to file claims or appeals for benefits under the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or to file claims or appeals against the Indian Health Service for substandard medical care.

These claims and appeals must be filed while the declaration of a national public health emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic is in effect. The declaration was enacted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar extended the national public health emergency on July 23, according to the department.

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

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