Diné Pride Week is now recognized on the Navajo Nation

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times
Speaker Seth Damon, center, signs on July 31 the Navajo Nation Council resolution to declare the third week in June of each year as Diné Pride Week on the Navajo Nation.

FARMINGTON — Speaker Seth Damon certified the Navajo Nation Council resolution to proclaim the third week in June of each year as Diné Pride Week on the Navajo Nation.

Damon called the day "historic" before signing the document in a July 31 event in front of the council chamber, which had its front doors covered by a large banner that stated "Diné Pride."

"This is something historic, not only for us here today, but this is something for our kids – our next seven generations. Knowing that every single one of our people are going to be accepted in this realm," he said.

Delegates passed the legislation in a vote of 14 in favor and eight opposed on July 22. Since the bill did not propose changes to Navajo policies or laws, it did not go to President Jonathan Nez for his review and consideration.

There is tribal law that does not recognize same-sex marriage and no laws that prohibit gender identity-based discrimination. Action to repeal the Diné Marriage Act or to enact laws that protect the LGBTQ community were not mentioned by Damon or by any of the delegates in attendance.

From left, board members for Diné Pride Rapheal Begay, Curtis Berry and Alray Nelson stand with Speaker Seth Damon, Delegates Nathaniel Brown and Carl Slater, and Arizona State Rep. Arlando Teller after the signing event on July 31 for the Navajo Nation Council resolution to declare the third week in June of each year as Diné Pride Week on the Navajo Nation.

Delegate Nathaniel Brown sponsored the Diné Pride Week bill and called it a start to "bringing true equality to everyone."

After speaking the Navajo language, Brown said in English that leadership will "continue to fight for our LGBTQ+ community."

Alray Nelson is executive director of Diné Pride, an organization that advocates for equal rights and protections for the Diné LGBTQ community.

"As we look into the future to our young people, it's important and imperative that this is just a small step towards the right direction for the Navajo people," Nelson said during the event.

For Arizona State Rep. Arlando Teller, the annual recognition shows that the LGBTQ community is no longer being overlooked within the four sacred mountains.

"It may be a week of recognition, but for us LGBTQ members of the Navajo Nation and as your openly gay legislator, I sincerely appreciate this move," Teller said.

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

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