Bills propose in-person learning and canceling Navajo Nation's restrictions on roads access

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times
A stretch of Navajo Route 36 is pictured on April 21, 2017 near the San Juan Chapter house. Roads owned and maintained by the Navajo Nation have been closed to tourists over concern about the coronavirus.

GALLUP — Three pieces of legislation call on the Navajo Nation Council to repeal resolutions that restrict access to the tribal land by tourists and oppose in-person learning in schools.

Navajo Nation officials supported each resolution last year in response to the coronavirus pandemic with the intent of keeping communities safe by reducing risk of exposure to the new virus.

With the number of new daily infections continuing to drop — recent updates have numbered less than 20 — and restrictions eased for residents and businesses, the bills propose to eliminate restraints.

Last March, the tribal council approved closing roads owned and maintained by the tribe to tourists. The resolution, known as CMA-16-20, was signed into law by tribal President Jonathan Nez on April 3, 2020.

Those roads could reopen to visitors if Legislation No. 0043-21 is approved.

Another bill proposes to rescind the tribe's stance and opposition to in-person learning at schools on the Navajo Nation.

The October 2020 resolution also supported the Navajo Nation Board of Education's recommendation that virtual learning to take place for all students, regardless if schools are operated by the Bureau of Indian Education or through state education departments or private schools.

The Navajo Nation Council chamber is pictured in 2016 in Window Rock, Arizona.

The last measure, Legislation No. 0046-21, would revoke the resolution that recommended all public and private schools delay plans to reopen buildings for the 2020-2021 school year.

That resolution, known as NABIAU-35-20, was authorized by the Naa'bik'íyáti' Committee in August 2020.

The three bills were introduced on March 17 and each one can start the legislative process on March 23.

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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