Navajo Nation’s observance of Sovereignty Day moved to April 23

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – The Government Services Committee (GSC) of the Navajo Nation Council on Tuesday by a unanimous vote of 6 in favor approved an exception to the Navajo Nation Personnel Policies Manual to authorize a paid holiday on April 23, 2001, “Navajo Nation Sovereignty Day,” for all eligible Navajo Nation government employees.

Currently, the Navajo Nation Personnel Policies manual designates April 16, 2001, as Navajo Nation Sovereignty Day. However, this year, Sovereignty Day falls on the first day of the Navajo Nation Council’s Spring Session.

Early last week, President Kelsey A. Begaye issued a memorandum to tribal programs declaring April 13th as Sovereignty Day. Subsequently, President Begaye rescinded his earlier memorandum and stated that it was necessary to move the holiday back to Monday, April 23, 2001.

Navajo Nation Sovereignty Day” was first declared by former Navajo Chairman Peterson Zah in recognition of a landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court, which was handed down on April 16, 1985.

In that decision, the United States Supreme Court, by a vote 8 to 0, stated that the Navajo Tribal Government as a Sovereign Nation has the inherent right to impose taxes without the review and approval of the Secretary of the Interior.

The Supreme Court Justices said that the Navajo government, “probably the most elaborate among Tribes,” is legitimate and that as a sovereign nation has the absolute right to self-government.

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