Navajo Nation President Kelsey A. Begaye recently presented the State of the Navajo Nation Address during the Summer Session. Begaye began his presentation by recognizing United States Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Conner and Stephen G. Breyer.
Thanking them for taking the time to visit the Navajo Nation. “The Justices will see that the Navajo Nation is a fully functioning government; that our justice system is more than adequate and the rights of our citizens are guaranteed and protected to the fullest extent of the law,” the President said. This visit was a first for the Nation.
Other distinguished guests Governor of the State of Utah, Michael O. Leavitt, and Deputy Governor Bob Linnell and State of Arizona Attorney General Janet Napolitano, Speaker of the House James Weiers, President of the Senate Randall Grant and other leaders.
Ron Lee, Executive Director of the Arizona Commission on Indian Affairs. “Without the assistance of the Commission and Mr. Lee, it would be difficult for the Navajo Nation and other tribes to establish the rapport and relationship with our elected leaders,” Begaye said.
Begaye said that the Navajo Nation Council’s Budget and Finance Committee has begun its annual budget and appropriations process. This year’s budget reflects stringent and streamlined programs, Begaye said, while implementing a funding pool that would provide additional dollars to specific Navajo Nation programs to enhance services provided to the public.
The president also reminded his audience of the concept of K’e, which he described as a reverence for all things in the universe. K’e, he recognized, is challenged by modern life. “Although there is great pride in Diné culture, what was once familiar to the people is being decimated. As more of our Diné choose a lifestyle more conducive to mainstream society, many of our people are challenged by various accompanying physical, social and environmental high risk factors such as diabetes, substance abuse, domestic violence, juvenile crime, and low achievement in schools. Within these difficult sets of impacting factors, the Navajo Nation has been diligent and consistently advocating for adequate human and financial resources in addressing and resolving these issues”
Recognizing the need to support the Nation’s children and families, Begaye’s administration has consistently supported local programs serving youth, families and senior citizens, the president said.
The president also listed the need to protect Nation communities as a priority. “Just recently, the local media have reported certain criminal activities in various Navajo communities—some incidents leading to beatings and even death. These types of incidents should not be occurring in our communities.”
The Department of Law Enforcement, he said, has submitted a grant application for additional police officers and equipment. Increased patrols and placing substations in target communities are other ideas being examined by the Begaye/McKenzie administration. But these increasing acts of violence must also be looked at as community problems, and the president challenged communities to take responsibility and become accountable for their own actions.
Begaye named the Ch’ihootso Indian Marketplace as an example of communities taking action to provide public safety as well as protection for Navajo Nation investments and property. He encouraged other communities to do the same.
This is just one example of the Navajo Nation addressing the breakdown of the k’e system. There is more.
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