Navajo Nation Council Horse Ride under way July 11-18

Trek from Navajo Mountain, Utah to Window Rock

This year the sixth annual horse ride commenced from Navajo Mountain, Utah to Window Rock, Arizona. The horse ride started on July 11, at 9 a.m. with approximately 20 riders, who represented various Navajo Nation Chapters; such as Sanostee Chapter, Oaksprings Chapter, Kaibeto Chapter, Shonto Chapter, Oljato Chapter and of course Navajo Mountain and Inscription House Chapters.

Along the way, other riders representing their chapters will also be joining the horse riding expedition to the Navajo Nation Capital in Window Rock. The horse ride is open to anyone who is interested in the outdoor activities but individuals will be expected to be responsible for their safety and others related daily chores. The youth of our nation are especially welcomed to join--whether for a day or for the full distance. Their energy is always inspiring to us as leaders to provide positive guidance for the youth.

The original purpose of the annual horse ride is to remember our past tribal leaders, who traversed over our great Navajo land in the early stages of our current governmental system by attending various levels of the traditional form of governance. These tribal leaders endured the hardship to form what is now the Navajo Nation government--from the local chapter government to the Navajo Nation Council, which is the governing body of the Navajo Nation.

Without their input in laying the foundation of our government, the Navajo Nation might have a very different form of government--one that might have put us under total control by the federal government. In that respect, we dedicate this horse ride every year to commemorate their foresight and perseverance in laying our formal structure of government that has evolved into the three branch government.

The secondary goal of the annual horse ride is to spend time together as tribal leaders and with our constituents. The time spent together permits us to create positive energy, whereby we can rejuvenate ourselves with the idea of enlisting Navajo traditional practice. Rededication and commitment has to be demonstrated in order to influence change, and I hope this horse ride can inspire each of us to make a positive impact for our people.

In route, the horse riding group will visit seven Navajo Chapters where the group will stay overnight. The host chapter and/or sponsoring groups will provide supper for the evening and morning breakfast before the start of each day's ride. During these visits, we anticipate a lot of interaction between the riding group and local constituents on both local issues unique to the area or on Navajo Nationwide issues and concerns.

We welcome any comments or written documents to relay to our fellow delegates on the Council and to other governmental agencies at the state and federal level.

Every Chapter that I have contacted indicated a high interest to assist the horse riders on their journey for the seven days. The Chapters included are Navajo Mountain, Inscription House, Kaibeto, Tohnaneesdizi, Coalmine Canyon, Tolani Lake, Dilkon and Klagetoh.

The Speaker of the Navajo Nation Council Lawrence Morgan and his staff will sponsor the reception for all the horse riders on Sunday evening, July 17, at the Navajo Nation fairgrounds. In addition, the Dilkon delegates and associates will sponsor a sweat lodging activity for all riders interested at the Tolani Lake Chapter.

Before the commencement of the Navajo Nation Council summer session, an organized horse riding procession will start from the Navajo Nation fairgrounds to the Navajo Nation Council Chamber as a tribute of honor to all our past tribal leaders and those who are currently carrying the torch of hope and light.

This year, we also expect a filmmaker by the name of Jose Roberto del Torro from Puerto Rico, currently living in Los Angeles, to accompany the horse-riding group. Mr. Torro will join the horse ride from the beginning to the end of the ride. He indicated that he will film the entire segment of the horse ride and will edit the film to include horse rider participants' input. The Honorable Speaker Morgan will also join the riders.

In addition, Marilyn Verney will take part in the journey. Ms. Verney is a candidate for a doctorate degree currently attending the University of California in Santa Barbara, Calif. She has also been in communication with Professor Amado Lascar and Professor Amanda Harris, both of the University of Ohio, who will also be joining the group. Other riders who have expressed interest in the week-long excursion are Kathy Helms from the Gallup Independent and George Hardeen from the Office of the President. Of course we would be honored to have the President and the Vice President of the Navajo Nation to saddle up with us any time during this endeavor. Lastly, Charles Fitzgerald from Texas, who is visiting the Browning Ranch in Farmington, N.M., has also committed to the trip.

To all horse riders of the Navajo Nation, may you have a safe and peaceful trail wherever you may journey with your horse on this beautiful land of the Navajo Nation.

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