Orientation for new Navajo Council delegates takes place this week in Flagstaff

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. - Navajo Nation Council Speaker Lawrence T. Morgan and the Legislative Branch Transition Team are conducting an orientation that will take place through Dec. 30 at the Little America Hotel in Flagstaff for the 24 incoming members of the 22nd Navajo Nation Council.

Speaker Morgan and legislative officials are sponsoring the four-day orientation in an effort to provide the new Council with insight of pending Navajo Nation issues, the authorities of the Navajo Nation Council and offer recommendations for restructuring the Navajo Nation Legislative Branch, among other issues.

Speaker Morgan provided the keynote address to launch the first day of the orientation. Following his address, Assistant Attorney General Paul Spurhan of the Navajo Department of Justice gave a presentation on the overview of Navajo Nation sovereignty. Other highlights of the day included presentations by Justin Jones, Esq., on "The Concept of Diné Fundamental Law" and 20-minute presentations by the 21st Navajo Nation Council's 12 standing committees and the Navajo-Hopi Land Commission.

Yesterday began with various topics that included: the authorities of the Navajo Nation Council and Rules of Order; structure of the Navajo Nation Government; authorities of the standing committees, agency caucus, delegates' meeting and rules of order; laws and rules for the selection of the Speaker Pro Tem and the selection of the Speaker and his or her authorities and appointment.

The new Council was also informed of the process of developing legislation, as required by Title 2, Section 164, as well as the Navajo Nation Ethics and Government Law, which was presented by the Office of the Chief Legislative Counsel.

Today, Chief Justice Herb Yazzie will provide an overview of the Judicial Branch and its court processes, including the Navajo Supreme Court and federal court decisions impacting the Navajo Nation. Eric Descheenie and Jarvis Williams, legislative staff assistants with the Speaker's office, will give presentations on the political shifts at the federal and state levels and how those shifts impact the Navajo Nation.

Sharon Clahchischilliage, director for the Office of Navajo Government Development, will provide information on her office's efforts in identifying laws of the Navajo Nation Code that need to be amended to accommodate a 24-member body.

Her presentation will be followed by the Diné Policy Institute, who will give a report on the "Presentation of Proposed Legislative Branch Restructuring," which consists of three restructuring recommendations.

The Intergovernmental Relations Committee Transition Taskforce, presentations by Controller Mark Grant, Marty Ashley, executive director for the Navajo Tax Commission and Dominic Beyal of the Navajo Office of Management and Budget on the "State of the Navajo Nation's Financial Status, Investment Activities, etc.," and the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission will conclude day three of the orientation.

On the final day, Stanley Pollack of the Navajo Department of Justice will provide updates on the Navajo Nation Water Rights Commission. Various divisions and departments from the Navajo Nation Executive Branch will provide presentation on their affairs, including budgets and relevant issues. Following the executive branch divisions and departments, the Navajo Nation's tribal enterprises and entities, such as the Navajo Arts and Crafts Enterprise, Navajo Housing Authority and Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise, among others, will provide presentation before the members of new legislature adjourn from the four-day orientation.

The Legislative Branch Transition Team members, who played key roles in the development of the orientation include Clahchischilliage, Descheenie and Williams, along with Charles Long, chief of staff for the Office of the Speaker, and LaVonne Tsosie, acting director for the Office of Legislative Services.

A copy of Diné Policy Institute's report can be downloaded at www.dinecollege.edu/institutes/DPI/policy-domains.php.

For more information, contact LaVonne Tsosie at ltsosie@navajo.org.

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