Naabik'iyátí' Committee passes bill seeking to override President Shelly's 'junk food tax' veto
WINDOW ROCK - Naabik'iyátí' Committee members April 10 approved legislation including a bill which opposes the use of disparaging references to Native people in professional sports franchises and a bill seeking to override Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly's veto of a proposed "junk food tax" within the Navajo Nation.
Committee members first addressed Legislation No. 0078-14, sponsored by Council Delegate Joshua Lavar Butler (Tó Nanees Dizi), which opposes the use of disparaging references to Native people in professional sports franchises. The committee first considered and tabled the legislation on March 27.
Butler has previously stated that the use of terms such as, "Red Skins" by the Washington Redskins - a professional football team of the National Football Association - promotes discrimination, racism, and ignorance toward Native Americans.
"This unfortunate practice of using such insulting names as Redskins without regard to Native people and our unique identity has to stop," Butler said on March 27, while urging his committee colleagues to "blaze the trail" for other tribes to take a stance against disparaging references to Native people.
In addition, Butler cited the psychological ramifications of disparaging remarks on Navajo youth and provided a brief history of the term "redskins," explaining that bounties were once offered for the murder of "redskins."
"What do our youth think of themselves when they see team names and mascots that ridicule and deride our culture?" asked Butler. "This becomes a roadblock preventing them from achieving success, and being secure in their identity as a Native person, as Diné"
The Naabik'iyátí' Committee approved the bill with a vote of nine supporting and two opposing.
Naabik'iyátí' Committee members also approved Legislation No. 0083-14, which seeks to override President Shelly's veto of Council Resolution CJA-04-14.
Resolution CJA-04-14, the Healthy Diné Nation Act of 2013, which was sponsored by Council Delegate Danny Simpson (Becenti, Crownpoint, Huerfano, Lake Valley, Nageezi, Nahodishgish, Tse'ii'ahi, Whiterock) sought to impose a two-percent sales tax, in addition to the Navajo Nation's current five-percent sales tax, on "junk food" sold within the Navajo Nation.
Council approved the legislation during its Winter Session in January. However, Shelly vetoed the resolution, citing a "lack of regulatory provisions" as it relates to overseeing the collection of the sales tax among other issues, addressed in a memo dated Feb. 12.
Council Delegate Jonathan Hale (Oak Springs, St. Michaels) sponsored the override legislation.
According to the legislation, "junk food" is defined as sweetened beverages and pre-packaged and non-prepackaged snacks low in essential nutrients and high in salt, fat, and sugar including snack chips, candy, cookies, and pastries.
The tax revenue generated would be allocated for use by chapters to develop wellness centers, community parks, basketball courts, walking, running and bike trails, swimming pools, community gardens, family picnic grounds, and health education classes.
Naabik'iyátí' Committee voted 8-3 on Thursday to approve the legislation, which now proceeds to the Navajo Nation Council for final consideration. The bill will require two-thirds approval, or 16 supporting votes, to override Shelly's veto.