WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. - Navajo Nation President-elect Russell Begaye and Vice President-elect Jonathan Nez took the oath of office during an inauguration ceremony May 12 at the Bee Hółdzil Fighting Scouts Events Center in Fort Defiance, Arizona. The event was free and open to the public.
"We are very thankful for the support of the Navajo People and we invite all of the Navajo Nation, along with chapter, state, county, and federal officials, to celebrate with us on this very special occasion," Begaye said, before the ceremony, which took place after the Observer went to print.
Begaye and Nez were elected to the office of the president and vice president during a special election on April 21.
Pax Harvey of Pax Harvey Consulting, served as the Master of Ceremonies, with the welcome address provided by 23rd Navajo Nation Council Speaker LoRenzo Bates.
Students from Window Rock High School gave a Navajo song performance and students from Shiprock Associated School, Inc. recited the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of the event.
"We must always remain mindful of our youth in anything we do, and so we feel it's important to have Navajo students be a part of the event," Nez said.
Newly elected members of the Navajo Board of Election Supervisors Dennis M. Dedman (Chinle Agency), Rodger Martinez (Eastern Navajo Agency), Dawn A. Yazzie (Fort Defiance Agency), Sam Ahkeah (Shiprock Agency), Shirlee A. Bedonie (Western Navajo Agency), and Ray Gilmore (Chinle Agency) also took the oath of office at the event.
Current Vice President Rex Lee Jim and William Lee performed a dedication and blessing ceremony for the new leaders after the oath of office, followed by the inaugural address provided by Begaye and Nez.
The public was advised to arrive early to the event due to security screening. Safety precautions prohibited certain items from the facility such as alcohol, drugs, outside food or drinks, oversized bags, and weapons in accordance with policies of the Window Rock Unified School District.
The inauguration ceremony also was live-streamed on the web through the Navajo Nation Council's designated Ustream channel.