Statement from Navajo Nation president in response to op-ed from Navajo Times editor regarding attending graduations

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez will address the 2020 Democratic National Convention Aug. 18. (Photo/OPVP)

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez will address the 2020 Democratic National Convention Aug. 18. (Photo/OPVP)

In [the June 9] edition of the Navajo Times, editor Duane Beyale once again printed a self-written article ridiculing me for attending graduations for Navajo students and for posting what he thinks is too many photos on social media.

While everyone is entitled to their opinion, this repeated attempt by this particular individual to undermine our administration is uncalled for.

His ties to past politicians dating back to the 1980s might suggest that his motive is politically-driven. Through these tactics, he is carrying on the way of old politics by ridiculing others and tearing each other down. Or maybe his motive is to entice more readers because of the decline in readership under his oversight at Navajo Times?

Whatever the motive is, the Navajo people deserve to know that every graduation that I attended was at the invitation of school officials, parents or students. These were invitations that were either emailed or mailed to the Office of the President and Vice President. Previous presidents attended many graduations also, but they did not have the resource of social media to share those special moments to highlight the achievements of our students.

On May 4, I received an invitation through email from Manuel Tsosie, a visually-impaired Diné U.S. Army veteran, who persevered through many challenges and obstacles to earn two A.A. degrees in Psychology and Human Services from Central New Mexico. We attended his graduation and highlighted his remarkable resilience and achievements on social media.

During the 2018 campaign and to this day, our team has used social media to show the public what we are doing each and every day.

The editor is right about one thing, anyone can hop on social media and find out what I am doing and where I am on almost any given day. In the past, the Navajo people questioned what their leader was doing and where they were at — that is no longer the case thanks to social media.

Transparency is the goal in all of this, but certain individuals, including the editor, spin this notion of transparency and call it “photo-ops.” If “photo-ops” is the worst thing that certain individuals continue to use against me, I’ll take it. I am one president who is not under indictment and not under investigation for wrongdoings, so “photo ops” is the next best weapon for my political opponents to use.

For the families and graduates that I met this graduation season, I congratulate you and I will continue to support you and pray for your future success.

I apologize that the editor of Navajo Times does not recognize the importance of your achievements and basically states that your graduation ceremonies were a waste of time and resources. He should know better and devote his time and the resources of the Navajo Times to showcasing your success and achievements rather than trying to tear down others.

When the editor contacted our office a couple weeks ago requesting graduation photos for the Navajo Times, our staff did not hesitate to share photos that focused on the graduates to help highlight your accomplishments.

In our society today, we have far too many people who tear each other down and say hateful things to and about one another. Very rarely do I respond to the hateful things that are said about me and our administration and that’s because my grandparents taught me that what you put out into the world, through words and actions, tends to come back to you eventually.

This is election season and we are bound to hear more negativity and misguided words that try to tear down others. It’s unfortunate, but it’s our reality at the moment. But it can change for the better, but that change has to begin within each and every one of us as individuals.

I am certain by issuing this public statement there will be more backlash from the editor of the Navajo Times and more distasteful op-ed’s, but I ask our people to think critically and objectively and not to take this one individual’s perspective as fact.

I recognize that I have my shortcomings and that our administration has room for improvement while we continue to mitigate a worldwide pandemic. As president, I will continue to share information on social media and through other means of communication in hopes that our people never have to wonder what their president is doing, who he is engaging with, and where he is at on any given day.

Jonathan Nez,

President, Navajo Nation

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