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Native Americans Rooting for Giffords

The attempted assassination of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., has Native Americans in her home state and beyond pulling for her recovery.

Giffords was shot Jan. 8 through her brain during a community event in Tucson, allegedly by 22-year-old Jared Loughner. He was charged Jan. 10 with two counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder in federal court.

The shooting left 6 dead, including 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green and U.S. District Court Judge John M. Roll. The judge had overseen a number of Indian country cases. Fourteen others were injured, including two federal staffers.

The congresswoman remains in critical condition after surgery, showing a positive signs of recovery, according to doctors.

Census data indicates that Giffords’ 8th Congressional district composes approximately 2.1 percent Native Americans.

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During her time in Congress, Giffords has been a friend to Indian country, co-sponsoring the White Mountain Apache Tribe water rights bill and the reauthorization of the Special Diabetes Program for Indians in the 111th Congress. Both became law in 2010.

A press release on Giffords’ website from Nov. 2009 said she voted in favor of the Native American Business Development Enhancement Act, which would establish in the Small Business Administration the Office of Native American Affairs with the goal of increasing Native American entrepreneurship.

Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr. issued the following statement after the tragedy: “It is with profound sadness that the Navajo Nation learned of the senseless shootings of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, U.S. District Court Judge John Roll, and members of Ms. Giffords’ staff in Tucson this morning. The deaths of Judge Roll, Ms. Giffords’ staff member and a child leave us without words that would heal the mind and heart at this time.

“The intentional injury of beloved family, friends and leaders leave us full of pain and distress. The prayers of all Navajo people are with Congresswoman Giffords, her husband Mark Kelly, their two children, and the families of all of the victims. Our deepest condolences are expressed to the families of Judge Roll and the other victims.

Added Navajo Nation Council Speaker Lawrence T. Morgan in a statement: “I send my prayers to the family of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, as well as my condolences to the families of her staff aides and the innocent bystanders that lost their lives. I am shocked and horrified. This incident affects all lawmakers on many levels because senseless incidents can happen any given time, including on the Navajo Nation.

“We appreciate all the efforts of Congresswoman Giffords who has advocated for the Navajo Nation on various issues. On behalf of the Navajo Nation Legislative Branch and 21st Navajo Nation Council, we send our prayers.”