For the largest Native American reservation, the journey to naming a new president now has an end site. The Navajo Nation Council approved legislation to hold a primary election on June 2 and a general election on August 4 the Daily Timesreported.
The vote was held during a special session in Window Rock on December 30 and saw only Charles Damon II voting against the bill according to the Navajo Times.
The controversy over the Navajo Presidential race started prior to the original November 4 general election deadline, when candidate Chris Deschene’s Navajo fluency was called into question by two primary election opponents. Ultimately, Deschene was disqualified and removed from the ballots.
Deschene’s attorneys asked for the order throwing Deschene out of the race be dismissed on December 29 citing that the hearing officer who issued it also did not qualify for his job. The Navajo law on fluency was enacted in the early part of the 90s and requires any candidate running for the presidential office to be a fluent speaker of Navajo. Deschene continues to argue that he has met the requirements and that fluency is a matter of opinion.
The turmoil brought about legislation from the Navajo Nation Council that sought to eliminate the language requirement but that was quickly vetoed by current Navajo President Ben Shelly on December 31.
The new bill however, reopens the primary election race to the 17 candidates who ran in the August 28 primary according to the Associated Press. Those candidates could run again and have the $1,500 filing fee waived, while new candidates could be added to the mix and pay the fee.