Amidst this political climate in Window Rock, Ariz., I find it rather odd that the Navajo people are not given any options in regards to government reform.
The only option we are given is to reduce the size of council to 24. A major problem with our current government system is that it is very centralized. The voices of the common Navajo people in all 110 chapters are not heard in Window Rock.
If the council was reduced to 24, our government would be even more centralized. Also, Shirley’s reduction plan is not thought out very well and is very elementary. He claims the reduction will address spending and the salaries of the delegates.
However, spending will be the same; because there will still be 110 chapters, and each delegate will get paid even more. There are larger systemic problems within our current government system, and council reduction will not address any of these issues.
The largest systemic problem is that the first Navajo tribal council, also known as the business council, was designed to negotiate mineral and land leases with foreign corporations. Still today, our tribal budget is very dependent on mineral resources. The Navajo Nation’s current deficit is because of misestimated coal revenues. If this issue is not addressed, then leases with renewable resource companies will look the same as coal and uranium leases. This issue is larger and more important than the size of council.
The centralization of power is very dangerous, because the people do not have a say in what our government does. Currently, the president has proved centralization to be dangerous. Despite the people not wanting Desert Rock and more coal mining, he has continued with these detrimental projects. These projects will affect many generations, yet he continues to not listen to the people.
Our nation does not need to reduce or enlarge the size of council. There are systemic problems in all three branches of our government, and the council size will not address any of these. The young people of our nation will be dealing with the affects of elementary and reactionary government reform.
So, as a young person, I urge our people to push for total government reform. A decentralization model should be considered at this time; so all Navajo peoples’ concerns and needs will be heard.
– Nikke Alex