Indian Country Today
Arizona has long been known for its unusual time zone situation.
If one were to drive through the state during a certain time of year, their clocks would change three different times. First, in Arizona, it would show standard time, unaffected by daylight savings. Then, in the state’s northeast region, the clock would jump forward, reflecting Navajo Nation’s decision to observe daylight saving. Finally, through Hopi, which is surrounded by Navajo Nation, the clock would return to standard time.
“You have this situation where if you're on this street, it's this time and literally, you cross the street, and it is a wholly different time,” said Byron Shorty, communications director for the Navajo Nation Office of the Speaker.
Daylight saving time is upon us, again, as most of the country moves an hour ahead. The annual shift comes at 2 a.m. local time Sunday. Only a few states, including Arizona, Hawaii, and certain U.S. territories, do not make daylight saving adjustments.
However, daylight saving adjustments do take place on the vast Navajo Nation that encompasses portions of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.
A bill endorsed this month by the New Mexico Senate would make it so the state stayed on daylight saving time throughout the year.
“The way it works in Arizona, you know, it's always sort of an oddity,” Shorty said. “And Hopi is an island in the Navajo Nation’s observance of daylight savings time.”
Navajo Nation originally decided against adopting Arizona’s unique timezone preference, which Arizona adopted in 1967. Since many Navajo Nation citizens worked in the New Mexico region, it made sense to match their time zone instead.
But if New Mexico joins Arizona’s time zone, there would be less of a reason for Navajo Nation to remain on daylight saving -- meaning it's likely that they would change their timezone as well.
“If it is successful in New Mexico, at least from our end, it's even more possible that that change is reflected here as well,” said Shorty.
Despite speculation, it still remains unclear if the bill will succeed. The Senate passed a similar bill in 2015, but it stalled once it reached the House. Officials aren’t sure if the House will vote on the current bill before the legislative session ends on March 20. If it did pass, the state would then have to request an exemption from federal transportation authorities before the new timezone could be implemented.
Standard time returns Nov. 7.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
Meghan Fate Sullivan, Koyukon Athabascan, grew up in Alaska, and is currently reporting on her home state from our Anchorage Bureau.