24th Navajo Nation Council - Office of the Speaker
An annual week-long recognition of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, two-spirit (LGBTQ+) Navajo people was established by the 24th Navajo Nation Council with the certification of Resolution No. CJY-63-20 by Speaker Seth Damon (Baahaali, Chilchiltah, Manuelito, Red Rock, Rock Springs, Tsayatoh) July 31. CJY-63-20 designates every third week in June as Diné Pride Week.
Dine Pride Week serves to help address the discrimination and harmful treatment of LGBTQ+ children, youth and adults on the Navajo Nation as part of its commitment to fostering, cultivating and preserving a culture of inclusion, fairness, and equality.
Sponsor of Legislation No. 0140-20 Council Delegate Nathaniel Brown (Chilchinbeto, Dennehotso, Kayenta), co-sponsor Council Delegate Carl Roessel Slater (Lukachukai, Rock Point, Round Rock, Tsaile/Wheatfields, Tsé Ch’izhí) and Speaker Damon were joined by Arizona State Representative Arlando Teller, Diné Pride Executive Director Alray Nelson and Diné Pride leaders as Speaker Damon enacted Legislation No. 0140-20 in front of the Navajo Nation Council Chamber.
Delegate Brown stated, “This is a brand-new day, ni’hookáá’ diyin diné’é bílá’ ashdla’ii, it’s a start for everyone to be heard and truly be equal by being recognized by the Council.”
Rep. Teller added, “As an openly gay legislator, I appreciate all the efforts and leadership by Nathaniel Brown, Speaker Damon, Delegate Slater and Mr. Alray Nelson, in addressing equality most politely and respectfully.”
“I want to extend my appreciation to Diné Pride and Diné Equality for everything they have done, past and present, with our leaders to bring us to this point,” said Speaker Damon. “It’s going to be a good day moving forward from here for the People of our great Navajo Nation.”
The 24th Navajo Nation Council approved the legislation during its 2020 Summer Session on July 22 following a proclamation issued by Speaker Damon in June designating the 2020 Diné Pride Week.
That proclamation stated: “The Navajo Nation shall honor the diverse identities among the Navajo People who are worthy of love, respect, and fairness. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, two-spirit people (LGBTQ+) are ni’hookáá’ diyin diné’é bílá’ ashdla’ii, who are five-fingered, earth surface holy people who are sacred.”
“When people look back years from now to see what did we do to make things better on Navajo, what did we do to expand our minds, to be introspective, to be reflective, to be respectful, they’re going to look back at the work of Nate Brown, Alray Nelson and Speaker Damon.
Legislation No. 0140-20 was first approved by the Health, Education, and Human Services Committee (HEHSC) on Jul. 8 with a vote of 3 in favor and 0 opposed. Human Services Committee has the authority to review and recommend resolutions related to social services, health, environmental health, education, veterans and veterans’ services, employment and labor.
The legislation was then passed by the Naabik’íyáti’ Committee, and then by the 24th Navajo Nation Council, where it passed with a vote of 14 in favor and 8 opposed.
Council Delegate Charlaine Tso (Mexican Water, To’likan, Teesnospos, Aneth, Red Mesa) also voiced support alongside Council Delegate Eugenia Charles-Newton (Shiprock) and Council Delegate Eugene Tso (Chinle).
Delegate Tso shared with the Council during the 2020 Summer Session, “I urge my colleagues to understand that the LGBTQ+ community, they are our children, they are our brothers and our sisters.”
To all our children out there, we are here for you, we are all equal and we will continue to fight for you,” said Delegate Brown. “We are going to continue to heal during this pandemic and you always have some wonderful people watching over you.”
“We are a diverse Nation and we need to continue to recognize it,” said Delegate Slater.
Proclamations of the Speaker of the Navajo Nation are generally ratified by the appropriate oversight committee of the Navajo Nation Council. The full Navajo Nation Council may then consider the designation of memorials and similar legislative actions on behalf of the whole Navajo Nation.
Upon certification of the legislation by Speaker Damon, the Diné Pride Week resolution became effective.