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Momentum Change for Deschene?

October 23
08:37 2014

Navajo Seal 2Now it’s a matter of Navajo President Ben Shelly signing into law the legislation passed early Friday morning by the Navajo Nation Council.

The new legislation says that in order to be President of the Navajo nation, one does not have to speak the Navajo language fluently. The measure passed by an 11-10 vote, with the deciding vote cast by Pro Tem Speaker, Lorenzo Bates. After Mr. Bates cast his vote, he said he knew there may be consequences as a result, but he’d be willing to face them.

Obviously, the discussion by Council and subsequent vote stemmed from Presidential Candidate Chris Deschene and the question of whether he can speak the language with fluency. He says he does, his opponents do not think so, and fought the issue until Deschene saw his name removed form the ballot earlier this week.

In talking with Lake Powell Communications Friday afternoon, Deschene said he didn’t expect this new measure and he was certainly pleased with the outcome.

“After much thoughtful deliberation, the Navajo Nation Council passed legislation that respects our fundamental right to choose our own leaders. I am grateful for, and honored by, the many supporters who have stood with us,” said the Page High School graduate.

Though he is aware of the significance of Friday’s vote, Deschene also says he believes it’s an issue that should have been addressed a generation ago.

“I’ve been the only candidate talking about protecting and preserving our culture, especially in regards to the language” said Deschene. “I was the only one offering a language plan; preservation plan, priority. We will put that forward if we get through this general election.”

But he stressed the most important thing is that the people have a fundamental right to choose their leaders.

Getting back to the new legislation, Deschene says the most important thing is President has to sign it.

“Once it is signed and becomes law, then the standard changes and it will have a direct impact on my personal legal proceedings,” he said. “But at the moment the critical event will be whether the President of the Navajo Nations signs the legislation.”

Deschene finished his conversation with Lake Powell Communications Friday by saying he appreciated the interest shown by the people of this area.

“Tell them that the number one thing is for them to vote, because this is what it’s all about,” he added. “This is how our government works because they are voting directly to impact that.”


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