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Seth Damon Stepping Aside as Speaker!

Seth Damon Stepping Aside as Speaker!
November 05
06:27 2022

Navajo Speaker: ‘I Will Step Aside’

Seth Damon

By John Christian Hopkins

What began as bill to place Navajo Nation Speaker Seth Damon on unpaid, indefinite leave morphed into an ouster movement instead.

It ended with an emotional Damon saying he would resign from his position on the 24th Navajo Nation Council.

Following a rocky special meeting of the Naabik’iya’ti’ Committee on Friday – which failed to make a decision – the wrestled over the awkward situation.

Damon’s refusal to resign – and the resolution to place him on unpaid leave – met strong resistance from some members of the Naabik’iya’ti Committee.

Several delegates said if Damon had resigned he wouldn’t have placed the council in such an awkward position. That sentiment continued to the council’s special session that followed.

“You should step down and really heal yourself,” Delegate Rick Nez said.

“Nobody forces us to drink,” Delegate Edmund Yazzie said. “Maybe this had to happen so that people who can’t stop, will stop.”

Delegate Otto Tso’s legislation would have placed Damon on indefinite, unpaid leave. After some delegates questioned how that decision came about, Delegate Wilson Stewart offered an altered bill – to remove Damon from the council.

“Leaders should have morals,” Stewart said.

Why wasn’t any legislation drafted to remove Damon from office, wondered Delegate Elmer Begay?

Bill sponsor Otto Tso deferred to the legislative counsel.

“That’s how the legislation was submitted,” Chief Legislative Counsel Dana Bobroff replied.

Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty wanted more information on what happened in Las Vegas. She said an article appearing in the Navajo Times contained information that she didn’t know.

“I want to know what really happened,” Crotty said.

Specifically, she wondered if staff was involved in the incident and why Tso’s legislation would prevent the speaker pro-tem from firing any staff.

The council broke into a caucus session and when it returned the die was cast.

“These past two weeks have been some of the toughest times we have met,” Damon said, his voice wavering. “I will step aside for the integrity of this chamber and the Navajo people.”

He said stepping aside would help heal the disharmony on the council.

He again admitted his mistake and apologized to the council.

After a contentious four-hour special meeting the Navajo Nation Council’s Naabik’iya’ti’ Committee on Friday let the time expire before it could make any decision on legislation to suspend Damon.

The legislation, sponsored by Delegate Otto Tso, would have suspend Damon without pay for the rest of the 24th Council’s term. It would also appoint a Speaker Pro-Tem. Tso is vice-chairman of the Law & Order Committee.

Damon apologized last week for an “incident” that happened while he was attending an Indian Rodeo event in Las Vegas. Damon’s apology did not specify what the incident was. However, since then he was reportedly agreed to attend rehab.

“Our leaders should be held accountable, and I accept responsibility for this incident. I made a mistake as an elected leader and it will not happen again,” Damon said in a statement.

Tso’s bill called for Damon’s suspension, without pay, from the speakership of the Navajo Nation until he is reinstated by the Naabik’iya’ti Committee. In addition Tso wanted the revolving speakership with committee chairs rotating every 15 days.

“He owned up to his actions and took responsibility,” Tso said.

Delegate Herman Daniels objected to evolving the speaker duties every 15 days.

Delegate Carl Slater offered an amendment to place Damon on suspension until the end of the current council term. He also suggested naming Delegate Daniel Tso as speaker pro-tem until the 24th Council ends in mid-January.

“We need to consider the housing situation,” Delegate Jamie Henio said. “We can’t just put his family out in the cold.”

The speaker receives tribal housing.

Slater said he had no objection to Damon’s remaining in the speaker’s house.

However, Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty had concerns. She said she asked Damon on November 1 why he had not appointed a speaker pro-tem and he told her no delegates were interested in the position.

“I’m not sure if that’s true,” Crotty said.

She said the tribe faces some critical issues and revolving speakers every 15 days is unworkable. There needed to be continuity, she insisted.

“I don’t look at this as there’s only two-and-a-half months left in the term. We have generational issues,” Crotty said. “This is not about us, it’s about the people.”

Damon should just resign Delegate Vince James offered.

Even if he steps down as speaker, Damon would remain a council delegate, Henio said.

Slater said he did ask Damon to step down and avoid this situation, but he did not think there were the 16 votes needed to remove Damon.

Damon said he talked with other delegates and the consensus was to go the route Otto Tso suggested.

“We should have a plan while our speaker is away in rehab,” Slater said. “If this didn’t happen we wouldn’t have to deal with this.”

Crotty asked which delegates have acted as speaker pro-tem since the issue with Damon became public on October 25.

“There’s a lot of contention at this time,” Slater replied. “There are already people angling to be speaker.”

“What happens if we don’t meet the 1 p.m. deadline?” Delegate Edmund Yazzie asked. “We only have seven minutes.”

If the Naabik’iya’ti’ Committee fails to take action, the legislation moves on the full council without any amendments, Bobroff explained.

The incident that sparked Damon’s situation occurred during the Indian National Rodeo Finals in Las Vegas.

In his statement Damon alluded to an “unauthorized photo.”

UPDATE

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By John Christian Hopkins

Naabik’I’ya’ti’ Committee Fails to Act

After a contentious four-hour special meeting the Navajo Nation Council’s Naabik’iya’ti’ Committee on Friday let the time expire before it could make any decision on legislation to suspend Speaker Seth Damon.

The legislation, sponsored by Delegate Otto Tso, would suspend Damon without pay for the rest of the 24th Council’s term. It would also appoint a Speaker Pro-Tem. Tso is vice-chairman of the Law & Order Committee.

Damon apologized last week for an “incident” that happened while he was attending an Indian Rodeo event in Las Vegas. Damon’s apology did not specify what the incident was. However, since then he was reportedly agreed to attend rehab.

“Our leaders should be held accountable, and I accept responsibility for this incident. I made a mistake as an elected leader and it will not happen again,” Damon said in a statement.

Tso’s bill called for Damon’s suspension, without pay, from the speakership of the Navajo Nation until he is reinstated by the Naabik’iya’ti Committee. In addition, Tso wanted the revolving speakership with committee chairs rotating every 15 days.

“He owned up to his actions and took responsibility,” Tso said.

Delegate Herman Daniels objected to evolving the speaker duties every 15 days.

Delegate Carl Slater offered an amendment to place Damon on suspension until the end of the current council term. He also suggested naming Delegate Daniel Tso as speaker pro-tem until the 24th Council ends in mid-January.

“We need to consider the housing situation,” Delegate Jamie Henio said. “We can’t just put his family out in the cold.”

The speaker receives tribal housing.

Slater said he had no objection to Damon’s remaining in the speaker’s house.

However, Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty had concerns. She said she asked Damon on November 1 why he had not appointed a speaker pro-tem and he told her no delegates were interested in the position.

“I’m not sure if that’s true,” Crotty said.

She said the tribe faces some critical issues and revolving speakers every 15 days is unworkable. There needed to be continuity, she insisted.

“I don’t look at this as there’s only two-and-a-half months left in the term. We have generational issues,” Crotty said. “This is not about us, it’s about the people.”

Damon should just resign Delegate Vince James offered.

Even if he steps down as speaker, Damon will remain a council delegate, Delegate Jamie Henio said.

Slater said he did ask Damon to step down and avoid this situation, but he did not think there were the 16 votes needed to remove Damon.

“Delegates can only be removed by their constituents,” he said.

Damon said he talked with other delegates and the consensus was to go the route Otto Tso suggested.

“We should have a plan while our speaker is away in rehab,” Slater said. “If this didn’t happen, we wouldn’t have to deal with this.”

Crotty asked which delegates have acted as speaker pro-tem since the issue with Damon became public on October 25.

“There’s a lot of contention at this time,” Slater replied. “There are already people angling to be speaker.”

“What happens if we don’t meet the 1 p.m. deadline?” Delegate Edmund Yazzie asked. “We only have seven minutes.”

Chief Legislative Counsel Dana Bobroff said if the Naabik’iya’ti’ Committee fails to take action, the legislation moves on the the full council without any amendments.

The incident that sparked Damon’s situation occurred during the Indian National Rodeo Finals in Las Vegas.

In his statement Damon alluded to an “unauthorized photo.”

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Published 11/2/22

Council Leaders to Decide Speaker’s Fate

The Navajo Nation Council’s Naabik’iya’ti’ Committee meets Thursday via teleconference to discuss a suspension for Speaker Seth Damon.

The meeting is scheduled to start at 9  a.m.

The legislation, sponsored by Delegate Otto Tso, would suspend Damon without pay and appoint a Speaker Pro-Tem. Tso is vice-chairman of the Law & Order Committee.

Damon apologized last week for an “incident” that happened while he was attending an Indian Rodeo event in Las Vegas. Damon’s apology did not specify what the incident was.

“Our leaders should be held accountable, and I accept responsibility for this incident. I made a mistake as an elected leader and it will not happen again,” Damon said in a statement.

Rumors swirl on the Navajo Nation regarding what happened in Vegas. But so far whatever happened in Vegas seems to be staying in Vegas.

In his statement Damon alluded to an “unauthorized photo.”

“As a father and grandfather, I learned the importance of truth and acknowledging wrongdoing,” Damon said. “I send my apologies to the Navajo people and the communities I represent for any ill-will or embarrassment this photograph caused.”

Livestream will be available online at: VIMEO: www.vimeo.com/navajonationcouncil, YouTube: www.youtube.com/navajonationcouncil and NNC Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/navajonationcouncil.

Seth Damon Stepping Aside as Speaker! - overview

Summary: Navajo Council Leaders to Decide Speaker’s Fate

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