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Navajo Delegates Speak to Law School Students

Navajo Delegates Speak to Law School Students
November 30
09:28 2015

How many Navajo Nation Council delegates does it take to screw in a light bulb?

We don’t know the answer to that riddle, but we do know how many delegates it takes to talk with law school students at Columbia University.

Seven.

Speaker LoRenzo Bates and six other delegates traveled to New York recently to discuss Indian law with second and third year students enrolled in Columbia’s Indian law class.

The course is meant to give students an understanding of federal Indian law and sovereignty issues, according to lecturer Steven Paul McSloy.

The delegates touched on several issues, including economic development, tribal jurisdiction, sovereign immunity and education.

Delegate Tuchoney Slim, Jr., who represents several communities in the Bennett Freeze area, explained how federal law negatively impacted tribal families.

In a land dispute between the Navajo and Hopi, the U.S. government created the Bennett Freeze – which basically banned any improvements on the land and structures for decades. No new infrastructure was allowed, nor development or upgrades on existing structures. For 40 years people living in the Bennett Freeze area couldn’t install plumbing, heating or electricity or any improvement that wasn’t in place prior to the freeze.

Joining Bates and Slim were Delegates Lee Jack Sr., Dwight Witherspoon, Alton Joe Shepherd, Tom Chee and Seth Damon.

Chee, a former high school teacher, encouraged the students to visit the Navajo Nation and learn from the elders.

McSloy, a graduate of Harvard Law School, is a bar member of the U.S. Supreme Court and former General Counsel for the Oneida Indian Nations Court.

 

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