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Navajo VP Touts Sovereignty

Navajo VP Touts Sovereignty
February 06
13:30 2018

Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez joined Utah Tribal Leaders at the annual Utah State Legislature’s 2018 American Indian Caucus Day

Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez talked to Utah legislators about the importance of tribal sovereignty while attending the lawmakers’ Indian Caucus Day.

The rights – and concerns – of tribes have come under fire with issues such as President Donald Trump’s decision to drastically reduce the size of Bears Ears National Monument, in Utah, and Texas’s efforts to eliminate the Indian Child Welfare Act.

“There have been several attempts to undermine the Indian Child Welfare Act and false claims that the act is based on race,” Nez said. “However, ICWA is based on our government-to-government relationship with the United States.”

Tribes shouldn’t be passive on ICWA because it threatens tribal sovereignty, according to Nez.

Recently, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit in an effort to eliminate ICWA, which is an important law for Native American children and families. ICWA places regulations over adoption systems. In the past, Native American children were routinely removed from their homelands and culture to devastating effects. Among native communities these adoptees are known as “Lost Birds.”

Nez wants to see native leaders oppose Paxton’s suit, and he urged Utah lawmakers to support ICWA.

When tribal leaders met with Utah legislators they argued for support to oppose Trump’s reduction of Bears Ears.

Shaun Chapoose, Tribal Business Council Chairman for the Uintah and Ouray Reservation, spoke about the importance for tribal leaders to advocate the Bears Ears National Monument’s original designation at the congressional level.

Trump wants to reduce the size of Bears Ears by 85-percent, removing more than a million acres from the monument.

Nez also asked for support for the Utah water rights legislation, increased funding for teachers and administrators in the San Juan County School Districtand support from the state of Utah for the recent redistricting court decision for the San Juan County School District and the San Juan County Board of Commissioners.

The courts found that voting districts in San Juan County were drawn in such a way as to dilute the power of Native American voters.

In addition to Nez, Navajo Nation Council Speaker LoRenzo Bates and several council delegates also attended Indian Caucus Day.

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