Navajo Nation Council Celebrates Diné Women Leadership

Navajo Women Leadership
Women Council Delegates from past and present were honored by the 25th Navajo Nation Council with a recognition ceremony on the second day of the 2024 Spring Council Session.

WINDOW ROCK, AZ – On Tuesday, the 25th Navajo Nation Council honored 30 former women Council Delegates for their significant contributions to the Navajo Nation. During a breakfast recognition ceremony, Speaker Crystalyne Curley acknowledged the resilience and leadership of these Diné women, who had previously not received official recognition for their service. “You laid the foundation for myself and other women council delegates to serve,” Curley said, expressing gratitude for their sacrifices and pioneering efforts. “We’re here now to thank you and your families. They have sacrificed so much so that you could serve your people.”

The event also celebrated recent milestones in Navajo leadership, including the election of Richelle Montoya as the first female Vice President of the Navajo Nation and Crystalyne Curley as the first female Speaker of the Council. Attendees, including Council Delegates Germaine Simonson, Eugenia Charles-Newton, and Amber Kanazbah Crotty, shared their experiences and the challenges they faced in forging new paths for Navajo women in leadership roles.

Historical context was provided with reminders of key figures like Lilakai Julian Neil, the first woman elected as a Council Delegate in 1946, and LaVern Wagner, the first woman to represent her chapter region in 2003. Speakers such as former Council Delegate Katherine Benally and GloJean Todacheene highlighted the ongoing influence and evolving role of women in Navajo politics, underscoring the importance of female leadership in shaping the future of the Navajo Nation. “She’s very knowledgeable and very outspoken,” said Vice President Montoya. “That’s how our delegates are meant to be. Thank you all so much for blazing the trail.”