Navajo Nation Council, Utah Lt. Governor Meet To Discuss Priorities

Navajo Nation legis session 2024
L-R: Navajo Delegate Cherilyn Yazzie; Delegate Shawna Ann Claw; Utah State Representative Doug Owens; Speaker Crystalyne Curley; Delegate Curtis Yanito; and Utah State Representative Tyler Clancy.

SALT LAKE CITY, UT – Members of the 25th Navajo Nation Council delivered legislative priorities to Utah Lt. Governor Deidre Henderson and state legislators during discussions held in Salt Lake City, UT, prior to the official start of the Utah State Legislature’s 2024 General Session.

Speaker Crystalyne Curley was joined by Navajo Council Delegates as they discussed key legislative bills with Utah State Reps. Tyler Clancy (R-Dist. 60), Tim Jimenez (R-Dist. 28), and Doug Owens (D-Dist. 33).

The Council continues to advocate for $2.9 million from the state to partially fund an Environmental Impact Study to advance the process of constructing a roadway between the communities of Navajo Mountain and Oljato. The total cost of the study is $4 million. The Navajo Nation has committed $1 million and $100,000 was secured from the Navajo Revitalization Fund.  

Delegates Shaandiin Parrish and Curtis Yanito stated that the roadway would help many Navajo residents who currently travel long distances through rough terrain to and from their homes, improve emergency response times for first responders, and increase economic opportunities for businesses, residents, and tourism.

Council members also urged state lawmakers to support a bill that would allow Indian Health Service (IHS) and tribal health facilities to receive reimbursement for qualified traditional medicine services provided for Medicaid beneficiaries, who reside in the State of Utah.

Delegate Cherilyn Yazzie explained that traditional healing methods provided by Navajo medicine persons can be more effective at a lower cost than medication prescribed by doctors at hospitals and may save funds for the state. Delegates also noted that a similar measure was successfully implemented in the State of Arizona in 2016.

Speaker Curley also addressed voting rights and asserted that state lawmakers should support measures that increase voter participation, especially for elders who may not be fluent in the English language and for those who reside in rural tribal communities.

“The Navajo Nation will strongly oppose any bills or measures that attempt to restrict the voting rights of Navajo people,” said Speaker Curley. “Every eligible citizen of the Navajo Nation residing in the state of Utah should have full access to voter registration and voting in every election.”

On Jan. 5, the 25th Navajo Nation Council’s Naabik’iyati Committee adopted the Navajo Nation’s legislative priorities for the State of Utah. Speaker Curley and the Council members will continue meeting with Utah lawmakers throughout the Utah State Legislature’s 2024 General Session, which is scheduled to conclude on March 1.