Column: Navajo lawmaker leaves big shoes to fill

"The familiar brown, white and gray Navajo blanket is still draped over the brown leather chair in the middle of the second row of the Senate chambers, as it has been for years. But the chair itself has remained empty this session.

Leonard Tsosie of Crownpoint, who was elected in 2004 to his fourth term in the New Mexico Senate, was forced to give up his seat when he won election as a delegate to the Navajo Tribal Council. Tsosie had been hoping to serve both the state and the Navajo Nation, but the Navajo Supreme Court ruled that he could not be both a delegate and a state senator, and gave him until Monday to choose one.

Tsosie explained to The Associated Press that he felt he could better attend to the daily needs of the people in the Torreon, Pueblo Pintado and Whitehorse Lake chapters as a Council delegate than he could as a state senator.

While it is understandable that Navajo law would require Council delegates to be devoted solely to the Tribal Council, the unfortunate consequence of the court's ruling is that it removes a senator who had been the most passionate and articulate advocate for the Navajo Nation in the New Mexico Legislature, and perhaps in all of state government.

Tsosie's office, which he shared with Sen. Bernadette Sanchez on the second floor of the Roundhouse, was a daily gathering place for Native Americans from throughout the state who would come to Santa Fe during the session seeking relief for a myriad of problems."

Get the Story:
Walter Rubel: Native American legislator Tsosie leaves big shoes to fill (The Alamogordo Daily News 1/28)

Relevant Links:
Navajo Nation Council -

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