Incoming leader of Navajo Nation stresses importance of youth

Incoming Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye, right, and his running mate, Jonathan Nez. Photo from Facebook

Russell Begaye, the newly-elected president of the Navajo Nation, hopes to lure young tribal members back to the reservation.

Begaye held his first press conference yesterday after winning the long-delayed election on Tuesday. He said he has met many young Navajos who haven't found opportunity at home.

"They were raised here. They left our nation, went out there, got educated and achieved the things that they are doing now. They just want to come back and help us," Begaye said, The Navajo Times reported.

Begaye, who will be inaugurated on May 12, easily defeated Joe Shirley Jr., a former two-term president. A recount of some chapters confirmed the victory, the Times reported, and the paper noted that turnout was low in some parts of the reservation where support for ousted candidate Chris Deschene remains strong.

Deschene represented hope to many young tribal members. But he was removed from the ballot because he isn't fluent in the Navajo language.

“I think that compared to all elections for presidency, it’s a low turnout,” Deschene told the Times. Turnout was about 37 percent.

The tribe has scheduled a June 6 referendum to address the fluency issue.

Get the Story:
Begaye: ‘We should never have gone down this road’ (The Navajo Times 4/23)
New Navajo Nation president outlines his administration's plans (The Farmington Daily Times 4/23)
Votes recounted in some chapters (The Navajo Times 4/23)
Deschene voted, but not for president (The Navajo Times 4/23)
Turnout dismal on Deschene’s home turf (The Navajo Times 4/23)
Russell Begaye Wins Navajo Election: Time to Unite and Move Forward (Indian Country Today 4/22)

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