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Navajo Nation lawmaker accuses colleague of sexual harassment

Navajo Nation Council Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty. Photo from Facebook

Update: Navajo Nation Council Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty has posted a lengthy statement about "sexual assault culture in our Navajo Nation government." In a post on Facebook, Crotty said some fellow delegates, along with their wives, are upset because she went public with her sexual harassment experience:
While I respect and honor my fellow Naat'áanii, there are standards we all vowed under oath to uphold. Seeking accountability amongst ourselves should not be an unwelcome and offensive endeavor. Trying to silence this epidemic among Navajo Nation leadership will only allow this behavior to fester, and it will continue to be reflected in our communities. Healing and change only come when these issues are brought to light, addressed, and corrected. For our government to effective and genuinely receptive to the needs of our People, we must ensure we ourselves are fit to lead in the first place.

Everyone at every level has allowed and silently condoned this behavior either by actively participating in it or being the silent observer who allows it happen. This has been a very challenging time for my family as I have to explain to my 12-year-old daughter what it means to be “groped” or have your body violated by a person with power and authority, but as I stated before, who will speak and take action, if I do not?

As a Naat'aanii, when I open my mouth, I do not speak only for myself. My actions, my behavior, my conduct, and my speech represent my People--every Navajo across our great land--even those Navajo who live and work beyond our sacred mountains. Shidine'e, let us not allow the challenges we face as a Nation cause division and words among ourselves. Rather let us unite against these problems and overcome, as we have done so to this day.

My commitment to you, my constituency, is to do what I do best--policy analysis and development. I will identify gaps in our laws and policies regarding sexual assault. In just a few days I have identified a number of inconsistent policies and lack of implementation. Together, our story of unchecked, unrelenting, and institutionalized, sanctioned sexual harassment will no longer be tolerated.

Navajo Nation Council Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty said she was sexually harassed by a colleague.

A tearful Crotty disclosed her experience at a recent council meeting, the Associated Press reported. She said a fellow delegate directed vulgar comments and sexual innuendo at her.

Crotty, who is the only woman on the 23-member council, also said she was groped while working as a legislative district assistant, the AP reported. But she didn't file a police report at the time out of fear she would not have been protected under tribal employment laws.

“I cannot ask my people to be brave enough to tell their secrets, tell their stories, if I’m not able to do that either,” Crotty told the AP. “It’s hard, it’s challenging. It’s shameful.”

The sexual harassment incident occurred at a meeting of the Budget and Finance Committee, the AP reported. The committee has six members -- all men, according to a 2016 Navajo Nation Council document.

Crotty does not appear to have publicly named the person who made the comments and it's not clear whether it was a member of the Budget and Finance Committee or a delegate who was at the meeting. Lawmakers who are not members of the committee often appear before it to present their bills and to discuss budget issues.

"It was interesting that I was the one who apologized to the committee when I was the one, in my opinion, being assaulted," Crotty told the AP.

Crotty joined the council in January 2015. She told Indian Country Today at the time that she ran for office to see more women in leadership positions.

“I come from a strong matriarchal family,” Crotty told ICT. “My campaign was driven by matriarchal leaders, and I was hoping to see more women counterparts.”

According to her LinkedIn profile, Crotty served as a legislative district assistant for the council between April 2012 and June 2013.

Get the Story:
Navajo Nation leader wants action against sexual harassment (AP 7/28)
Navajo Lawmaker Says She Was Sexually Harassed By Colleague (KJZZ 7/28)