WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. - Navajo Nation presidents have been playing musical chairs for the past six months, and it's not over yet.
After President Albert Hale resigned
last February to avoid charges that he'd accepted gifts or loans
from companies doing business with the tribe, his replacement was
Vice President Thomas Atcitty. Atcitty lasted only until July 23,
the day the Navajo Nation Council voted 46-28 to dismiss him.
Urging his ouster was the tribe's Ethics and Rules Committee, which
agreed 4-1 that Atcitty had accepted gifts from uranium, coal, gas
and other companies doing business with the
After Atcitty was removed from office,
the council made Speaker Kelsey Begaye interim president in lieu of
Vice President Milton Bluehouse. Navajo law requires that an
elected official move up to president, and Bluehouse had been an
appointee. Twenty-four hours later, however, the council waived its
law and made Bluehouse president. That action dumbfounded Navajo
Times editor Tom Arviso.
process that made Bluehouse president was not right and left a sour
taste in my mouth," Arviso said. "It shows that tribal law needs to
be refined and enforced."
A formal complaint
against Bluehouse's appointment as president has been filed by a
former chairman of the tribe's election board. Meanwhile, a primary
election for the job of tribal president has been set for Aug. 25.
At this point the ballot will list eight names, including Begaye's,
but not the name of Bluehouse since he had not declared his
candidacy. Bluehouse is now searching for ways to get on the
"The idea of
(Bluehouse) jumping into the race at this point is totally
ridiculous," Arviso says, "and he wants to use Atcitty's
signatures." - Stan Bindell