City of Flagstaff will finally sign a ‘MOU’ with Navajo’s, but will it resolve tensions
Weekend Edition | March 24th | By: NP-staff
ST. MICHAELS, Ariz.— The city of Flagstaff will finally sign the Memorandum of Understanding ‘MOU’ with the Navajo Nation. The public signing will take place on Tuesday, March 27th at Flagstaff City Hall.
But some Navajo community members that reside in Flagstaff say this is just another publicity stunt by the city.
“Our Tribe signed similiar ‘MOU’ or ‘MOA’ with border towns, but my Navajo people are still being discriminated against, police brutalizing our people, we just get treated differently.” said Roger Lee
The 22nd Navajo Nation Speaker Johnny Naize and Navajo Nation Human Rights Commissioner Chairperson Duane H. Yazzie will be join Flagstaff Mayor Sara Presler to sign an understanding to improve race relations in Flagstaff.
“I lived here for over a year now and I have come to respect my Navajo neighbors, I think they just want that level playing field and that is understandable. I commend the City for stepping up to this historic moment” said Lewis McFarland of Flagstaff
Mayor Presler will be the first mayor from an Arizona border town to sign the Memorandum of Understanding with the Navajo Nation. For the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission, this will be the sixth border town of the Navajo Nation to sign on to improving race relations between Navajos and non-Navajos.
Other Mayors from other border towns that have signed a similar MOU with the same goal to improve race relations include:
Grants Mayor Joe Murrietta of New Mexico signed on April 29, 2010
Gallup Mayor Harry Mendoza of New Mexico signed on August 12, 2010
Farmington Mayor Tommy Roberts of New Mexico signed on Nov. 17, 2010.
Cortez Mayor Dan Porter of Colorado signed on May 24, 2011.
Bloomfield Mayor Scott Eckstein of New Mexico signed on August 22, 2011.
Flagstaff Mayor Sara Presler of Arizona will sign on March 27, 2012.
It has been a long road to reach the agreements
Between 2008-09 Navajo’s civil rights watch dog, the Navajo Human Rights Commission ‘NNHRC’ conducted 25 public hearings in border towns of the Navajo Nation and received over 175 testimonials from Navajos and non-Navajos about race relations.
The NNHRC produced a report, this study was conducted in 2008-2009 observing Race Relations Between Navajos and Non-Navajos: The study emphasized Border Town Race Relations, and provided recommendations to address improving race relations.
Memorandum of Agreements was one recommendation. The report was released on August 22, 2010. Following this recommendation in the report, NNHRC sent border town city officials a draft memorandum to address race relations and improve race relations in the fall of 2009, including Flagstaff.
For citizens of Flagstaff, the Flagstaff City Council approved the MOU, 6-0, in favor, on February 2, 2012, to improve race relations between Navajos and non-Navajos in the City of Flagstaff. On March 2, 2012, NNHRC Commissioners approved the MOU, 2-0, in favor.
The MOU was then considered by NNHRCs oversight committee, the Naab’ik’iyati’ Committee of the 22nd Navajo Nation Council on March 14, 2012. The MOU was approved, 21-0, in favor and the MOU legislation was sponsored by Hon. Joshua Lavar Butler (To Nanees Dizi).
For more information about NNHRC’s 2008 – 2009 Assessing Race Relations report, go to www.nnhrc.navajo-nsn.gov and click the link for the report.