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Sunday, October 2, 2022

Attempts 1937-Present

Navajo Nation Constitution Attempts (1937-Present)



In 1934, the Navajo people rejected the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, however, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs advocated for development of a constitution by the Navajo Nation. Many of the laws in the Navajo Nation Code derive from the 1937 Constitution drafts such as: 1) The governing body of the Navajo Tribe shall be the Navajo Council; 2) Tribal members shall be 1/4 degree of Navajo blood; 3) to approve the sale, disposition, lease or encumbrance of tribal lands.


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Photograph by Milton “Jack” Snow


The US Congress enacted the Navajo-Hopi Rehabilitation Act of 1953, which authorized each tribe to develop a Constitution subject to approval by the Secretary of the Interior.  The Navajo Tribal Council approved a constitution then submitted to the Secretary of Interior for approval, however, the Solicitor claimed that certain provisions were inconsistent with federal law.


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Photograph Navajo Nation Museum


During Chairman Raymond Nakai campaigns, he pledged a commitment to adopt a Navajo constitution. The Navajo Tribal Council approved the 1968 constitution attempt. Although approved by the Navajo Tribal Council, the attempt was never actually submitted for a referendum vote and failed to continue due to lack of interest.



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Photograph by NN Office of President & Vice President


As a result of government turmoil, the Navajo Tribal Council created a temporary three branch government and also approved the Navajo Government Reform Project.  The Project is to develop a new structure of governance for the Navajo people which would be effective by approval through a referendum.  Attorney Lawrence A. Ruzow was tasked to develop a draft constitution to be approved by referendum but such referendum vote has never materialized.


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Photograph Navajo Police Department


The 2013 attempt builds upon the existing Navajo government structure. The preamble acknowledges the Treaty of 1868, the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The authors of the attempt is unknown, yet the drafted version was never acted upon.


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Photograph Navajo Nation Council



2016



Building upon the 2013 draft, this 2016 draft included articles on Collective Rights of the Navajo People, Assembly of Chapters, and an Elders Council. Authors unknown, yet a drafted version was never acted upon.


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Photograph Navajo Nation Council

Upcoming

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The Commission of Navajo Government & Office of Navajo Government Development are tasked with the Navajo Government Reform Project.



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