NNHRC is involved in redistricting as it deals with race to protect Navajo peoples’ interest and their ability to elect a candidate of their choice. Navajos are citizens of the United States and it is crucial that Navajo people are fairly and adequately represented in all legislative and Congressional to school districts redistricting plans.
NNHRC presented what’s in the best interest for the Navajo people where Navajo is impacted.
Beginning in March 2011, NNHRC actively pursued redistricting activities in a timely manner at the release of the new U.S. Census data. At that time, NNHRC staff members presented to Commissioners on the matter. Patty Ferguson-Bohnee and Judith Dworkin, both attorneys from Sacks Tierney law office, presented an overview of standards for redistricting in congressional and legislative districts and advocated for maintaining the Navajo Nation as a “community of interest” to prevent a diluted district.
Navajo voters have a “community of interest,” a redistricting term, with the border towns surrounding the Navajo Nation due to the fact that Navajo significantly contribute to the border towns’ retail and social economies. In addition, the Navajo Nation explained that Navajo voters also have communities of interest with other indigenous peoples as federal and state laws often equally affect programs providing services and land status policies for indigenous peoples, according to NNHRCNOV-11-11.
Competitiveness, another redistricting term, was not a priority for NNHRC.
On March 31, 2011, the Speaker of the Navajo Nation Council directed the Commission to “head advocacy efforts on behalf of the legislative branch of the Navajo Nation government with regards to redistricting voting districts in the states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.” Based on this directive, the Commission formulated redistricting maps for Arizona, Utah and New Mexico from the congressional level to the school districts.
NNHRC developed GIS generated maps with TIGER data and recommended maps that retained or enhanced the Native American Voting Age Population, and would comply with the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution.
Each recommended map was approved by NNHRCs oversight committee, the Naabik’iyati’ Committee of the 22nd Navajo Nation Council.
According to a NNHRCMAR-13-12 resolution, NNHRC expended substantial resources to advocate for the voting rights of Navajo people. Also, the Commission staff with the Navajo Nation Department of Justice and outside legal counsel analyzed the redistricting requirements provided by the U.S. Constitution, Arizona Constitution, and Voting Rights Act to ensure that the Navajo Nation redistricting maps met the legal requirements. Furthermore, the Commission staff worked on redistricting activities as well as the Navajo Nation Department of Justice and the Office of the President and Vice President in development of the Navajo Nation’s redistricting plans.
In August 2011, the Navajo Nation Speaker assigned five Navajo Nation Council Delegates to work with the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission on the state redistricting activities, according to NABIAU-47-11, with the responsibility to appear and provide testimony with NNHRC staff members who are also responsible to appear and provide testimony on behalf of the Navajo Nation. The Council Delegates include: Hon. Alton Shepherd, Hon. Lorenzo Bates, Hon. Leonard Tsosie, Hon. Kenneth Maryboy and Hon. Jonathan Nez.
The U.S. Supreme Court decision in the matter of voting rights act has changed the dynamics of the Arizona Redistricting Case. The Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission, in working with Navajo Department of Justice, is assessing the impacts of the U.S. Supreme Court decision.
Source: NNHRCNOV-11-11, NNHRCMAR-13-12, NABIAU-47-11.
To view the Navajo Nation redistricting goals and redistricting terminology, click here
To view the Navajo Nation redistricting priorities, “Redistricting: Impacts on the Navajo People,” click, here
To view the Navajo Nation proposed maps for redistricting for Arizona, New Mexico and Utah redistricting,
To view the Navajo Nation proposed maps for redistricting for:
Cuba Independent School District, click here
Gallup McKinley County School District, click here
Central Consolidated School District, click, here.
Arizona Redistricting (via an independent redistricting commission)
New Mexico Redistricting (via a legislative redistricting committee)
Utah Redistricting (via a legislative redistricting committee)