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Navajo Nation President Nygren disputes vice president's sexual harassment allegations

Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren speaks at an event in Gallup, New Mexico in October 2023.
Navajo Office Of The President
Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren speaks during an October 2023 event in Gallup, New Mexico

Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren revealed Tuesday that sexual harassment allegations made last month by Vice President Richelle Montoya were against him.

In April, Montoya said in a livestream that she was sexually harassed in a staff meeting last year. She did not name the perpetrator.

But it was ultimately Nygren who confirmed he was the accused. He repeatedly denied the allegations in a press conference and said Montoya’s story has been inconsistent.

"There was no assault, and there was no sexual content or advances of any nature," Nygren said. "I am deeply disappointed and offended that this interaction has been taken out of context.”

According to Nygren, he invited Montoya to his office to offer support after her divorce was announced last August.

But Montoya described the meeting as “uncomfortable” in a written statement. She alleges Nygren told her to “just sit there” when she asked multiple times to leave and claimed Nygren hugged her as she ultimately left.

Nygren confirmed the hug but maintained he never attempted to keep her from leaving.

Nygren says his relationship with the vice president has been strained in the months since the meeting. He says he invited Montoya to meet for a peacemaking session to restore hozhó — or balance.

The Navajo Nation Department of Justice is investigating the allegations.

Bree Burkitt is the host of Morning Edition and a reporter for KNAU. Contact her at