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Navajo grassroots group to sue tribal government

By Daniel Kraker

Flagstaff, AZ – A Navajo grassroots group has announced its intent to sue the tribal government over what it claims is excess and illegal spending. Arizona Public Radio's Daniel Kraker reports.

The lawsuit specifically targets a million and a half dollars that was appropriated by the Navajo Nation Council in April. But it's also intended to block other unrestrained, discretionary spending authorized by the council. Attorney Jim Zion filed the intent to sue.

"We've got a situation in the Navajo Nation council, where the council is spending money very unwisely, and our notice to sue is saying that under basic Navajo law, that the council is wasting the people's resources, is wasting the people's money."

Meanwhile Navajo Nation vice president Ben Shelley reported to the tribal council during its summer session this week that the tribe is facing a 13 million dollar budget shortfall for this fiscal year. And the tribe's unreserved fund balance, which by law is supposed to have at least 15 million dollars in reserve, is actually 18 million dollars in the red.

The lawsuit comes as the Navajo supreme court prepares to hear a case Monday on a proposed reservation-wide vote that would cut the number of tribal council members by more than half, and give the president line item veto authority. President Joe Shirley Junior has argued that line item veto power would help check the tribal council's budget powers.