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Navajos to decide whether to reduce size of tribal council

By Daniel Kraker

Flagstaff, AZ – Voters on the Navajo Nation will decide tomorrow (today) whether to drastically reduce the size of their legislative branch, and whether to grant the tribe's president line item veto power. The election has sharply divided people on the country's largest Indian reservation. Arizona Public Radio's Daniel Kraker reports.

Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Junior has led the push to reduce the size of the Navajo Nation council from 88 members to 24. He's accused the council of excessive spending.

"I think we need to start talking about how we can meet the needs of the people by putting the resources where the people are."

Council delegates retort that such a move would strip Navajo people of representation on the vast reservation.

In October the council voted to place President Shirley on administrative leave, pending an ethics investigation. Shirley's supporters claim the move was in retaliation for his push to reduce the size of the council. The issue went all the way to the tribal supreme court, where justices ruled the election could move forward. Both sides have taken out radio and newspaper ads, and created websites pushing their point of view. The Navajo government diverted nearly 300 thousand dollars from its Motor Vehicle Authority to pay for today's special election.