On Jan. 25, the 22nd Navajo Nation Council convened for the first time as a 24-member body at the 2011 Winter Session, with its first order of business being the selection of the speaker. Honorable Johnny Naize won the speakership on a majority vote of 15-9.
The session began with the sponsorship of Legislation No. 0773-11 by Honorable Joshua Lavar Butler, which the Council approved on a vote of 21-2. Butler’s legislation changed the current speaker selection process to a nomination procedure, and was strengthened with several amendments. The newly adopted process allows for the nominations of the speaker to occur on the Council floor, and also allows for a transparent process for the election of the speaker.
“The old process only benefits a couple of people. This new process resembles how our war chiefs used to nominate a speaker,” said Butler. “We are incorporating traditional concepts and the Navajo people want progressive movement forward. Let’s make this process our new process.”
Naize, who will be speaker for the next two years, is currently starting his fourth term as a Navajo legislator. His educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in surveying from Northern Arizona University. He has held previous employment with Peabody Coal Company, Navajo Division of Community Development and Navajo Tribal Utility Authority. He also served as chair for the Transportation and Community Development Committee with the 21st Navajo Nation Council. He was nominated by Honorable David Tom.
Following the swearing in of the speaker, President Ben Shelly gave his 2011 State of the Nation address. Shelly highlighted several areas of focus, including revamping the SAS executive review process, creating an executive energy committee, building a network of technology on the Navajo Nation and working in unity with the 22nd Navajo Nation Council and Navajo Judicial Branch for the benefit of the Navajo people.