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Let's Make Navajo Nation the 51st State

Nathan Lefthand
2/13/13

This is probably not a new idea; most ideas are not. So let’s say it’s an idea that’s time has come about again. The idea is to make the Navajo Nation the 51st state within the United States of America. The State of Navajo. It’s almost Zen, how it rolls off the tongue. This idea has been deep in the reptilian core of my brain for some time, lying dormant till news of the Navajo government was finalizing its Medicaid feasibility study to go before Congress for approval this spring, thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Then boom, all those thoughts and ideas to somehow fix or feed the many problems we have.

It is constitutional to create a new state out of an existing state(s), in this case, Arizona, Utah and New Mexico, with the approval of those state legislatures and of Congress. The process for carving out a new state is outlined in Article IV, Section 3 of the Constitution: “New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress. “The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.” This process has been used successfully to create five states: Vermont, Kentucky, Tennessee, Maine and West Virginia. Maybe Congress can make us a state without the consent of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico, since the territory, a.k.a Navajo Nation, legally belongs to the United States.

Why should the Navajo Nation become the fifty-first state in the U.S.? First and foremost, we will have our own representation in Congress and the Senate. I don’t think senators McCain and Kyle are looking out for us. Just look at the recent Little Colorado River agreement they tried to get past us. Do you really think the governors of the three states are looking out for us? They are like relatives, who come to borrow money, only with them, its vote time or they want something, is when they come to say, Shi’kish’ (my friend). Perhaps when we are a state we will be witness to that so called “government to government” relationship, that’s been much the “in” word for the past ten years, but that is all it is.

Other basic rationales are, we do not share the same ideology or official language of the states we are considered to be within, taxation with representation does not exist, we could enjoy ownership and full say over all our natural resources, which by the way, is worth billions, if not trillions of dollars. The water alone is worth billions, ask California. What better way to jump start a new dying West? I mean, are we still not mavericks? Blazing new trails, building new dreams for the future. Forget about Flagstaff, Holbrook, Farmington, Gallup, and all those border towns, this is bigger and better than them all. The State of Navajo.

Remember too, even though it says “Nation” after Navajo, it’s still land held in trust for the Navajos by the United States government, hence “reservation”. One rider, one act of Congress, can change it all, and believe me, looking at a few of our borders; it’s getting crowded, “out there”. This goes for all the American Indians. I know I may have missed many points here, but can Navajos imagine life and a government without Arizona, Utah and New Mexico interfering in our affairs? I can. One of the things we understand is the “paperwork” when we need something from the government(s). Even if it’s just a CIB. The Holy People have treated us very, very well. There are well over three hundred thousand Navajos in and around the “reservation." That number will double by the time I hit the “Pollen Trial." We need a true place to call home, we need to make our own destiny, to fully appreciate and experience the America that so many have sacrificed for. The reservation days are over, gone. Granted there was a time, we needed to be “looked” after, but now it’s high time to look after ourselves, for good or for ill. Navajos have always been the first Indians to do many things.  Let us rise to the occasion again, together, in this new century to build something worthwhile, to get behind a cause so great as to involve every male and female of all ages. The stakes are high, but we are up to the task, I assure you. Being a state will actually benefit Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. Like a relative, who finally gets a job and moves away. Let’s not wait forever like Washington, D.C and Puerto Rico. We need to be the fifty-first state in the United States of America. The State of Navajo. If anything, think about it over and over, project it, make it happen.

Nathan Lefthand is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation.

 

 

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Anonymous's picture
The Navajo Tribe is not the only tribe affected by water rights, medicare, and other care acts. The last time I checked there were 22 tribes in AZ.
Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
This article is laughable. The Navajo Nation, including all other tribal lands are "a ward of the federal government"... not going to happen.
Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
I agree completely. They should and can. Too many outside interests, like corporations, self serving politicians (lots, if not all) and the like. If nothing, the Navajos can be like the states, but not like Arizona please, yuck. Go!
Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
so would all the residence of this new state have to pay federal taxes and social security and they would lose the Indian health service and have to pay for insurance like the rest of us.. and what property taxes ? would they be paying them? and why would they OWN the natural resources?? Does AZ OWN the grand canyon and the Colorado river that runs thru it or does the United states own that?
Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Interesting idea. Would a tribe have to give up its status as a domestic sovereign nation to become a state?
Anonymous
indianmedicine's picture
I agree with this Theory. It is about time that the Aboriginals of this Continent adjust from a European Concept. Puerto Rico is a Dependent Protectorate of The United States,that is more of a "Welfare State" with many problems from Dependency to Criminal Empire; including serious Graft & Corruption. In Theory, "The State of Navajo" would not have these issue's as they abound in Puerto Rico. The "State of Navajo" would have its own Real Time Economy, a Trained Work Force for the internal Industries; and a Population that is willing to be "Productive" rather then dependent . The Theory of Statehood is a valid endeavor; and as pointed out - would benefit the current States from being a draw on their Resources in these Budgetary Times. The "Indian Mind" has learned to "adapt" and see the "flow" of things. There is already an existing "Model State Government", which would immediately step into Manage the "State of Navajo Government Affairs". I would imagine this State to be the "First State" with a Flat Tax State Tax System - a model for others. Yes, this is a "Good Idea" whose time has come.
indianmedicine
Anonymous's picture
Wouldn't statehood require a severe restructuring of the Navajo Nation government to fit other U.S. State governments? Would this mean more sovereignty or less?
Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Yikes! And abandon our Treaty of 1868? Not a good idea to go statehood for the Navajo Nation. We must keep forging ahead to strengthen our sovereign status - nationbuilding. There are many successes going this route and many more are still outstanding - the biggest challenge remain economic prosperity. Talking statehood will derail our focus, energy and resources from forging ahead with strengthening our sovereign interest.
Anonymous
Gary Begay's picture
Nathan Left Hand,Who's stupid Idea is this the corrupt miss leading leaders that we put in Office. So you want to turn Navajo Nation into a 51st State. Yikes!!! is right! Abandon our Treaty rights. so hungry Navajo politions for money leaders will benefit from our
Gary Begay
Anonymous's picture
A state, really? You're thinking small, we need to become our own Nation-State.
Anonymous