Courtesy Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission

Nahata Dziil Community Gains Local, State and Federal Support for Efforts to Ban Sale of Alcohol


The Nahata Dziil Renewal of Hope Taskforce hosted a third community meeting on June 24, 2014 to update the residents  of its activities concerning the efforts to stop the sale of alcohol in the communities of Sanders and Chambers, Arizona.

Navajo governmental officials as well as Apache County and representative from Arizona Congress woman Ann Kirkpatrick addressed the crowd and expressed support for the closure of the bars in the area.

“The voices of the people have been heard, loud and clear,” said Dr. Joe Shirley who sits on the Apache County Board of Supervisors. Spokesperson Char James of the Nahata Dziil Renewal of Hope Taskforce facilitated the meeting.

According to a Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission press release, two disgruntled Navajo citizens interrupted the meeting, voicing their opinions in favor of keeping the liquor stores open. "These individuals were reported to be under the influence of some substance. When the individuals were questioned, by community members, they exited the building. One individual drove off shouting to relatives that they should not support the vendors selling because they support the closing of the bars.

"The erratic, vociferous and aggressive behaviors exhibited by the two individuals demonstrate a lack of respect toward the people who share the Sanders and surrounding communities. Inebriates are seen walking the streets of the neighborhoods and seeking shelter from the hot sun in community member’s personal property and pass out from drinking. Families living along the pathway of the inebriates padlock their gates and post no trespassing signs.  The communities have been victimized too many times and due to jurisdiction issues there is hardly any protection from law enforcement," the release states.

Mr. Ron Lee, former executive director for the Arizona Commission on Indian Affairs and now the district director for Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick’s office, summarized the situation concerning the liquor establishments and reassured the audience that Congresswoman Kirkpatrick is aware of the situation on the ground, including the jurisdictional matters, and will be kept appraised of the events that unfold. Lee toured the area with a representative from the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission.

Navajo Nation Attorney General Harrison Tsosie explained the Nahata Dziil and the Sanders areas are composed of fee and trust land, complicating a legal decision. Passed court cases concerning jurisdiction such as Atkinson Trading Company v. Joe Shirley, Jr. Et. Al did not favor the Navajo Nation, states the press release.

The Apache County Board of Supervisors has called a special meeting to address the sale of liquor at Red Barn and Lee’s Liquor.  The special meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, July 22, 2014 at the Nahata Dziil Chapter at 9:00 a.m. The Renewal Of Hope Taskforce is inviting everyone harmed by the sale of alcohol to attend the meeting and voice concern about the issue.

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