New Kayenta Town Manager Keith Betsuie Open To Working With Community and Sharing New Ideas

KAYENTA, AZ- It was a cool and crisp Monday morning on March 01, 2010 after the recent, heavy snowstorms that new Town Manager Keith Betsuie drove into his home community of Kayenta from the City of Maricopa, where he worked in the City Manager’s Office on Intergovernmental Relations and as the Tribal Liaison.  For an early Monday morning meeting at the  Township, there was quite a flurry of activity as administrative staff, locals, and commissioners came around to say their first “Hellos” to Mr. Betsuie.

That morning, the Commissioners gathered all of 30-plus Township staff members into the Town Hall, and Madame Chair Helen Bonnaha formally introduced Mr. Betsuie as the new Town Manager.  Each staff member introduced themselves first to the new boss, and then he was given the floor.

Keith is Kinlichii’nii, the Red House clan born for To Aheedliinii, Water Flows Together.  His maternal grandparents is Kinyaa’aanii, Towering House.  His paternal grandfather Ashiihii, Salt clan.  He was born in Gouldings, Utah and raised in Kayenta, Arizona.

“It’s a good feeling to come home and work with my community and the Navajo people in this capacity.  I’ve always had it in my mind to come home and work with my community as well as the Navajo Nation,” he said after introducing himself in Navajo.

Mr. Betsuie’s previous experience includes working in Washington D.C. as a Legislative Associate.  While there he worked on many issues such as:  Public Safety, Judicial Courts, BIA Trust Reform, the Tribal Sovereignty Protection Initiative, Homeland Security, Navajo-Hopi relocation and monitored U.S. Supreme Court cases important to the Navajo Nation.  After telling of his professional background, he said, “So, it has been quite an experience to come to this point today.”

As an active citizen, Keith is a member of the Navajo Green Economies Commission, which was hand-picked by the Navajo Nation Intergovernmental Relations Committee.  This Commission was founded based on legislation that was passed by the Navajo Nation Council called the Navajo Green Economy Fund of 2009.  For several years, he also served as Vice-President on the Kayenta Chapter Community Land Use Planning Committee.  Keith is also a member of the Nahata Dziil Leasing Corporation, the Arizona County City Managers Association, and an Executive Member of the Construction in Indian Country Board.

“There are many bright young professionals out there who are doing good, high-quality work.  I’ve met many who are also from the Kayenta area.  We need to tap into these resources and encourage our young professionals to become active in their community.  For the last two years, we have seen the Lady Mustangs win back to back championships in Volleyball and last year in basketball,” he explained.  “That shows that we have families who’ve raised their daughters to become strong athletes and leaders.”

“Local governments have much to learn about Kayenta teams winning State Championships.  Team work, the offensive scheme, leadership on the court, to be goals oriented, the will to prepare and to have a winning approach, these are all aspects that have a correlation to how municipal governments can be successful.”

To conclude the morning’s meeting, he explained a lot of interesting work that many Navajos were doing in their communities, some of which he learned about at the Rez Economic Summit.  He talked about presentations he saw about the future of telecommunications, strategic partnerships, commercial development, solar and wind energy projects that are coming to fruition on Navajo land.  “Right now, I have many ideas that I would like to see implemented.  And I would like to learn from all of you as well,” he said to his new staff.

In the short introductory meeting on Monday, the meeting ended with applause, and the Commissioners whisked the new Town Manager away to meet officials at the Kayenta Chapter, and it was back to the task at hand.

He is scheduled to attend his first Town Hall meeting on March 08, 2010 beginning at 5:30, Monday, at the Kayenta Town Hall.


PHOENIX –  Alicia Manuel, 25, of Sacaton, Ariz., was sentenced here to 24 months in prison by U.S. District Judge David G. Campbell for lying to police and attempting to thwart the investigation into abuse of her son by her girlfriend, Mercedes Howard.  Howard pled guilty in August of 2008 to Involuntary Manslaughter and Assault Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury in the death of Manuel’s son and was sentenced to 17 ½ years in prison.  


The facts showed that on September 27, 2007, Manuel and her girlfriend, Mercedes Howard, were the caretakers of Manuel’s son.  Howard became upset with the 3-year-old victim because he spit-up on her.  Manuel then watched as Howard began to batter and abuse the child.  Manuel watched as Howard began pushing the victim into the shower where she and the victim eventually began a shower.  Howard continued to be angry with the victim.  She then angrily pushed the victim, who fell and hit his head on the bath tub.  The toddler became unresponsive, limp and died a short time later from the injury.


Manuel pled guilty to Misprision of Felony on November 3, 2009.  The facts in support of this plea included that she helped Howard dress the victim so that the police would not see the bruises on the child.  Manuel also lied to law enforcement about the offense and what she had seen.  She lied about Howard’s involvement in the abuse of the child.  Eventually, Manuel and Howard both admitted to what happened to the victim.


The investigation in this case was conducted by the Gila River Police Department and the FBI.  The prosecution was handled by Sharon Sexton, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Phoenix.



RELEASE NUMBER: 2010-033(Manuel)

Intergovernmental Relations Committee passes legislation, lobbying efforts to occur for Social Services

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – The Intergovernmental Relations Committee of the 21st Navajo Nation Council met today and passed legislation relating to approving the Navajo Division of Social Services’ 2010 position report to be presented before the Obama-Biden Administration and the 111th United States Congress.


In an effort to maintain current grants and securing additional monies for various social programs administered under the auspices of the Navajo Division of Social Services, Legislation No. 0070-10, sponsored by Jerry Freddie (Dilcon/Teesto), details the need for building advocacy in preparation and development of proposed federal budgets under the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The bill passed the committee with an 8-0 vote.


The Health and Social Services Committee of the 21st Navajo Nation Council and the Navajo Division of Social Services will be advocating and lobbying congressional leaders in Washington regarding programs such as the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG), the Social Services Block Grant (Title XX) and the Title IV-E program to name but a few social service programs.


The CSBG totals $1.15 million and its purpose its to provide support activities designed to assist low-income families and individuals in removing obstacles and solving problems that prevent self-sufficiency and to help transition those off of public assistance. The CSBG has been a constant target of elimination from the DHHS budget. The Navajo Nation will lobby for the CSBG program not to be eliminated and that the “DHHS make every effort to convey to other federal oversight departments of restoring CSBG.”


The Title XX program includes children protective services and adult protective services which the Navajo Nation contracts through the states of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. Title XX is at issue because the Navajo Nation has not adequately provided proper services and has never received an increase under the state of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah Title XX contracts. The Navajo Nation is requesting for direct funding for this program to streamline the contracting process and to improve communication through direct contact with funding sources allowing for tribes to operate their own grant and program.


Title IV-E refers to foster care, adoption assistance foster care and the adoption assistance program for economically poor children. The issue with this program is the Navajo Nation’s desire to create a data collection system for a tribally-operated Title IV-E plan. The recommendation by the Nation is to provide money for the estimated $3 million data collection project, the creation of an “Indian Liaison” to be established in DHHS to offer technical assistance and support to Indian tribes, and the creation of National Indian Task Force to evaluate IV-programs.


Council Delegate Freddie said the report will go to the national office and said, “As we are aware, there is an executive order on the tribal consultation process. This report is in-line with the consultation process. The lobbying efforts along with this document will help to equate services to our constituents.”

Judiciary Committee encourages public comment on work performance of Chief Justice Herb Yazzie

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – The Judiciary Committee of the 21st Navajo Nation Council is inviting comments from the public regarding the work performance of Navajo Chief Justice Herb Yazzie of the Navajo Nation Supreme Court.


The public hearing is scheduled on March 9, at 10:00 am. The location of the hearing has not been determined at this time.


The evaluation period covers the period from Jan. 1, 2009 to Dec. 31, 2009. The public is strongly encouraged to express their written comment, their concerns or their recommendations of Yazzie’s qualifications, character and his work performance.


Written statements should be addressed to: The Judiciary Committee of the 21st Navajo Nation Council, P.O. Box 3390, Window Rock, AZ 86515. Anonymous statements will not be accepted or considered. You may also fax statements to 928-871-6761.


For more information, contact the Administrative Office of the Courts at 928-871-7017.

Western Navajo Agency Council delegates meet, plan Western Navajo Agency Decentralization Project

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – Navajo Nation Council delegates from the Western Agency met for a caucus meeting on Feb. 25 and discussed topics regarding the Western Navajo Agency Decentralization Project.


The Council delegates discussed the need to bring government programs and services to the agency level in an effort to streamline the bureaucratic process. Council delegates also discussed the hiring of a consultant for the project and the need to obtain chapter resolutions from chapters supporting the idea. The process may also involve possible amendments to Title 26 of the Navajo Nation Code.


The Council delegates collectively agree the decentralization plan would be introduced to the Navajo Nation Council as a pilot project and it will bring services to the agency level, which could lead to other developments in the agency and eventually Navajo Nation-wide.


Supporters of the plan explained the project will lessen the burden of traveling six hours round trip to and from Window Rock and Toh Nanees Dizi (Tuba City, Ariz.), as well as from other communities from throughout the far Western Navajo Agency.


Council Delegate Lena Manheimer (Ts’ah Bii Kin/Navajo Mountain) said the decentralization project will bring the Navajo government closer to citizens, chapters and administrative staff who work for the Navajo government.


“The project will bring other services at the agency level and provide opportunities for economic development,” Manheimer said. “Economic development is really necessary for our communities. We see outside boundaries off of the Navajo Nation developing faster — this project will help eliminate a lot of stress.”


“At Navajo Mountain, there is no development on the Arizona side of the Navajo Nation, only in the Rainbow City district, which is on the Utah side of the Navajo Nation,” Manheimer added. “The Utah side has more development and funding through the Utah Navajo Trust Fund and there are differences between the two communities around Navajo Mountain.”


The caucus envisions the decentralization plan will be similarly modeled to a county government, but will be referred to as the Western Navajo Agency government — a unique entity to the Western Navajo Agency.


In other related efforts, Council Delegate Tommy Tsosie (LeChee) emphasized the importance of having non-certified chapters in the Western Navajo Agency locally certified through the Navajo Nation Local Governance Act.

“On the topic of chapter certification, out of 18 chapters, we have three chapters that are certified. We have been at it this process for the last 12 or 13 years and by now chapters should be certified,” Tsosie explained. “A goal of ours can be getting all chapters certified. It requires the agency staff to concentrate on those chapters that are not certified.”


The caucus directed Paulson Chaco, executive director for the Office of Navajo Government Development, to develop and draft chapter resolutions to support the Western Navajo Agency Decentralization Project.


“I believe the Western Agency delegates have a legitimate concern to decentralize certain functions of the central government,” Chaco said. “The Office of Government Development will assist them in achieving any goals. I look forward to working with them. It will be a big responsibility and it’s my office’s duty to carry out those types of functions.”


Council Delegate Leslie Dele (Tonalea), caucus whip for the Western Navajo Agency, explained the opportunities this project will provide to the people of the Western Navajo Agency.


“Western Navajo Agency always takes the lead!” Dele said. “We need to do this project. We are going to do it.”


PHOENIX, Ariz. – Raymond Jackson, 22, of Sacaton, Ariz., was sentenced here to 23 years in prison by U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Martone for killing.


The facts showed that on June 6, 2009, Jackson was drinking beer and arguing with his male victim about their previous time in prison and who was the most “bad.”  Jackson insisted he was “more bad” because he had previously served “more time.”  The two continued to argue about who was stronger and tougher based upon their gang affiliations.  The victim then left the scene, indicating that he was going to get his friends and return.


Jackson followed the victim, ran up to him, and shot the victim one time in the chest.  The victim died at the scene.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the Gila River Police Department and the FBI.  The prosecution was handled by Sharon Sexton, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Phoenix, Ariz.


CASE NUMBER:                CR-09-723-PHX-FJM

RELEASE NUMBER:          2010-029(Jackson)

Kayenta Business Site Leasing Committee Meeting

KAYENTA, AZ – The Kayenta Business Site Leasing Committee will be holding its third meeting at the Kayenta Town Hall Meeting Room on March 03, 2010 from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm.   The Agenda is posted below for public review:



Kayenta Business Site Leasing Committee Meeting
March 03, 2010

10:00 am – 12:00 pm  


I.  Introductions and Welcome, Ken Whitehair

II.  Review of Meeting Minutes and Approval –
-Approve Meeting Minutes from February 04, 2010  

III. Approving Construction Hot Plant and Operations Site for FANN Contracting, Inc., to pave the New Parking Lot at Monument Valley High School.

IV. Other Business


V. Adjournment