Published March 13, 2016
WINDOW ROCK – The Navajo Nation Council continues to discuss possible plans for land division of Fort Wingate between Navajo and Zuni, but the Navajo people who dwell near the former army depot are starting to fear they are being left out of the discussion.
Iyanbito community member Albert Shirley waited outside during last week’s more than four hour-long Naabik’iyati executive session, which focused on the future of Fort Wingate and its land division.
Shirley, along with many others who live in the chapters near the 20,000-acre former Army depot and their Council Delegate Edmund Yazzie (Churchrock/Iyanbito/Mariano Lake/Pinedale/Smith Lake/Thoreau) have been outspoken in trying to get those lands back to the Navajo people rather than having it divided with the Zuni tribe.
This attempted land division would comply with New Mexico Congressman Steve Pearce’s Fort Wingate Land Division Act of 2014, which the Navajo Nation Council had originally opposed. Shirley and others concerned that the Council has since changed its mind, but they believe their worries and pleas to fight for the land are being unheard by their lawmakers.
“They’re proceeding without the people’s knowledge,” said Shirley. “They’re making decisions on one-sided information. They base their conclusion on this information and make their decision. I consider that a breach of judiciary duties by our Council Delegates.”.
Many people who live in the vicinity of Fort Wingate believe that this is just not just a parcel of land. It is considered “Medicine Mountain.” During the public hearings people came out in droves to share the history of the land before it was just an abandoned Army depot.
Editor’s Note: This article was first published in the Navajo Times. Used with permission. All rights reserved.
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