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Navajo Supreme Court Takes Up Fluency Case

Chris Deschene
Courtesy of the Deschene 2014 campaign
Chris Deschene says he's a product of cultural destruction. That's why his Navajo speaking skills are limited. But he continues to practice.

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Navajo Supreme Court Takes Up Fluency Case

Navajo Supreme Court Takes Up Fluency Case

Courtesy of the Deschene 2014 campaign

Chris Deschene says he's a product of cultural destruction. That's why his Navajo speaking skills are limited. But he continues to practice.

The Navajo Nation Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Sept. 26 in the case challenging a presidential candidate’s ability to speak Navajo fluently.

Under tribal law, the candidates must take an oath saying they speak Navajo and English fluently.

Dale Tsosie, a primary contender, argued that Chris Deschene lied about being fluent. Deschene said he’s the product of cultural destruction but he’s working on his language skills.

The Navajo Office of Hearings and Appeals dismissed the complaint because it was filed after an allotted 10-day window. Tsosie appealed to the tribe’s Supreme Court.

Deschene and former Navajo President Joe Shirley Jr. are set to compete in the tribe’s general election Nov. 4.

Laurel Morales was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2011 to 2020.