U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., greets Navajo President Russell Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez during a reception Tuesday at the Navajo Nation Washington Office. (Special to the Navajo Times – Alysa Landry)
WASHINGTON—Two capital cities more than 2,000 miles apart got a little bit closer this week as Navajo President Russell Begaye pounded the pavement in Washington D.C.
Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez, who both took the oath of office May 12, spent several days on Capitol Hill in an effort to forge and strengthen connections with federal lawmakers. With only 19 months remaining in U.S. President Barack Obama’s second term, Begaye said he wants to increase Navajo presence in Washington and “get things done.”
“We have to be connected to Washington,” he said Tuesday during a rooftop reception held in his honor at the Navajo Nation Washington Office. “We’re visiting Congress, presenting our goals. We are ready to see changes.”
Begaye’s trip to Washington coincided with Navajo Nation Treaty Day. He visited members of Congress and toured significant sites on the 147th anniversary of the day the Navajo Nation and the United States entered into the Treaty of 1868.
That treaty, like ongoing governmental relationships, is all about language, Begaye said. If the Nation wants to get ahead, it needs to learn the language of those who make the laws.
Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the Navajo Times. Used with permission. All rights reserved.