Navajo President on Human Trafficking: “It does happen here on the Navajo Nation”

The Office of the President and Vice President, in conjunction with the Navajo Nation Council, proclaimed January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Pictured, from left, are Council Speaker LoRenzo Bates, Vice President Jonathan Nez, President Russell Begaye, Delegate Nathaniel Brown and Delegate Amber Crotty.

Published January 25, 2018

WINDOW ROCK — Before the commencement of the 2018 Winter Council Session on Monday, Jan.22, President Russell Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez signed a proclamation recognizing January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

“We think human trafficking only happens in places like Asia, places like Russia—but it does happen in the United States. It does happen here on the Navajo Nation,” President Begaye said.

“We have predators that prey on our children and they know what to look for and who to look for. People are going after our children and we need to make sure that we bring this awareness to our schools, chapters and executive departments.”

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an estimated one out of six endangered runaways are likely child sex trafficking victims, and between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the United States each year.

“One component of human trafficking is missing persons and we also want to bring awareness to this issue and find our missing relatives,” Vice President Nez said. “Folks out there are suffering. As advocates, we want to bring healing to our people who’ve lost their loved ones.”

The Office of the President and Vice President has met with the non-profit organization Navajo Nation Missing Persons (NNMP) and believes this group and the human trafficking crimes are connected. Therefore, the office meets with NNMP every month to discuss solutions.

NNMP is staffed by volunteers who work to bring awareness for the endangered and missing Navajo children, women and men by distributing flyers, searching for missing individuals in surrounding border towns and organizing events throughout communities and social media. Additionally, NNMP is pushing for a Missing Persons Unit to be installed and advocating for a documentary to be publicized for the families of missing loved ones.

The proclamation was signed in the name of freedom and equity of all people, and to encourage education and awareness of this injustice. President Begaye called on law enforcement, community organizations, families and the entire Navajo Nation to recognize the vital role each plays to end human trafficking.

The Office of the President and Vice President gives special thanks to Honorable Delegate Amber Crotty for her efforts as a strong advocate to fight human trafficking. Speaker LoRenzo Bates and Honorable Delegate Nathaniel Brown were in attendance for the signing.

On August 7, 2017, President Begaye signed Resolution No. CJY-48-17. The law was sponsored by Honorable Delegate Crotty and co-sponsored by Honorable Delegate Nathaniel Brown. It allowed the tribe to prosecute those within Navajo borders who are accused of human trafficking.

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