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Congratulations Buu Nygren the Navajo President

On January 10th, 2023, Buu Nygren was inaugurated as the President of the Navajo Nation. His victory in the general election was decisive, garnering him a 3,500-vote lead over incumbent President Jonathan Nez.

At his ceremony, Nygren was joined by his family to celebrate his historic victory. From his humble upbringing to his impressive academic and professional accomplishments, the event illustrated the remarkable journey he had taken to become the youngest Navajo president in history.

Nygren spoke both English and Navajo to the crowd from within a circle of traditional blankets and rugs. He proclaimed that it’s not enough for the people to merely survive–they must be able to thrive by having access to basic resources like water, electricity, and internet connectivity. This would be the primary mission of his administration.

Nygren promised that he would not hesitate and would do whatever was needed to ensure the people had a chance to become their best selves–the only thing they desired.

Nygren, a 36-year-old political newcomer, was the Vice-Presidential candidate under former President Joe Shirley Jr. in 2018. Richelle Montoya, who was elected recently, made history as the first female Vice President of the Navajo Nation.

Montoya showed respect to the women of the tribe and their matriarchal society as she placed her hand on her heart. She spoke out her dedication to help preserve their native language and ensure that future generations are kept safe and secure. She promised to do all she can for the forseable future.

The ceremony to mark the beginning of the new administration was held in Fort Defiance, located near Window Rock, and had an all-women color guard leading it. Attendees were dressed in beautiful traditional Navajo attire.

The ceremony began with the young girls singing the national anthem and reciting the pledge of allegiance in Navajo. Chishi Haazba Montoya, a relative of Vice President Montoya, delivered a stunning poem that spoke of history and traditions of the tribe, while also taking a stand against western greed to emphasize that their sovereignty will not be challenged, and any obstacles will be overcome.

The Navajo Nation is the largest Native American reservation in the United States, spanning over 27,000 square miles across New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. It is home to an estimated 400,000 people, making it the second largest tribe in the U.S., following only the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.

Nygren brought quite a bit of positive energy to the presidential race that really resonated with voters. His lovely wife was right there beside him during the campaign. His voice was memorable, due to its uniqueness and warmth. His dress code had a distinct flair to it, with a dapper business look, complemented by his hair tied in a bun and topped off with a black hat.

Nygren is of half Vietnamese descent, but states that he was not acquainted with his father. Nygren grew up on the Utah portion of the Navajo Nation reservation, a home without electricity or running water – something he stresses often. With experience in construction management, Nygren has been vocal about demanding tribal citizens hold him responsible as president – something he highlighted in his Tuesday speech. Cheryl R. Nygren promised to collaborate closely with the 24 members of the Navajo Nation Council who were sworn in alongside other elected officials on Tuesday. An unprecedented one-third of Council is now comprised of women, and it’s often seen as having more authority than the president, serving as the gateway for major agenda items.

Some of the priorities for female delegates include improving infrastructure, addressing social issues, healing from generational trauma, strengthening law enforcement, managing the budget, and continuing to focus on the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous people. On Tuesday, a small group of people held signs at an intersection to advocate for action on these issues.

Nez and his preceding Council worked to develop infrastructure utilizing money from federal coronavirus aid. Nygren suggested that these decisions should be reexamined, prompting Nez’s concern about deadlines not being met for spending the money.

In a final act of his term, Nez vetoed legislation on Monday to expand oil and gas exploration and development, including helium extraction, on the reservation. He argued that affected communities had not reached a consensus yet, with unresolved concerns concerning profit-sharing and health still needing attention.

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