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Dispute Erupts Between Navajos and Elected Official

Dispute Erupts Between Navajos and Elected Official



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(KSL News) -- A serious dispute has erupted between Utah's Navajo leaders and the highest elected official in southeastern Utah. The Navajo Utah Commission is demanding Governor Huntsman fire Lynn Stevens from two key positions, including his role as state coordinator of public lands policy.

Dispute Erupts Between Navajos and Elected Official

The rift boiled out of a dispute over 4-wheel-drive access to Arch Canyon near Blanding. Stevens, who also chairs the San Juan County Commission, once led a parade of jeeps into the canyon that Navajos consider sacred.

Stevens recently questioned whether the Utah Navajo Commission has a right to join a petition protecting territory that's not on the reservation. Navajos accused Stevens of trying to "chill" the voice of Navajos on county issues.

Dispute Erupts Between Navajos and Elected Official

In letters to the governor, Navajo leaders said Stevens "does not respect or appreciate Navajo cultural traditions, Navajo participation and contribution..."

We spoke with Stevens tonight and he tells us he has no hostility towards the Navajo Nation and has steered more federal dollars toward the reservation than any other elected official.

Dispute Erupts Between Navajos and Elected Official

A spokesman for the governor says they recently received the letters and are reviewing them.

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