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April 21, 2024

Navajo Nation vice president claims sexual harassment during Facebook Live event

The Native American community has been rocked this week by startling allegations made by one of its most powerful political figures.

As the Arizona Republic reports, Richelle Montoya, vice president of the Navajo Nation, revealed to hundreds of individuals watching a Facebook Live stream on Tuesday that she experienced sexual harassment during a meeting last summer.

Harassment charges leveled

The scenario began to unfold during the Navajo National Council's spring session, during a discussion of some delegates' concerns about mistreatment within their ranks.

It was after the State of the Nation address delivered by Montoya and President Buu Nygren that her allegations came to the forefront during a Facebook Live event that came after she left the council chamber.

Montoya began by saying, “As your Vice President, in the month of August of 2023, I had to write a statement because I was sexually harassed.”

“I wrote my statement detailing what happened in a meeting. How it made me feel. I was not physically hurt. But I was made to feel that I had no power to leave the room,” Montoya declared.

She added, “I was made to feel that what I was trying to accomplish didn't mean anything, that I was less than.”

Investigation sought

According to the Navajo Times, the legislative council has since received a request that legislation be drafted to launch an independent probe of sexual harassment and mistreatment claims lodged by women working for President Nygren.

Speaker Crystalyne Curley issued a statement on April 18 explaining her take on the current state of affairs.

“As I became aware of these allegations, I invited all members of the Council to come together to discuss the issues,” she said.

Curley went on to say, “Based on the discussion, there was a general consensus that the allegations warrant an independent investigation.”

“We must proceed assertively and cautiously to ensure a fair investigation. I strongly condemn harassment and abuse in any form, whether it's sexual, physical, verbal, mental, and emotional,” she added, but the final outcome of the investigation and any resulting remedial action are things that only time will reveal.

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