NPR: Gender an issue as Navajo Nation voters pick a new leader
"The Navajo Nation elects a new president on Tuesday. And the country's largest American Indian tribe, which spans Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, could make history by choosing its first female leader. But to do so, it will have to overcome old cultural hurdles.

Going Against Tradition

Growing up on the Navajo reservation in northern Arizona, Eunice Manson learned to become a medicine woman. Speaking through a translator, she explains why a woman should never lead the Navajo people.

"At the time that she's becoming a leader, if there are any pregnant women out there, when they bear their children, they're going to bear monsters, with bad character, and these are the ones that are going to grow up and rise up and destroy our people," she says.

It's those traditional fears that presidential candidate Lynda Lovejoy needs to overcome. In the last presidential election she took a big first step. She shocked the reservation as the first Navajo woman to be a finalist for the presidency. She lost that race. But this year, she easily beat the other primary candidates, and even though there are no polls, many now consider her the favorite to win.

Lovejoy greets supporters in her native tongue during a recent parade in the dusty Navajo town of Tuba City, Ariz.

At a rally afterward, she outlines her platform: She wants to give the people a voice in government, create jobs and improve education.

While her running mate, Earl Tulley, addresses the crowd, she says she doesn't want people to vote for her solely because she's a woman.

"I'm not running on my gender, I'm running on my capabilities and my abilities and my skills and my knowledge," she says."

Get the Story:
Navajo Nation Could Elect First Female President (NPR 10/31)

Also Today:
Navajos will make history in vote for next leader (The Arizona Republic 10/30)

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