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Navajo Nation court to hear language issue affecting candidate

Chris Deschene, far left, with his supporters. Photo from Facebook

The Navajo Nation Supreme Court will hear arguments on Friday in a case that could end the campaign of presidential candidate Chris Deschene.

Deschene, 38, is popular on the reservation -- he came in second in the tribe's primary last month. But some tribal members question whether he is fluent in the Navajo language, as required by tribal law.

"They know I try. Many admire my efforts to learn Navajo," Deschene told The Arizona Republic. "I plead with the people to help me. They tell me ... 'Keep working hard.' Just the gymnastics of the tongue, in trying to say a certain word, has been difficult."

Deschene has made repeated gaffes on the campaign trial, according to Betty Reid, a Navajo-speaking reporter at The Arizona Republic. He said he would spy for people instead of work for them and used the word for urine when he meant soil, she reported.

Deschene is running against Joe Shirley Jr., a former president who speaks Navajo fluently.

Get the Story:
Navajo tongue trips up candidate on campaign trail (The Arizona Republic 9/24)
More election appeals filed with tribe's Supreme Court (The Farmington Daily Times 9/23)

Related Stories:
Appeal filed over Navajo language ability of presidential hopeful (9/17)
Navajo Nation presidential candidate a target over fluency issue (09/11)
Navajo voters oust incumbent president Ben Shelly in primary (08/27)

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