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Navajo presidential candidate loses ruling over language ability

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

An officer with the Navajo Nation Office of Hearings and Appeals ruled against Chris Deschene today, a move that could result in the removal of the presidential candidate's name from the upcoming ballot.

According to the Associated Press, chief hearing officer Richie Nez said Deschene failed to demonstrate his Navajo language abilities. In a videotaped deposition that was broadcast at a hearing today, the candidate repeatedly refused to answer questions in Navajo, the AP reported.

Deschene wouldn't say what he would do next but an appeal to the Navajo Nation Supreme Court is possible. The justices, however, already issued an order that said being fluent in the language is a "reasonable" requirement for presidential candidates.

If Deschene is disqualified, the tribe would have to print new absentee ballots because they were already sent out with his name. In that case, Russell Begaye, who came in third in the tribe's primary, would appear on the ballot instead.

Joe Shirley Jr., a former president who speaks Navajo fluently, will remain in the running. He won the most votes in the primary.

Get the Story:
Hearing officer rules against candidate in Navajo language case (AP 10/9)
Shirley keeping up low-key campaign (The Navajo Times 10/9)
Deschene gives deposition (The Navajo Times 10/6)

Navajo Nation Supreme Court Order:
Tsosie v. Deschene (September 26, 2014)

Related Stories:
Navajo Nation won't delay election despite presidential dispute (10/2)
Navajo presidential candidate in doubt over fluency in language (9/29)
Navajo Nation might postpone election due to legal challenge (9/25)
Navajo Nation court to hear language issue affecting candidate (9/24)
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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