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The White House: President Biden and the First Lady Deliver Remarks to Celebrate the Americans with Disabilities Act
Navajo citizen Hoskie Benally named to National Council on Disability
Monday, October 3, 2022

Hoskie Benally, Jr., a citizen of the Navajo Nation, has been named to the National Council on Disability.

Benally, who is legally blind, works for the Native American Disability Law Center as the organization’s Community and Government Liaison. In that role, he engages in disability systems advocacy with the Navajo Nation and other tribes, according to information provided by the White House.

Benally, who resides in New Mexico, also serves as president of the Navajo Nation Advisory Council on Disabilities. The group addresses disability issues on the largest reservation in the United States.

Hoskie Benally
Hoskie Benally, Jr. Photo courtesy Native American Disability Law Center

“There are many hurdles in the Navajo Nation for our disabled family members,” Benally said at a roundtable hosted by the Navajo Nation Council in June. “The application to rent a Navajo Housing Authority home that meets ADA regulations is over 45 pages long while many of our relatives have cognitive and physical disabilities.”

“These challenges can be fixed with proper government support and implementing the Civil Rights of Individuals with Disabilities Act,” Benally said in reference to a tribal law enacted back in 2018. He has called on the Navajo Housing Authority to live up to its obligation to ensure that at least five percent of housing stock can accommodate people with disabilities.

The National Council on Disability is an independent federal agency charged with advising federal agencies and federal lawmakers on policies, programs, practices, and procedures that affect people with disabilities. It consists of members appointed by the President of the U.S. and by leaders in the U.S. Congress.

President Joe Biden announced Benally’s appointment to the National Council on Disability on Friday. Two days earlier, he hosted an event at the White House to celebrate the 32nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and to mark Disability Pride Month, which took place in July.

“Disability pride is about every American’s equal right to be recognized for who they are,” Biden said in the Rose Garden last Wednesday. “It’s about celebrating the progress we’ve made and the future ahead.”

Biden did not mention Native people or tribal governments in his remarks. American Indians and Alaska Natives live with the highest rates per capita of disability, according to the National Council on Disability.

Native American Women

Posted by Sarah A. Young Bear-Brown on Wednesday, September 28, 2022
Sarah Young-Bear Brown, left, and Jen Deerinwater are seen at the Rose Garden of the White House in a photo shared on social media on September 28, 2022.

Two Native people attended the event at the invitation of the White House: Jen Deerinwater, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, and Sarah Young-Bear Brown, a citizen of the Meskwaki Nation. On social media, Deerinwater shared her experience in attending as a person who lives with multiple disabilities.

Young-Bear Brown, who is deaf, can easily be seen in White House media from the event, having been seated in the front row at the event. Online, she shared a selfie she snapped of herself and Biden.