Navajo Nation Council winter session to broadcast live via USTREAM

By Noel Lyn Smith
Navajo Times

January 25, 2013

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INDOW ROCK – The Navajo Nation Council will convene today for the winter session and the first order of business for delegates is to select and confirm a speaker for the second term of the Council.

Following that selection, the Council will hear the state of the nation address from Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly.

The session starts today at 10 a.m. in the Council chamber in Window Rock.

Like the fall session last year, the Office of the Speaker is once again partnering with the Navajo Nation Office of Broadcast Services to stream the entire session online.

To watch the session, go to ustream.tv.new and type in "Navajo Nation Council" in the search box.

Legislative Branch Communications Director Jerome Clark said a number of delegates ran on the platform of transparency, a sentiment that continues to be expressed, by streaming the session it addresses that objective.

It is also a way to expand and diversify how Navajos participate in their government.

This is the second time the Council session will be available for viewing on the Internet.

"We got a lot of feedback from all over the place," Clark said about the response the speaker's office received about online streaming of the fall session.

Among the comments was one from a Navajo woman in Washington, D.C.

She appreciated hearing the delegates' debate legislative bills and she was happy to hear delegates speaking Navajo, Clark said.



Navajo gaming officials looking to fill 800 jobs at Twin Arrows

By Bill Donovan
Special to the Times

WINDOW ROCK - If you know anything about Indian gaming or have a desire to work in a Navajo casino, the Navajo Nation Gaming enterprise wants you.

The enterprise is holding its second job fair Feb. 1-3 at the Highland Conference Center in Flagstaff to get applicants to fill the 800 jobs that will be available when the Twin Arrows Navajo Casino opens up in May.

"The clock is ticking," said Derrick Watchman, the enterprise's CEO.

One job fair has already been held in Leupp, Ariz., about 30 miles from Flagstaff, and through this and a general call for applicants, the enterprise now has some 3,000 applications in hand.

But the enterprise is hoping to have as many as 5,000 on hand when the selection process begins in the next couple of weeks because some of the people who are selected may not be able to make it through the background check that both the state and the Navajo Nation requires of all employees who work in Indian casinos.

Watchman said the enterprise is looking for people for every facet of casino operation, from accountants and secretaries, to security personnel and general casinos workers, to waiters and cooks for the restaurants.

Watchman said the pay will be comparable to what other Indian casinos in Arizona pay, adding that the enterprise did an extensive wage survey to determine the prevailing wages in the area as well.

"We have excellent benefits as well," he said.

The enterprise will be following tribal Navajo preference laws but Watchman said he is hoping to hire "the best and brightest."

"Ideally we would like to find Navajos who have experience in working in a casino," he said, adding that there are probably a number of Navajo men and women who have worked at other Indian casinos and may want to return home.

One of the biggest challenges the enterprise faces is finding housing for all of the new employees.

Watchman said that he is hoping that the new workers will be able to find homes in Winslow, Holbrook and Flagstaff since there are none in the Twin Arrows area itself. He pointed out some employees at the other Navajo casinos in new Mexico have to travel long distances to get to their place of employment.

He added that the enterprise is working with the Navajo Housing Authority and private developers to get homes built eventually in the Twin Arrows area.

The plans are to start giving conditional hiring commitments in mid-February to give the Navajo Nation Gaming Regulatory Office time to do background checks.

Persons who then pass the background checks would start working in April to give the enterprise time to train them before the opening.

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