Farmington lawmakers OK anti-discrimination pact

Farmington, New Mexico (AP) October 2010

Farmington city councilors have approved an agreement with the Navajo Nation outlining how the city and tribe can cooperate in handling discrimination complaints.

Farmington joins Gallup and Grants in approving the agreement, which is aimed at strengthening communication between the governments and allowing them to coordinate services to address complaints of discrimination.

“This is a very positive and very significant step in furthering the positive relations between our communities,” the chairman of the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission, Duane “Chili” Yazzie, said. “We all know of the not so positive in the past and I think that we certainly need to get past that and hopefully foster a new relationship to reduce – if not eliminate – crimes based on race.”

Councilors approved the agreement unanimously last week.

The council had postponed action last month after Mayor Tommy Roberts suggested adding a paragraph from a Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission report, which said Farmington had progressed in race relations and should serve as a positive example to other cities bordering reservations.

Navajo commission staffers had wanted to give the commission a chance to review the changes before city councilors approved the agreement.

Roberts said he spoke recently with Yazzie and Navajo commission executive director Leonard Gorman, and they agreed to the language Roberts suggested.

Yazzie said Farmington’s lengthy deliberation reflects its sincerity in moving forward.