Saturday, November 16, 2019

Navajo-Hopi Legal Services Program Fully Staffed

By Levi Rickert - November 16, 2019 at 12:00AM

Susan Eastman, Brela Multine, and Chris Benally

Published November 16, 2019

TUBA CITY, NAVAJO NATION – The Navajo-Hopi Legal Services Program (NHLSP) in Tuba City is now fully-staffed. The Navajo Nation Department of Justice (DOJ) has hired Susan Eastman to return as Principal Attorney and Director of the Navajo-Hopi Legal Services Program effective November 12, 2019.  Ms. Eastman previously worked as an attorney and Director of NHLSP from June 2009 through October 2018.  With the restoration of funding of NHLSP by the Navajo Nation Council and Attorney General McPaul’s commitment to maintaining operation of NHLSP consistent with the statutory charge of DOJ, Ms. Eastman and staff will resume handling federal appeals of denials of relocation benefits on behalf of Navajo tribal members.

NHLSP will also be fully-staffed to assist Navajos individuals who have already been determined eligible for relocation benefits to ensure they receive the full benefits for which they have fought for so long to obtain through the lengthy application and appeal process with the Office of Navajo and Hopi Indian Relocation.

In addition to Ms. Eastman, DOJ hired Mr. Christopher P. Benally as an Attorney Candidate in August of this year.  Mr. Benally is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation and speaks the Navajo language.  Among other things, Mr. Benally can assist Navajos impacted by relocation by interpreting and/or answering their questions about eligibility for relocation benefits and the appeal process with ONHIR and the federal courts.  Ms. Brela Multine serves as NHLSP’s Legal Secretary and has worked in that capacity since 2017.  Ms. Multine is also an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation and speaks the Navajo language.  She is also a Notary Public.

Since 1983, NHLSP has represented more than 2,000 individual Navajo clients who were displaced by the Navajo-Hopi Settlement Act (“NHSA”), 25 U.S.C. §640d et seq. The program’s attorneys represent individual Navajos who applied for relocation assistance benefits and appealed denial determinations made by ONHIR.  The NHSA was enacted on December 22, 1974 to resolve the longstanding land dispute between the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe over the ownership and use of the 1882 Executive Order Reservation.

Navajo Nation President Nez and Vice President Lizer offered their support stating, “The Nez-Lizer Administration is committed to empowering our people who are still affected by the relocation of their homes and families. Providing representation and legal services is part of that empowerment effort. There remains many unmet obligations by the federal government to our Navajo people, so we are hopeful that this step forward will help to resolve many of the issues. We commend the Attorney General and her staff for their work and we are confident that Principle Attorney and Director Eastman will do a great job.”

Located in Tuba City, NHLSP is a unit of the Navajo Nation Department of Justice. The physical address of the NHLSP office is 117 Main Street, across from the Tuba City Boarding School. NHLSP’s mailing address is P.O. Box 2990, Tuba City, AZ 86045 and the phone number is 928-283-3300.

The post Navajo-Hopi Legal Services Program Fully Staffed appeared first on Native News Online.

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