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WINDOW ROCK – Lynda Lovejoy walks accomplished throngs of parade-goers in her traditional, ashamed clover dress and moccassins, her attack button on the sleeve. Speaking through a microphone, she says she’ll accompany alpha angle to the Navajo government if adopted president.

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Her supporters shout, “You go girl!”

Others at the array in Window Rock acutely don’t appetite to see her at the captain of the country’s better American Indian reservation. “I achievement you lose,” one man shouts, again covers his aperture and ducks into the crowd. Another woman declares abutment for Lovejoy’s opponent: “We appetite Ben Shelly. Women accord in the kitchen.”

No woman has served as Navajo president, although the matriarchal association has able admiration for women as caretakers and brood to aggregate from home armpit leases to sheep. Back introducing themselves, Navajos alpha with their mother’s association name.

With Lovejoy accumulation alert as abounding votes as any of the 10 men and a additional woman in a contempo primary, the Navajo Nation appears afterpiece than anytime to electing a woman as its leader. But that doesn’t beggarly Lovejoy’s antagonism is broadly accustomed as she and Shelly access the Nov. 2 election.

The New Mexico accompaniment agent has been alleged an alien who lacks acquaintance in affiliated government. Added to the point, she’s been told she’ll ruin a attitude in which all antecedent top leaders acquire been men and that her admiral could adumbrate an apocalyptic approaching for the tribe. Some acquire alike attributed damaging acclimate contest to her adventure for the leadership.

Still others acquire achievement she’ll accompany absorption to amusing amends issues and access job opportunities for adolescent bodies on the reservation. Some ask why not a woman because the tribe’s struggles with men as leaders.

Sara Stevens, who works with calm abandon victims on the reservation, says perpetrators are active rampant, and women and accouchement charge help.

“She’s a woman like the blow of us,” said Stevens, of Crystal, N.M. “Hopefully that will cull at her affection strings.”

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Men continued acquire been the leaders of Navajo bodies and commonly consulted with women in the communities as equals. Navajos see anniversary being as accepting changeable and macho aspects that actualize balance.

Philmer Bluehouse, a acceptable peacekeeper, said those who acquire women can’t be admiral acceptable are attractive to a Navajo account of a changeable who was accustomed a administration column but became affronted and controlling.

But some abort to attending above that adventure to one in which the celestial White Shell Woman gives bearing to the Twin Warriors, who rid the apple of monsters such as greed, abjection and hate, Bluhouse said. According to Navajo lore, all Navajos can trace their ancestor aback to her, and she’s advised to be the ideal woman.

Both Lovejoy and Shelly apperceive the adventure but are quick to agenda they’re no experts in tradition. They are familiar, though, with “monsters” that appear in the anatomy of a added than 50 percent unemployment rate, the corruption of women and children, infighting in affiliated government and alone elderly.

At pale in the chase is blank of the 27,000-square-mile reservation, its economy, approaching use of accustomed assets and the action to advance affiliated sovereignty.

Former Navajo admiral Peterson Zah said alike with a win, Lovejoy’s success would depend on whether she has the abutment of added women in the Affiliated Council, who are outnumbered. The board is accustomed as added able than the presidency.

The action over accepting a woman in the chase has faded, and Zah says, “now it’s the accomplished catechism of ‘Can Lynda Lovejoy administer if she’s in that position … how will she accord with these bigger Navajo Nation-wide issues?”‘

Lovejoy grew up in Crownpoint, N.M., area flat-lying acreage opens up to advanced country with a distant, asperous backbone line. She aggregate a two-room hogan with 12 others and spent her canicule chopping firewood, herding sheep, carriage baptize and speaking Navajo.

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She larboard the catch for academy and spent a few years alive for the Navajo government afore entering accompaniment politics.

While adopting her three accouchement as a distinct mother, Lovejoy said she lacked the adherence to be able and an able parent, so she angry to Catholicism but still practices the acceptable Navajo way of life. She additionally has bristles stepchildren.

“You never leave your tradition,” she said. “You apprentice it and it stays with you.”

Some catechism Lovejoy’s ties to attitude back she shows up in a business accouterment instead of acceptable clothing, back they acquisition out she is Catholic or affiliated to a non-Navajo, she said. She’s additionally acknowledged allegations that she’s a drunk, a common amusing ill on the reservation.

She dismisses “mischievous” comments about her admittance in the race, adage no admirable being ashore in Navajo attitude would air them in public.

“Yes there are bodies out there who are disturbing with that,” she says. “But for the best allotment they are alpha to acquire the actuality that there’s according opportunities for women in administration positions. Alike in the presidential position.”

Four years ago, Lovejoy became the aboriginal woman anytime to accomplish it through the primary acclamation but ultimately absent to accepted Admiral Joe Shirley Jr., who is term-limited. In the years up to and back that run, Lovejoy has served in New Mexico accompaniment government as a senator, adumbrative and affiliate of a authoritative commission.

As Lovejoy and Shelly bisect the catch that extends into Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, they charge baby to absolute interests. Adolescent Navajos appetite to see added of the candidates and their positions online, jobs, and money for scholarships.

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Elders who alive in remote, broadcast apartment generally after electricity or baptize appetite affirmation the candidates will advance traditions and allege chatty Navajo.

Lovejoy’s time in accompaniment government is what her opponent, Shelly, is relying on to accord him an edge. He says she doesn’t accept what Navajos absolutely charge – addition who has spent added time in backroom on the catch than off – and she’s absent the drive she already had.

That she’s a changeable makes no aberration to him.

“I’m not alike cerebration about that,” he said. “She’s my opposition. She’s in my way of my goal, my presidency. I’ve gotta exhausted her.”

Antonina Roanhorse, who is from the aforementioned association as Shelly’s active mate, worries about the alimentation of a ability in which she was accomplished that women should advance the home and affliction for the children, not seek the top adopted office.

“Within Navajo ability and teachings, a adult shouldn’t be running,” said Roanhorse, of Rock Point, while apprehension the alpha of aftermost month’s Navajo Fair parade. “It should be the men who are attention and leading.”

As she moves bottomward the array route, Lovejoy keeps a adequately beeline path, all-embracing those who airing up to her. Shelly veers appropriate and left, afraid easily in the army and wiping his countenance with a towel.

If one has added abutment than the other, it’s not bright from the crowd’s response.

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“When you abound up with acceptable values, you can absolutely feel the action in their speeches, and you angle up for them,” said Joyce Tsinijinnie of Ganado, sitting with her bedmate on the array route. “But I don’t feel that for either of the candidates. We’re open-minded, so we’ll see what happens.”

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