Health Leadership Award bestowed to the Navajo Nation


May 25, 2022  

Air is Life logo

GLENDALE, AZ—Navajo Nation officials were honored on Tuesday at the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Officers Association for the Phoenix Indian Medical Center.
The Health Leadership Award was given to Daniel Tso, and Thomas Walker Jr., Council Delegates who serve on the Navajo Nation Council.  Tso chairs the Health, Education, and Human Service Committee, while Walker serves as vice chair for the Resources and Development Committee.
“I wish to thank the many people who were involved in getting this law passed,” Thomas Walker Jr. said.  “There are elders here with us who were involved from the beginning,” he said referring to David S. Clark of Teesto, AZ who served in the Navajo Tribal Council.  Council Delegate Thomas Walker thanked Phillip Carpenter and Dr. Leland Fairbanks for their role assisting with the legislation.
“This is not the end,” Daniel Tso said referring to the measures the Navajo Nation has taken in prohibiting public smoking.  “There is a lot more work to be done.”
The award given by the Arizonans Concerned About Smoking in recognition of the Navajo Nation Council enacting the ‘Air is Life of 2021 Act’ last October 2021.  The legislation is the first among Tribes in taking measures to prohibit smoking in all public places.  The newly established law includes no smoking in tribal casinos.
Phillip Carpenter, who serves as the executive director for the Arizonans Concerned About Smoking, refers to the new Navajo law as unprecedented and historic.  “It is a leadership method and model for tribes, municipalities, and government to take in their future legislative efforts,” Carpenter said.
Organizations and government agencies that joined the special award to the Navajo leadership were the Arizona NAACP and the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Officers Association for the Phoenix Indian Medical Center.
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez who signed the Air is Life Act of 2021 into law was unable to attend.  A four minute video was shown at the event.  “I want to say thank you to the Navajo Nation Council for unanimously passing this legislation,” President Nez said in a video address.  He recognized Thomas Walker, Jr., Daniel Tso, Carl Slater, Nathaniel Brown, and Speaker Seth Damon who were sponsors of the legislation.
“To accept this award today we are honored to be joined by Dr. Patricia Nez Henderson, Hershel Clark, and Sierra Wilcox, and many others who have advocated for 13 years,” President Nez said.
The Air is Life Coalition, led by Dr. Patricia Nez Henderson, have spent the last five months posting ‘No Smoking’ signs in public facilities on the Navajo Nation.  It reads, “Díí Kwe’é Aná’í Binát’oh Doo Choo’íi Da.”
The four Navajo casinos have banned smoking since re-opening last year from the health pandemic.  Since the passage of last year’s Navajo law, the no smoking in casinos will remain permanent.