Navajo Nation elects Buu Nygren president

Newly elected president Buu Nygren (second from left) celebrates victory with his wife, State Rep. Jasmine Blackwater (far left), and Vice-President-elect Richelle Montoya Chee and her husband, Olsen Chee, at the Navajo Nation fairgrounds on Election Night, Nov. 8, 2022. Photo courtesy of Buu Nygren Facebook page.

By Taylor Gibson / NM News Port

Dr. Buu Nygren and his running mate, Richelle Montoya, will lead the second largest tribe in America. Nygren — the youngest Navajo ever elected president — defeated the current president Jonathan Nez by around 3,500 votes.

The 110 chapters across the Navajo reservation reported the unofficial results just after 11 p.m. election night, Nov. 8, 2022. The Navajo Election Administration reported voter turnout was more than 50% of the 121,000 registered voters.

Nez, a veteran politician, had led in the August primary election with 17,073 votes compared to Nygren’s 12,878. But by November, Nez was surpassed by Nygren, who obtained around 34,568 votes over Nez’s 31,069 votes.

This win is record-breaking for both Nygren and Montoya. Nygren, 35, is the youngest Navajo Nation president in history. Montoya will be the first woman to be in the Office of the President and Vice President.

“Yes, a Buu is going to be your next Navajo Nation President,” said Nygren in his victory speech at the Navajo Nation fairgrounds, as reported by AZ Mirror

Nygren’s racial identity was one of the main highlights of his campaign, being half Navajo and half Vietnamese. He said that his last name should be a reminder that being half Navajo shouldn’t interrupt anything a person tries to accomplish.

“You all voted (for) change today,” Nygren said. “You all voted for Yideeską́ądi Nitsáhákees.”

Nygren and Montoya’s campaign slogan, Yideeską́ądi Nitsáhákees, means “Thinking For The Future” in Navajo.

President-elect Dr. Buu Nygren and Vice President-elect Montoya, will be sworn into office in January 2023.