The state House of Representatives has a new member from the Navajo Nation and once again has 60 members.
Rep. Jasmine Blackwater-Nygren, D-Red Mesa, was sworn in Thursday morning to fill in a vacancy in Legislative District 7 left by former Rep. Arlando Teller, who resigned in January to take a job with the Biden administration.
At 25 years old, Blackwater-Nygren will be the youngest member of the House, the Navajo Times reported.
On the House floor, Blackwater-Nygren reflected on the different reality that people in northern Arizona live in, like not having running water and depending on woodfire stoves to heat their homes.
“I want to instill in each and every one of you that, yes, I might be young, but my first home was a wood-brick hogan on the reservation,” she said. “I come from hardship, as do my constituents.”
Blackwater-Nygren earned her undergraduate degree in 2017 from Stanford University and graduated in 2020 from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. She also worked for the Navajo Nation Office of Legislative Counsel and the Navajo Nation Supreme Court, according to a press release from the Arizona Democratic Party.
In a video posted on social media prior to the Apache County Board of Supervisors meeting to appoint a candidate to fill in Teller’s vacancy, Blackwater-Nygren said she’ll work on policy issues like strengthening voting rights, access to healthcare and education.
“As a young Navajo woman, I want to be the catalyst to usher in the next generation of Navajo leaders,” she said. “I am ready to commit fully to District 7.”
In a press release, Jonathan Nez, president of the Navajo Nation, said he’s proud of Blackwater-Nygren for giving back.
“We always tell our young Navajo people to get their education and to help our Navajo people and that’s what Rep. Blackwater-Nygren is doing,” Nez said.