Melinda Blackhorse is a candidate for school district five, born in Monticello and currently residing in the Mexican Water Chapter House District of the Navajo Nation reservation.
Along with eight years of experience as a project specialist for the Utah Navajo Trust Fund, Blackhorse also served on the Utah Educational Commission Board.
Previously, she was the first Native American woman at the Children’s Justice Center to be a forensic interviewer - a therapy technique specifically for children coping with traumatic experiences.
Blackhorse believes these roles give her unique insight into some of the hardships schoolchildren in her district face.
“A lot of the children come from single-parent households, dysfunctional households,” she said. “We send our children to school and they learn there, but the source of love and of stability is the homes.”
One issue Blackhorse wants to focus on is the declining number of Navajo children who are fluent their native language. Many scholarships available for Navajo, she said, require the study of native language and culture, and these opportunities could easily be missed.
“We want our children to relearn our language,” she said. “We have to address it.”
She is also concerned about the digital divide in the Native American community. “My son is a 10th-grader sophomore, so he has issues with not completing his homework because we don’t have internet service where we live,” she said.
Blackhorse says her down-to-earth approach to politics helps her relate to her community.
“I like to go to my community, I like to knock on doors, sit inside and have coffee with them and really relate to them,” she said. “People are not patient enough to go to people’s homes and sit with them, but I do.” She notes that she is fluent in the Diné language and has also worked for many years in mainstream society. “I’m balanced in both areas and so with that I would like to bring this to the table to use my expertise and my knowledge to the table.”