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The head of the Navajo Nation has declared a state of emergency in response to winter storms that have hit the huge reservation that encompasses New Mexico, Arizona and Utah.

President Russell Begaye issued the declaration on Tuesday. The move will free up funds from the Navajo government to help parts of the nation that have been hit particularly hard by the storms.

In a statement, Begaye said: "Constituents at the chapter level are requesting wood, coal, water, medication, and food. These funds can be used for that."

Begaye said chapters on the 27,000-square-mile reservation that have declared emergencies can now use money designated for such situations.

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