It is a shame to hear the powwow and gourd dance was cancelled due to lack of funding. They have no funding for Native dances, which also honor our veterans. Yet, they have funding for wine tasting. This re-enforces the "John Wayne Hollywood Indian" stereotype - Natives cannot have ceremony without alcohol.
Those tourists are not guaranteed to return to Gallup. Many who attend the event are local residents. We'll be here a very long time. In a sense, guaranteed business.
Word of caution to the Ceremonial Board, once you lose your audience, rarely do they return. In order for this to happen, something extraordinary needs to take place. I do not see that happening anytime soon.
A need for renewable energy and natural gas plant
My name is Andy Dann, Kinya'annii ado I am born for Cheshei, Tacheeni ei da shi cheiis, Tabahaa ei da shi Naalii. I was born in Howell Mesa, Ariz. I have lived in Farmington for the past 20 years and raised with my wife our six children.
I would like to recommend that the millions of dollars that is proposed to be used for the Bart would be better used to plan, design and transition the San Juan Power Plant to a renewable energy and natural gas power plant. We need to act now to ensure that we have an improved air quality and our water is abundant and clean to drink for our future generations. The haze impairs our cultural resource by having dirty particulates in the atmosphere at early dawn is unhealthy to breathe.
I have observed how the coal industry has impacted my people for over 60 years.
Prior to 1961, we Navajo people living on the reservation had the highest mortality rates in the United States.
I used to work for San Juan Generating Station and I began to get swollen arms, legs, breathing problems and could not sleep due to the pain. I sought out my own traditional ceremonies and was told by a medicine woman that the air I was breathing at work was the problem. I also went to the hospital and the doctors stated that there was nothing wrong with me.
One day, I decided to quit the job and the pain continued and I endured it for two years after my decision to resign from this dirty industry. I have eyewitness accounts of how the plant is not managed in a safe way. I saw with my own eyes how the water is wastefully used to clean the fly ash units.
I urge the New Mexico Environment Department to support a third option that is to transition to renewable energy power plants and retrain the current workers.
We can have both clean energy and clean healthy jobs for all people if you listen to common sense.
Thank you to woman who offered help
I hope you will publish this letter, to help me thank a Diné woman who helped my family and I tremendously on a very hot day in June of this year.
We were on vacation, trying to get to Colorado, and had just had our second of three tire blowouts on our trailer that day near Shiprock. This very kind lady, with her truck full of kids, saw me walking down the road with the wheel, looking for an open tire store at mid-afternoon on a Sunday. She stopped and offered me a ride, and was even going to have one of the kids ride in the back of her truck so I could be in the air-conditioned cab. I took her up on the ride, but didn't want to displace any of her passengers so I rode in the back.
The woman drove me about three miles out of her way to a used tire shop and volunteered to wait for me while the tire was replaced, then take me back. It turned out that shop didn't have the tire I needed, so she drove to another one. They had a tire that would work, but only took cash, and it was more than I had on me. So this wonderful lady took me to an ATM, back to the second shop, then back to my trailer and family. All together, this took about 45 minutes and was probably 15 miles of driving.
However, this sweet woman was cheerful and patient throughout. Many people I know would only have been this helpful to a full-grown man if he was in danger, or was a close friend or relative. I thanked her sincerely several times, and offered her a few dollars for gas money, but she refused it. The only thing she asked for was that we send her a postcard from our vacation. Unfortunately, we lost her address.
So ma'am, if you are reading this, thank you again so much. My wife, children and mother-in-law were able to enjoy their stay at Navajo Lake and Telluride because your kindness helped us make it to Farmington. I'm sorry we misplaced your address, but we will never forget our gratitude to you for your helpfulness.
Leadership needs to change at Torreon school
The issues I am about to reveal are my own personal views of the chaos that currently exist at the Na' Neelzhinn' Ji' Olta in Torreon. It seems nobody cares to challenge and/or dispute these issues plaguing the school.
The chaos at this particular school is unquestionably caused by the executive director and possibly two school board members. It is poor management in the first degree. It's a shameful situation and frustrating that the governing board does not seem to care.
It appears there are just a few grant schools that are successful in making the Adequate Yearly Progress and Hanadli Community Grant School is living proof. They must employ good management leaders and efficient teachers willing to make the extra stride. I praise them for their efforts.
In May 2012 there was a directive by the school board to the principal to seek $200,000. Suddenly, a Reduction In Force was announced without giving any formal notice to the employees. The reason cited was a budget deficit.
Due to the manipulation by the executive director and school board, at least 14 permanent employees became victims of Reduction In Force. These innocent employees suffered the consequences and paid for a poor fiscal management by the executive director and his staff.
The truth is a recent audit revealed at least half million dollars was due to questionable spending by the executive administration. The school board members are fully aware of it but did nothing to correct questionable spending. The only comment they had was in the form of a threat "Heads will roll".
The underlying problem is the students are not a priority. Instead, the executive director places himself above all and undermines the governing board of the school. The frustrating part is the board members are in cahoots with the executive director and appears to be serving at his pleasure. It's sad to see the same-old tactics by the executive director and nothing is done about him.
Above all, the victims of the Reduction In Force are with the latest developments taken by the executive director and governing board by filling the positions they declared Reduction In Force. The troubling part is the positions were never formally advertised which is in violation of the applicable Navajo Preference and Employment Act. Shouldn't the victims been given preference for rehire?
The question circulating among the victims is where did the funding come from to fill the RIF positions. The action by the executive director raises serious questions and concerns the Department of Diné Education officials needs to look into without further due before they cover their mess. Also, the education committee needs to do a thorough investigation of the devastating management deficiencies of the school.
The goal of the executive director and the governing board appears to be self-interest and not necessarily on academic achievement.
The bottom line is the children are not a priority and left behind. The school has never made the Adequate Yearly Progress since the inception of the No Child Left Behind.
In June 2012, the Navajo Times reported a similar problem with Shonto Preparatory School and Hunters Point School and a regional school board was recommended to avoid nepotism and favoritism. I think regional school board is ideal and suitable. The other point to mention is periodically switching executive directors and principals around among schools would be ideal and highly recommended.
In conclusion, I would like to state change is always good for the better. It is time for management change at Na' Neelzhinn' Ji' Olta so the school gets on the course of recovery and begin to see positive results in establishing effective school learning environment in the future. I believe change is long overdue.
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to address these important matters and other issues of concerns.
Message at Hard Rock Chapter celebration
"The Navajo people have suffered much as a result of inhumane treatment by the federal government in the 1970s and 80s in Big Mountain as well as in Bennett Freeze areas," said Peter MacDonald, telling over 200 people at the dedication of Hardrock Chapter.
He said, "Out of this struggle and resistance, there were real heroes and one of them sits right here, Katherine Smith, she is my hero."
MacDonald said the struggle for a better life continues today and these new facilities are an example of striving for a better life. MacDonald said because of bad federal policies that these needless sufferings resulted in atrocities and sufferings that amounts to human genocide similar to dictatorships in other countries. "Yet this country is supposed to be a democracy where the people are in power," he said.
"Because of so-called land disputes and the senseless policies of the federal authorities, there are no paved roads, no improvements and no sanitary facilities, therefore the suffering continues to this day," he said.
"My message to you is to always stand up for your rights, always defend your life and most importantly your land."
"Our hero, Katherine Smith, now sits in a wheelchair with poor health and this means you, the young people, must carry on the torch, the torch of life, the torch of the struggle to improve the lives of your people and to preserve the right to live your life as you want and not be pushed around," he said to a cheering crowd.
MacDonald said the Navajos and the Hopis are not enemies, they had a long peaceful relationship, helping each other until the federal government drew arbitrary lines and boundaries. "This is a lesson our future generations should never be put under again, because federal intervention disrupted our peaceful relationship, destroyed many of our people and thousands were forcefully relocated," MacDonald said in a somber tone. Federal, state and tribal agencies that included Hopi government resulted in the funding of the Hardrock facilities.
"My message has always been to work together, help each other, pray for each other in order to bring a better tomorrow for all," he said in concluding his message.
Many certificates of appreciation were presented to individuals, tribal, state, federal and county agencies.