Interested in facts, not propaganda

November 11, 2012

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I am appalled at the intensity of the negative rhetoric that is coming from opponents of the Grand Canyon Escalade. There is a dilemma of social problems on the reservation that stems from increased unemployment on the Navajo Reservation. Right now that is the reality the Navajo people and other Native Tribes in this country are facing. My question to these opponents is, "What is your solution to these social problems?"

There are many Navajos who desire to work and not continue to live off of government handout, and thus be a burden to tax payers. The Grand Canyon Escalade is not only going to bring jobs to the Navajo Reservation but will also enable the people in that region to have access to water and electricity which is so vitally needed. Because of the Bennett Freeze these resources were restricted.

In the Oct. 11 Navajo Times article, I read most of the people who are opposing the project don't even live in the Bodaway/Gap region or even registered voters in the chapter. Most of the opponents are living comfortably with a job and have the luxury of electricity and running water. That is a double standard. It is okay for them to live comfortably but not for unemployed Navajos, or the victims of the Bennett Freeze to have the very same benefits. My parents live in the Cameron area and we have experienced first hand the causes and effects of living in the Bennett Freeze area.

One major issue I'm pointing out is the water. It is horrible, disgusting and undrinkable. Do any of you opponents care? Forgotten people where are you? Opponents you can march from Tuba City to Window Rock, but you can't even drive 30 minutes to Cameron and check out the water; or even better yet go to the Grand Canyon and witness first hand the desecration that is occurring at those sacred sites under the watch of non-native organizations.

It is my understanding that some opponents have made threats of violence at meetings and one individual even stated he would bring a gun. That is the reason for the law enforcement presence. The Confluence Partners LLC have not posted your negative behavior on any website, but have shown the utmost respect in spite of all your threats and intimidation.

Furthermore, why is the Navajo Nation allowing these opponents to run ramped on encouraging outside groups to interfere with Navajo Nations desire for economic development? Navajos did not interfere with the Hopi's desire for tourism development during the planning of the Tuvi Travel Center and Legacy Inn.

That project has created gainful employment and revenue for the Hopi people and currently Navajo Tribal Utility Authority subsidies the needed utilities so that their development can remain operational.

Opponents have solicited the support of three non-Native organizations: The Sierra Club (the same group of non-Natives who sell the opportunity to hike the scared Salt Trails for $995.00 a person. What percentage to this scared site does the Navajo and Hopi get? Perhaps $10 or nothing), the Grand Canyon Rafters Association (the very group of people who float, defecate, and urinate in our so-called sacred waters that runs into the confluence area) and Grand Canyon Trust.

The Grand Canyon Escalade project is sustainable economic development and it has been culturally sensitive to the area. A lot of the misguided information printed in the papers has been propaganda and opponents refuse to listen to the facts resorting to vicious personal attacks.

Forgotten People if you truly represent the forgotten people you would take time to research the entire project (not skim) and see that it truly is an opportunity to bring the forgotten people home. How do we expect to teach our children and grandchildren the teachings of our Navajo ways and culture when they have to move from the Navajo Nation to find gainful employment off the reservation?

If you continue to oppose the project then tell me and other Navajos what your alternative plan for the massive unemployment condition on the Navajo reservation.

If you don't have a plan or solution, allow this project to move forward and our Navajo people can reap the benefits of attracting outside revenue to help our communities (2,000 will be able to work, the crucial resources of electricity and running water will be available to Bennett Freeze residents in that area, and the sacred sites will be protected). I am only interested in facts and solutions not propaganda.

Valli M. Crank
Tuba City/Cameron, AZ

New school board members need to be considered

Elections are upon us, and many decisions locally and nationally will be made soon. I would like to encourage the residents of the Window Rock Unified School District to consider voting for new members for the school board. I have been to multiple board meetings in the past years and some reasons that are hurting our schools include the lack of board accountability and lack of administrative leadership.

There are too many issues that have become major problems and the district leadership has demonstrated they lack the ability to address them effectively. A major example is the ongoing underperformance of our schools by failing to meet Adequate Yearly Progress for a number of years.

We need changes in our board membership because this board has shown they're incapable of maintaining a proper board-superintendent relationship that should be based on the highest level of accountability. Because of the close friendship(s) between the superintendent and the board, she is allowed to go unchallenged and is not held to the highest standards of performance. I cannot think of a situation where a superintendent was rewarded with a three-year contract when the performance of the schools and the fiscal condition of the district are in need of major repair.

The superintendent is putting all of the blame on the county, but fiscal accountability works both ways. Had the district been on top of their budget they could easily have avoided the present negative situation. I encourage you to go to the Arizona Department of Education's website to get the most up-to-date information regarding the academic performance of our district and the grade given to each school. All of our schools are rated as earning a grade of D. You also can find the latest financial audit reports noting the corrective actions the district is ordered to undertake.

Wallace Hanley
Window Rock, Ariz.

Americans need politicians who can relate to all classes

The article in the Navajo Times "Government's revenue problem starts with the richest, not poor", Edward J. Little Sr. talks about how class warfare will always be a key topic discussion in any political conversation that focuses on taxes. The classes will complain about two things: "we pay too much" or "they don't pay enough".

However I feel a common ground needs to be found between all classes. Americans need to understand how politicians work rather than judging by word from advertisement in political campaigns. All parties need to work together rather than against one another. Classes blame each other for tax cuts. What all classes need is a solution.

Americans need better politicians out there who can relate to all classes and having an open mind about all topics within the political areas. It does not start with the rich or the poor. It starts with the politicians and the government.

The government needs to get their priorities straight. Politicians need to start looking at us Americans as individuals instead of using blind ideologies to win votes of certain classes. As far as politics go, most politicians only see the Americans who matter or the Americans who don't make enough to pay taxes.

Americans need to open their eyes regardless of class to make politicians and the government understand us.

Toynette Hunt
Window Rock, Ariz.

Not in agreement with outcome of Escalade

In the Oct. 4 Navajo Times article, "Bodaway opens door to the Escalade" the project was voted for and passed. The $180 million proposed Escalade resort has elevated controversy between several Bodaway-Gap community members and traditional opponents. The debate centers on economic development of the Bennett Freeze Area vs. the preservation of sacred sites and the surrounding environment.

I am not in agreement with the outcome of the Escalade. Laboring the Diné in catering for tourism is an ongoing system throughout the Dinetah and its federal parks. Hopi Cultural Preservation Director, Leigh Kuwanwiwsiwma, clearly disagrees when he stated, "We're just simply opposed to it."

The discipline of the Hopi leadership is the governing attitude that needs to be instilled. In making this comment, Leigh reminds us to becoming economically self-sustaining we need to resort back to the valued teachings of traditional leadership. We need to abandon the standard approach of governing and establishing the nation-building approach.

Must we continue to depend on outside thinking to economic growth?

To break away from monetary profit of the outsider, we must work together and help one Diné to another to stop the desecration of our thinking, planning, living, and integrity. In its place, the funding needs to be devoted to the governing institutions, and the practice of sovereignty to the concern community members of Bodaway-Gap and the Diné nation.

Micalson Bahe
Tsaile, Ariz.

Black Mesa community members need to be included in NGS discussions

As a resident of Black Mesa, I was concerned to learn that Navajo President Ben Shelly, Attorney General Harrison Tsosie, and the Salt River Project have been engaged in secret discussions to renew the lease for the coal-burning Navajo Generating Station without including the members of our community.

The people of Black Mesa need to have their concerns about coal pollution addressed given the collective trauma caused by decades of mining and burning coal in our area. Coal burning at Navajo Generating Station contributes to regional haze that makes kids sick with asthma.

The Clean Air Task Force estimates that coal pollution from NGS causes more than $126 million in medical costs every year from asthma, bronchitis, heart attacks, hospital admissions, and premature deaths.

NGS is also Arizona's single biggest emitter of greenhouse gases that cause global warming, and contributes to the droughts, wildfires, and record temperatures that have affected our communities in recent years.

In addition, NGS consumes more than 30,000 acre-feet of water every year that could be conserved for other uses. To address these problems and ensure the best future for Black Mesa, Salt River Project and the other owners of NGS must commit to reducing coal and transition to clean energy.

A transition to solar, for example, would not have to happen overnight, but government officials and private companies must consider what is best for our community before they commit to decades of more coal pollution for Black Mesa.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in just a few short years coal has fallen from providing 50 percent of energy in the U.S. to 36 percent today, and economic experts expect that trend to continue. At the same time, solar has doubled in the last year, and plans for solar farms are moving forward across the west. A transition off coal at NGS would improve our health, reduce global warming, conserve water, and put us on a path towards clean energy jobs in the years ahead.

Salt River Project and Peabody will be quick to let everyone know about how much money they give for scholarships and royalties in exchange for their record profits. However, currently the benefits of the mine and plant go to the central government, and not to the people in our community who are most directly affected by the consequences of mining and burning coal. Any talk of renewing the lease for NGS must include a discussion with the immediate communities of Black Mesa ensuring that benefits are sent directly to the people.

It is time for Salt River Project, Tsosie, Peabody, and all of the other parties to allow our community to participate in the discussion and move towards a brighter energy future for Black Mesa.

Marie Gladue
Kykotsmovi, Ariz.

I will not support a political group engaged in bullying

Something Biden said during the debate with Ryan stuck; I couldn't shake it. One of the last questions referenced religious belief and views on abortion. Biden indicated that he believed abortion was wrong, but could not impose his beliefs on others. After much review and consideration I can say his words sum up the basic difference between modern political philosophies. Forget the economic details, liberal or conservative thinking, or party platforms. Does anyone have the right to force another to accept their beliefs?

I've studied Iran's evolution toward intolerance, and see remarkable similarities to our Republican Party's behavior. State governors have been pushing legislation to control or effectively eliminate behavior contrary to their beliefs, just as Iran's religious district leaders issue edicts based on their interpretation of the Koran. Individuals with differing views are discouraged from voting or voicing an opinion under threat of fines and prison. This is now true in Iran and parts of America.

Although our courts have identified many states' voting laws as restrictive, three continue to bear watching. Republican-led legislators in Kansas, Ohio, and Florida are still doing everything they can to discourage certain groups. Their words, not mine. It is their firm belief that they are acting in the best interest of the country. Restricting these groups promotes a vision for the country. Whether I share this vision or not, do the ends justify the means?

Our Congress is dysfunctional, in part, because certain leaders will not accept that they must cooperate for the good of America. The GOP has been responsible for most of this lately, as was their stated intention the moment Obama was elected. Their objective is to shape America according to their ideology, and is their interpretation of "serving" the public. This is exactly how Iran's leaders explain their actions. You could fill a book with examples of this through history, but the ultimate end for the government is always the same. The people suffer horribly and eventually revolt, usually going too far the other way. Is this your vision of America's future?

I don't care what the religious or political ideology is, I will not support a group engaged in bullying behavior. Some will always exist and need to be dealt with, but lately it has been coming from the Romney campaign. This is a corporate war for them; this is how business is conducted, and does not surprise me at all. I have had similar criticism for members of the Democratic Party in the past, but the GOP has crossed the line this year. Based on this alone, how would you vote?

I want an America that represents me. Is it ok for me to push and threaten you if you don't agree? Do you approve when others do it? If we have a little courtesy and discuss solutions to our issues, we'll figure something out. This should be the one major attribute in a president, not their ideology, but their ability to set it aside.

Warren Isleib
Nashua, N.H.

Should Navajos vote for Obama or Romney?

Should Navajos vote for Obama or Romney in the 2012 election? To answer this question I will limit my consideration strictly to how would each candidate's policies impact your personal welfare and the wellbeing of the Navajo Nation. There are two important questions to this larger concern about material interests, these are: 1) how have Obama's policies impacted the Navajo people and the Navajo Nation, and 2) what foreseeable effects would Romney's positions have? The first question is difficult to answer. Broadly we have to ask how has the conduct of the federal executive branch impacted the material condition of Navajos? For us, the presidential debates aren't very useful because questions regarding federal spending within reservation communities weren't discussed.

But in a recent interview in Indian Country Today, President Obama stressed his record of federal spending within tribal communities, such as on roads, energy projects, and health care. Critics on the political left like myself have found Obama's federal spending too conservative and too limited to have the impacts that were needed at the time. He designed his budget to please Republicans and conservative voters who were more concerned about the federal deficit rather than economic growth through federal spending. As a result, his policies were contradictory—they intended to stimulate economic growth through federal spending but also heeded to conservative calls to reduce the federal deficit. You can't really do both and that's why we've experienced modest economic gains over the last couple of years.

Whether or not having a deficit is an important economic consideration is debatable. I tend to believe it's a red herring, designed to make federal spending sound costly for all people when really it mainly effects the super wealthy who resent paying higher tax rates for the benefit of poorer people whom they see as morally deficient.

But what's clear is that the deficit was created by the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hypocritically, after creating this, deficit conservatives derided Obama's attempts to fix the recession of 2008 through targeted federal spending—the same approach FDR used in 1931 during "the Great Depression."

For example, Republican New Mexico Senatorial candidate Heather Wilson voted for both Bush tax cuts and the War in Iraq, but now critiques her Democratic opponent Martin Heinrich for being in Congress during comparably modest deficit spending that was designed to kick start consumer confidence in the economy with public spending. Rather than challenge their logic, Obama conceded to this conservative rational and kept his federal spending similar to Bush levels while trying to stimulate growth with the use of federal money.

For us, to get to the point, this means our situation vis-à-vis the federal government hasn't significantly changed since Obama took office. It has improved somewhat with the specific funding increases in parts of the federal budget. But this was not done at a scale comparable with FDR's New Deal. Obama in many ways is a conservative Democrat much different from the Democratic Party of the 1930s or the 1960s.

Mitt Romney, on the other hand, embraces more conservative federal spending than even Obama. Romney proposes dramatically cutting domestic spending, increasing military spending, and extending the Bush tax cuts that benefit the top income earners in the U.S (which doesn't include a lot of Navajos).

To answer our second question, "what are the anticipated effects of these policies" for the Navajo people, we can reasonably assume that federal funding for programs the tribe and tribal people rely on will be reduced, perhaps dramatically. If you look at Romney's website, he relies on tax cuts to stimulate economic growth, but will cut federal spending except for the military. Returning to our concern about the material conditions of the Navajo people; put simply, non-military domestic spending is important for the Navajo tribal government and the Navajo people, whether that spending goes to the departments of Interior, Health and Human Services, Education, Agriculture (where food stamp funding exits), or Energy. The Navajo Nation receives over half of its operating budget from federal programs, more than all natural resource revenues combined. If programs in these departments are cut, which we can predict with a Romney presidency, than federal monies going to the Navajo Nation and the Navajo people will also be reduced, thus negatively impacting our material conditions.

In conclusion we might suggest that in the material interest of the Navajo people and the Navajo tribal government, Navajo voters should vote for Obama as his federal spending in the next four years will be better for the wellbeing of the Navajo people and Navajo Nation than what his opponent has to offer.

Andrew Curley
Window Rock, Ariz.

Get rid of 'foreigners' before we lose everything

We have to appreciate our youth of today. They have developed analytical, technological, and other skills equal to and sometimes surpassing the dominant society of America. Our old methods of operation in our Navajo government appear to be slowly changing to what will be a better, fairer, and more democratic way for our Navajo society.

When Senator Kyl presented the Senate Bill 2109 to congress on Feb. 14, the Navajo people stood up and shouted no. It was at this time the Navajo college youth took notice, came forward with advice and state-of-the-art communications, and spread the word back and forth, with our generation about the fraud against us and unfair dealings.

The older and younger generations thus came together and caused the Navajo Nation Council to understand our concepts of SB-2109 and vote the bill down. What a victory for the Navajo people. It wasn't just these Navajo generations coming together; the grassroots Hopi-Tewa people were also included.

Something came to mind via what some of the youth were saying; what our Navajo government terms "Intergovernmental Relations" the youth refer to as "Foreign Affairs." This comes from teaching about tribal sovereignty in their Native American studies course. When a sovereign deals with outside governments through treaties, it is called "foreign affairs." So, when Indian tribes do the same thing, this too is a foreign affair.

With this we ask, why do we have "foreigners" running three of the most important programs in our tribal government?

Our water rights program in the Department of Justice, the Department of Water Resources, and the minerals department are managed by "foreigners". In DOJ our chief water attorney Stanley Pollack from Michigan describes himself as Anglo/Jewish and he has been the water attorney for 25 years. He has notoriously betrayed Navajo with the infamous SB-2109, the Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement. He has also betrayed us and allottees in the San Juan Settlement in New Mexico. Pollack schemed with Senator Kyl and McCain to plan a major loss for Navajo by allowing the two senators to take away Navajo surface water rights worth billions of dollars. Many rights and protections were waived "forever". He and they also put in SB-2109 a lease extension for Navajo Generating Station. And Peabody Coal was getting unfettered groundwater use as well as pollution cleanup waivers for their retention ponds. In Pollack's and Kyl's SB-2109 Navajo was to continue to hold the losing end of the stick, not just for a few years but forever.

Although council voted down SB-2109, Kyl, with help from Pollack, is right now trying to revive it. Two other Anglo attorneys, Katherine Hoover, from Georgia, and Dana Bobroff, from Arizona, have also been part of Pollack's backdoor dealings with Kyl. These are part of Interior Secretary Salazar's invitation to Navajo and Hopi to meet with him for four hours on Nov. 14, to quickly work out some SB-2109 issues and get it passed in Congress's "lame duck" session after the election. And again President Ben Shelly is already sucked into the idea and standing by with a pen in hand ready to sign. All this is against the wishes of the Navajo people.

Pollack and the two lady lawyers have a Navajo figurehead, Harrison Tsosie, who listens and goes along with Pollack and the other two. Deceptions are destroying our future by causing the nation to lose billions of dollars in water, land, and resources revenues.

For the DWR, it is managed by a naturalized Pakistani immigrant, Najam Tariq, who is working with Pollack. Tariq has also been employed with Navajo for 25 years. He too has a Navajo figurehead, alleged "Department Director" Ray Benally, also a collaborator with Pollack and his two lady lawyers.

After 25 years of operations with the Navajo Nation, Tariq feels settled in his position and abuses, bribes with treatment, and intimidates his Navajo employees. He has even taken over the jobs of Navajo managers, against the Navajo Preference in Employment Act. He has also made veiled threats, to use against those who might push him, his professed connections with the Las Vegas underworld. We see in a local paper the huge headline "Court Upholds Navajo Preference in Peabody Case". Why can't that Navajo law be implemented in our own back yard in dealing with people, as Tariq who is abusive to our Navajo employees?

Then there is Aktar Zaman, another naturalized Pakistani, who also has been employed with the Navajo Nation for 25 years, and is director of the minerals department. His Navajo figurehead is Fred White, director for Division of Natural Resources. Aktar has worked against the people's best interest in endorsing giveaways to Navajo Generating Station and Peabody.

NGS could be paying hundreds of millions of dollars annually to Navajo with all the free water Navajo is giving to NGS, not to mention free rights-of-way for power lines and the coal railroad. Likewise with Peabody who only pays Navajo a mere 12.5 percent royalties when Peabody could be paying 50 percent worth over $150 million annually.

Again the same people come into play with Aktar and Tariq; Pollack, Hoover, and Bobroff. We have asked the council members "When are you going to see through these people and get rid of them". These "foreigners" mentioned above are costing the Navajo people billions of dollars by the manner they operate, which is in support of the outside interest.

Now, again, we ask why are we allowing these people to continue operating as they do while paying them high dollars and while they add to their nice pension that's coming out of Navajo pockets. This baffles us and bothers us to no end. And, again, we say get rid of them, for crying out loud.

Our youth, we mentioned earlier, are just as confused about this preference against us and for foreigners as we are. They are ones to take the helm of leadership in the not too far future. They are questioning our past and present leadership, to say, "Have our Navajo leaders lost their minds, and don't they realize what our Navajo people, especially the elders, are denied, how much they could've had with lost revenues; simple things as water, electricity, and good roads to their homes?"

But we have to appreciate our present council leadership; as they have begun to listen to those of us grassroots activists, and have begun to take charge of Pollack and others who have cheated Navajos for so long. The people are raising their voices to say; get rid of these people before we lose everything.

Tulley Haswood
Rock Springs, N.M.

Milten Bluehouse
Ganado, Ariz.

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