Secondhand smoke means everyone smokes

July 18, 2013

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F or hundreds of years Native Americans have suffered atrocities at the hands of others.

Despite progress in other areas, there is still genocide going on nationwide as tribal members and others have to work in casinos filled with toxic, cancer-causing secondhand smoke. Why should they have to endure the treatment that we wouldn't even give to animals?

Many people who work in casinos are getting sick and dying from breathing secondhand smoke, which contains over 250 toxins (including lethal gases such as hydrogen cyanide and polonium 210) and at least 69 carcinogens. It's been 49 years since the U.S. Surgeon General declared tobacco smoke kills people who smoke and 27 years since he warned secondhand smoke kills non-smokers.

When there is secondhand smoke in a room everyone smokes.

The Surgeon General says there is no safe level of exposure and that even high-tech ventilation systems cannot eliminate the danger.

Five minutes in a room with secondhand smoke stiffens the aorta making it difficult to pump blood; 20 minutes causes blood platelets to become stickier increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke; two hours and heart rhythm is affected which can cause fibrillations. Even brief exposure can cause sudden deadly respiratory and cardiac events for some, especially for those with preexisting conditions and seniors.

For those working eight hours a day in secondhand smoke the effects are very serious.

Commercial tobacco smoke not only takes years off our lives, it fills the years we do have with chronic diseases that eat away our bodies, devastate our families, and financially destroy us.

This is hope! There are now over 500 smoke-free gaming venues and casinos in the U.S. and all casinos in Canada are smoke-free. The Twin Arrows Casino (855-946-8946) needs to be the hero and protect the health of the 800 Navajo employees in the casino by providing them with a safe, healthy smoke-free workplace. Please don't support them (and tell them why) if they continue to expose their employees to risks they should not have to take to provide for their families.

We need to stand up with our brothers and sisters for their right to a safe and healthy workplace—just like we have.

Bernice Carver
Flagstaff, Ariz.

Navajo news

The July 4, 2013 issue of the Navajo Times, in my opinion, is what a Dineh Nation weekly newspaper should be all about. News – real news: "Obama creates White House Council for Native Affairs", front page; "Tribal officials offer ideas to curb recent spike in HIV", page A-8; "Pastor: Root of HIV, alcoholism is Navajos have forgotten who they are", page A-8. All excellent articles – I got my $1's worth.

Pastor Shirleson tells it like it is in his comprehensive statement assessing the current state of affairs on our rez: "Navajos have forgotten who they are … the basic principles of life from Navajo teaching are no longer being taught or honored. Navajos need to unite about their belief in what is the Navajo people…Right now there are so many different versions…You can't change a person outside-in…you got (sic) to go inward and out."

Further, Pastor Shirleson is described by Alastair Lee Bitsoi, who wrote, "After all, he knows this from past experiences by living what he called an unrighteous life of an alcoholic." What honesty! Kudos, Pastor Shirleson!

In 1990 I stated that the Dineh Nation needed a Dineh Nation Constitution because the Dineh Nation Council then ran – as it still does – on the impromptu system, the "Resolution Way". I ran for the Dineh Nation presidency because my backers, the Dineh Rights Association, which had the current-Dineh Nation president as a member, raised $1,900 and the Constitution issue for the 1990 elections. My campaign slogan was the acronym FOCUS: Family Opportunity Constitution Unity Spirituality. Focus means to see clearly.

To forget means, "not to remember." At least 80 percent of the Dineh people today did not forget who they are because they were never taught. So, they had nothing to forget. The truly sad part of Pastor Shirleson's analysis is that at least 90 percent of our Dineh people do not even care about the future. Why?

The reason is that most of our Dineh Nation's focus is on the welfare check – not for paying for a college education – which is being spent on alcohol and the slot machines at the ubiquitous casinos. Ubiquitous means "everywhere". What else is there to say about the Constitution-less Dine Nation government, which can't even set an example based on accountability?

Accountability is everything for the honest law-abiding Dineh citizen who knows himself/herself as taught by our Dineh elders for centuries.

Tacheeni Scott
Flagstaff, Ariz.

VFW Post 6789

The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6789 Tapaha/Bowman of the Navajo Nation began in 1963. We are charted by the National VFW Organization, which includes at least 1.9 million veterans throughout the United States. The mission of the VFW is to serve our veterans, the military, and our communities, foster camaraderie among United States veterans of overseas conflicts, and to advocate on behalf of all veterans here on the Navajo Nation.

At one time, our membership numbered 200 from 1963-2000. Now, we only have 43. Most of our members represent veterans from World War II and the Korean War. There are also several Vietnam veterans and Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.

Our organization is self-sustaining, meaning we have no outside support or funding, except through our annual poppy sale. Even this is a drop in the bucket and brings in a small amount. Our membership dues are $23 per year and the Post 6789 keeps $3, and the rest is sent to the National VFW office. What are the benefits of joining the VFW Tapaha/Bowman Post 6789?

As veterans, we all know that with our service, there is nothing like camaraderie, understanding and networking among one another. Sometimes we can assist those veterans who may need to file a claim with the Veterans Administration. We are committed to helping one another.

If you are a veteran who is searching for an organization that supports through camaraderie, then we welcome you. We have monthly meetings every second Tuesday at 6 p.m. Post activities are planned and scheduled. Please come join us and offer your support, so that we can sustain our Post and in turn, help to sustain our communities here on the Navajo Nation.

For more information on how to join, contact Eugene Atcitty, Quartermaster, at 505-879-0106.

Eugene G. Atcitty
VFW Tapaha/Bowman Post 6789

Changes to the Navajo flag, seal

Ya'at'eeh, my name is Marlon Begay, of New Lands. This letter is to every Navajo on the reservation, all 298,000 of us.

There are changes that need to be made to the Navajo flag. If you look at our flag now you will see only the main reservation lands that went from 1868 to 1934 but it does not accurately show how out nation currently looks and doesn't show other extensions, such as Nahat'a Dziil (New Lands), T'iis Tsoh Sikaadi (Alamo), To'Hajiilee (Canoncito), Tl'oh Chini (Ramah), T'aa Biich'iidii (Aneth Ext.), and many other chapters like Bilagaanaa Neez (Counselor), or Baah Haali (Bread Springs).

All these chapters and many more or not shown like my local chapter Nahat'a Dziil, which was added during the 1980s for the Navajo Relocates of the Navajo Hopi Relocate Act.

The flag needs to be reconstructed for our people of Diné Bikeyah to show how big our nation has grown from three million acres of land from the 1868 Treaty to somewhere in the 27 million acres since we're always acquiring new lands to Diné Bikeyah.

What I want to see of our flag flying proudly on Diné Bikeyah with the full view of the entire reservation and with our sacred mountain, rainbow of prosperity and the peach sandy colored background. I want the flag to show people in and outside our bountiful beautiful land that we are all connected through our traditions and culture, culture that was given to us by the holy people.

All I want to see a reconstruction of our flag. Likewise the Navajo seal was reconstructed in 1988 from having the title tribe to later Nation, and two arrows also were added to the seal to represent the two new states of Alaska and Hawaii. Please support this new flag for our nation, even if it's not approved to be our nation's flag. We can possibly use this flag and our current flag to fly on Diné Bikeyah.

Information: or find me on Facebook at Marlon Begay.

Marlon M. Begay
Sanders, Ariz.

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