Encouraged by Diné football players

WINDOW ROCK, Oct. 17, 2013

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Another prep football season is now well underway.

Reservation prep football games are once again the talk of the communities.

I am encouraged on how many of the young native men are taking part in their sport of choice, football.

Reservation football does not have a fanatical following as basketball does, but that in no way deters the players from going all out representing their schools.

I have followed Navajo prep sports fairly closely ever since I graduated from Page High School in 1994.

I am very elated when Diné athletes attending reservation and border town schools do well in competition.

Also, when teams represent well in state competitions it's very inspiring to everyone in the native communities.

In the last two years of following reservation prep football, I have become very despondent at the competition level that reservation football teams have been thrust upon.

Division play for each team is very scattered in competition level and skill sets.

The disparity of competition that small reservation schools face is not only unfair, but also very insulting because AIA (Arizona Interscholastic Association) should have taken notice immediately after the inception of the point/scoring rating system.

Ironically, AIA's mission statement is the following: Create and sustain an ethical culture through activities that encourages maximum student participation by providing AIA member schools with an even playing field to ensure fair and equitable competition in interscholastic activities.

I understand that there are many different variables that come into play and many logical fallacies that could be argued why the system is the way it is.

I also know that there is some definite delayed response to this unfair playing field.

I am very well aware that the answer is not simple.

Nonetheless, the reason for this letter to voice my opinion that school administrators and school athletic directors need to take a serious look at the wellbeing of their athletes and for AIA administrators revisit the "even playing field to endure fair and equitable competitionÉ" stance stated in their mission statement.

Finally AIA should develop game schedules that consider the vast difference in skill level for rural schools and inner city schools.

The current point/scoring rating system is very flawed.

If this issue is not quickly addressed we will continue to have the disparity gap widened, and small schools that do not foster a 365/24-7 football culture with a well-oiled booster backing will continue to have players injured and their teams demoralizing outplayed in a Las Vegas NCAA football booking type competition.

Running up the final score to guarantee a state playoff spot may be fair, equitable and some might say profitable, but for whom?

Eric Delmar
Inscription House, Ariz.

Christianity and Navajo culture

I am responding to an article in the Navajo Times published July 4, 2013.

The article is titled "Pastor: Roots of HIV, alcoholism ÔNavajos have forgotten who they are'" (page A-8) written by Alastair Lee Bitsoi.

In the article it states that the Navajo people no longer respect who they are, and that this is the reason for the up rise of alcoholism and the current HIV epidemic among the Navajo people.

The article also claims that only Christianity will help save the Navajo people.

It claims that the Navajo culture lacks what Christian culture has to stabilize its people.

The article suggests that the Navajo culture isn't the tradition to follow if you want to get away from alcoholism and prevent HIV.

The author quotes Pastor Milton Shirleson as stating: "The Navajo teachings of not showing affection and compassion especially from Navajo men towards their children, and the fact that some people have no respect for the kinship or clan system, is why Navajo society is the way it is."

I don't feel that turning your back on your culture and putting all of your faith and trust into the Christian culture is totally right.

The Navajo religion is very important to the Navajo people, and I believe there are a lot of healing and positive teachings involved that can get the Navajo people out of these dark times.

People need to understand that they have a problem first then turn to their own form of healing, maybe it's going back to their traditional ways or attending church, it all depends on the person and where his or her heart takes them.

Wenona Bia
Fort Defiance, Ariz.

Water rights taskforce nowhere to be found

Where is the Navajo Water Rights Taskforce? They haven't done anything since the LCR Settlement was voted down.

The Task Force is made up of Rita Gilmore, Nicole Horseherder (environmentalist), Ann Marie Chischilly (environmentalist), Byron Huskon (environmentalist), Thomas Walker Jr.

(traditional agriculturist), and Jack Utter (non-Indian Navajo Nation hydrologist).

All these members of the Task Force did everything they could to kill the settlement, now they're nowhere to be found.

According to the legislation that created the Task Force, one of their responsibilities is as follows: "The Water Rights Task Force shall be charged with negotiating a water rights settlement regarding the Little Colorado River and related issues."

The Task Force hasn't done anything to engage a water settlement with the parties.

They didn't care about the water settlement.

All they wanted was to close the coalmines.

The truth has come out that the members of the Task Force didn't care about the water settlement, all they wanted was to kill coal mining on the Navajo Reservation, which would have killed the employment of hundreds of Navajo people.

The Task Force was willing to stop water to the Navajo people just so the coalmines would close.

Now that the coalmines have stayed open, the members of the Task Force are nowhere to be found.

Water was never their priority.

Jack Riley
Gallup, N.M.

The legacy of Father Cormac

The Navajo Nation and most of its members are deeply saddened by the loss of Father Cormac who was well known forÊhis "Padre's Hour" program in the Navajo language each Sunday morning.

He will be missed dearly among radio listeners.

Father Cormac was a special person and was like a family member to the Navajo people and many people know it.

He had a big caring heart for the elders and needy families living in the remote and isolated areas of the Navajo Nation.

I, for one, was a regular listener each Sunday morning by making sure the radio was tuned in to the right station.

I enjoyed listening to his program because of his fluency in the Navajo language and in some part included the Navajo blessing way songs, which made his program special.

Father Cormac was always prepared to give a helping hand to all walks of life, particularly the Navajo people.

He was down to earth with the Navajo people more than our own elected tribal leaders.

The legacy he left behind will always be remembered and treasured in a special way.

Thank you for affording me this opportunity to express my views.

Vern Charleston
Farmington, N.M.

Finding a connection to heritage

My daughter forwarded me your article regarding Miss Navajo, as we are of Navajo decent on my mother's side of the family.

My maternal family (at least at one time in the 60s and 70s) was a very prominent family line in the Taos, N.M., area with my great uncle Frank being sheriff of Taos at one time and several cousins being store owners in Taos proper.

I can fondly remember trips to Taos to visit my aunt and uncle and even dancing at powwows and during festivals.

My mother would go so far as to even make me what she called "fiesta outfits".

While in Taos, I generally stayed at my cousin's (Alfred and Mildred) home mostly because of the horses, specifically Lindo - who they always said was my horse.

As a young child those words were more important to me than if someone handed me a room full of toys and said these are all for you.

Short of our trips to Taos and Albuquerque and visiting relatives on the reservation my mother never spoke of her Native American side.

It was as if it was taboo to let anyone know in Michigan (where I was born and raised) that she was of Native American decent so I unfortunately did not have the benefit of really knowing this rich heritage.

The closest I ever came was a time when I was about 8 years old (1969-1970) and my mother and her younger brother (my uncle Tom) entered me in a Native American pageant sponsored by the YMCA and regularly we would go to Native American workshops also sponsored by the YMCA.

I remember these because I have wonderful memories of making necklaces and bracelets.

Since her passing in 1985, I have diligently tried to learn more and even get my Native American card but each of my attempts at contacting people in Taos has only led to stone walls, no returned calls, and an avoidance of help, which brings me to my contacting Navajo Times.

I saw the forwarding of this news article as a "sign" from the Great Mother that it just may be time to try to reach out again.

I'm 52 years old now with a 30-year-old daughter.

I'd like to at least have some connection to her heritage that I can pass on to her, which she can (as has been done for generations) pass on to her daughter when the time comes.

My mother's maiden name was Sue Vigil, married to Earl R.

Morris and daughter of Bernabe and Lucille Vigil.

Thank you for your time, you may contact me at LdyHawke@verizon.net or at my home phone number 570-655-6927.

I'm living in Pennsylvania now and retired so can be reached pretty much any time.

Lynda Rosencrans
Pittston, Pa.

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