Being a leader means setting the example

WINDOW ROCK, Jan. 30, 2014

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The problem is about self-respect and Diné's integrity (honesty, reliability) being weakened by our leaders. This headship seems to be continuously eroded from year to year within our Navajo Nation. At the same time we say "our nation" and the idea of "beauty way," but what is going on with our Diné bi Naat'áanii 'aláaji' naasiz’’nii?

We, as the Navajo people, or Diné as our original name, have been proud to be Native Americans having our own government in this great country of America's United States. Those who are aware -- 'ádaah halchi héegi, are being more agitated and disturbed but still allow suspicion to rule our society. This is caused by the actions of our leaders.

We, as a nation, must respect ourselves and our Diné by being cautious of what we do from day to day, especially being a leader means we set the example so in hopes that our young would think twice before getting into disorder. This is very critical in spite of what is thought, being openly said or have been done. Yet, it sounds childish to hear this warning but even with us grownups we should be mindful of its caring acceptance.

In our Diné culture it has been said that 'Ayóigo k'é 'ah’’n’’'n’ -- we very much care for each other. This powerful thought should have a lot of meaning to us leaders as we serve our fellowmen. Is there fairness or confusion when we do things to benefit ourselves or neglect others who are also in a dire need? This brings us to k'é haszin; it is the foundation of our culture, shoo hé’!

Sure, we respond saying I'm innocent, it's only an accusation, but the bigger scope of it is that we are teaching this kind of behavior, especially to our young who are observing our actions. They take our excuses and what we say only as a second matter. It also, unfortunately, puts a suspicion on our government's integrity (uprightness). And furthermore, our sensitive generally has become discouraged because of the troublesome news to the world at large.

What more can we say to plea with our Naat'áanii? The voters need to say this alarming behavior is enough, let's remember our values as a proud Diné. Let's be reminded that the test of strength of our leaders is put at risk. It is time our young to older generations alike decide in this tribal election doósh n’lt'ée da, it is embarrassing to think and say "our nation". Nation means standing on our own feet, self-reliant, self-respect, true to our values, walking in beauty, and other admirable thoughts and actions.

Bá ná'ni hidookaah góó 'ahaah nii, we as Diné, are pleading with the participants in this misconduct with a respectful mannerism. Let's stop the game of desiring materialism more than the neglect of the most in need. If we're complacent or content about it maybe it's us voters who advance and lengthen the problem. Let's stop and think twice about who we select as our acceptable and ethical leaders.

Adolph June Jr.
Kaibeto, Ariz.

Red flags with Escalade Project

How appropriate it was that your article on "Dine Minds" appeared with the article on the "Escalade Development" in the last issue. The statement made by one of the Navajo Nation Council delegate directly links together why the controversy over the Escalade Development came to be.

I feel that with this advocacy group -- Diné Minds -- the tide has turned for the thousands of Diné who feel disenfranchised, isolated and hopeless because of the inability of the Council and president to listen to the voice of the Diné who elected them into office to effect changes so we can all live in balance and harmony, which is the very essence of being Diné.

Time and time again, Diné have expressed their voices. We said "No!" to casinos two times when it came up for a vote yet the Council overrode our decision and now we have four casinos.

Wasn't Council Delegate Lorenzo Curley quoted as saying, "Sometimes we get the two mixed up (lawmakers vs. decision makers). Some delegates feel we don't need to engage the publicÉwe are invested with that authority and will go forward."

My feeling is that by "going forward" we Diné are faced with "going backward" by some of the arbitrary decisions made on our behalf by the Council. As it turns out, in the majority of these cases, Council delegates are making decisions based on their behalf and not us.

The discretionary fund scandal is another that comes to mind. So now comes the saga of the Escalade Project. This issue has been ongoing for several years, as readers of the Navajo Times know. Again, Diné have said no at the local level at many chapter meetings (until the last one where it was overridden by a select few who made this arbitrary decision supposedly on "behalf" of the majority who said no). The majority includes many elders.

President Shelly is ready to find a delegate to sponsor legislation to push a "Master Agreement" that has been "finalized" and "everything is ready" but in the next breath it is admitted that "it needs investors" and (to make things worse) they are "unaware" if the supposed Confluence Partners LLC has lined up the capital.

Does anyone else see the million red flags flapping briskly in the wind? Who in their sane mind conducts business like that? Would multimillion developments be allowed off the reservation in cities and towns with those kinds of terms? The mindset of Shelly and Mr. Tome and any Council delegate who sponsors this senseless legislation reads as follows: "We don't know if the developers who initiated this idea have any money but we will 'throw' $60 million into a great big hole in the ground (Grand Canyon) as opposed to flushing it down the toilet like we usually do. But that's only because it's located on Bennett Freeze lands and we all know they have no water lines or electricity.

I'm astounded that Dine' leaders would even contemplate this fiasco using such reasoning. Yes, the Bennett Freeze lands and people need help. Yes, infrastructure, housing, roads, and jobs are needed but I am firmly in opposition of ramming this fiasco down Dine' throats especially when they've said no.

President Shelly and Mr. Tome promise housing and names lots of entities who are supposedly in agreement and will provide houses, roads, etc. The question I have is: Where is the money going to come from to fund them? Oh! I forgot! It will come from the invisible partners who have yet to step forward with the other $60 million in capitol and the Navajo Nation who apparently has an endless supply of money to flush down the toilet for mindless projects.

There is one paramount thought that comes to my mind as I think about the Escalade project. One year ago this month Highway 89 to Page, Ariz., collapsed by a "geologic event." Glen Canyon Dam is located upstream from where this project will be situated. The events that have begun to transpire all over our Mother Earth.

We are being given a message from our Mother, the earth. Is it really wise to be building structures at the bottom of the Grand Canyon where it will be vulnerable to earthquakes, flash floods, rockslides and landslides?

I implore the Council delegate to think seriously of these unforeseen events that could manifest at any time when you make any decisions on the Escalade Project.

Rita Bilagody
Lawrence, Kan.
(Hometown: Tuba City, Ariz.)

Red Mesa R------s

I just cannot understand. Tribal members of various Indian nations throughout the U.S. are doing the most they can to change the offensive R-word from a National Football League team and schools mascots across the nation. And yet it appears that the Red Mesa High School administrators seem to be oblivious to the highly offensive name that is on national news, as their mascot is R------s. (Re: 'LA boys defend Indian Classic title against Red Mesa' Jan. 9, 2014).

Or is it that they think the protests, demonstrations and nationwide dissension of the R-word do not pertain to them?

Week after week, there are posted stories of Native American adults and youth who tell how the names and actions by ignorant people have affected them emotionally and psychologically.

I am an enrolled Navajo tribal member and am asking the superintendent, principal and officials of parent advisory committees to take some action to change the name of the current Red Mesa High School mascot. The R-word's time has come to be banished from its long history of derogatory usage and meaning to belittle a proud people. Visit

There are schools whose Native American student enrollment makes up a small percentage of the overall student body and yet they have officially agreed to change their racially offensive mascot names.

For the sake of the students and their families, I hope the Red Mesa School Board considers this and adopts a plan for changing the mascot.

Isaac J. Curley
Tempe, Ariz.

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