Happy Valentine's Day

WINDOW ROCK, Feb. 13, 2014

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Happy Valentine's Day Shiké’ dóó Shidine'é!

Everyday should be Valentine's Day. Everyone needs love. But what we don't realize is that love is a gift that should be celebrated everyday of our lives. Love is something we take for granted. Saying "I love you" is so simple and yet so powerful. We all long to hear those words, but sadly we don't hear them enough.

Express to your parents, grandparents, children, friends, family, and relatives how much you love them. Remind them everyday how much they mean to you.

Take the time to forgive one another. Don't hold grudges, it is not in our Navajo teachings. Open your mind, arms and heart to family and friends. Love doesn't cost anything; it's just a matter of sharing it with those you love.

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves." (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

Love is yesterday, tomorrow and forever. Ahe'hee Shiké’!

Natasha Hardy
Miss Navajo Nation 2013-2014

Being a leader is not a right but a gift

To hold the position of leader, Nataani, is not a right. It is a gift entrusted to individuals by those who depend on them to honor their responsibility to take care of and strengthen our communities and our nation for all our people.

The conduct of the 11 Council members (12 with Duane Tsinigine's change of vote) last Tuesday was another betrayal of these responsibilities. Instead of standing strong and united to make a difficult decision to restore order and balance within our government they've allowed favoritism and fear to cloud their judgment. These are the same actions that keep authority in the hands of those who have been proven, at best, incompetent, and at worst, dangerous, when it comes to protecting the well being of our people.

When we look around and see the massive amounts of corruption endemic in our political and economic systems; when we hear the stories of our small Navajo business owners and their struggle to bring to our reservation sustainable, localized, economic development that empowers Navajo communities; when we look at the continuing degradation of our infrastructure, schools, and economic situations and see the highly educated youth who are trying to come back to help alleviate these conditions turned away while our leaders fight tooth and nail to preserve outdated and unwanted jobs in the energy extraction industries; why do we not rise against the root of these injustices?

Why are we not better able to hold our government officials responsible for the breach of confidence, trust and honor that makes one a true Nataani? At no other time in our history, than when our ancestors pleaded for their return back to Dinetah from Hweeldi, have we been engaged in such an important and intense battle to protect our rights to maintain our homeland for future generations. Without our water and with the continuing pollution that comes from the so-called job-creating corporations that produce more social and environmental injustices than economic advantages, our people will be lost. We will be forced to remove ourselves from the precious and sacred homelands our ancestors fought so hard to maintain our presence within. We will lose the inheritance of our children who are born into this world more rich than those who control the empire of capitalism simply because our leaders have gotten so caught up in bureaucratic nonsense rooted in greed and justified as "good business" that they have lost understanding of how to truly be Nataani. We all have forgotten how to be leaders.

It is time for us to become our own Nataani; to work with one another and embark on a collective journey of healing from our shared histories of abuse and trauma so that we can become a nation of empowered peoples for which no coward or incompetent individual can pass themselves off as a leader. It's time to take back our nation and it starts by bringing power, love, and trust back to each and every one of our communities. Join us in planting the seeds of transformation.

Janene Yazzie
Lupton, Ariz.


Tax on food legislation 'encouraging'

On the Navajo Nation, our Diné people have been suffering from the epidemic of obesity and diabetes. This suffering has become almost normal for many of our people - this reality needs to change.

Last week, the 22nd Navajo Nation Council enacted two pieces of legislation pursued by the Diné Community Advocacy Alliance to eliminate sales tax on healthy foods and a tax on unhealthy foods known as the Healthy Diné Nation Act. It is very encouraging that the Healthy Diné Nation Act is focused on healthy living for our Diné people.

As a Navajo Zumba fitness instructor on the reservation, I am continuously inspired by my students of all ages from as young as five to as old as 65. They are examples of the Diné people who are working hard to pursue active healthy lifestyles. I see more community members interested in exercise and fitness but the environment is sometimes not supportive.

Our community stores are bombarded with junk food, processed foods, and packaged foods that do not provide adequate nutrition for our children, teenagers, families, elders, and my students. Not only is our community in need of healthy foods but so is our entire reservation -- we need fresh, quality, and healthy foods widely available and affordable.

I understand not everyone is going to exercise and pursue fitness activities, so I believe it is very relevant to start addressing our fast food and junk food centered diet. We can approach our reservation-wide health problems by eating more colorful, nutritious, and healthy food. This is a start to help our people recognize that we need to go back to the ways of our elders -- eating locally grown foods, gardening, farming, ranching, while getting plenty of exercise.

We have the answer to health right in front of us. I commend companies like the Navajo Engineering Construction Authority who are integrating fitness classes and health education classes for their employees. We need to take responsibility of our health problems and start implementing solutions so that we can have a healthy future.

The two pieces of legislation are one way we can start reclaiming our health and we can set the standard for other tribes to follow our healthy lead. It is important to see initiatives like these to start impacting our reservation so we can start reversing sickness and disease. It is due time for us to be healthy like our elders once were so we can dance to a lifetime of health.

Tanya Henderson
Shiprock, N.M.

When ethics is altered, it's not important

Ethics is a set of standards for governing the conduct of members of a profession or public officials. The purpose is to remove unwanted intentions that would do the least good to the greatest number of people. Ethics policies do exist such as having ethics hearing, which has no power to discipline but advises on consequences if doubt exists in the matter of whether or not a misdemeanor, crime or suppression has occurred.

When the importance of ethics is altered as not important (let's overlook this, ignore it), it detracts us from having a good deliberation to make sound judgment. We throw out the window our good sense and split the Council. We've been down that avenue with the 49ers.

When a person is nominated for a high rank and file as a public figure knowing he has a blemish on his file, one would think he had better take care of that or decline. This would be a self-conscious act on his part. Policies should be in place asking proper questions for qualification and followed. Could it be not knowing when to apply it?

If policies are in place, at the on-set it should have been questioned rigorously and interpreted by the proper authorities, not be complicit until it becomes public awareness. As a result, a chain of unwanted reaction has taken place as reported in last week's Navajo Times. It's an unsavory reflection cast on the whole Council delegates, executive and judicial branch.

What type of government do we want and where does this type of action put the Navajo people? Where do you think the blame lies?

Teddy Begay
Kayenta, Ariz.

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