The rule of law

WINDOW ROCK, Oct. 9, 2014

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T he only way a nation's people can remain free is when they choose to abide by the rule of law. If there is no rule of law there is only the rule of man, where might makes right and we are ruled in total chaos.

There was a time when we elected leaders who would wait until after they took office before they would ignore the rule of law. Today, they show us they are above the law before they take office.

We have two men who want to be our Diné president, they are perhaps good men in their own right, but both have chosen to ignore the rules of our Diné election laws. Both these men should know better. Yet they have chosen to divide our Diné. What are they thinking?

One man has served two terms to satisfy that of male and female in The Fundamental Law beyond which there is nothing more. Of his previous leadership we have division among our Diné and we have lost millions of dollars that can never be recovered.

The other man has provided our previous leadership with ill advice (for example, Desert Rock and SB 2109) from which there is still much confusion. His inability to speak the sacred language of our Diné is a violation of candidate election law.

Our language is our culture. Our language is a ceremonial language. It is the only language with which we can perform all our sacred ceremonies. It is the language given to us by the Holy People so we can address the vegetation, insects, birds and animals.

As long as we Diné can address the Holy People in the sacred language of our Diné we remain Diné. It's beyond me how we can have so little regard for law, our language and our culture.

The rule of law provides us with the individual ability to use our free will and the rights to live in a civil society where none are above the law. Rule of law persuades the leaders to protect those laws so our society can have the highest quality of life. That and much more is what the rule of law provides. Why would we want to sacrifice all of that?

Like many of our Diné I can only see toxic confusion and devastating division among our people if we chose to ignore the rule of law. It is my hope that justice can be served so whoever is elected can unite our Diné for the dark days ahead under the protection of the rule of law.

Wally Brown
Page, Ariz.

Tribe, feds neglected to teach Diné

Navajo Nation and its constituency's concern about having youth speak fluent Diné then it should be publically taught in their early age. BIA had discarded Native tongue, but what's its position now?

Both governments have neglected to teach Diné in its schools. It is evidenced with having no initiation in educating Diné children for many generations.

It was when most grandparents got punished for retaining Native language. Next generations became forebears were silenced on Diné educational opportunity. Diné leaders assumed parents taught it, but what happened? The disciplinary learning in language was taken away from them. Evidently, traditional education was taken from parents, but now the influence is by BIA, mission and public schools.

Now there's no official tutoring in Diné in a formal instructive setting. Yes, leaders have past resolutions on it, but that directive ended there. For generations BIA and state schools have not embraced wishes of Diné. It has been a few years since emphasis was implemented to teach Diné dialect. Within Diné populace only a few schools try like Diné College and Rough Rock School, but it does not reach all youth entering early and primary education.

Speaking Navajo fluently, this prospect has been almost silenced by tribal government of learning Diné, but regardless of this circumstance the nation set policy for election of its leaders to be required 'fluent " dialogue. Fluent, what does it really mean -- 'eloquent (rational)? " The obvious question is where does youth get an opportunity to become fluent speakers?

Because Diné's leadership and federal schools have hesitated addressing the need for learning, most Diné continue to speak in 'slang " instead of formal learning to achieve eloquence. Perhaps, those who learned early on at NCC (Diné College) have gained opportunity to learn close to fluent Navajo. Even after classroom training one has to practice to acquire ease in Diné speech.

Where is justice in this? Is Diné Nation opting favoritism to its own youth by denying them language proficiency and in getting scholarship to be required classes in Diné and tribal government? Isn't it awkward to put youth at a disadvantage without having a basic chance in its foundation curricula or cultural studies? So, Diné youth are not endowed by entitled Diné Nation benefits?

As Diné leaders, this should be a wake-up call to not treat our own in this manner of inequality. Why should Diné Nation fault their youth in not being able to speak Navajo, if it's tribal and federal trustee ignores addressing the need for early child experience in their native speech? Few try with limited funding and least quality textbook support.

Most Diné who believe in thinking they're articulate in Diné probably are in 'conversational " Navajo, but in truth, hardly any speak in printed 'prim and proper " Diné. In fact, majority of Diné today are unfamiliar with writing or reading in Diné. It seems as though it's like foreign script not knowing its archetype.

Adolph June Jr.
Kaibeto, Ariz.

Fluency issue shows historical trauma

I reviewed the article regarding challenging Chris Deschene's eligibility to run for president of the Navajo Tribe.

I believe it's time for our Navajo government to address the historical trauma that involved the federal government's attempt to eradicate the Navajo language and culture through the BIA boarding school system.

The children were forbidden to speak the Navajo language and were punished and scolded if they spoke the Navajo language. It was the policy of the BIA to assimilate the Navajo people to the Western culture. This policy involved forbidding the Navajo language and choosing a religion for the child.

I witnessed this as a six-year-old child in boarding school. The product you have today is that many Navajos are not fluent in the language.

In reading the comments there appears to be a BIA mentality that still exists today. Current tribal election laws perpetuate the historical trauma by the exclusion of non-fluent members to run for office. This makes as much sense as the tribe excluding non-fluent Navajos to vote.

The tribal Supreme Court has an opportunity to make it right by establishing precedence for a non-fluent Navajo person to run for office. It's time to heal from the trauma. Historical trauma does not end with the victim. It is contagious and spreads to the next generation who then become victims.

This situation is an example of how contagious the trauma is because it excludes our kin to fully participate in our government. When one is excluded from their kin it is like being excluded by Mother Earth. There are consequences that include toxic shaming which is destructive for anyone. To be a whole person acceptance is essential.

No Navajo person should be excluded from participating in the election process because of non-fluency. They had nothing to do with the past laws, which have impacted many Navajo persons today. They should not be judged, shamed or punished, as this would make us no different from the perpetrators of the historical trauma. We would be blaming the victim.

Sharon Manuelito
Window Rock, Ariz.

Are we not a nation of laws?

Are we not a nation of laws? I am very puzzled and perplexed, I'm sure like many others, when one of our candidates blatantly ignores the Navajo Nation election laws and swears that he speaks Navajo fluently, yet he doesn't.

There are two main issues that concern me. First, who enforces the election laws when it is broken or violated? And how is it handled?

Secondly, a lawyer no less would go outside of his code of ethics as a lawyer and certify and swear to something that isn't true. Should I not be surprised?

First, I'm not sure how anyone is supposed to know if someone speaks Navajo fluently, especially if the election staff or officer themselves don't conduct business in Navajo, yet it is required of the candidate. And how is someone supposed to file a grievance within 10 days of a candidate filing when no measures are in place to dictate or merit a grievance of the individual who just swore and certified that they do speak Navajo fluently?

I can see why our government is in great despair when our own laws are not followed or enforced by every entity that oversees it. Again I ask, are we not a nation of laws?

Secondly, don't the words integrity and honesty have any weight or meaning within our nation?

We have been plagued by lies, dishonesty, mistrust, abuse of power and the misuse of tribal funds over the past 20-plus years, but yet we did nothing to uphold our laws, Navajo laws, when the feds came and took our chairman for the same type of crimes, if not worst, that has been committed since.

And now we have a lawyer who seemed to be beaming with such radiance pull a fast one on his own people. I'm afraid we are going to see how far our Navajo Nation law will bend by those who know how to interpret the law for their own benefit. Just as the other lawyer president did when he ran into trouble and the current president to escape charges with his immunity.

I think that's the only time when our leaders remember the Navajo Nation law is when it benefits their interest and not the Navajo people. Again, Sh’ Dine'e, I ask you are we not a nation of laws?

Somewhere along the way the principality of our laws have been forgotten and trampled upon causing imbalance and disharmony. Only when it suits the perpetrator is it remembered and dusted off the shelf to be used for their gain.

If Mr. Deschene had any morals or ethics of a very good lawyer that I'm sure he is, he wouldn't allow this to drag out in court as lawyers and our past leaders have done, but yet respect our Navajo Nation laws and the principle of those laws.

Instead, he should give himself four years to learn the language and run again. He's young enough. The nation isn't going anywhere. Besides, I'm sure there will still be plenty of work to be done yet.

This should also be extended to our Council delegates. As lawmakers they need to be fluent in Navajo to communicate in the Diné and K'é way. Remember, we are a nation of laws and they need to be respected and obeyed. Hozho is the only way we will move forward as a nation practicing our laws in our language, the Diné language and the language of the holy people. Randy Benally Rio Rancho, N.M. Politicians do not listen to us What's the point in voting? It really doesn't count. I thought the highest scorer knocked the others out but, no, we heard them shouting, 'We are the Navajo people."

But politicians rule the country. That is really true. They really do not listen to the likes of us. All this 'let the people have a say " is a load of rubbish. We all line up in the rain to place our 'X " to vote and wish. But it is all in vain.

I tell you, they won't let us have our say. They get us in debt (paying for traveling to listen to them speak). They are supposedly to be wise and careful about what they say or how much they say in certain situations. There is a connection between wisdom and limiting what they say.

They promise us this and that, giving us a smarmy smile. They promise us telling more lies, all the while when it comes to delivering. I don't think they know how the truth is told. They come out with the same excuses to come clean with truth. They're not that bold hung parliament. Some of us know who we'd like to delete the person from running again, because of lies and misused/stealing (tribal funding) from the Navajo people.

Elected in elections, year after year, they stand on their podiums declaring their seer's, telling us proudly in hope that we'll sap. Basically it's all lies as they tell so much crap. How can they stand there and lie through their teeth. If beggars believe it would make a blind man weep, promising their portfolio to do for the best. It doesn't come from their heart.

"Dear Lord, we pray for your guidance in this election year. May those we choose for office uphold the values we hold dear. We've heard so many grand schemes, some dubious to perceive. Father, we hardly know which of the candidates to believe.

"We ask for discernment as we approach that sacred booth. May elected put Navajo peoples' interest above self and speak the truth. May only honorable people represent the citizens they serve, and with insightful vision, our precious liberties preserve.

"When facing tough decisions, may they seek counsel with you, praying for perception and wisdom in all that they do. May they strive for peace and brotherhood among all nations, keeping in mind that their decisions will affect future generations.

"We pray that our Navajo legislators will cast all bickering aside, and that a spirit of goodwill and reason will abide. May leaders surround themselves with advisors true and sage, that they may reason together in this very demanding age.

"When facing matters of principle, may they take a moral stand. May they always look to you and heed your guiding hand. Help us to recognize that divine guidance should never be ignored. As the psalmist said, 'Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.' " Amen! The next time we vote, we shall think really hard. They'll have to be true and stand for their words to be absorbed. I doubt this will happen as they like to be heard. And they forget where they came from, which is totally absorbed.

Janet C. Etcitty
Albuquerque, N.M.

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