Letters: 2022 candidate: My platform is better communication

As a candidate for Navajo Nation president in 2022, when I think about my platform, I keep coming back to the need for better, all-around communication. Communication is the most important aspect in succeeding in anything. Without communication, nothing can get done. When things feel dysfunctional and eventually fail, we can usually blame it on poor communication.

Strong communication makes things happen faster. When it comes to economic development, bringing families home by providing housing, jobs, recreation and safety, we need things to happen fast. The people, and those who wish to invest their future on the Navajo Nation, need a clear vision and direction of where our nation is headed. Strong communication allows for groups of individuals and stakeholders to buy into a common vision.

This allows for projects to move forward with community support and transparency. When we do accomplish our goals, we need to celebrate and communicate those stories to our people and the rest of the world.

Strong communication is a necessity in the workforce. Ongoing professional and workforce development in communications will ensure that all our people are equipped with skills required for success in the workplace. Communication skills are also vital to relationships and child-rearing. Think about how communication or the lack of communication impacts your daily life.

Let us know how we should improve communication among Navajo people, communities, leadership, businesses, outsiders, government, etc. What is your vision for the Navajo Nation?

Adrian Dotson
Flagstaff, Ariz.

A prayer for guidance

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” — it’s 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 supposed 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, give us a smarmy smile. They promise us that telling more lies, all the while when it comes to delivering. Huh! I don’t think they know how the truth is told. They come out with the same excuses to come clean with truth. Some of us know who we’d like to delete from running again, because of lies and misuse/stealing (tribal funding) from the Navajo people.

Elected in elections, year after year. They stand on their podiums, declaring they’re seers, telling us proudly in the hope that we’ll accept. Basically it’s all lies as they tell so much crap. How can they stand there and lie through their teeth?

It begs belief, it would make a blind man weep, promising their portfolio to do 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 the elected put Navajo people’s 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 absurd.

Janet C. Etcitty
Albuquerque, N.M.

Pay increase would attract talent, experience

This is in support of the referendum to increase the salary of the president and vice president of the Navajo Nation. Next Tuesday, Nov. 6, we will be voting for our state and federal candidates as well as our Navajo candidates for the Navajo Nation president. It is crucial that every eligible voter goes out to vote. For Navajo voters, besides the presidential selection, there is an important referendum that we need to consider.

There is a referendum question to approve a salary increase for the president and vice president. The referendum asks you if you think there should be a salary increase. You can vote yes or no. If you vote no, you are done with the referendum question. If you vote yes, then you must choose one of three options, which proposes different salary ranges. Currently, the president and vice president make $55,000 and $45,000, respectively.

Option 3 on the referendum question would increase the salary of the president to $102,000 and the vice president to $87,000, which is the maximum proposed by this referendum. I strongly urge Navajo people to choose Option 3. The reasons I support this Option 3 is because the president and vice president positions have had no salary increase since 1989 (29 years ago). Many tribal and federal staff make much more than $102,000 per year with some salaries approaching $200,000 per year.

For many Navajo people, this seems like a lot of money and it is, but we need to look at the reality of the current job market in 2018. Many talented Navajos that work in construction, mining, health, and other professional positions make way more than $102,000 per year, both on and off the Navajo Reservation.

We need to attract talented and experienced Navajos to come home and run for elected office and a decent salary in the range of $102,000 would be a great incentive to come home and help our Navajo Nation advance. There are many things we Navajos need to do to improve our reservation and attracting talented, experienced Navajo leaders into our tribal government is an important first step to achieving our goals for improvement. Again, please vote yes and select Option 3 on the salary increase referendum. Thank you.

Ron C. Wood
Window Rock, Ariz.

Our greatest hopes are for our little ones

At the risk of being ostracized by certain candidates after Nov. 6, I say my piece. One of the greatest ongoing debates is “burn more coal or protect the environment.” The workers facing power plant and coalmine shutdown are burdened with an uncertain future, the possibility of no regular paycheck to take care of the family. Their preference to have the plant and mine continue operating is understandable.

It is understandable that certain politicians rally to their cause to protect jobs and the revenue from these industries. The unfortunate follow through is dig more coal, burn more coal. Burning coal is proven to be a cause of climate change. As parents and grandparents we have the greatest hopes for the bright-eyed, innocent little ones in all our families. That hope we have for our children is our common ground regardless of our positions on the debate.

We must consider our priorities today if we want to assure that our coming generations have a decent opportunity for a comfortable survival. I voted for candidates that have the courage to say we must cut back on burning coal and seek alternatives for energy and that paycheck. We must consider what our grandchildren will say about us in the future when they discuss what we did to them or what we did for them.

Duane “Chili” Yazzie
Shiprock, N.M.

Who wants to throw the first stone?

There are always plenty of stones in one’s path, especially in everyday politics, to try and put a person down but the real world is such that who would want to throw the first stone?

However much one may be cautious with words, there is still a powerful message in deriding comments but often not so much about that person than about the messenger. Personal degradation of any form can hardly be viewed as a source of hope for public good let alone upholding the expectations, integrity, and dignity of a prestigious honorable office. If there are issues with breach of law, there is the judicial system.

If there are issues with abuse of the judicial system, there is the public voice. Life lessons would seem to indicate that personal degradation serves more to take attention away from the daily real-world challenges and life conditions in our under-resourced communities. The distinction here would seem to be straightforward — to offer solutions to remove widespread hardships of life that dot our communities.

There is a great need to place at the forefront the focus on “know-how” to solve pressing challenges of our times. Questions should be raised as to when doors will be opened to invite creative talent, innovations, new insights and perspectives, sharp and energetic minds, a “can-do” optimism to focus on bringing solutions to social and economic struggles deeply entrenched in our communities, within our homeland, our Four Sacred Mountains.

Our cultural teachings and wisdom have much to offer in this regard to address challenges. Our previous generation met the challenges of their time with faith in the sacredness and sanctity of our Native language and culture. There will no doubt be challenges for our future generation.

The Navajo Nation has invested and continues to invest millions in scholarship dollars for higher education. Leaders are deserving of the highest commendation for reaching to higher ground with this form of budgeting scarce funds. Investment in education helps prepare our youth for a brighter future.

Rather than engage in derogatory entanglement, it is long past time to begin the hard, hard work of investing in K-16 education. Equally, incentives to bring home our Native scientists, legal scholars, statisticians, economists, social scientists, engineers, doctors, scholars, and lawyers should be a priority to bear on the issues at hand, to assist and take the lead in addressing distress in our communities.

Harold G. Begay
To’Nanees’ Dizi, Ariz.

No road grading on Bluff Road

Ongoing concerns about the Bluff Road in Shiprock include the following:

  • To date, there is no systematic dirt road grading.
  • Where is Navajo Department of Transportation?
  • Where is BIA Roads Department?
  • Article submitted to the Gallup Independent (“Road to Ruin,” July 10, 2018).

Shiprock Chapter still has no plan to help resolve this long-avoided problem of road repairs and/or road construction. They are too busy fighting among themselves. Furthermore, Navajo DOT promised to start working on the road last month, September 2018, and now it is the end of October 2018.

Can they walk the talk? In the meantime, until there is actual roadwork, BIA Roads Department needs to maintain the Bluff Road that is very rough. The Bluff Road is very unsafe for school buses as well as for regular traffic in its continuous washboard condition.

The mission statement of BIA Transportation is, “To provide for and assist tribes in the development of their capacity to plan, construct and maintain safe and efficient transportation networks.”

Wilford R. Joe
Shiprock, N.M.

Sexual misconduct prevalent, subtle

The dominant society has wrestled and showcased its nationwide epidemic of sexual harassment through their in-your-face social media. Each time they expose and capture a suspected “sexual beast,” some organizations execute quick fixes by sending them to the gallows.

However, their government, with an alleged adolescent pervert air horn at the helm, has only generated political firestorms, resulting as political gimmicks.

Here on our reservation, workplace violence through sexual misconduct is also prevalent and subtle. The current administration initiated their deterrent response and other entities followed by imparting information on expected social norms and encouragement of support. They enacted revised policy of consequences, and as reminders, conveyed mandatory periodic prevention instructions.

Their approach method, supposedly, was to inspire would-be victims with confidence in confronting and easing impending difficulties. However, in actual practice, the expected implementation of policies and personal empowerment are but chatter, noise. It is business as usual, with no resolutions from untrusting and irresponsible upper-level helpers-superiors, who only hindered and excused these complaints and crimes of workplace sex discrimination.

Their habitual policy-defying stunts consist of apathy, prejudice, absent-mindedness, and possibly nepotism, all constituting inequality and an obstruction of justice. And our elusive sexual harassment “practitioners” went covert or dormant, to further feast or hide to survive. As it stands now, even with this avoidance approach, some victims still find themselves “inside the belly of the beast.”

And why, even with documented proof and witnesses, is the victim is still perceived as crazy or lying about their encounters with the “beast”? What is with this prejudiced, insane notion, as voiced by some, that the alleged victim “was asking for it” to be molested of mind, body, emotion, and spirit? And prejudgment is not foresight, but fear masked as hate. Obviously, it is the sexual predator and their enablers who misinterpret reality.

They view the intended victim as a “sex object” and assume the alleged victim’s gestures as invitation. Nonetheless, facts remain. Whether abuser, victim, rescuer, or onlooker, one way or another they were all taught to copy: “educated, to imitate.” Their memory recordings reveal they were not born dirty, but a learned behavior.

As understood, this “beast” is a solitary, traumatized, territorial child disguised as an adult, seeking immediate attention and instant gratification. They have not come to terms with their childhood disturbances, and to ease their pain it is enhanced with fantasies. In doing so, it elevates them onto an illusionary higher ground with intent to belittle others, thus an “ego-boosting trip.” The sexual predator believes rules of society do not apply to them.

They react to situations as dry, creepy, bizarre, nervous bully, yet secretly yearn (thirst) for an emotional tenderness and support; consequently, an infection. Presently, it seems all we can afford is “prevention” even though the source of our social problem is right under our feet, deeply-rooted underground.

Apparently, just as with other parasitic crimes of opportunity, the issue of workplace sexual harassment is not viewed and confronted as being deadly serious. If we did, instead of “nursing the symptoms,” the source of the problem could have been uprooted and removed from the system.

Common sense dictates, if our precautionary insurance policy is to yield benefits there must be solid commitment to communication and practical enforcement of treatments or consequences for sexual perpetrators and their associated enablers. Otherwise those involved will continue to encourage, to feed, or be food through maneuvers of narcissism and parasitism, a sick, twisted version of consumerism. Forethought: With our silence and cowardice we are only consenting that our children’s future generations experience this “ruined sickness” of something vile. So, speak up. Ensure with wellbeing they will live in peace.

Robert L. Hosteen
Beclabito, N.M.

BIA failures causing grazing land disputes

For many years grazing land disputes have increased in Fort Defiance BIA Agency. To the point disputes are results of BIA failure to provide technical assistance at district grazing meetings. In the past BIA technical staff did not ensure policies, procedures, and regulations are followed; a failure of federal trust responsibility.

It is time the regional director enforces Fort Defiance Agency’s lack of compliance with regulation, rules, and guidelines. In reality, for too long BIA continues to have incompetent agency resource manager and regional resource management specialists and no action by the former regional director.

In summary, Fort Defiance Agency and BIA Navajo Region have the insolence to ignore required documents before approving grazing permits. We, American taxpayers, are concerned. Former regional director has done nothing to correct problems of Fort Defiance Agency’s incompetent administrative actions that is needed to minimize land disputes. Official program review is needed for Fort Defiance Agency Natural Resource.

BIA, your rebuttal, please.

Nels Roanhorse
Oakridge, Ariz.

Nez said ‘No’ to power for homes

I picked up the latest copy at the Dilkon store and was motivated to write you when I read “Business owner steps up” and “Nez clarifies position on NGS, renewables” (Oct. 25, 2018).

In 2015-16, as a business owner of Remote Energy Corp., Shiprock, my plan was to bring affordable, clean power to 20,000 homes using a solar energy storage system so that fellow Navajos would have enough power through the night and week if cloudy skies persisted.

This system was designed in Albuquerque, in which President Obama hosted the first-ever White House Demo Day that focused on inclusive entrepreneurship, welcoming startup founders from diverse walks of life and from across the country to showcase their innovations.

I was the only American Indian in the East Room, representing teachings of the Holy People. President Obama walked in, shook my hand, then said, “This is needed in Africa, today.” I said, “That is good but this is more needed on the Navajo Nation.” After taking this to the Begaye-Nez administration,

I think I would have been more successful in Africa. Why? Because even though I found a way to secure a $340 million federally-backed loan, with $22 million donated by President Obama, Vice President Jonathan Nez said “No” to allowing us to complete a project of this scale within the boundaries of the reservation.

Navajo presidential candidate Jonathan Nez said “No” to children having refrigeration for the first time; said “No” to installing broadband Internet to children’s homes; said “No” to Navajo elders being able to talk with their hospital care workers via Skype; said “No” to homes powering water wells right outside the door.

It was sad that Mr. Nez could not get anyone on his staff to accept the offer from the senior advisor to President Obama on a simple phone call. By doing so, Mr. Nez said “No” to the hundreds who signed up at the 69th Navajo Nation Fair, and hundreds at the 2015 Shiprock Fair.

I ask these Navajo households to return the favor to Mr. Nez and vote against him on Election Day. Send a message that his ignorance and lack of leadership on successful Navajo entrepreneurialism, on renewable energy that provides low monthly electric payments to Navajo residents, is not needed today or tomorrow.

That’s all that was drilled into me while growing up in Window Rock and attending school in Fort Defiance: “Get an education, then return to help your people.” I needed to “step up” and speak as a businessman. I nearly bankrupted myself by creating Remote Energy on the Navajo Nation, and could have lost my family in the process but they stuck by me — my wife, Beverly Manuelito, and daughter Kim. I still make weekly trips and visit homesteads every week.

I see the needs of our people each day. Navajos are tough and I understand why the Holy People instructed us to stay within the Four Sacred Mountains. Beauty is all around us. Hozho.

Patrick Murphy
Albuquerque, N.M.

Nez stepped up to plate, did what was needed

I have worked throughout the Navajo Nation for the past six years on numerous issues affecting our communities. I didn’t weigh in on the Navajo Nation election because I thought the best choice was clear. However, having heard that President Russell Begaye has stepped in to endorse Joe Shirley Jr., while also attempting to get people to question Jonathan Nez’s capacity to lead the Navajo Nation, I thought it was important to share my first-hand experience engaging with the Russell-Nez administration and why Jonathan Nez has my full support.

From 2014-15 I was part of the team that carried out the Puerco Valley-Little Colorado River Uranium Water Quality testing project led by Tommy Rock. In the summer of 2015, we received the results of our water testing, exposing the uranium contaminated water that affected a private well serving the Park Estates housing in Sanders, Arizona, and the private well that served Sanders Elementary and Middle schools.

My son was attending Sanders at the time, as I had when I was young, along with many other generations of children from the five communities serviced by Sanders Unified School District.

I cannot explain the devastation and heartache that followed our discovery. What would you do if you suddenly learned that for years, every child in your community, all your relatives, neighbors, and friends, were being poisoned and that those responsible didn’t have any quick solutions that could get our people clean drinking water?

During this time of great need it was impossible to get a meeting with Russell Begaye. He was too busy, his schedule too packed, and he was off on travel every time we tried to track him down at his office. It was Jonathan Nez that stepped up to the plate and that pulled together the meetings that were needed to bring together state, federal, and tribal officials into one room to develop solutions that would protect our children and our vulnerable community members from further contamination.

Using his authority to request their presentation, he brought together representatives that had ignored us, then gave the reigns to the community representatives to lead the meeting and the discussion on appropriate actions, supporting every single recommendation that we put forward.

For the first time since I returned to the Navajo Nation, I experienced what it was like to have a truly compassionate and capable leader in support of our communities.

During this time I also worked on the Gold King Mine Spill which occurred roughly the same time and which, I was told, took all of Russell Begaye’s attention. I was at the community meetings, I worked alongside community advocates and University of Arizona researchers led by Karletta Chief that were directly assisting those impacted.

Not once did I see Russell Begaye at those meetings. Apparently, despite the Gold King spill being his priority, he still didn’t have the time to personally sit down and meet with the people most impacted the way Jonathan Nez sat down with us.

For the rest of his administration, every time people needed support or help with important issues, it was the same story. They tried numerous times to contact Russell Begaye only to get no response. I told every single one of them the same thing — reach out to Jonathan Nez. I knew that without fail Chris Bahe, his trusted assistant, would get them the meeting they deserved and that Jonathan Nez would follow it up with the action that was needed.

We could depend on him because he would take time to listen to our concerns. We could trust him because he treated us as relatives. We felt empowered by him because he believed in us and, if we were young leaders, supported us in our work and path to leadership. And it was us — every single person impacted by Jonathan Nez’s leadership — that encouraged him to run for president.

Russell Begaye’s endorsement of Joe Shirley Jr. and associated accusations against Jonathan Nez’s capacity indicate that the Shirley campaign isn’t as “strong” as it claims in its slogan. If Joe Shirley was concerned with our community affairs at all in between election seasons he would know that such an endorsement is nothing to be proud of.

As is, we only see Joe Shirley when he wants to take power so it comes as no surprise that he wouldn’t know how much our grassroots communities have suffered under the leadership of Russell and that the only saving grace of his administration was Jonathan Nez.

He would know that Jonathan was the only leader we had these past four years. And he would know that Jonathan Nez is the leader we deserve for the next four.

Janene Yazzie
Gallup, N.M.

We need strong, qualified leadership

I’m writing this letter to ask for your vote on Nov. 6th.

Buu Nygren and I are ready to lead our great Nation forward as your president and vice president. We are at a critical point in history. Many believe, as Buu and I, we need strong, qualified leadership to continue to move us forward. We are here to serve you.

There is impending loss of hundreds of good paying jobs and about one-third of our annual budget due to loss of revenues. Our unemployment rate continues to hover at about 55 percent and jobs need to be created to combat the impoverishment many of our people face each day.

We are losing our language and culture, and there is very little going on to save it. It is our belief that we were created as one family, one people, and one Nation. Foreign intrusion has only served to draw lines between us and separate us. We need to come back as one and be a stronger Nation to take on the challenges together as was intended. Many of our people, like our veterans and their families, our elderly, our Head Start children, our young, those who are living in the urban areas are being left behind. Our chapter governments, our land and livestock all need help.

Our Nation’s leadership and government need to be more mindful. As usual in campaigns, there has been much negativity. Those about me have all been false and with no truth to any of it. I have been a leader of my people with integrity all the time I have been there. I have always done my public service with heart, truth and integrity, diplomacy (k’e), and with prayer and a sacredness of mind, and I have not gone wrong yet. I have always been able to accomplish for the people. And this is all in accordance with the teachings of our elders.

Lastly, after having visited and talked, you took it upon yourselves to endorse us and we want to say thank you to:

  • Diné bi Olta School Board Association.
  • Central School Board Association.
  • United Mine Workers of America.
  • Chief Justice Emeritus Tom Tso.
  • Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye.

Please vote on Nov. 6th for change. We need bold leadership and to bring our people together. Vote for Joe Shirley Jr. and Buu Nygren for Navajo Nation president and vice president. Let’s bring integrity and dignity back to our Nation. We will not fail you.

Joe Shirley Jr.
Chinle, Ariz.


 To read the full article, pick up your copy of the Navajo Times at your nearest newsstand Thursday mornings!

Are you a digital subscriber? Read the most recent three weeks of stories by logging in to your online account.

  Find newsstand locations at this link.

Or, subscribe via mail or online here.




Categories: Letters