Letters: Quit playing the blame game, NHA

Letters: Quit playing the blame game, NHA

I try to refrain from commenting on certain issues only when necessary, but when will NHA start building the new houses they promised some eight years ago in Tuba City and stop blaming the previous management?

We know Chester Carl has left NHA some 10 years ago and should not be blamed for the stalemate. All NHA did was demolish a decent, safe, and sanitized house that belonged to my late parents and was built on a self-help basis in 1968, a short time after the Glen Canyon Dam was completed where my dad worked as an electrician with the IBEW.

The house was structurally sound at the time and didn’t have to be demolished. It just needed a good repair to bring up to modern day standards. How was it determined that it was not feasible to repair it?

It is totally heartbreaking to see only piles of rubble that remain onsite each time we visit Tuba City. The house was at least 1,500 square feet and much untiring effort was put into building it along with prayers and songs. Why demolish it when you can’t rebuild it? Poor planning is all I can think of when it comes to mind.

Did NHA fail to properly do an assessment and clearance prior to the demolition? I certainly think so. Does it take eight years to do all the necessary clearance? I don’t think so. They’re too busy playing the blame game.

My siblings and I are very concerned about the stalemate and have considered the possibility of taking legal action against NHA. Thank you for allowing me to air this paramount concern.

Vern Charleston
Farmington, N.M.

‘Let’s stand for the wild horses’

I am asking all Natives and non-Natives to please write and/or call the Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife in protest of their proposed hunting of wild horses. I am appalled that the Navajo Nation would even consider becoming horse killers.

In the March 30 front-page article of the Navajo Times, the Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife called on all hunters and sportsmen to support them in this proposal. I am calling on all who love horses and burros to protest this senseless and cruel slaughter.

I have often read, “In every evil, follow the money trail.” Do they need the revenue from hunting licenses so bad that they are willing to kill wild horses or leave them bleeding and wounded to suffer under a hot desert sun?

Hunters also wound and maim animals, condemning them to an agonizing death. Animals become “target practice.” One person was quoted as saying “horsemeat is medicine.” That is the excuse traditionalists all over the world give for killing rhinos for their horns and other wildlife for their skins. No more must we excuse such wanton slaughter for the sake of so-called traditional “medicines.” It was the same cruel European-American mentality that slaughtered the buffalo for “sport” from trains. Will we see Navajos killing the horses from ATVs for “sport”?

I always admired Native Americans, believing it was their tradition to respect all life. The Navajo Nation Board of Tourism advertises, “Walk in Beauty.” Well, let the wild horses and burros walk in beauty. Everywhere I saw signs saying, “Stand with Standing Rock.” Let’s stand for the wild horses. This slaughter is going to happen right here on the Navajo Nation if it isn’t stopped.

If this proposal becomes a reality, I believe it will indeed cause a backlash. It will result in a nationwide boycott by tourists and collectors of Navajo arts and crafts as more and more horse lovers, horse protection organizations, TV news, and magazines become aware that horses are being hunted by so-called “sportsmen” on the Navajo Nation.

With tears, I beg each person reading this to stand for the horses and protest to the Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife. Thank you.

Linda Yazzie
Newcomb, N.M.

A clan that laughs together stays together

I am writing to Navajo Times to respond to Melvin Tso’s claim about the danger of Tlo’chi’iin.

They aren’t dangerous. They are funny. I spit up my soda reading their article on Leonard Tsosie’s career as a political maverick.

I don’t always agree with them but the way they write about it is so funny. Honestly, I was late to my daughter’s Kinaaldá because I was reading their article on the Navajo Nation being a safe space for endangered biligaanas. That’s so absurd, but funny. I am a fan of both Navajo Times and Tlo’chi’iin. Every Thursday, I pick up my copy of Navajo Times from the gas station.

Melvin Tso was harsh in his letter about Tlo’chi’iin. I don’t mean any offense, but I think someone should explain satire to Mr. Tso. We need to look after our elders and help them understand things. My cheii use to say, “Help boys, I don’t think he got the memo,” when someone missed the message. He would help me understand things and I would help him. We must work with the elders. He and I used to work in Navajo bureaucracy and he would laugh at their stories.

Tlo’chi’iin picks up on certain things about the Navajo Nation that are unique to us and our people. It is true that they get absurd but never offensive.

I encourage Melvin Tso, and others, to read more of their stories. It is true that Navajo people used stories to pass knowledge but these stories were also funny. Navajos are funny. We joke and laugh together. A clan that laughs together, stays together.

Sometimes they are really funny, but they do come off bland sometimes. The color-coded map of the Western Agency article was boring. We should embrace humor in our stories so that our kids can learn.

Ashley Yazzie
Crownpoint, N.M.

Unite to slay modern day monsters

It is said that women had been separated from men when some children were conceived, in the Third World. Brought into the world without both parents, they were unnatural children, who became evil monsters and killed the People. They were Déélgééd (The Horned Monster), Tsé Nináhálééh (Monster Eagle), Tsé dah Hódziiłtáłii (The Monster Who Kicks People Down the Cliff), Binááʼ yee Aghání (the Monsters That Kill With Their Eyes), and Yéʼiitsoh (Big Giant Who Drank All the Water).

Today, our people face monsters of the modern world. The Diné face the evil of hopelessness, and take their own lives in suicide. They are attacked by the monster of addiction, and lose their lives to chemicals that draw them into a trap of irresistible cravings, where they are poisoned and die. And they succumb to the monster of frustration and its twin brother pain, and they lash out at children and loved ones in violence.

These modern-day monsters are as deadly and evil as the monsters faced by First Man and First Woman. The teachings of the Holy People, embedded in our culture and our lore, give us the tools to defeat our modern monsters.

To conquer these Nayéé’, we must work together.

The three branches of government all have a role. Many agencies and programs, both Navajo and in federal and other governments, must come together to understand each other’s skills and perspective in the Navajo model of Ntsáhákéés, which is thinking and understanding. They must work together in Nahat’á, which is planning.

In this stage, we plan solutions that incorporate positive aspects, and ameliorate negative impacts. Iiná, life, is when we implement solutions and monitor outcomes to assure they are positive for the community.

We are also mindful that our programs do not change into something that no longer have the benefits we planned to create. Sihasin is measuring and evaluating. We can modify plans or actions that are not bringing the results we desire, and strengthen those aspects that are most successful.

Most of all, we must work as a community that lives according to our values and teachings. We know how to teach and nurture our children and care for our elders.  We know how to be kind and generous. We know how to Walk in Beauty.

But knowing isn’t enough. What we are doing now isn’t working. Our people are suffering and dying too young. There is no greater responsibility than the responsibility we have to help each other.

This is a story that is being shared with people in our criminal justice system as well as social services, health, education, and others, as we make plans to address these pressing issues among our people. I encourage each of us to come together to ensure that together we will slay these modern-day monsters.

It is imperative that we give our people the resources that they need to help to slay the monsters. We must also ensure that the service providers who work for our people are able to work together, and that they have the resources necessary to help our people.

Service providers essential to solving these problems have begun to work together developing the Diné Action Plan, which is forthcoming. It addresses violence, substance abuse, and suicide in a collaborative effort. The Plan includes goals and objectives that were set at the Navajo Nation Public Safety Summit earlier this year.

We ask that our people and our leaders to join us in implementing our plans, goals, and objectives. Together, we can slay the monsters and help our people. Ahé’hee’.

Roman Bitsuie
Peacemaking Program
Window Rock, Ariz.

‘You are Diné first and foremost’

The issue of the Escalade has permeated all parts of the Diné Nation, letters sent to the Navajo Times attest to that.

It has touched many people to the core, but it has raised an awareness and a desire among us to right the wrongs, to take a proactive stance. It has inspired many people to care about the issues on the Diné Nation. This is very good!

We have the power to change our lives and in that process, we are able to change our surroundings, which includes tribal politics. We are not helpless. We are the Diné Nation.

We are the ones who elect our leaders to advocate for us, to make decisions that are beneficial to us all. If your leader is not doing these basic things then there is a process to remove them. This should not be construed as a threat but rather as a fact. We do have this right and are allowed to utilize it.

That being said, we come to the Escalade issue.

Please allow me to recap some of the things that have recently transpired:

As is required in the Legislative Process of the Council, four committees have to hold hearings before any legislation is heard and voted on before the full Council (these committees are comprised of delegates elected by us). The purpose of the hearings is for the delegates to gather information, to hear both sides of the issue, and then come to a decision.

The Law and Order Committee held their session in October 2016 and voted AGAINST this legislation. The Resource and Development Committee held their hearing in January 2017 and voted to TABLE the legislation. The Budget and Finance Committee held their hearing in February 2017 and voted AGAINST the legislation. The last hearing will be before the Naabik’iyatii Committee, which has not scheduled a date yet.

With the exception of the Budget and Finance hearing, the Save the Confluence families against the Escalade, a truly grassroots organization, has not been ALLOWED to speak to the committees.

Ben Bennett, (Fort Defiance/Crystal/Red Lake/Sawmill) who sponsors the Escalade legislation, has the prerogative to allow or not allow anyone to speak at these hearings. He has requested that those who oppose Escalade not be allowed to speak.

Because of Bennett’s aggressive stance towards the grassroots Diné of Bodaway-Gap who oppose the Escalade, we are left no choice but to go to the people to hear our voice. The solution we arrived at was to go before each chapter of the nation and present a resolution asking for support in opposing the Escalade. By being able to avail ourselves of this step, we are acknowledging that this is truly the VOICE of the people.

A council delegate voiced his desire to hold a referendum vote to resolve this issue, which is an option, yes. However, the cost of holding a referendum vote will be astronomical. So, Mr. Council Delegate, here is your “referendum” – free of charge.

By presenting our side to each chapter and asking for a vote of support AGAINST the escalade and each person voting their conscience, this is true democracy and the true will and voice of the people. To date, 16 chapters have voted to support us AGAINST this legislation (note: All four chapters that Delegate Ben Bennett represents has voted AGAINST the Escalade).

We are also going before each Agency Council.

Last Saturday on March 25, the Western Navajo Agency voted to support us AGAINST the Escalade. Ahé’heé to the WNA for your support against this legislation!

At this time, we are asking the people to present resolutions before their chapter. Hopefully, we will be able to present at the Northern Navajo Agency, the Eastern Navajo Agency, and the Central Agency (Chinle). The Fort Defiance Agency has been scheduled for April 8.

Just a few facts for you to consider:

  1. Only 8-18 percent of the revenue generated by this project will be returned to the Navajo Nation. Meanwhile, 82-92 percent will be pocketed by the partners and leave the nation to Scottsdale.
  2. Escalade will not pay Navajo Nation taxes even though every business on the nation (including those that are Navajo-owned) must pay taxes. It is the law.
  3. With a minimum revenue of 8 percent to a maximum of 18 percent, Escalade is not the “savior” of the Navajo Nation. There are too many real needs on the nation. Now, if the ratio was turned around and the partners received only 8-18 percent of the revenues, it’d be a different story. When have outside investors ever truly had the wellbeing of the people in mind? I’ll let you reach the logical conclusion on that.
  4. There is a “non-compete” clause, which will prohibit Diné vendors from selling their jewelry, their paintings, and other wares on the entire corridor leading to the site.
  5. An Environmental Impact Study has not been conducted. If it has been done, why has it not been made available to the public? With a project this big, most companies would have this information first and inform the public.
  6. Consent has not been given by the permit holders and land users to develop these lands.
  7. The Navajo Nation Historical Preservation Hatalii Advisory Council issued a resolution to oppose the Escalade Project citing cultural preservation, harm to the sacred quality of Toh’ ahidliih, degradation of the spiritual of Diné from offerings, and prayers by the overcrowding due to recreation and the mental, physical, and spirituality of the people.
  8. Much of western Navajo suffered over 40 years from the effects of the Bennett Freeze law. In 2009, a compact was signed by both the Navajo and Hopi nations to end the freeze. In the compact signed by both nations, each was required to protect and preserve sites sacred to both tribes.

The Escalade project blatantly violates this compact.

Ben Bennett, Albert Hale, and Rial Lamar Whitmer, have never lived under a law that prohibited any development of power lines, waterlines or houses. I was raised under this law and raised my children under this law. Why is it being violated and trampled upon by these outside developers?

More importantly, why are we allowing this to happen?

I could go on and on about the deficits of this proposed project, this is just the tip of the iceberg. I just wanted to enlighten readers of the Navajo Times the on other side of the story.

Anyone can agree that $65 million is a lot of money.

There are so many needs on the nation. Let’s build assisted living facilities in our communities like Kaibeto Chapter has.

Let’s bring our esteemed elders home instead of sending them off to border towns to live out the remainder of their lives in a lonely existence. They just want to come home.

Let’s help our children succeed in their educational endeavors (and thereby enrich their lives) by providing much needed scholarships and financial assistance to them.

Let’s provide for our Diné requesting for waterlines and electric lines.

Let’s provide more than 20 miles per chapter of road improvements.

Let’s build businesses like the Shonto and Cameron chapters have done.

Let’s continue to help our honored veterans.

Despite the NHA debacle, we still need homes. All of the social problems present on the nation need to be acknowledged and addressed.

We don’t need to give $65 million to outside developers to build an atrocity on our sacred Confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers.

Let’s not intrude on the lands where our origin stories come from, where our medicine people go to pray and make offerings, to gather medicinal plants and herbs.

If any of you can help us with sponsoring a resolution, either at the Chapter level or the Agency level, we will be most appreciative.

Finally, a grateful and big shout out to all those for your support in opposing this legislation. Ahe’hee nitsaago from the bottom of our hearts.

Rita Bilagody
Tó’naneesdizí, Ariz.

A student from Iowa seeks help for project

Hello, my name is Cori M. I am a 5th grade student at Harlan Intermediate School in Harlan, Iowa.

My class is studying the geography and history of the United States. I am excited to learn more about your state of Arizona. I would really appreciate it if you would send me pictures, postcards, or information on your state.

My teacher, Mrs. Newlin, would like car license plates, if possible, for a teacher project. I really appreciate your time and look forward to learning more about Arizona.

You can mail materials to me at: Cori M., Mrs. Newlin’s social studies class, Harlan Intermediate School, 1401 19th St., Harlan, IA 51537.

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Cori M.

Harlan, Iowa


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