Navajo gaming enterprise scramble to fill job openings

By Bill Donovan
Special to the Times

WINDOW ROCK, April 16, 2013

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W INDOW ROCK— A job fair Friday in Tuba City sponsored by the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise has generated a lot of interest from people in that area who are seeking jobs at the Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort.

"As of 11 a.m., we had 80 people go through the process," said Derrick Watchman, the gaming enterprise's CEO. "I was surprised."

With the casino scheduled to open in about six weeks on Memorial Day, the casino management is under pressure to get the positions filled.

So far about 650 employees have been hired with another 100 or so to go, Watchman said, most of which are in the food and beverage section - waitresses, bartenders, bus people, etc.

The people need to be hired as soon as possible since everyone hired has to have background checks and the enterprise wants to have a couple of weeks of training before the casino opens.

Employees who are hired will also need time to find a place to live, given the fact that Twin Arrows is located some 22 miles east of Flagstaff in the middle of nowhere. There is no housing available at the casino site so new employees will have to find housing somewhere in the area.

"It's going to be a challenge for them," Watchman said of those who will be new to the area.

He added that enterprise officials were aware that this was going to be an issue and therefore hired many from the Flagstaff, Holbrook and Leupp areas since they would most likely already have a place to stay.

Watchman also addressed an issue that has come up in recent weeks - reports that the enterprise may be short of money to hire these new employees.

That's not true, Watchman said, adding that the enterprise knows from the opening of its other three casinos that there has to be money available to pay for salaries during the training period, which can last several weeks.

He said the money for salaries during the training period will come out of a loan the enterprise received from the tribe, which had been set side from the beginning.

Sherman Alexie book gets second most complaints in 2012

By Bill Donovan
Special to the Times

WINDOW ROCK — Sherman Alexie is probably the most popular Native American author in the country but he is also one of the authors that librarians get the most complaints about.

The American Library Association, in its latest list of books that receive the most complaints from library patrons, listed Alexie's book, "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" as the book that received the second most complaints in 2012.

The book is fiction work by Alexie that has received a lot of complaints because of the various subjects brought up in the book, which included alcohol abuse and bullying with references to masturbation and physical arousal. Librarians at schools have also complained because if the tragic deaths of some of its characters and their use of profanity.

Irving Nelson, director of the Navajo Nation Library in Window Rock, said the library has five copies of the Alexie book and they go out all of the time.

"We have had no complaints about it," he said.

The library also has a lot of copies of the series that gets the most complaints from library patrons - the Captain Underpants series. This book chronicles the adventures of two fourth-graders, George Beard and Harold Hutchins, along with Captain Underpants, a superhero from one of their comic books, who becomes real.

The book has been banned from a number of school libraries because of its toilet humor but Nelson said he has never received any complaints from anyone about the books that are checked out by patrons of the tribal library.

The Navajo library has more than 50 copes of the series, which now include 10 books and three spin-offs.

Other books that have made the list of banned books include "Fifty Shades of Grey," "The Kite Runner," Alvin Schwartz' series "Scary Stories" and "Beloved" by Toni Morrison.

Hopi masks generate $1.2 million at auction

Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK - The sale of 70 Hopi religious masks by a French auction house generated $1.2 million in an April 12 auction in Paris.

Of the 70 masks sold, the most expensive was one known as the "Mother Crow" selling for $209,000 – more than three times the pre-sale estimate – and only one mask was bought by an association to return it to the Hopi Tribe.

Various media reported that the auction was contested by protesters inside and outside the auction house and that after the "Mother Crow" mask was sold, a woman stood up and shouted: "Don't purchase that. It is a sacred being."

The auction took place after a French judge ruled that the sale can proceed despite advocates for the Hopi Tribe stated the masks have special status and are not art but represent the spirits of dead ancestors.

In a statement, Hopi Tribal Chairman LeRoy Shingoitewa said the tribe was disheartened by the ruling and continues the same cultural and religious theft and exploitations that were experienced in the 1940s.

"Would there be outrage if Holocaust artifacts, Papal heirlooms or Quranic manuscripts were going up for sale on Friday to the highest bidder? I think so. Given the importance of these ceremonial objects to Hopi religion, you can understand why Hopis regard this – or any sale – as sacrilege, and why we regard an auction not as homage but as a desecration to our religion," Shingoitewa said.

In earlier reports, Shingoitewa stated the tribe would not bid on the masks if legal efforts failed because that would condone the commercialization of sacred items.

NNHRC on McKinley County redistricting: Get out and vote

ST. MICHAELS, Ariz. — The Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission is urging Navajo citizens in McKinley County in New Mexico to vote in tomorrow's school board election, according to a press release issued Monday.

The Navajo Nation's proposed redistricting maps provided Native Americans in the Gallup McKinley County School District an opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice in accordance to the Voting Rights Act. The district's regular school election will take place on tomorrow, April 16.

"We, at the Commission, worked diligently to ensure Navajo voting strength is protected," said NNHRC Executive Director Leonard Gorman in a previous press release. "NNHRC drew redistricting maps to ensure that Navajo voters elect a candidate of their choice."

The indicator that Navajos elect their candidate of choice is a larger Navajo voting age population turning out to vote.

"The Navajo Nation's involvement with the United States redistricting of election districts from the congressional level to the school board level was to keep Navajos voting rights intact," said Gorman. "Get out and vote."