Letters: Reading, writing will expand horizons

I am a Native American dual-credit student attending Thoreau High School and New Mexico State University’s Grants branch.

Recently, it has come to my attention that there is a real decline in both reading and writing on the reservation. A majority of our Native youth spend more time on social media more than reading a book or writing. This can be seen firsthand in any one of the laundromats in Gallup or any public setting.

Writing has become a lost art that Native American ancestors use to see as a forced privilege. A privilege because the children who were forced into boarding schools during the Long Walk era, learned how to understand what exactly the white settlers were saying in spoken words and written text.

At that time, Native translators helped the tribal leaders become a voice for their people. Possessing the ability to speak and write well became something important. But in today’s day in age, children would rather watch other kids be kids on YouTube.
I ask that parents read and encourage their children to become strong writers and influential individuals.

Why? An essay has the potential to change the world, and if reading and writing becomes the “cool” thing again, not only will the writer benefit, but the reader will as well.

Not only will reading and writing expand one’s vocabulary but also their horizons.

Melanie Lee
Grants, N.M.
(Hometown: Prewitt, N.M.)

Clarifications on the Escalade project

Most Navajos will tell you that the Navajo Nation’s greatest need is creating jobs. It is estimated there are about 31,000 jobs on the Navajo Nation and around 300,000 enrolled members.

While Navajo population continues to grow, job creation has been stagnant. When Navajo Generating Station and the Kayenta Mine close, more than 2,000 jobs will be lost. Is there a plan to replace those jobs?

In negotiating the Escalade agreements, our objectives were to balance the project’s financial sustainability to create as many Navajo jobs as possible, with producing increasing revenues for the nation by spreading the project’s costs as the number of tourists increase.

Most Council delegates support Grand Canyon Escalade creating 3,500 jobs, but at the July 13 Naa?bik?iyati? meeting many expressed concerns about the non-compete zone and the Nation putting up $65 million for offsite infrastructure, even though the infrastructure will be used for community development.

The non-compete zone applies only to the types of businesses within Escalade: the Gondola Tramway, a Navajoland Discovery Center, hotels, restaurants, retail stores, an RV park, and general store/gas station.

Allowing competing businesses to hijack Escalade visitors will hurt Escalade’s sustainability, and make securing investors and lenders impossible.

The $65 million offsite infrastructure funding is tied to the nation’s fee-revenue, which starts at 8 percent of gross revenue (twice the historic 3.8 percent of gross that operators have paid at Grand Canyon National Park). As the number of visitors increase, so does the rate paid to the Nation, all the way up to 18 percent.

Delegates asked: Why isn’t the funding source identified? Because the $65 million is not required until all the cultural permitting, environmental permitting, along with the design and engineering for the road, and the electric and power lines are completed, all of which will take more than a year and a half to finish.

Until the permitting and design is completed, the Nation is not obligated to fund the $65 million. If Escalade cannot be permitted, then the Nation will not be required to put up any monies for the infrastructure. Whether the Nation borrows the $65 million or directly funds it is a policy decision for the next Council.

We will be meeting with delegates to address their concerns, where appropriate make changes to the agreements, and deal with the misinformation from the media and Grand Canyon Trust’s paid protestors.

In a July 20 article, the Navajo Times incorrectly reported, “that if paid admissions are less than 800,000, the Nation will receive 8 percent of gross revenues. So if each visitor spends $100 that would equal $6.4 million É Confluence Partners LLC however would receive 92 percent, which equals $164 million.”

Actually 92 percent of gross revenue equals $73.6 million, not $164 million as reported. The article also failed to point out that the 92 percent is used to pay the employees, operating costs, repay our investors and lenders, and then only after everyone else is paid will Confluence Partners get paid.

To show fairness, several times we offered to trade our net revenue position for the Nation’s percentage of gross revenues.

Grand Canyon Trust’s paid protestors have yet to explain how sharing the story and a view of the male and female rivers joining together will hurt the Confluence.

The trust’s war on coal has already cost hundreds of Navajo jobs, and their mission to restore “solitude” to Navajo lands will only force more Navajos to move away to find work.

Last year 7 million tourists visited the two visitor centers at Grand Canyon National Park and the Hualapai Tribe’s Grand Canyon Visitor Center. Instead of those tourists driving past Navajo, shouldn’t the Navajo people have a Grand Canyon visitor center, and enjoy a fair share of Grand Canyon tourism dollars?

Bodaway/Gap elder Harley Johnson said it best, “I think of the children, the future, that is why I support (Escalade). We have to come together with the non-Natives, just like the confluence.”

Building the Escalade will bring people together from all over the world to enjoy the Grand Canyon, hear Navajo stories, learn about Navajo culture, and in exchange provide 3,500 Navajos with paychecks to sustain their families and culture.

R. Lamar Whitmer
Managing Partner
Confluence Partners LLC
Scottsdale, Ariz.

The mistaken word ‘Indian’

In an attempt to be of service to the Diné Nation of First Nations peoples as a progressive leader of all nations and all people in a quest for identity and resolution, I humbly submit the following opinion.

A recently printed word of “Indianness” struck me as odd, awkward and a term misused since 1492.

I, being a Met’s (mixed blood), from the great motherland (Canada), serving on the tribal elders council in Vancouver, British Columbia, and having served four years as an elected official as trustee of a unified school district and subsequently attaining a master’s in governance degree, I am inspired and compelled to put pen to paper this fine day.

The people of this turtle continent have always been here.

The Clovis, N.M., points “paint” a trail to Chesapeake Bay and further east to the European continent. The “knapping” (chipping/carving) of points is clearly and definitely a “father-to-son” given/acquired technique.

Canadian First Nation peoples are referred to as such — First Nation — not Indians. One rarely hears or reads the mistaken word “Indian.”

The Italian Columbus (commissioned by Spain in her quest for wealth, expansion and spread of Christianity) was lost at sea and rescued with open arms and generosity by First Nation peoples. India was, and still is (sort of), a half a world away.

Our use of language (words) is quite new to this human race. Language, like music and art, is timeless (pure and spiritual). Words are powerful and are best used with forethought.

I am excited for the day when the Navajo Nation becomes the DinŽ Nation of the First Nation peoples of the turtle continent known commonly as North America.

Michael Bischoff
Steamboat, Ariz.

Mother received poor treatment at Tuba hospital

I’ve been reading the past few Navajo Times issues about the problems with Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation’s poor treatment of a patient. I’m sure there are more Navajos out there that are not complaining about problems with TCRHCC such as myself.

Since we are encouraged to file our complaints about poor health care at TCRHCC, I’d like to share my family’s experience. I am the type of person that hardly complains about anything so when this problem with my mom’s poor treatment at TCRHCC arose, I did not complain and hoped it was a problem that would go away. This is not fake news or story.

Back in October 2010, my mom developed a problem communicating. My brother (now deceased) who was staying with my mother had noticed a problem with my mom so he enlisted my sister’s help in finding out what was wrong with her.

My sister quickly realized there was a problem with my mom’s communication with others. She further evaluated my mom by asking her questions and noticed she could understand words but had trouble articulating her thoughts.

She took my mom to TCRHCC where she was examined by a physician’s assistant. After listening to my mom’s heart with a stethoscope and asking her a few questions, the PA’s diagnosis was that there was nothing wrong with her.

She said she is fine and that “this is how old people get” when impacted by dementia (my mom does not have dementia) or other issues. She was told to go home.

After much pressing from my sister for an MRI or a CT scan, blood work and further evaluation, the PA stated that a referral could be made to a neurologist but said the appointment would be at least one month out.

My sister insisted there was something definitely wrong with my mom and that she didn’t feel comfortable taking her home in that state. She again requested an MRI or a CT scan but the PA said that wouldn’t be necessary since they are expensive to perform.

My sister insisted on getting a second opinion and, luckily, the nurse assisting the PA confirmed that my mom was entitled to a second opinion. The nurse was able to find an internal medicine doctor to re-examine my mom the same day.

The internal medicine doctor performed a physical examination on my mom, ordered blood work and a CT scan. The CT scan revealed that my mom had a subdural hematoma. The hematoma was pushing on the language area of my mom’s brain; hence the problem she had with articulating her thoughts.

I learned later that this is a serious medical condition that could have been fatal. My mom was rushed to Flagstaff Regional Medical Center where she had surgery the following morning and recovered.

Wow, talk about poor treatment from the PA. This PA I don’t think should’ve been allowed to examine/treat human beings at this hospital. I’ve heard of stories where people were misdiagnosed, prescribed some aspirin, sent home, and later died.

In closing, although our family has already expressed written gratitude, I would like to once again thank the caring nurse that intervened and the diligent, professional internal medicine doctor who was on duty that day for saving our mother. We’re still enjoying her love today.

As for the PA, I hope you are elsewhere enjoying your life away from hospitals.

I felt compelled to write this letter so others can be aware of problems that could arise from the mistreatment of their loved ones.

One takeaway from this experience is to make sure that as caretakers, family members or other roles in the care for elderly loved ones, ensure that you are closely familiar with your loved ones. Close familiarity with your loved ones as far as habits, daily routines, communication style, etc., can help you to detect when something is off.

The treating staff at hospitals do not have the day-to-day interactions with your loved ones that you do. Be an advocate for your loved ones, especially when there is a language barrier (as exists with our elderly population).

The reality is that every profession has those who are dedicated and hardworking and I am thankful for the many health care professionals who skillfully serve the Navajo Nation with dedication and integrity.

Every profession also has those who are not as meticulous or as dedicated. When it comes to the care of our loved ones, be informed, be alert, and don’t be afraid to speak up.

Larry Brown
Kirtland, N.M.

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Categories: Letters
Tags: literacy