A few days ago a friend told me of a young man who died in an accident on a lone highway in California. He was a traveler who walked and hiked his way across America documenting his journeys on social media. He was also a student at Diné College and participated in many noble projects ranging from participating in theatre to highlight tough issues on the reservation and organized a 95-mile roadside clean up.
He was a member of the firefighters known as Navajo Scouts and held various jobs across the Navajo Nation.
The pictures of this youth and his enjoyment of life are documented across YouTube, Facebook and other forms of social media.
In a recent video posted, the kid smiles and he speaks about losing his camera and finding a silver lining during this adventure. Nothing seems to get this kid down. While being interviewed his father talks about his lust for life and how he was ready to get married having found the perfect girl in his travels.
I’d like to offer my condolences to the family of this young man who will forever be young in their minds. His story will live on through memories of what he captured on his adventures.
It’s hard to lose a member of a family and it will take years and years to grieve and searching for answers will arise of what was he doing on the road? Was the driver impaired? Was the truck driver tired? How fast was the truck driver going? Did he intentionally hit him? Or was my child impaired? Or was my child fatigued? Or was my child depressed?
All the news media have released is this young man was walking on a highway in California and a diesel truck driver states he saw the young man on the shoulder of the highway and then the young man stepped in front of the truck.
My friend said he was full of life and he was getting married. And it’s true he is there captured on videos and social media smiling and traveling. He’s holding onto his girlfriend in a loving embrace. The reality is I do not know what happened and I’m sure the California Highway Patrol will eventually shed some light on what happened and will release their finding to the family.
As a human being, however, we go through trauma in our lives and sometimes we bury these feelings so deep down inside no one can see the sadness below the surface. They can only see what’s on the surface.
The Navajo Nation is a hard place to live; it’s a very austere environment. We have the highest rates of poverty in the nation and have high rates of crime. Our social workers are stressed and so are caseworkers. The police are severely overwhelmed by the sheer size of land they are policing. Our traditional lives are slowly fading into obscurity to the point where you ask people do you know a medicine man I can visit and the answer is ‘I don’t know.’
Depression is something that people can’t see nor medicine men can make go away. Even the most advanced doctors are having a hard time treating patients. Advanced therapy is hard to come by on the Navajo Reservation and counselors are overwhelmed. The other idea, treating depression with anti-depressants, is becoming more prevalent. It’s getting better, however, the problem still exists. No one knows what can cause depression. It can come from loss or it can come from long-term sickness, death in the family. The list goes on and on.
So if you’re out there and you feel like there is a sadness in your soul do not be afraid. You are not the only one. If you are having thoughts of hurting yourself do not be afraid; you are not alone. If you feel like you need to escape or get away do not be afraid. If you feel like you’re losing your mind you are not losing your mind. A person losing their mind will not be able to recognize they are losing their mind. If you are having thoughts over and over — these are called intrusive thoughts and people have them. If you want to hurt yourself do not be afraid because you are not alone. All of these can result from depression. Most people do not want to seek help because they don’t want people to think they are weak. But seeking help is not a weakness; it’s a strength.
So if you feel like this talk to someone. Tell someone you love or tell your doctor. Do not be afraid. The hospitals in movies where people are living like “One Who Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” are a thing of the past. If all things fail call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
For parents and friends, listen to your loved one. Give them your love and support. Give them emotional support. Listen for key words such as wanting to hurt themselves or others. Do not leave them alone and talk with them, get them the help they need. Care for them. Find a medical provider and let them know your concerns. It’s possible to overcome depression to see the light again and walk again with beauty.
Fort Irwin, Calif.
Prez, Deschinny have no plan
Make no mistake, there is no economic plan coming from Crystal Deschinny, Russell Begaye’s economic director. That is the plain and simple truth. And the lack of development is because the president had no economic plan going into his presidency. Why do you think it took him one year to select a director?
Crystal Deschinny’s record for creating development is zero, while the Navajo Nation Council has created four development projects in Burnside, Nahata Dziil, Dennehotso, and Shonto. In fact, the Navajo Nation Council will develop the Shiprock hotel and Indian Wells market, because the council can’t wait for the president and Crystal Deschinny to locate other funding sources.
And in that time, Crystal Deschinny’s record is she’s lost 4,000 jobs to Gallup for the BNSF rail port, has a lease default issue of $14 million dollars owed to the Navajo Nation by Antelope Point, and has, according to my peers, been outright confrontational to Navajo businesses.
Crystal Deschinny reported as an accomplishment of the creation of 652 jobs recently, as a part of her quarterly report. That equates to the creation of 5.4 jobs a day over a three-month period. This also means the creation of six jobs per chapter during the same period. Chapters need more than six jobs.
The lost BNSF jobs would have averaged 36 jobs per chapter, six times more than what Crystal Deschinny has done had she pursued the BNSF proposal that was once designated for Thoreau, New Mexico.
The jobs Crystal Deschinny reports are temporary construction jobs for the construction of the four projects funded by the Navajo Nation Council. These jobs will go away, because they are temporary.
And $14 million dollars owed by Antelope Point equals to $127,000 per chapter.
In fact, the funding for the four projects funded by the Navajo Nation Council, which totaled $16 million, is $16 million dollars less to fund public safety, social services, or even scholarships.
Yet, Crystal Deschinny is all about using job creation statistics created by council-funded projects to her own benefit. She’s all about not looking for non-Navajo Nation funding sources like private investments and federal and state government subsidies to fund projects. Worse, Crystal Deschinny isn’t concerned about returning $14 million dollars owed back on the Navajo Nation.
All in all, Crystal Deschinny is perfectly OK about leaving Navajo students, veterans, police officers and elderly without funding so long as she gives herself the credit for creating a fraction of the jobs needed to create a true economy on the Navajo Nation.
Now we hear Navajo Generating Station is closing. Up to $10 million dollar revenue to the Navajo Nation will be gone forever, so will $50 million dollar annual wages and salaries for its 500 employees and NGS scholarship contribution of $1 million dollars annually to the Navajo Nation. All gone. Students, elderly, police officers and chapters all to be affected negatively. This doesn’t include the negative impact of the potential closure of the Kayenta Mine as a result of NGS’ closure.
And does Crystal Deschinny have a plan to create jobs to replace the jobs, tax revenue and scholarship to be lost at NGS or Kayenta Mine? No!
If she uses Navajo Nation Council development funds and initiatives to pad her job creation numbers it’s safe to say she doesn’t have a plan to replace the NGS jobs and tax/royalty revenues about to be lost.
The Navajo Nation’s current economic reality is the result of a president who placed third place in the 2014 primaries and who won the election because the voters simply didn’t want Joe Shirley and the president is OK not looking for private business investments and instead use the little Navajo money to fund economic development.
Wake up Mr. President! It’s way past dawn since May 2015 when you took office and the coyotes have taken what little amount of sheep you were responsible for. And soon the Navajo people will have a lot less to put on their kitchen table.