Time to bring back healing power of music

FROM THE READERS, Jan. 12, 2012

Text size: A A A

S ince the dawn of time in the first world music has been a part of Navajo tradition and culture. Our rattles and drums and all our healing songs and prayers songs have been with us since the first world till now.

We kind of lost the music to manifest destiny but now it is time to bring home the healing power of music back to out the tribe and teach all of the younger generations the healing power of music.

All music from traditional to metal, we as a nation have the responsibility to our youth to teach them and respect them.

Music is Medicine Inc. would like to thank the Navajo-Hopi Honor Riders for stepping up for the youth and community. These warriors on iron war ponies always answer the call for vets, for funeral escorts and welcome home escorts and they provide protection for the family and never charge the family of vet.

And when it comes to youth and vets, kids and grandkids, these warriors and lady warriors have put Music is Medicine Inc. in their circle of family. We thank you.

Navajo Nation Museum Director Manny Wheeler and staff who donated the building and classrooms, thanks for standing up and setting an example for other divisions of the Navajo Nation for educating our youth and tribe and for helping us bring back the power of music to our people where it belongs.

To the best Navajo bands for being our faculty - Bloodline, EDG, Twang Deluxe, Chucki Begay and Mother Earth Blues Band - and Pax Harvey, Ernie Tsosie III, Muddy Soulz, all families and friends who donated food and money for the first Music is Medicine Inc. music camps and seminars, we will have monthly music clinics all around the rez teaching our youth and combating suicide, drugs, alcohol, domestic violence, diabetes, and all forms of negative lifestyles.

Music is Medicine Inc. is here for our people, our youth. We cannot let another generation go without the healing power of music to guide them through life's journey.

According to the Mayo Clinic's studies of music and health, music is medicine. It lowers your blood pressure, stress levels and breathing. It makes us laugh, dance and sing and cry.

Coma patients wake up after hearing their favorite music. There are so many more studies to mention that proves beyond any scientific data that music is medicine. But we as Native people always knew that in our hearts.

It's time to heal as a nation and it's time every health division in our tribe realizes that the power of music has been in our tribe since the beginning and we need to bring it back to our people and they can utilize Music is Medicine Inc. for that.

We need serious funding and it's tax deductible through the Navajo-Hopi Honor Riders. We need instruments for students who cannot afford them and any donations of food and music stands and supplies for students.

Special thanks to Keith Little for signing my 1974 USA Fender Telecaster signed by the 29 original code talkers. Mr. Little told me he would only sign it if I never sell the guitar and use it to teach the kids about the code talkers and teach them to play.

That was five years ago. I want the family of Mr. Little to know that I wasted my life chasing a lie - "sex, drugs and rock and roll" - now I've been sober four years and my wife and I started Music is Medicine Inc. to teach our youth the healing power of music.

Yes, Mr. Little, I'm doing like you told me. People are learning of the code talkers from the original code talker guitar. I shall be forever grateful for the freedom you provided and the provisions you put on my guitar before you signed it.

Every artist that plays that guitar and every student that plays will learn about the code talkers. Thank you, Mr. Little. Now I found my true calling in life - to bring back the music to our people.

Music is Medicine Inc. will be here for generations to insure the healing power of music that belongs to us as a tribe and as children of Mother Earth.

Music is Medicine Inc. will host a Music Camp on Jan. 28 at 10 a.m. at the Navajo Nation Museum in Window Rock. Bring your own instruments.

It's crazy what happens when you get sober and dreams do come true. Thank you all. Have a rock and roll beauty way day.

Richard Anderson Jr.
Gallup, N.M.

Human rights process needs to continue

Speaking to Duane "Chili" Yazzie's piece on the Navajo Nation ("A presence at the international level," Dec. 29, 2011) we need to acknowledge the fine work of Navajo leaders at the United Nations and the record of achievement of the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission.

It is recognized as a "national" human rights commission by the United Nations while the United States is faulted for not having such a national body.

There are two lessons from Mr. Yazzie's review we need to pay attention to: The first is the Navajo Nation's advocacy of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, an international human rights document that is beginning to have impact all over the world.

It is now time for the Navajo Nation to consider a proposal that is being made in several quarters for America's Indian nations to endorse and adopt the declaration as a statement of basic human rights principles for their own peoples. "Indian Country Today" endorsed that notion in an editorial published on Jan. 18, 2008, and the Navajo Times should join that call for action.

The second is that the Navajo Nation Council took an important step in restructuring the work of the Council along the lines discussed by Mr. Yazzie in adopting a four-element paradigm from Navajo Fundamental Law of Nitsahakees, Nahat'a, Iina and Siihasin.

The revised governmental code requires the Naa'bik'ihati' Committee to use those principles. They require thinking and planning for decision-making, including adequate notice, transparency and inclusion of the public in decision-making.

A closer examination of those principles shows that they mirror the United Nations elements of good governance, or perhaps we should say that the United Nations good governance principles mirror Navajo thought. Freedom from corruption is an important international human right, and we need to implement the Navajo paradigm to address it in Navajo Nation governance.

Navajos have a strong interest in international developments, and particularly those that address human rights, because they reflect Navajo thought about humanity, autonomy and liberty.

The point is that Mr. Yazzie gave us a good overview of a process that needs to continue, and an international human rights document that needs to come home in Navajo Nation law and governance.

We should also support the work of the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission because it is taking the nation down a good path.

James W. Zion
Albuquerque, N.M.

Prez fails to give credit to Council

In a press release dated Dec. 27 from President Ben Shelly's office, he "outlined some of the successes his administration had this year."

But not once was the 22nd Navajo Nation Council mentioned in any of these "successes."

He mentions "he signed the Title 2 amendments creating a whole new government," but fails to mention the bulk of the work was accomplished by the current Council and their staff, and then moved to the president for his signature.

He also mentions he "worked to create a safer environment while creating jobs for the Navajo Nation and its residents" but fails to mention that it was the Council and previous councils that helped to push the judicial-public safety complexes forward.

Thanks to former Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr., his administration and the previous councils for helping to initiate construction of these much-needed facilities.

(Shelly's) press release appears to make claim to sole responsibility and fails to give credit to appropriate groups.

He also mentions breaking "ground for two more Navajo gaming facilities, Twin Arrows, near Flagstaff, Ariz., and Northern Edge, near Farmington, N.M." He again fails to mention or credit the Council for helping to initiate these projects and supporting the projects through the construction and planning phases.

It was the administration of former President Shirley that is also credited for helping in this effort, along with the previous Council.

The list goes on and I truly believe credit should be given to those involved and to those who actually rolled up their sleeves to make these projects come to "fruition."

The president makes it appear as though he and his staff are solely responsible for all these "successes."

The 22nd Navajo Nation Council has accomplished a lot this year. They initiated changes to the Navajo Nation Code, they have continued support for many ongoing projects, they are working on bond financing to help stimulate the local economy and to help build projects across the Navajo Nation.

There are also individual successes within the respective standing committees that go unnoticed.

Joshua Lavar Butler
Council Delegate, To'Nanees' Dizi
Tuba City, Ariz.

Support needed for low-income kids

As a state legislator, I represent thousands of children in northwestern New Mexico who do not have health insurance. Many of them are Native Americans and sometimes they can get care from the Indian Health Service. But the IHS has been chronically underfunded for years and their facilities are badly over-stressed. Long waits and delays for care are the norm.

The real hope for these low-income children, like others all over the state, is New Mexikids - the federal-state Medicaid program that provides good health coverage for children who are eligible.

Between 2008 and 2010, children's enrollment in New Mexikids rose by about seven percent per year. For the past year, however, children's enrollment hasn't risen at all. The state Human Services Department estimates that there are still more than 50,000 New Mexico children who are eligible for Medicaid but who are not enrolled.

Unfortunately, HSD has reduced their outreach efforts to enroll these children because of budget limitations. The health care of these kids will suffer, along with their ability to perform well in school, because their parents can't afford the preventive and developmental care all children need.

To address this problem, I will be sponsoring amendments to the state budget in January to fund the enrollment of 10,000 children who are eligible for Medicaid but not enrolled. I will ask the Legislature to direct HSD to concentrate on the counties where lack of enrollment is the highest: San Juan, McKinley, Cibola and Doña Ana.

Enrolling 10,000 more children will cost New Mexico about $10 million, but this investment will bring the state $23 million more in federal funds. There is not a more fitting and necessary use for these funds than getting more of our kids into quality health care coverage.

Enrolling these kids will require reaching out to lower-income families with children, letting them know about the possibility of Medicaid coverage for their kids, and signing them up.

Obviously the best places to locate and enroll these children are at schools, clinics, and community centers, and I will ask HSD to restart their school- and community-based efforts to get these children signed up.

Children have a broad and unique range of health care needs, which is well-covered by Medicaid through its Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment benefit, usually at no cost to these very poor families. The EPSDT benefit is consistent with the professional guidelines developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. It provides a schedule for child preventive services, including immunizations and screenings.

Appropriate health care can help children avoid preventable and serious chronic conditions like obesity, heart disease, and Type II diabetes, and promote adequate nutrition and physical activity.

It can help a baby born prematurely to grow, thrive, and meet developmental milestones. For children with chronic conditions like diabetes or asthma, having access to the services needed to manage the conditions can spare children hospitalizations and avert high costs for families and the public.

Vision, hearing, and dental care - often considered "extras" in health coverage for adults - are among the services children need in order to develop and achieve their full potential. Without glasses, a child with vision problems may not learn to read. Whether a hearing-impaired child develops speech may depend on whether he or she receives a recommended hearing aid or cochlear implant.

These are services that lower-income kids can get if they are enrolled in Medicaid. If they are not, these kids will mostly do without, and their education will suffer along with their health.

Every year we should work to reduce the tragedy of New Mexico children without health insurance. Let's get started right now.

State Rep. Ray Begaye, D-San Juan County
Shiprock, N.M.

Back to top ^