We have issues in Tuba City

FROM THE READERS, February 16, 2012

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Ilive in Tuba City. I would like to express my opinions that we have issues here in Tuba City. I have been a citizen here in Tuba City for 14 years now.

I have seen a lot of problems we have here in our community, as well as all over the reservation. I am a Navajo lady but was raised in a different state and environment. I don't speak Navajo but I am very interested in my culture and the beliefs that Navajo culture has for many centuries.

We have big problems with alcohol and drugs on the reservation. We also have problems with families that drink and do drugs and have kids in the home that are being neglected.

I have seen a lot of people that have drinking problems and walking around the whole city searching for their next drink. They even start drinking hairspray and so on, which is really an awful thought of what they get their hands on with alcohol in it.

I think we really need to find a way to prevent this from happening to "our people." We need a program that will help these people here in Tuba City with alcohol and drug problems. I have seen a family here get their kids taken away from them three times or so because of the abuse of substances.

Then in a few days they get their kids back and the same routine goes on again.

The social workers need to get more strict about this problem. Who is suffering from this, drinking and drugs? The children. I am very concerned about these kids. They're being mistreated, yelling at them the wrong way, words coming out of their parents' mouth.

Some of the kids don't dress appropriately, have no shoes, no socks, and no jackets, and even their diapers sag like they have not been changed for four to five hours. The social workers need to get more strict with the parents. I know the kids would miss their parents but it would be in their best of care.

We should have a group home here in Tuba City for kids that have been taken away from their parents because of neglect. There seems to be less foster parents out here. I know they have to check your background and that is understanding. It is sad there is not too many loving and caring people out here to care for these children and take pride of their precious little ones.

I would love to help these children and volunteer to help kids but again you have to have that "degree" in order to become a social worker and you have to meet all the criteria to become a foster parent, which my situation is living in a two-bedroom, not enough space.

The other problem is living in NHA housing and the tenants that drink alcohol and sell drugs from their home. It seems like they get away with this and other families out there that need a home are out in the cold because these so-called abusers of alcohol and drugs are enjoying it and taking it easy. They need to crack down on them and get these people out of their homes.

I seen a lot of traffic going to certain homes and we (neighbors) know what is going on here but no one wants to speak up. There may be complaints sent to the office of NHA but are they really going to do anything about it? I don't think so. It's just a slap on the wrist and saying, "Don't do it again...OK?"

I feel so outraged about these problems out here in the community. Can there be help for us "Diné people" as they call us?

It seems like everyone should feel good about themselves here. We are a small community and there are bigger cities out there that have far more worst crimes.

We should all pull together and make our community good and clean for our future, the children that are being born into this world every other day. If we can all stay up for the words, they say "Walk In Beauty."

I am a caring, respectful, and understanding person. I also am very disappointed how life is for us here on the reservation.

Yes "no one is perfect" which perfect is just a word, but we "Diné people" can make it happen if we all pull together. I do appreciate your time in reading my opinion, my thoughts.

Lisa R. Yellow
Tuba City, Ariz.

The issue is about the success of students

n this economic climate, few issues are as important as making sure our young people have the skills they need to get a good-paying job.

Here in Gallup and the surrounding communities the most accessible institution of higher education is our local college at UNM-Gallup. This makes the effectiveness of the Gallup campus even more crucial.

I hope to put to rest any rumors that I am introducing legislation to take the Gallup campus away from UNM or that even support that move myself.

This is not about UNM. This is and should be entirely about the success of the students. With a 6 percent graduation rate, it would be hard for anyone to argue that UNM-Gallup is functioning as well as it should be.

Too many students find themselves stuck at the end of their two years at UNM-Gallup and must either transfer to UNM-Albuquerque or another college far from home.

In several cases, the credits they earn at UNM-Gallup do not even transfer to Albuquerque, despite being part of the same institution and despite local taxpayers subsidizing UNM to the tune of $4 million with our local mill levy.

My goal through this entire process has been to start the conversation about how we best fix the problems at UNM-Gallup and make it work for our young people, enabling them to stay close to home and gain the education they need to be successful. My job as a state senator is not to fight for a brand, it is to fight for the students in my district.

Another problem that makes fixing this issue now even more imperative is the new higher education funding formula. Beginning next year, the state of New Mexico will fund colleges based on their performance and graduation rate. Needless to say, UNM-Gallup would be devastated by this formula.

In defense of UNM, they have proposed many changes to fix the problem, changes the local director has failed to implement. I believe it is also shortsighted of the local board to defend the status quo with such disastrous changes looming.

The inappropriate firing of minority staff is particularly concerning since 79 percent of all students attending UNM-Gallup are Native American. There is no excuse for inaction on these problems, not when students continue to be short-changed in their education. We should not be defending an institution over the needs of our students. Further more, if there is no money, there is no institution.

I have said and continue to believe that one of the best ways to make UNM-Gallup more successful would be to change it to a four-year institution. With more certified programs, such as nursing, the campus can offer students many more opportunities for future employment. This change would also greatly improve our chances under the new funding formula.

More students will stay if we provide them with the programs and degree opportunities that allow them to graduate and earn a degree from UNM-Gallup.

The best thing I can do as a legislator in this district is to ensure that access to higher education continues. The future of our economy depends on us having an educated workforce that stays here to live and work.

George K. Munoz
District 4 State Senator
Gallup, N.M.

Appalled at 2 lost chances for a championship

Hello, I'm writing this letter in regards to the Window Rock Fighting Scouts head coach Gil Clauschee. I have been appalled from his two chances...maybe three by actually not pulling his team through to grabbing a 3A North basketball championship.

Also as thousands watched once again, the Scouts were defeated again by Snowflake in Chinle, which would have given the Window Rock boys a chance to face the Roadrunners for the Sectional championship.

With less than a minute left in the games, Clauschee walked abruptly in front of his benchwarmers with his hand on head looking rather confused. A skilled and determined coach would have known how to "tie" the game.

Also being named 2010-2011 coach of the year defines his skills as a head varsity basketball coach as "unpredictable."

The Window Rock Scouts current roster consists of some highly skilled players, which have all played in many out of state basketball tournaments taking many championships. This was achieved by not only using seven main players like is done regularly by Clauschee, but all players played to achieve what the boys wanted most - championship.

But as many know a "team" only succeeds to the highest with "teamwork" but Clauschee hardly uses his benchwarmers physically draining his "starting" seven key players.

If Clauschee has no "confidence" in all his players on the varsity team then there is his missing link to why he cannot help the Window Rock Fighting Scouts bring home a 3A North boys basketball championship.

These boys have a lot of determination, skills and love for the game to bring a championship home but being led by the wrong leader may be the reason why they haven't reached that goal. Many of us say it's time for a change.

Tanya Daniels
Vanderwagen, N.M.

I have to agree with Candace Begody's opinion piece from Jan. 12 ("Misplaced passion").

Begody observed parents at a basketball game encouraging their children to perfect their jump shot, and she wondered if they pushed as hard for them to succeed at the science fair.

She asked, "What kind of message are we sending to our youth? Where would the Navajo Nation really be if its citizens put the same kind of time, energy, and passion into the quality of education of their young ones that they do when it comes to basketball?"

I've discussed this very topic with other teachers over the many years I've taught on the reservation.

Many educators and I would love to see parents lined up outside the school, hours before parent/teacher conferences to discuss their child's grades.

Can you imagine parents camping out over night to be first in line to talk to teachers? What about having over-flown parking lots, with security guards directing traffic jams?

Wouldn't it be nice to close the school for the day so we can all go see our students participate in a spelling bee or science fair, or receive awards in math, art, or geography at a state competition?

Don't get me wrong. I think sports have their place in creating a well-rounded student. Sports teach teamwork and cooperation. I think we can all agree the future success of our students in today's modern world depends on attending post high school education or training.

Scholarships are offered for both scholastic and athletic ability. I don't have the statistics, but I'm sure the percentage of reservation youth with athletic scholarships is small. The best chance of getting a scholarship is through academics.

Thank you, Candace, for bringing up a topic that concerns many educators. Hopefully, your comments will help to make grades as important as scoreboards.

Jill Farkas
Window Rock, Ariz.

Where is the nation's money going?

I recently read "The Bond Market's Newest Frontier" article from Bloomberg Businessweek magazine, in the Nov. 14-20 issue and it states that the Navajo Nation is planning to sell $120 million in bonds to fund projects including a tourist center, an office and industrial complexes.

I believe as a former Diné business student, who studied and received an education at Northern Arizona University, and a veteran, it is very important to use the money to create thousands of jobs and stimulate the economy on the Navajo Reservation.

The Navajo Nation government system is not standing up to the expectations of the Diné people.

According to the article, more than 37 percent of the reservation lived below the federal poverty level in 2009, which is roughly around 170,000 residents.

The gross revenue for the tribe was about $193 million in fiscal 2010, with $29 million from oil and gas and $61 million from coal royalties. My question to the officials of the great nation is, where is the money going?

If our people are living in poverty similar to a third world country, shouldn't the Navajo Nation government be helping the Diné people instead of building projects such as dozen convenience stores, fast-food restaurants, a radio station, and a $14 million tourist center?

While growing up on the reservation, I experienced hardship and lived in poverty. My family lived in a one-room house with no electricity, no running water, and unpaved roads that turned muddy during the wet seasons.

To this day, there are still a lot of Diné people living without those same basic necessities. The leaders of the Navajo Nation on the other hand have those necessities easily assessable. With the $120 million in bonds, I propose the Navajo Nation government to use that to fix the roads, build extended waterlines, build new housings, and help Diné people with their basic needs.

This move can create jobs, so the Diné people themselves can become more self-reliant. This can motivate a family to pay Navajo Tribal Utility Authority to get electricity established at their residence or a waterline hook-up to their homes.

Right now, everyone that isn't working is sitting at home with their hands open waiting for a handout. This keeps the great nation living in poverty and living 10 years behind the United States.

We don't need fast-food restaurants because diabetes and obesity is a huge problem on the Navajo Reservation.

We don't need dozens of convenience stores because it will create supply and demand where the prices are so high that some of the Navajo people can't afford it.

Why build another radio station? Is the radio station going to be broadcast in the Navajo language so the elders can understand it?

In the past years, the Navajo Nation government gave funds to the Council delegates to help the Diné people with assistance for school, living expenses, hardship or basic necessity. Instead of helping the people that requested assistance, the Council delegates mismanage the financial funds they were given. They gave thousands of dollars to their family, friends and political insiders. When are these Council delegates going to learn that the money are not theirs, it belongs to the people?

They keep taking and taking until they get caught. The fact is that misdirected persistence can lead you to waste a great deal of time, energy and money.

I had the opportunity to sit in my local chapter meeting whenever I go home to Lukachukai and they talked about how they don't have the funds for the residents and students affiliated with my chapter.

In the past, I tried to change the scholarship policy to increase the funds for college students. I proposed that we change the funding from once a year to every semester, but the chapter officials didn't consider it saying that the funds might deplete rapidly.

I am a veteran and have served my country well. I was told that the Department of Navajo Veterans Affairs doesn't have funds to help the Navajo veterans across the Navajo Reservation.

With this $120 million bond, I also propose the Navajo Nation government to give funding to the Department of Navajo Veterans Affairs. The Navajo Nation should build a veteran hospital on the reservation, in honor of our legendary code talkers, instead of driving four hours to the nearest veteran hospitals.

I believe that these unnecessary projects are bad investment mistake because it is a waste of time, energy and money. It may create 6,000 jobs and make profit but in the long run, the poverty will still be there.

Who is going to help these people and elders that are living without basic needs? How can we fix these roads? Who is going to help the Diné veterans who fight for their country?

I hope you take these considerations in account because as a Diné who graduated at the university level with a business degree, I believe this is the correct way to utilize the funds.

I also speak on behalf of the people that oppose the planned projects. As far as the future goes on, I hope to make a difference on the Navajo Reservation. Thank you for taking the time to read my article and looking forward to your comments.

Walter Tom
Lukachukai, Ariz.

High school team, family treated rudely

I have just come from Mike & Rhonda's "The Place" diner on East Route 66 in Flagstaff. This establishment is known for large, cheap portions of average food and somewhat flippant waitresses. The diner has a high percentage of Native American patrons.

This morning, Feb. 9, a Navajo Nation high school basketball team had reservations for 35 people, as I discovered when I walked in. No problem for me, since there was plenty of other seating.

The waitress was perfunctory with me but quite loudly complaining about the tardiness of the basketball team. A family associated with the team came in a few minutes later and informed the staff that the team was indeed on its way. These people kept the staff informed but the staff still treated everyone in the diner quite rudely.

When the staff was told the team was five minutes away, one of the waitresses started loudly yelling that she wasn't holding the tables any longer and removed all the place settings and completely ignored the team associates already there. It was incredibly racist behavior.

In the hour I was at the diner, I never even got a second cup of coffee. I'm glad I didn't stay to see how the basketball team was treated. At least the staff spoke to me directly, however.

Although the team was late, not one person had to wait for a table due to the reservations being held for the team.

There is never an excuse for racism and I am embarrassed to see such actions in Flagstaff. That diner will never see my business again and I would encourage all Native Americans to avoid "The Place" as well.

Rebecca A. Price
Flagstaff, Ariz.

Mike and Rhondas responds

First and foremost, we would like to apologize on behalf of our entire staff here at The Place Mike and Rhondas east side.

We are owned by a local family, the Valenzuelas, who are a blended Mexican American/Native American family.

Our staff here at the restaurant is like our big extended family. We are proud of who we are as well as the business we run.

To any customer who has felt that they were treated differently, we sincerely apologize. Please give us the opportunity to prove that we are here to welcome and serve all of our patrons.

We gave a varied clientele and greatly appreciate every one of you! Thank you so much to all our loyal Native American customers. Hope to see you soon.

The Place Mike and Rhondas East
Flagstaff, Ariz.

Fight for your rights!

Border town Gallup and the ruined wood stove: These people should've left the cracked stove there on their "doorstep" and took some pictures of it, especially the name tag (still on the package) of the customer who had it first, then go to court to get your money back (Letters: "Check what you buy in border towns," by James and Ella Bitannie, Feb. 2, 2012).

Your receipt is important. File a discrimination suit and file also in small claims court.

You are each other's witness too. Even if there are 100 of them and two of you, your witness is important. Put your story on paper and keep your story straight. If there is a time limit to return the product, keep the dates of when you tried returning the bad product.

Write down notes of the conversation and the names of the employees who lied about the product. The names of the managers are important. The date you bought the product and the dates you went back to try again to return the product.

Don't be shy to say to them and to the judge that they "are all lying". I bought a lemon from a car lot and I had it towed back to the car lot and demanded my money back within the time limit and had a mechanic look at it across the street and had a piece of paper of his diagnosis of what was wrong with the car. I got my money back.

Be bold and demand your money back and no exchange. Say that you would never patronize at their store again and that you'll be spreading the news too (which you did).

They have a lot of Navajos shopping at these places for lumber, construction material, stoves, etc., and soon enough they'll feel the loss for their bad management practice.

Yael Begaye
Tucson, Ariz.

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