Delegates' assistants = county, state positions?

FROM THE READERS, March 22, 2012

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I t never ceases to amaze me on what politicians will do to get elected.

Recently, assistants were hired to assist the Council delegates with their work because a lot of chapters were assigned to one delegate.

Now that they have these assistants, it doesn't surprise me to hear that these delegates have time to run for county or state positions.

What next? Time will only tell in the next few weeks. Keep tuned.

Lavenna George
Ganado, Ariz.


P-card idea was previously dropped

As a former Division of Economic Development employee of the Navajo Nation, several of us administrators and program directors discussed the possibilities of securing authorization for key administrators and department directors to carry Navajo Nation approved Master Charge cards or American Express credit (P-Cards as it is now called).

Approval would have allowed employees to charge meals, hotel/motel rooms and to purchase gasoline for tribal vehicles, while on urgent or emergency tribal travels away from the Navajo Nation.

After several meetings and extensive discussions, it was decided that to carry a Navajo Nation Master card would create possible misuse of these credit cards. It was decided to forget the idea, and was dropped.

Those of us who were involved in those plans and meetings did not want to be accused of mismanagement and/or illegal purchases with the use of these credit cards.

The question now is what happened to the honesty and ideals of Navajo Nation employees? Somewhere unscrupulous division and department directors developed the plan we had previously abandoned. Ultimately, approved uses of these cards without established plans of operation or strict uses created gross mismanagement of tribal P-cards.

And the question is: What happened to the once strict Navajo Nation travel and procurement policies?

Almost 150 years ago, our ancestors were warned to stop the raids on nearby non-Navajo settlements, towns and non-Navajo ranches and wagon trains traveling west. Our ancestors did not heed the advice of the U.S. government.

The thievery and continued raids resulted in our people being rounded up and forced on the long walk to Hweedi.

Our ancestors spent four miserable years in a concentration camp on the dry river beds of the Pecos River, near Fort Sumner, N.M. We were finally released and again were warned in the Treaty of 1868 to stop our thievery.

It is apparent that our modern Navajo people have forgotten the promises our ancestors made in the treaty. Like our ancestors, we are back to our thieving ways.

I overheard mockery by non-Navajos while reading the news about the proposed prosecution of our Council delegates: "Send them back on the Long Walk. They haven't learned their lesson."

First, almost the entire Navajo Nation Council was accused of misuse of discretionary funds. Along with it were continuous tribal audits and charging various elected Navajo Nation chapter officials for stealing chapter funds.

Secondly, it has now escalated to Navajo Nation employees. What and who is next to be accused of stealing money from ourselves?

I make these remarks because as a former tribal employee, I was once the credit manager of several loan programs for the entire Navajo Nation. Many of these programs contained millions of Navajo Nation dollars.

Under my supervision and directorship of these loan programs, there were no attempts by myself or my staff to steal or mismanage any of these loan funds. This is mainly because, by example, I taught my staff to be honest Navajo Nation loan officers.

The continuing reports of Navajo Nation employees stealing money are embarrassing mockery by our non-Navajo neighbors. Where and who taught all of you to steal money from the Navajo Nation?

In your early childhood, I know there were attempts to teach you to be honest but most likely you turned and defied the teachings of your elders. The time may be too late now but I encourage you to pick up the pieces and restart your life over again to be an honest Navajo citizen.

Wilbur J. Nez
Window Rock, Ariz.


Thank you, Ahasteen

A real big thank you to cartoonist Jack Ahasteen on page A-6 on March 15. It's straight up the truth that two weak leaders look like they're continuing to add another to their confused reputations.

They both look like they want to ask for help of how to handle tough Diné governmental issues they heavily campaign for.

I saw President Shelly on Action 7 News on March 15 and (he) kept shrugging his shoulders when the interviewer was asking him questions. He did his best to answer them all anyways. A lot of you voted for that?

When President Shelly was elected he said, "You, the people, should be involved with Diné government, so we can start building our nation. We are ready to begin."

A lot of people are involved. On the waiting list for a good home. I want more housing built on Diné land with running water and electricity for Diné families that are in dire need.

It seems to me on page A-6, March 15, you, the president and vice, strongly don't have the mind for it.

Why not use all that good fortune the U.S. government is giving the Diné tribe that's being wasted daily? Is all that money being pocketed by the president, vice, the 24, speaker, 110 chapters, sidekicks, all their relatives and their adulterous lovers?

All of them solemnly affirmed to hear, help, and support the needs of all Diné people within the five agencies.

Mr. Shelly told New Mexico state governor "she gained a lot of weight" and told Arizona state governor "she turns him on." This is your president at work people !

Once all Diné leaders were elected, they all went into hiding underneath a rock and Diné people don't see them anymore. Will the dishonesty of misspending and misappropriation of U.S. government funds continue?

The Council Chamber is full of curse. Have your big meetings somewhere in the five agencies. That way all that money can stay on Diné land. You hear me?

Joe "Indian" Yazzie Jr.
Chinle, Ariz.


Struggle, confusion over Confluence project

There is a struggle and confusion in Western Navajo, Bodaway. The Navajo Nation government has partnered with the Fulcrum Group LLC of Scottsdale, Ariz., to develop a tourist site close to the edge of the Grand Canyon that borders with the Navajo Nation.

Of importance is the area called the Confluence where the Little Colorado River merges with the Colorado.

The view as you look south towards the Grand Canyon is quite impressive. They want to withdraw 600 acres of land that is very fragile and primitive. To travel there from Highway 89 requires a high-centered pickup truck over ungraded roads.

The nation wants to use the Bennett Freeze funds to build a road. Profits from the venture would go to the almost depleted tribal coffer. The people wanted that money to stay locally, but that won't happen.

Why? Consider the Utah Navajo Trust Funds, which the nation would like to get its hands on. And a portion of the Bennett Freeze funds are directed to build a casino.

The argument against the Grand Canyon Escalade project is not money. People who hold grazing permits and who live out there would like no intrusion. Some pride themselves that their families never went on the Long Walk. They hid in the many side canyons. They also survived the harsh livestock reduction, which they call "the time when the horses were painted."

The Bennett Freeze took its toll on the young people over the course of 40 years. The children of the original families had to leave, seek jobs and raised their families far away from this area they called home. Today their own government...

There are sacred sites along the edge of the canyon. The people who visit give corn pollen offer to the Holy People as they pray. The Grand Canyon is sacred to many traditional Navajos as well as other Native people. It has always been that way ever since the emergence.

Listening to the president's special advisor assigned to this project, I wonder of what belief he is. At the meeting in Tuba City last Saturday, he said that the sites would be protected and did not elaborate any more.

Many other concerns related to spiritually were deflected or he would forward them to the president.

In June 2011, the president visited the confluence where he gave a corn pollen offering and prayed with his wife and staff members. This is one of the many sites from where the medicine people asked for harmony and rain. If the development moves forward, how many more sites would be forever destroyed?

The Fulcrum Group considers this area as a "gold mine." At the expense of the people's traditions and culture, they will enrich themselves with money. The money will be invested as stocks in far away cities.

While the Navajo Nation is a partner, I doubt if this is a 50/50 scenario. The nation will lose land, money, sacred sites, and, most of all, its integrity.

Finally, I want to thank you for reading my opinion and to ask you to visit the website

Willie Longreed
Tuba City, Ariz.


Navajo Nation soil is waiting for water

Ya'at'eeh, members of the Navajo Nation Council and Stanley Pollack.

I hope this finds all of you and your families well. I am writing on behalf of my Diné children and grandchildren.

I am wring with very great concern that the water rights settlement agreement you are proposing will close the door forever on funding and realizing irrigated agriculture and water conservation projects to restore Navajo watersheds; to grow high-quality high-value employment-generating livestock and crops for Navajo and external markets; and to provide for healthy, diabetes - and obesity - free nutrition and active lifestyles for future generations.

I have worked with the Diné on agricultural development and natural resources management projects since 1976 in Little Colorado River Valley chapters; in departments and divisions in Window Rock; with Diné College's Land Grant Program; and with conservation districts, grazing committees, farm boards and families.

Please consider:

A. Irrigated family farms along the LCR between 1977 and today have:

  • proven the alluvial aquifer - the 50 mile-long underground reservoir that is the river bed from Birdsprings to Cameron that is re-charged every time the LCR runs, and that can yield 250 to 500-plus gpm of good water from wells less than 100 feet deep;
  • tested and proven feasibility and productivity of river valley soils for good yields of corn, potatoes, squash, chile, melons, onions, pasture, alfalfa, apples, peaches, and grapes; and
  • strengthened Diné cultural values and teachings of partnership with the land and water, of cooperation and generosity in family and community relationships.

B. Over the past 30 years, the Navajo Nation, BIA, and USDA have spent millions of dollars assessing the suitability of Navajo soil for agriculture. Ask the Water Resources Department in Fort Defiance to look at the William Brothers, or Morrison-Maierle, or Bureau of Reclamation, or USDA-NRCS soils studies - you will see for yourselves.

Every valley of the Navajo Nation has hundreds or thousands of acres of soil that with water and good management will produce excellent yields of many high quality crops.

The soil in the Navajo Nation are waiting for water to awaken the life that is in them. With water, those soils will support the health, well-being, prosperity and strength of the Dine forever. C. What will it take for community-based irrigation projects to succeed on Navajo? Why there are lush green beautiful farms in California's Imperial Valley, or near Phoenix, and not in Tuba City or Chinle?

Because successful irrigated agriculture requires a fully coordinated approach, which has never been applied in Navajo Nation chapters.

Stanley, your "clan relatives" in Israel have shown the world that successful agricultural development must have five factors coordinated and working together, simultaneously. If any one piece of the puzzle is missing, the whole agricultural and socio-economic system will not work well.

The five factors are:

1. Physical infrastructure - water systems, power, roads, facilities for equipment, crop processing and storage, marketing;

2. Capital and credit - for all farm needs;

3. Technical assistance and training - education, problem-solving research, extension education and outreach in agronomy, engineering, hydrology, marketing etc.;

4. Management of all aspects of agricultural operations;

5. Marketing -for highest returns, also value-added processing, storage, etc.

In the U.S., these factors have been coordinated and provided by the federal government to support irrigated agriculture, everywhere except in Indian country -through programs of the Bureau of Reclamation, USDA, Production Credit Associations (initially capitalized by the federal land banks), and Land Grant system.

Those beautiful green irrigated farms in the U.S. and in Israel happened because of comprehensive long-term government support. In the Navajo Nation, neither the U.S. nor the Navajo Nation governments have ever committed sufficient consistent resources needed.

If Navajo farms and ranches and watersheds received one-tenth the funds and attention given to casinos and shopping centers, you would see green fields and pastures, orchards and grape vines and vegetables, fat sheep and healthy cattle in every chapter.

And when you bought hamburger or leg of lamb at Basha's or Safeway, it would be "Navajo Grass-Fed" - not imported from Iowa or New Zealand.

Stanley, in 1990 to 1994, I worked with you and many others to strengthen Navajo water rights claims for wet water, based on extensive LCR basin agricultural potential including 30,000 acres in Cameron, Leupp, Birdsprings and Tolani Lake.

Those projects alone could beneficially use the entire average annual surface flow of the LCR at Cameron providing food and water security and major economic development, income, employment, health and cultural benefits to the Navajo people.

The Diné today and for all future generations need, deserve and are legally entitled to wet water for all uses and the good jobs, income, nutrition, and health benefits that would accompany local food production from irrigated agriculture.

Stanley, what has happened since 1995 to your thinking and commitment to the future generations of Diné?

Members of the Navajo Nation Council, for the sake of our children's children:

  • Quantify Navajo rights to the waters of the Little Colorado River.
  • Provide for leasing of unused Navajo water on an annual basis and open the door to free-market funding for Navajo wet water projects. If Gila River and other tribes can lease their unused quantified water for annual income, why shouldn't Diné?
" ... Cities in the Phoenix metropolitan area have leased thousands of acre-feet of water from several Arizona tribes, under provisions negotiated as part of overall settlements of tribal water rights. These leases provide a long-term water supply for growing cities and much-needed revenues for tribal governments..."

Thank you for your attention.

Jacques Seronde
Flagstaff, Ariz.


Water will become most precious resource

Water is life. Navajo people know this. Waiting for the rain, hauling buckets and tanks from the spring, we know this better than most people.

But water will soon be the most precious resource. Because of pollution, climate change and wealth concentration, access to water will get more difficult for everyday people worldwide.

Corporations are already trying to buy up as much as they can. Owning water is part of their plan to secure their future.

In the midst of all this, the Navajo Nation has to decide about a new version of a bill to settle our water rights to the Lower Colorado River System. Our Council approved the first version two years ago, over the strong protest of many Diné people and organizations.

But Senator Kyl decided the U.S. could not afford it, so the new version is even cheaper. It promises even less than the first one. Other people have written more about the details, but here is some of what this bill would do:

1. We would give up our rights to surface water in exchange for water from aquifers, even though the U.S. will not promise to pay for the pumps and pipelines.

2. We would have to agree to let Peabody Coal keep pumping as much groundwater as they want, and we would have to guarantee Colorado River water for Navajo Generating Station. The Interior Department would no longer be responsible for protecting the N-Aquifer.

3. As in the previous version, this bill would force the Navajo Nation as well as the Hopi Tribe to surrender sovereign immunity, yet the U.S. government would be protected from DinÄ or Hopi lawsuits.

This bill is terrible. We Diné should not have to beg for water. Even according to U.S. law, Indian people living on their own land have first claim to all the water rights needed to sustain their way of life. It's called the Winters Doctrine, and it means Diné have priority over all the water flowing through our lands.

The people pushing for this settlement tell us this is just a theory - "In the real world, this is the best deal you will ever get." This is what they told us two years ago, and now they are saying it again.

But I do not believe them. We do not need to be dependent on people like Stanley Pollack. There are many knowledgeable Diné who have studied this bill and can explain in detail why it would be bad for us.

There may be a tiny trickle of benefit for a few Navajo communities, if Uncle Sam throws us some pocket change, but the real, huge benefits will go to Phoenix and Tucson, as well as a handful of southern Arizona tribes.

This is why the mainstream media have been so positive in their descriptions of this bill. They will continue to get cheap CAP water, which the Navajo Nation gave up back in 1968. It will continue to be pumped to their lawns and swimming pools with power from NGS. We will continue to subsidize their lifestyles with air pollution, coal waste pollution, and aquifer depletion.

I am a 24-year-old Diné and I have hope for the future of my family, my community, my people, and my land. We can start by speaking up for a comprehensive study of how much water the Navajo Nation needs, chapter by chapter. This would give us a solid starting point for any future negotiation.

This is the time to protect our water rights for the future, not give them away.

Robyn Jackson
Wheatfields, Ariz.

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