Kyl, McCain in TC to ask tribes to give up rights

FROM THE READERS, April 5, 2012

Text size: A A A




S enators Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and John McCain, R-Ariz., are coming to Tuba City today to persuade Navajo Nation and Hopi tribal leaders to give up their peoples' aboriginal, reserved, and treaty-supported priority water rights by accepting a "settlement agreement" written to benefit central and southern Arizona and some of the West's most powerful mining and energy corporations.

President Ben Shelly's staff reports the meeting is closed to the Hopi and Navajo public.

Senate Bill 2109 - the "Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Act of 2012" - was introduced by Kyl and McCain on Feb. 14 and is on a legislative fast track.

Grassroots Hopi and Navajo citizens groups say the bill will go a long way toward closing the door forever on western Navajo and Hopi food and water sovereignty, security, and self-reliance.

SB 2109 does ask the Navajo and Hopi peoples to waive their priority water rights to surface waters of the Little Colorado River "from time immemorial and thereafter, forever" in return for the shallow promise of uncertain federal appropriations to supply drinking water to a handful of reservation communities.

The bill - and the "settlement agreement" it ratifies - actually do not quantify Navajo and Hopi water rights, which has been the foundation approach of the other southwestern Indian water rights settlements to date.

Indian reserved rights to western Navajo and Hopi agricultural water are effectively cut out "forever" by SB 2109. The word "waiver" appears in the settlement agreement about 65 times, and the word "forever" appears 17 times.

Senators Kyl and McCain demand that the Navajo and Hopi people waive all their rights to legal protection of injury to surface and ground water supply and quality in the past and present, and discoverable in the future - yet the Navajo and Hopi peoples do not even know the full extent and nature of the rights they are being pressured to waive because the details of the settlement agreement are not being openly and candidly shared with the public.

"This is wrong," is the common reply of Navajo and Hopi citizens who learn of the withheld information.

Navajo and Hopi water and public health have already been damaged, sometimes severely, by past uranium and coal mining in and upstream of Navajo and Hopi communities.

Senators Kyl and McCain are trying now, through "waivers," to take away all rightful legal protections against the past and present known damages and real possibility of such contaminations or damages being discovered in the future.

The waivers are supported and co-written by the Navajo Nation's water lawyer, and are currently supported by the Navajo president and the Hopi president.

SB 2109 and the settlement agreement it ratifies deny the Navajo and Hopi people the resources and means to assess comprehensive long-term water needs of every community, village, and watershed. The Senate bill and agreement also deny the tribes title to additional quantifiable water rights and the full economic value of those rights.

This is counter to the U.S. Supreme Court's 1908 Winter's Doctrine that explicitly safeguards the Navajo's and Hopi's reserved water rights - established by the Navajo-U.S. treaties of 1849 and 1868, and also by trust, reservation, and other legislation for the Hopi and Navajo tribes.

Along with water rights, treaty rights are waived by SB 2109 and the settlement agreement.

SB 2109 and the settlement agreement deny the Navajo and Hopi people the resources and means to "bank" or economically store their own surface waters in regional lakes or underground storage banks off the reservations. This lets down-stream interests get the waters for free.

Nor are the tribes allowed to fully protect and potentially recharge their reservation aquifers (like Phoenix and Tucson do) depleted and damaged by the mining and energy corporations that SB 2109 benefits.

SB 2109 and the settlement agreement require Navajo and Hopi to give Peabody Coal Mining Company and the Salt River Project and other owners of the Navajo Generating Station tens of thousands of acre-feet of Navajo and Hopi water (that is annually worth $30 million or more) every year without a penny of compensation from NGS and to force the extension of Peabody and NGS leases without Navajo and Hopi community input.

The senators are saying congressional appropriations for water development outlined in SB 2109 is to be withheld unless the two tribes waive everything. This is clearly coercive.

In other words, the senators are holding Navajo and Hopi water hostage, and forcing tribal waivers of much larger rights, values, and opportunities so that outside interests can greatly benefit.

Before he went into politics, Kyl was a lawyer for Salt River Project and the Navajo Generating Station.

Looking up this type of thing in Webster's Dictionary, it describes it as "extortion" or to obtain something from a person by intimidation or undue power.

An honest question is, why would any tribal leader or lawyer endorse this, unless they were grossly misinformed or supporting outside interests?

Ed Becenti
St. Michaels, Ariz.


Water bill should be killed

U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl's report on Senate bill 2109, "The Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Act of 2012," is severely flawed simply because no Navajos were at the negotiation table to protect Navajo Nation water rights and interests and it contains language that will diminish Navajo and Hopi (and therefore all federally recognized tribes) tribal sovereignty.

In exchange for giving up our senior water rights we already possess, we must settle for another empty congressional promise of future water development and only if Congress decides it will fund any water projects.

Historically speaking, Congress has set precedent by giving out empty promises also known as "treaties" which are absolutely worthless most of the time.

There is no guarantee for water project funding for Navajo ($199 million) and Hopi ($113 million). And $102 million must be borrowed from other Colorado River projects and Arizona for the initial start-up for any and all Navajo-Hopi projects and paid back even if the projects fail.

At stake is the loss of our aboriginal and federal reserved water rights because under SB 2109, the Navajo and Hopi tribes must waive their aboriginal and federal reserved water rights; hold all other 33 parties to the "settlement" harmless for all damages to water rights and quality and they cannot ever pursue additional water rights.

Both tribes will forever lose federal "trust protection" and be subject to laws of the states and their respective counties.

U.S. senators Jon Kyl and John McCain are proven enemies of the Navajo and Hopi people with the forced "agreement." But then again, they gave both tribes Public Law 93-531 (the Navajo-Hopi Relocation At of 1974) and Public Law 104-301 (the Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute Settlement Act of 1996), which were nothing more than an illegal and immoral land grab for the purposes of allowing Peabody Western Coal Co. to enlarge its operations, extend its lease, and reap billions more in profit for pennies on the Navajo dollar and resources.

The Navajo-Gallup Water Pipeline Project is included in this "settlement" yet there is no guarantee for funding for this project as well and concurrently, Hydro Resources Inc. wants to begin its in-situ leach uranium mining near Church Rock and Crownpoint using our sole source of pristine drinking water.

Under current U.S. law, the Department of the Interior (including the U.S. Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement) has a "trust responsibility" to protect the N and C-aquifers, but the "settlement" does away with this completely.

Navajo Nation water rights attorney Stanley Pollack wrote this water rights give-away, thereby placing future generations of Navajos at the mercy of outside interests who care nothing about our people.

Attorney General Harrison Tsosie has the responsibility to immediately remove Pollack and/or charge him with high treason against the nation. The Navajo Nation Council must reject S.2109 and "Kill the Bill" before it becomes U.S. law.

Mervyn Tilden
Church Rock, N.M.


Confluence project is hypocritical

I have been reading about the proposed development of a luxury resort, airport, and aerial tramway along the Grand Canyon's East Rim by the Navajo Nation government and am appalled that this would even be supported by our tribal government. The Grand Canyon is listed as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization meaning it is of outstanding cultural or natural importance to humanity. It is a national landmark and has been called by many publications one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The canyon has a delicate ecosystem of plants and animals and has a geologic record that spans 2 billion years. I cannot imagine 100 years of life. Can you imagine 2 billion years of life?

The proponents of the feasibility study cite the need for tourism dollars as the reason for this development. They project that such a development would bring in $70 million in tourism revenue per year and result in 2,000 jobs.

I oppose this development. Why? Please reread the first paragraph and then consider the following:

"The jurisdictional issues between the National Park Service and the Navajo Nation would result in costly litigation. I understand there is already a dispute about where the reservation boundary is within the canyon.

"Navajo people in the Western Agency have lived through some of the worst experiences imposed by the federal government (e.g. Livestock Reduction Program and the Bennett Freeze). Why does the Navajo government foster that type of treatment of our own people by ignoring their rights? "We cannot just ignore the people who have homesite leases and grazing permits in that area. Is this development supported by the affected grazing permittee(s) and communities? "The cost to lay down the infrastructure alone is estimated to be around $60 million - where are we going to get that money? I'm sure The Fulcrum Group (also known as Confluence Partners), the development group proposing this development, isn't planning to just donate it. I foresee the group will expect tribal monies.

"The Fulcrum Group/Confluence Partners, based out of Scottsdale, has their eye on money. They do not understand and likely never will understand the importance of land and its connection with the people.

"Who is the Fulcrum Group? Why can't they develop elsewhere? Why was someone on their team indicted for embezzlement? Was a background check completed on the group?

"The safety of the tourists, an estimated 3 million visitors per year, would incur a huge liability on the Navajo Nation. Imagine if a massive flood occurred and thousands were injured.

"Jurisdiction over non-Navajos will be a problem. "The light, air, and noise pollution would be irreversible. "The bridges of communication and mutual respect that we have built with other Indian communities would be compromised. More than ever, the Southwest tribes need to work together and help one another. "The plants and animals would suffer. "We would be compromising our cultural beliefs." The last three items listed, to me, are the most important because they are immeasurable. From time immemorial we have coexisted with our tribal neighbors. We have learned to survive in the high deserts and have adapted to numerous changes that have occurred over the centuries. I think we have a moral responsibility and obligation to continue to build those bridges of communication and consider their concerns regarding this development. Just because we can build doesn't mean we should build. Our leadership needs to realize that our actions have far reaching effects that could be detrimental to the spiritual well being of our tribal neighbors. We cannot act brashly, arrogantly, and irresponsibly.

For many years, the Navajo people have fought for protection of our sacred areas, those areas that are deeply ingrained in our clan systems, our traditional stories, our value system, our ceremonies and songs. We have been going in circles with various outside entities to seek protection of our sacred mountains. Recently, we fought for the protection of Mount Taylor and the San Francisco Peaks. In our litigation, we consistently cite the importance of these sacred places for the continuation of our culture.

This area proposed for development fits in that category too. The confluence of the rivers is a sacred place and the Grand Canyon is a sacred place that we should protect. By allowing and building access to that area for millions of people to visit, we detract from its tranquility. We detract from its natural beauty. We disrupt the ecosystem. We, basically, shoot the legal footing we have gained over the decades regarding the protection of sacred sites. In my opinion, by building such a development, we desecrate a sacred site.

The reason I was compelled to write this letter is that this proposed monstrosity is being promoted by our own government. Our leadership is acting hypocritical. Our leadership is forgetting all the legal precedents our ancestors have fought for regarding sacred sites. Our leadership is ignoring our elders and traditional practitioners. It is forgetting that we need to respect other neighboring tribal communities. It is forgetting the significance and longevity of the canyon. I had to say something! I'm tired of the poor decision-making and shortsightedness of our leaders.

If this project is going to happen, let it happen without our help. We don't need to sell our souls for money. Commercialism and capitalism should never come before our spiritual well-being. I strongly object to this development and I strongly encourage our leadership to consider other means of job generation. True leadership would set in writing criteria for future development, clearly defining what type(s) of development we need (e.g. companies who do not need tribal monies, clean development free from environmental hazards, development that does not disturb our sacred sites). This list of criteria should be supported by the communities and chapters before any development is entertained. Do not invest any more time, energy, and money in this project.

Jewel Touchin
Tempe, Ariz.


Our failure to protect holy places

The failure of our tribal government to consider its own peoples cultural and religious needs will have frightening repercussions that will extend beyond our borders. Our failure to protect our holy places on our own lands will effectively undermine our participation in management processes for holy places that lie outside our borders. Diné tah, Tso Dzil, Dibe nstaa, Dookosliid, Sis najini to name but a few, these places are not within the administrative boundaries of the current Navajo Reservation. How will the states, counties, and federal government look at us if we do this project? We tell them what to do, we tell them what is holy, and we fight them over proper management of these places, yet we do not practice what we are preaching? We are destroying the foundations of laws and policy acts established to protect us as people, and to protect our cultural resources that are not within our reservation. Right now there is a land grab going on, states like Utah and Arizona are actively trying to take possession of federal property in order to do the very thing the Navajo Nation is doing, to exploit the natural resources. Where will it stop? We claim sovereignty but we are in fact wards of the federal government, our reservation is federal property. Do you think the states will stop at our boundaries? No they will look out onto our reservation, and see our amusement parks built on our holy places, they see our coal, they see our water, and they want it. They will trample us as they ignore our pleas to save our holy places, because we have pursued, hounded, and chased the holy people from the places they live where they watch over us. Where will it stop? After they done with our lands, what will we have left? The green water at the bottom of strip mines? The laughter of rich people as they throw pennies to us because we are washing their dishes and fixing their beds? Where? When?

Jason Nez
Coalmine, Ariz.


Times not objective in Confluence coverage

It's a shame when you cannot count on your local paper for an objective view of the news but controversy sells advertisements. In recent articles pertaining to a potential project in Western Navajo, reporter Cindy Yurth has stoked needless fear in residents by citing sources that have since been linked to non-Diné associated with Papillon helicopters and their owners, the Halverson family, who are trying to protect their flight monopoly as well as their proposed mega-resort at Tusayan. Navajo would be a direct competitor.

An Internet search of www.savetheconfluence.com listed Ben Winton of Phoenix as the owner. A Google search of "Ben Winton" and "Papillon" brings Mr. Winton's LinkedIn private page up. Mr. Winton is a flight instructor and aviator. Advertisements along the bottom of the "grassroots" webpage show "Sponsors": Papillon helicopters, Quality Inn Grand Canyon (owned by Halverson), Grand Canyon Bus Tours (owned by Halverson), and high priced Las Vegas hotels.

The market-share that Papillon has aggressively been protecting, either acquiring for themselves, or keeping anyone else from attaining, has been working against the Navajo Nation since 2009. Working for Cameron Chapter to help them attain air-tour routes into the Grand Canyon we've had to fight off constant attempts by Papillon to secure rights to "Snoopy's Nose," aka the Confluence, in defiance of the desires of both Cameron and Gap/Bodaway chapters. Papillon worked with former Navajo Nation Parks & Recreation Director Ray Russell (fired for misusing tens of thousands of dollars from a special needs children's fund), former Resources Committee Chairman George Arthur, and former officials in the Shirley administration to try to circumvent the local people. We fought them off repeatedly to ensure that Gap/Bodaway wasn't bothered by helicopters, per the chapters' request, while Cameron seeks more business development.

Papillon continued to fight the will of both chapters. Papillon had tried to secure a monopoly over Western Navajo ensuring that Cameron would never have the same potential that brings over $8 million to the Hualapai Nation. They failed due to our continued work ensuring the chapters' will was secured. This is affirmation of Navajo sovereignty of our airspace, President Ben Shelly and delegates Phelps, Tsinigine, Benally and Smith all have been staunch supporters of the Navajo exemption and have repeatedly visited the chapters and advocated for the will of the chapters at the national level.

Not only will the nation have to fight off businesses eyeing the nation as a competitor but there exists federal agencies that view Navajo as less than sovereign. The treaties signed between the Navajo Nation and the states supersede any notions of subservience to any federal agency. The views presented by Yurth represent only her own and the bureaucrats at the National Park Service. Even now the Park Service attempts to control Navajo airspace with the Alexander Amendment to control tribal airspace near parks.

Ms. Yurth made her lack objectivity known during a ride to the Confluence site. She whined the entire trip that we would hurt "the greatest invention of the American system." When the writer explained to her that the park was made from land stolen from the First Nations she was indifferent. Even after telling her about the 48-year-long American government's Bennett Freeze she continued to press her point. The chairwoman of the Council's R&D Committee, who kindly had taken the day to listen to local issues, had to remind Ms. Yurth she is a guest on the nation and doesn't understand.

There exist foreign entities bent on telling the Navajo Nation how to live. A Sierra Club spokesperson has superciliously been telling the nation how to develop. They neglected to apologize for the Sierra Club's taking of over $28 million from Chesapeake Energy, a natural gas company responsible for dangerous hydrological "fracking" in ways that destroys groundwater supplies and wastes water by a 3:1 ratio for gas. While the Sierra Club was accepting millions from one energy company to thwart competition they continue to criticize how we try to stop the diaspora of generations of Diné from our homeland. The guys at the Sierra Club have jobs but what have they done to solve the need for 4,344 new jobs every year for Navajo?

Change is rough when you are used to the old ways. The Park Service and the Sierra Club like their Indians poor and quiet but those days are behind us. Neither group has once spoken out against the desecration of 30,000 river-rafting tourists each year at the Confluence for the last several decades. They've never shown any care for protecting what is holy to the Diné, Hopi, or Zuni.

Selective development of the area will begin the assertion of sovereignty for the Western border of Dine' bi Keyah and bring revenue to the nation to rival what comes from coal plants and coal mines. The proposed development will not touch any site considered holy by any First Nation but will protect, in plain site, those areas that are currently being defiled by the Grand Canyon River Guides Association, Grand Canyon Nation Park Service, and thousands of private rafters who play at the Confluence with the Park's approval.

It would be great if Yurth would acknowledge the hundreds of construction and permanent jobs, rehabilitation of the Bennett Freeze region, tax haul that would increase nation's revenue by 50 percent, miles of new power, sewer, telecommunications, and paved roads. The ancillary spillover to new businesses along the 27-mile new tourism corridor is potential for other Diné to open new restaurants, service stations, hotels; the project allows Navajo to capture a piece of the existing $900 million Grand Canyon market. The area proposed for jewelers to sell directly to the public allows for a centralized location for independent jewelers to continue their proud tradition and will be great for regional artisans and future craftsmen. It is better to create clean tourism jobs than pollute the earth or rely on the sha' mentality of the American government.

Ivan Gamble
LeChee, Ariz.

Editor's note: Our understanding of websites and advertising is that the ads are generated by automatic systems that track what an individual has been viewing and matches ad content to the viewer's preferences. So Gamble is seeing ads that show the type of pages he has been viewing. Also, we stand by Cindy Yurth's reporting and Gamble's version of the ride to the Confluence is a complete fabrication on his part.



A rebuttal to People of Confluence critic

I am a member of the People of the Confluence, a group dedicated to saving and preserving the Grand Canyon East from mass development and commercialization.

This letter is a rebuttal to Ivan K. Gamble's accusation that the creator of the www.savetheconfluence.com website is supported by Papillon Airways, Inc.

Gamble - a LeChee resident - charges the website as being supported and funded by Papillon ads.

Most websites floating around the Internet are not funded privately by large corporations and instead derive a source of income to keep domains running through the use of advertisements. These ads are random preference-generated ads that crawl on many websites.

Advertisements appear according to the website viewer's previous Internet history and searches in order to tailor to each user's viewing experience and preferences.

For example, if one such viewer were to search for power tools at Sears, the ads would adjust accordingly in order to expand upon the possibility of garnering a click on the ad. Thus any company which appears as a "sponsor" is in no way privately funding the website itself.

In fact, if Mr. Gamble were to click on any one of those Papillon advertisements that ran (or run) across the bottom of his screen he would in fact be funding the website personally.

The People of the Confluence rejected Papillon Airways' request and proposal to place a helipad at the Confluence in 2011 as helicopters are incredibly noisy and violate the peace and quiet of the Confluence needed for prayers.

Gamble's charges stem from anger directed at The People of the Confluence for rejecting plans to develop the rim top and the floor of Grand Canyon East.

Gamble, along with state lawmaker Albert Hale, Michael Nelson and Scottsdale business consultant Lamar Whitmer, belongs to Fulcrum Group LLC (also known as Confluence Partners LLC) which received an MOU for a feasibility study of the Confluence from President Ben Shelly on Feb. 21.

When the People of the Confluence learned the Navajo Nation president was ready to sign an MOU with the Confluence Partners in February or 2012, a copy of the MOU was requested. Our group was told the MOU was "one signature" away from approval by Shelly staffers and the final contract would be ready in May or June of 2012.

The stakeholders received a copy March 20, 2012.

The MOU revealed a new plan but perhaps the most troublesome fact of all is that only four people were assigned to communicate about its content. As a result, the People of the Confluence asked Winton (a family in-law) to build www.savetheconfluence.com in order to represent the voices of Bodaway stakeholders.

As an aviator and flight instructor, Winton is able to provide the People of the Confluence with resourceful insight into flight laws and regulations. He does not fly helicopters or planes in or around the Grand Canyon as a member of any particular flight corporation and instead garners his flight hours recreationally by flying in and around Deer Valley far from both the Grand Canyon and the Confluence.

Finally, Gamble's swipe at non-Navajo media outlets and reporters covering the Confluence is both baffling and silly.

His recommendation that only Navajo-speaking journalists cover the Confluence story brings forth accusations and questions regarding his own Navajo language skills. The community knows he does not speak Navajo fluently and has seen him searching for interpreters when conversations have slipped into esoteric Navajo at the Bodaway/Gap Chapter.

The People of the Confluence believe that accuracy, fairness and the courage to uncover stories that both impact and affect Navajo people is not only important, but deserved and expected.

To merely allow Navajo reporters and media outlets to cover a story with such brevity is an issue that begs the question: What is Ivan K. Gamble afraid of?

Could it be that he wants to keep the issue hidden away from people who care about the Grand Canyon National Park in order to keep his villainy localized and controlled?

Journalism is widespread, easily obtained and used to keep the masses in the know. Most of all, it is for everyone - not just for the few who may or may not need an interpreter to serve as a barrier to keep others who may wish to be informed in the dark.

Tyrone Tsosie
Tuba City, Ariz.


Kinaalda story had inaccuracies

Yá'át'ééh shidine'é. Shí éí Tanya Yazzie yinishyé. Tódích'íi'nii dine'é éí nishlí. Kinyaa'áanii dine'é báshíshchíín. Naakaii Dine'é éí dashicheii. Táchii'nii dine'é éí dashinálí. ákótéego éí 'asdzání nishlí. Chandler, Ariz., 'eii díí shígahn.

My 13-year-old twin daughters were featured on the front page of the Navajo Times last week (March 22, 2012). I have to admit that I was very surprised the story made the front page. I wasn't expecting that.

There were a number of inaccuracies I found with this article. However, the two most important were that my daughter's clans were flipped for their chei and nálí.

And just as grievously, perhaps even more so, were the culturally insensitive remarks towards the end of the article regarding the O'odham in respect to their culture and language.

I am an archaeologist who works for the Gila River Indian Community and I was deeply distressed when I read this past Thursday's edition. I would like to clarify my statements, which have been misrepresented by the Navajo Times, and have caused me a great deal of anger and dismay on a personal and professional plane.

While I was giving this interview, it had been my fervent hope that the reporter would focus on the contrasts between my upbringing on the Navajo Reservation and that of my children, whom were all born and raised in the greater Phoenix valley, in the context of traditional Navajo culture.

While talking with Cindy Yurth, I was expressing my opinion that I felt that our youth were in danger of losing our culture and language, and that is was perhaps true for all Native American tribes including the O'odham.

I admitted to Cindy that we, as parents, have to take responsibility for this loss as my own children do not speak Navajo or do not know many of our Navajo traditions.

Cindy was correct in saying that I do have some regrets for not raising our children on the Navajo Reservation but the fact remains that I wanted my children to have an excellent education, more opportunities available to them, and the resources needed to help my son, who is autistic.

I was deeply disturbed to learn that my quote had been pieced together, and read out of context.

As such, I was baffled by the printed exclamation that the O'odham "look to us Navajos ...," which may have been confused by Cindy when I told her that some of my coworkers had been curious about the kinaaldás I've had for my girls.

My paternal grandparents who raised me taught me early on to respect people, their values, religion and cultures. These values were compounded when I took anthropology classes, which teach us to be aware of differences among people with varying cultural and traditional backgrounds.

I was telling Cindy that I worked with some really great people, whom I hold in great respect and highest regards. I would never knowingly insult, offend or malign another person's religion or heritage and for this, I am deeply sorry for any insult that may have been felt by my coworkers and any person of O'odham heritage who may have been offended by this misrepresentation.

I would like for this to be printed in the next edition of the Navajo Times along with a formal apology to the O'odham and anyone else whom may have been offended by this article. Ahéhee.

Tanya Yazzie
Chandler, Ariz.

Editor's note: We stand behind Cindy Yurth's reporting, including the quotes attributed to Yazzie.


Nez misinformed on Kayenta

I would like to respond to the letter presented by William Nez entitled "Kayenta gossip is only gossip." I agree with Nez that "Kayenta is a place of misinformed people, a place where gossip outweighs the truth."

Nez however, is among the most misinformed because he spreads more gossip and lies through the use of the Navajo Times around the entire Navajo Nation for the benefit of a few on the Kayenta Township Commission. I'm the ex-commissioner who wasn't voted back in "now pushing the chapter to shut down the township."

First of all, to date I have never met with a chapter official. Secondly, I've always supported the concept of a township and will continue to do so. Normally, I wouldn't even bother to give these untruths an answer but I'm afraid that if I don't respond, people will think that the gossip is fact when it isn't.

Mr. Nez, you encourage everyone in Kayenta to stop the gossip and search for the truth. You say you're a political science major. Where do the voting rules say a Council delegate has to have a college degree? You certainly did a good job ripping our Council delegate apart. For your information, I think she does an excellent job representing our district.

Genevieve Gray, the owner of the Golden Sands restaurant, never said she paid all her rent or taxes. She even appeared before the Township Commission on March 12 and publicly announced, "I admit I didn't pay my rent and I've also said that I didn't pay taxes. I've never denied that."

You were misinformed by (the Division of) Economic Development also, "that all businesses on Navajoland pay rent yearly to operate."

Most of us pay monthly. Economic Development should have told you that most Navajo-owned businesses have been in arrears in rental payments at some time during their lease. Many of them are behind in their rental payments now.

The waitress at the Blue Coffee Pot also lied to you. There is no way that she showed you "seven years of receipts made each month (for) rental payments."

I was a commissioner when we couldn't get the Blue Coffee Pot to pay rent for over a decade. (That is a fact).

The reason the township now is "taking all the blame for all failed businesses" is that they have no heart. Once upon a time, all businesses on the reservation were run by non-Navajos and all BIA business policies and rules were made to control these businesses. Now there are Navajo-owned businesses and Navajo control, yet the same old rules still apply.

There are several businesses slated for shutdown in Kayenta and they are all Navajo-owned. You would think that the first Navajo local government would try to keep and develop its own Navajo-owned businesses and try to develop more. Even at the expense of technical assistance or immediate and continued attention when they start to miss payments. The current Township Commission has never met with the Kayenta Business Association. I feel at present that many of Kayenta's businesses want to move their leases back to the Navajo Nation and not the Kayenta Township.

Lastly, the remarks "prior commissioners who never did a thing for our community" and ex-commissioners "(are) pushing the chapter to shut down the township."

Such comments pass the line of gossip and are bold-faced lies. There are 21 Indian reservations in the state of Arizona and all of them are wards of the government including the Navajo Nation. The concept of a Native American "township" is a very new idea. The idea that an Indian community wants a home-rule government and the same community wants to pay for its services through local taxes. Tribal governments weren't created by us as much as we were forced to acquiesce to the BIA form of government. The federal government holds Indian lands in "trust" which means the federal government owns all of Navajoland, that's why we all have post office boxes and no residential addresses.

Recall is a democratic process that allows citizens to throw out the perceived liars and thieves without destroying the basic self-governance framework. I want to thank you for the suggestion of meeting with the local chapter officials. I think it is a civic duty for the citizens of each chapter to meet with their elected representative(s).

Richard Mike
Kayenta, Ariz.


Old car was in an illegal dump

This is a response to the letter received from Lucia Williams in regards to abandon property ("Police stand by while men cut up car," March 29, 2012.)

Two individuals were looking for metal scraps and found this abandon old car in an illegal dump yard in the wash.

The officer did respond to the complaint in a reasonable time and assessed the situation. It appears to the officer the vehicle in question was old, rusted and appeared to be there for years, maybe 1970s.

It was located in an illegal dumpsite with other trash about 400 yards away from the nearest residence. The fence does not enclose the dump area or their residence but is an open area.

The metal parts were already loaded and secured when the officer arrived. The subjects were told to leave the area and left with whatever was loaded. The metal frame was loaded, the car shell was still there in wash.

It was considered abandoned property in a trash dump. EPA was requested but not available for the dumpsite at the time.

Given the circumstances, the officer did her work professionally.

Lt Tulley Jim
Commander
Navajo Nation Police

Back to top ^