English is not the only language in Page

May 17, 2012

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I t was disheartening to read the article about Juanita Blake in the Navajo Times, "Diné worker fired for speaking Navajo," by Krista Allen in the May 10, 2010, issue.

Unfortunately, some individuals continue to be ignorant of the fact that they live in the Southwest where multi-ethnic groups have co-existed for thousands of years and the Southwest will always be the hub for diversity.

Page, Ariz., evolved due to the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam, which once was called home by few Navajo families whom I believe is the Tsosie family. If it was not for the generosity of this family, the current newcomers or residents would not be calling Page their home. The city of Page was not created as a bubble city for English speakers only.

These ignorant folks need to be reminded that they also live in a city that is depended on the external dollars of the Navajo shoppers as well as the tourists, therefore, creating a diverse workplace in order to meet the needs of these visitors to Page.

These ignorant folks need to be reminded that they encounter tourists on a daily basis and many are international tourists, speaking German, French, Japanese, Norwegian, Scottish, Spain, etc. These ignorant folks live in a community that is solely dependent on the dollars spent by the visitors who speak many dialects.

As a visitor to Page many times, I observed tourists and Navajos alike are left in an environment for the need to communicate in a diverse language for a much needed explanation or to locate an item by an employee.

At times, my husband had to abandon English altogether to provide an explanation to a German or French tourist in his or her language for guidance if an employee is not around. Rather amusing, my husband speaks little Navajo and English is his first language so I interpret for him in Navajo but he can communicate with the Germans or French tourists.

From the wife of our family friend, we learned few Japanese words. My point is that the city of Page will never be the place where English will be the one and only language to communicate with, especially when tourists continue to flock to see the greatest wonder of the world, the Grand Canyon.

Above all, several family members served in the armed services during World War II and some used the Navajo language to protect the interest of the United States.

Another example, my late father-in-law was one of those who served in the armed service and carried out his duties in the European conflict in France to the Germany during World War II.

In my family, we were often told that the Navajo language was used to help the country when its need was the greatest. Furthermore, grand uncles of this same generation also worked to translate the Bible and hymnals into the Navajo version.

Navajo language will always be unique. Navajo language will stay around forever as many stories and songs recorded are permanently stored at the Smithsonian Institute and numerous publications are written in Navajo language.

My late uncle Jim said to me Navajos were told to learn the language of another tribe to conduct official business. There is some truth to this concept, Navajo people are mobile and trek the globe now.

I have spoken in Navajo to 20- and 30-something non-Navajos occasionally in several stores in Cortez, Durango, and Farmington. They actually understood me and these young folks were able to converse with me in Navajo. I asked how they learned to speak Navajo and they told me that they took Navajo language classes while in school.

Professionals like physicians, attorneys, and teachers also take Navajo language classes. Aside from traditional classrooms, modern technology has afforded many individuals to learn to speak and write Navajo language, i.e., Rosetta Stone program and other software programs.

So, don't be intimidated to speak Navajo or Diné language.

To Ms. Blake, I will speak Navajo whenever I visit Page because there will be a Navajo shopper asking for assistance in a store because he or she cannot see the price or read the label.

To the tribal Council delegates, convince the city of Page to reserve a day to recognize the family that donated the land to the Glen Canyon Dam and city of Page.

I learned about the land deal when I took a tour of the Glen Canyon Dam and no one knew the name of the family.

My opinion: English is not the only language to be spoken in the city of Page.

Dorothy Redhorse
Tse Alnaozt'i', N.M.

Tribal sovereignty segregationists

I live in Farmington, teach in Bloomfield, and pray in Tse Daa K'aan.

I recently attended the public hearing at San Juan College held by the New Mexico Public Education Department on the effort by a group called Children First to split the Central Consolidated School District, perhaps along the reservation boundary.

Some of the public comments I heard implied that the Navajo side of CCSD was somehow "holding back" students in Kirtland schools.

To this, I would observe that Bloomfield High School - comprised of approximately 40 percent Navajo students, 30 percent Hispanic, and 30 percent Anglo - received the PED's highest grade for any high school in San Juan County this year, including Piedra Vista in Farmington.

So I think it's absurd that some folks would argue that diverse ethnicities and cultures simply cannot achieve academic success together.

I grew up in south Georgia and attended segregated schools until I was 16, when court-ordered integration finally occurred. I know that my hometown and thousands of other communities in the South are much better off today in terms of healthy citizenship and social justice because of that action.

So, I claim some first-hand experience with segregationists. I know what they sound like. I know how they act.

The Children First group sound and act like segregationists.

But I have to say, I don't believe they are racial segregationists. It's more complicated than that. They are tribal sovereignty segregationists. They want to segregate the Navajo Nation from their school system so they won't have to deal with all of that difficult business of Native sovereignty, this country's sacred agreement with indigenous people.

Apparently they don't want their children attending schools where they might hear too much Diné bizaad. That is, they don't want to have to deal with the Navajo Nation and its people as equals, government to government. It makes them mad. It upsets them.

Basically, they'd rather rid themselves of any and all obligations that derive from treaty rights more than a hundred years old. And actually, they are fairly open about it.

I used to say that the Kirtland community was the tail that wagged the CCSD dog. Now that the tail no longer does the wagging, they want to cut the dog in half. And I think we all know what that does to the dog.

Michael Thompson
Farmington, N.M.

Governor refuses to carry out directive

At a meeting of the Kykotsmovi village board May 22, the board president announced that the board by a two-thirds vote had removed two village Tribal Council representatives from their position on the charge of a serious neglect of duty - Rebekah Masayesva and Carleen Quotskuyva.

This action of the board followed a village hearing on May 3, 2012, conducted by the governor with five board members present. Both representatives were given the opportunity to read their statements to the village members. Their supporters also spoke on their behalf. Prior to this meeting they were provided with a copy of the complaint against them so they came prepared to this meeting. This meeting was also announced as a hearing against the complaint.

Following this village hearing, the village board took their action based on the evidence provided at the village hearing and directed Governor Melvin George to notify the two representatives of the board action and also the tribal government.

Unfortunately, the governor has refused to execute the directive of the village board of directors. The village by-laws specify that "He shall be delegated with the responsibility of executing decisions of the board or village and shall carry it out to the best of his ability."

Clearly the village governor has and continues to violate this mandated duty and will be held accountable for it by the board.

It is my opinion that if the governor continues to refuse the directive of the board, the president or chairman of the board notifies the two representatives and the tribal government. These two individuals cannot continue to sit on the Tribal Council since they have been removed by the board on May 11, 2012.

Caleb H. Johnson
Kykotsmovi, Ariz.

A few should not cause enormous impact

I am writing this letter to address a very important issue and hopefully raise some eyebrows about the appeal of the largest settlement, Cobell v. the federal government, by a few individuals. The appeal is causing an enormous impact to 40,000-plus Native Individual Indian Monies account holders and landowners.

It shouldn't take only a few to cause an enormous impact and deny compensation that is long overdue and well deserved to the account holders. I know the appeal will require a cumbersome process and may take more than five years for a final decision to be granted.

It the meantime, a good number of account holders is passing on before they even see their share. What if there is a change in the federal government this coming election, especially in Congress. Most of them are like coyotes, they can't be trusted. I'm sure most of the account holders will agree with me about freeing up the compensation.

Shame on these appeal who decided to appeal the largest settlement in the 11th hour. Where were they 10-15 years ago when the suit was in the early stages of development? It is very sad the late Elouise Cobell did not live to see what was due her and her family.

I am not complaining out of desperation on my share but I am concerned about the enormous impact being caused on 40,000-plus account holders and landowners not being compensated. They deserve the compensation. Also, keep in mind we don't know what Dec. 21, 2012, has in store for us and the entire world, it might happen.

In closing, I would like to entertain the idea of circulating some petitions in an effort to persuade the federal courts to overturn the appeal and allow the compensations to move forward without further due. If there is an interest, I would like to hear from those interested in starting a petition drive. Thank you.

Vern Charleston
Shiprock, N.M.

Take well-being of students seriously

As a parent and community member of the Tohatchi school-community, I am against the decision by the Gallup-McKinley County School board to close down Tohatchi Middle School and consolidate the high school and elementary schools.

The well-being of the students of this school-community needs to be taken seriously. The decision to close down the school adversely affects our children's attitudes about reservation public schools. To target our students from other schools because of their reservation school status generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community.

Decisions like this affect the hearts and minds of our students in a way that will forever impact their self-esteem and confidence as Native American children.

This decision is unconstitutional and violates the 14th Amendment whereby American Indian students are not provided equal protection of the laws, instead it perpetuates inferior accommodations, services, and treatment of American Indian students who are primarily Navajo citizens.

Our public schools on the Navajo Reservation continue to get second-class, unequal treatment by the Gallup-McKinley County School District. The decision is a violation of our civil rights as Navajo citizens and a violation of the New Mexico Indian Education Act.

Targeting these reservation public schools has an impact on our Navajo schoolchildren's mental status. Already, the Twin Lakes Elementary has cancelled some 5th grade events which have discouraged the children, including my daughter. Her excitement for attending middle school has changed to disappointment, confusion, anger, uncertainty and a lack of pride.

Consolidating Tohatchi High School has created questions of concern and a lack of confidence in the school system by my 9th grade daughter, too. The learning environments will be negatively affected and college preparation will be further neglected.

All students and children in this school-community are affected mentally and emotionally by this decision. The students are expressing their feelings...listen to their words and attitude about this decision and it should concern everyone.

Sudden and unexpected changes are happening for our children, which adds to instability and frustration in the school system. Teachers have low morale and the students can see it and feel it.

I am requesting that the principals at each school hold off on cancelling events and consider how this is affecting the students' self esteem and confidence.

On behalf of the reservation public school children, I demand that the GMCS board reconsider their decision to close down Tohatchi Middle School and consolidate this school-community. The decision is being challenged by the Tohatchi school-community.

This correspondence serves as a formal complaint. Thank you for your assistance on this urgent and important matter.

Sonlatsa Jim-Martin
Tohlakai, N.M.

Salute all Navajo heroes

Greetings to the Navajoland. The great nation of ours. This is something that's been on my mind for quite some time.

Seems like every war story is just about the code talkers on the Pacific side of war. So many of the Navajo warriors served in islands with the Japanese, and suffered but lived to tell their stories. And that made them the winners by using the secret codes.

Some of us have seen the land on the Pacific and further into the land of tropical and jungle terrains and felt the heat. We walked the hot sun, and sweat, and smelled the hot jungle.

The rash and the king-size mosquitoes are so terrible. But then it was our duty and worked in it. The hot rain the worst of all, the ringworms.

On the other side, seems like nobody ever said much about those Navajos who fought in Europe during World War II. Were there ever code talkers during the war with Germans?

We heard stories about the big generals who were out there riding tanks and standing around in the middle of the firefights. Maybe we would like to see their pictures and the outfits they served under.

In our home land on the Utah side of the reservation, I know there are quite a lot of World War II veterans that served in those times. Some spent four to five years fighting alongside the great generals like Eisenhower, Big Boots Patton, and many others and these Navajos talked about all the action that went on and the people in those European countries.

Here in Utah, these men were our heroes, and still are the greatest warriors to our people.

Being a veteran myself I felt proud to be among the Navajo veterans. Dineh have always been the great fighters and have been successful in time to defend the land and the people.

I salute all the warriors of the Navajo Nation. All the warriors, from the 1800s, World War I, World War II, Korean War, the Vietnam veterans, and our young warriors of today.

So, on May 28 let us show our pride and salute our Navajo heroes and show how much they are to us.

Stand up and remember them and thank them. Call out their name and salute our brother, our sister, your father, uncles, and many others who are not here with us today.

Great Spirit, bless our veterans.

Roy Hathale
Mexican Hat, Utah

Mistreatment at the Village Inn

This is a record of the events that happened on May 17, 2012, at the Village Inn establishment in Farmington, N.M.

I was having dinner with my family, which were my parents and my kids. We usually eat at the restaurant when we are in the area.

Here is what I have written to the management on my emotions on how I was treated and the humiliation I endured in the restaurant.

I am a customer who desires understanding and equality. I hope this helps anyone who has been treated in this manner. No one should be treated in this manner no matter the situation. Especially when it comes to customer service, where the manager is suppose to be understanding to the needs of the customer.

At about the times of 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. my parents and I, along with my two children (ages 8 and 5), sat down to have dinner in your establishment.

As usual we sat down to a table in the corner of the restaurant, where we ordered our drinks and then later we ordered our meals. My kids were amusing themselves with the crayons and the activity books you have there in your restaurant.

We waited a good deal of a time for our meals. It actually took a good length of time to wait for our meals. Finally, when my daughter, who is at the age of 5 years old, was crying because she was hungry, the food came.

I had ordered a French toast meal, with scrambled eggs and sausage links. While I ate one sausage link I had started on the next one, it was a spoiled sausage that was on my plate and I immediately spit the sausage link out and was almost sick to my stomach.

My dad was concerned with the way I was disgusted with the sausage, because I had gone to the doctor that day with stomach issues.

Later I took the initiative action to notify the manager on my concerns of the bad sausage. I told him in a concerned, polite way of the bad sausage. He immediately spoke in a tone that was quick to tell me that his establishment has no bad food and told me I was wrong.

I didn't appreciate the tone of his voice toward me. As a customer, I believe I have a voice to give my concerns about the food in which is being purchased. Your manager did not give no concern, no interest in my bad food I was given. I did eat some of the French toast, but then I quit eating the rest because it make me sick to think that I had a bad sausage link.

While I was upset with the way your manager treated me, I proceeded to ask the waitress who was waiting on our table who I can call to complain about your manger. She told me there was a business card with the name of the manager, but the number was directed to your restaurant.

My dad went to pay the bill for our food and then he told the manager about the bad food. Your manager was utterly disrespectful to the concern. He made it sound like we were freeloaders in your establishment.

We have dined at your restaurant these past two years or so and always paid for our meals. We are not out to get a free meal. I was a customer who was concerned of bad food that was on my plate.

I tried to tell your manager that this was not right, I have concerns, and your manager came at me with fury and anger. He threatened to call the police, which I regret not calling first because he had violent tendencies toward me.

My 5-year-old daughter had to witness your manager yell at me in anger. He emotionally scarred me, I was in tears and my little girl was screaming and crying because your manager was mean to me.

Let me tell you something about myself. I am Native American Indian who is educated. I am from the tribe of the Navajo. I have never been treated in this manner until tonight at your establishment.

There were witnesses to the account, my parents being one, my kids, a couple who came up to your manger to back me up, and another customer who told your manger he was not a nice, understanding man to the lady.

Your manager had no remorse whatsoever to how he treated me. I am very hurt, my hurt emotions were high, I left your establishment in tears, and I deserve respect, not because I am Native, but because I am a customer.

Sadly I have told many on Facebook the trauma I had endured at Village Inn. My family will no longer be eating at your restaurant ever again. I hope you can work this out with your people at the Farmington Village Inn establishment on 514 Scott Ave.

Diana R. Yellow
Red Valley, Ariz.

Concerned? Make some noise

Why is our reservation educational system failing our Navajo children today?

Yesterday we were told that when a student is failing it is due to the fact our teachers are failing. Today we are told our children are failing because of us having poor parenting skills?

Our Chief Manuelito's legacy is for our Navajo children to climb that ladder. Today we feel they are pushed off that ladder.

Why are you not fulfilling "New Mexico Indian Education Act - Article 23A Indian Education" by closing reservation public schools and UNM-G not giving quality college education as the main campus in Albuquerque?

Our Chief Manuelito roots are widely spread throughout Tohatchi, N.M., and we are intentionally being targeted for closure. Why?

For years complaints both in writing and voiced have been made by concerned parents for improvement in the high school and college level with Gallup. The Jan. 18, 2012, UNM-G board meeting had a crowd of disgruntled parents and students and staff making their concerns known of not receiving and given quality college education and paying college tuition and receiving high school education all over again and that classes are directed by advisors.

They were reminded that the Navajo Nation's scholarship funding is making the city of Gallup rich again. Parents claimed college courses forced onto students are non-transferable ...why? (This meeting was recorded for minutes this specific night)

Parents complained they are paying for gas, wear and tear on vehicles getting their children to the Gallup branch and yet receiving high school education all over again that our McKinley County schools failed to provide.

The majority of all tutoring programs have been nothing but babysitting services and the "No Child Left Behind" has far and beyond left our Navajo children behind ... why?

Re-evaluate how many of our Navajo children stay on our reservation seeking career employment and set foundations for their future grandchildren's children, versus how many left our reservation to the bigger cities to survive with employment to provide for their children.

Please, city of Gallup, stop feasting on our Navajo children monies again at UNM-G and the New Mexico Legislature, please, no more 10-year college freshmen at our UNM-G.

Budget issues, common sense would tell management to cut high-paying positions that are being held by those who are eligible for retirement. We are taught when we first enter into life's career to plan your future to where when you retire your foundation will be set for your children's children grandchildren.

I witness you there is survival after retirement and I thank God today for fulfilling our lives with this today. My sincere congratulations to "Sunshine" for being our sounding voices in Tohatchi for a better education for all.

The election is here. Please, no more false promises to our Navajo children. Give us action we can see.

Today we've been waiting for 40 years to see our four-lane highway come through Cougar country and waiting 20 years to see our paved parking lot at our Tohatchi Chapter House.

Concerned? Make some noise, as "Sunshine" says. Thank you for an ear.

Doris S. Benallie
Tohatchi, N.M.

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