One Veterans Act is enough

September 13, 2012

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C omrades, once again we need to send out this message to all of you to be aware of what's going on with our Veterans Act. It's a big confusion, and no doubt you all have asked a question at one time or another to get a good picture.

Supposedly now there are four different versions, the original one, one drafted by Dr. Franklin Freeland, one from Shiprock and another one popping up from Chinle.

I stand behind the original one because this one had a public hearing throughout the five agencies, and an analysis report was produced to convert that into the Veterans Act.

The one made by Dr. Franklin Freeland might be good, but the problem is, who authorized him to draft another one?

This draft does not have an input from all the 110 veterans' organizations, like the original one have to go through. It does not have an analysis report of what the veterans want. You can't just make one up and push it on us. The same goes for the two: Shiprock and Chinle.

Each proposed act should have its own public hearings and recorded document to substantiate the change. Right now, the commanders are not backing out with their proposed draft act, they are piggybacking the first public hearing as the base for their draft. This is not right, because whatever is on the analysis report is not in their proposed draft.

It can be pushed through, but at the end when the Navajo Nation Council asks if that Veterans Act is shared with all the veterans we have to be honest and say it was drafted without the veteran's knowledge and input. They have that mentality they are the leaders up and beyond the Department of Navajo Veterans Affairs.

I plead with all you comrades, please use some judgment and common sense. One public hearing, one analysis report, and one drafted Veterans Act is enough. Let's sit down, review, and redo the drafted Veterans Act to our satisfaction. Right now it's no longer by the veterans at large but rather a credit for one individual such as Dr. Freeland.

Earl Milford
Fort Defiance Veterans Organization
Fort Defiance, Ariz.

Shiprock native disagrees with President Shelly's overseas trip

Yá'át'ééh from Totah! I make every meaningful attempt to refrain from getting into tribal politics but this time around the president's announcement of his trip to Israel and China caused a spur in my tummy. His trip poses safety and security concerns, though he states his trip is at no cost to the Navajo Nation.

Is our Dine' ways and beliefs up for sale or exchange with foreign countries? I don't think so and I would think so do the majority of the Navajo people. On Aug. 25, President Ben Shelly announced his trip during the Eastern Navajo Agency Council meeting at Dzith-Na-O Dith Hle and he appeared to be anxiously waiting.

The reason he gave was to get ordained in the Jewish religion and beliefs. That is the sticking point. He needs to hire a traditional healer as his advisor who might have advice otherwise. My advice to you, Mr. President, is be respectful of our ways and beliefs and keep it sacred.

I think his trip to China is no better than Peter MacDonald's planned trip in 1988 to Japan for economic reasons. The only element that differs now is Mr. MacDonald's planned trip caused an uproar by the Navajo people. This time around the Navajo people must feel comfortable with President's Shelly's trip and are quiet up to this point.

My main point in this letter is to get the Navajo people's opinion: Are we ready to sell or exchange our Dine' ways and beliefs?

Vern Charleston
Shiprock, N.M.
(Hometown: Fort Wingate, N.M.)

Museum named after Chinle veteran

Did you know that there is a museum named after a member of the Navajo Nation? I recently traveled to the University of California in Davis to move my daughter who started veterinary school. While looking for things to do and one doesn't have to search long in Davis, we came across the Carl N. Gorman Museum on campus. What an honor for the late Carl Gorman, his family, and the Navajo Nation. The museum was small but the story about Mr. Gorman was rather interesting and touching. Here is what I learned.

Gorman was born in Chinle in 1907. In 1942, he came across a recruitment ad for Navajo men to join the Marine Corps. He and 28 others joined not knowing what they were embarking on and how they would contribute to world history. He became one of about 30 original code talkers, and the rest is history. Ironically, he was punished for speaking the Dine' language while in boarding school yet he and others successfully used the encrypted Dine' language in World War II.

What many don't know is what he did after his military duty. Upon his return to the states, using his GI bill, he enrolled in the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. Perhaps, he was one of the original "urban Indians." In 1969, he was recruited by professor to the UC Davis to join the evolving Native American Studies program where he became the first Native American faculty in art. While in the NAS program, he taught art, art history, Navajo history, language and philosophy. He left after almost four years to return to the Navajo Nation.

Apparently, he was well liked and respected for his academic work and as founder of the NAS program, thus, a museum was named in his honor for his pioneer work in the UC Davis NAS program (now a department). The C.N. Museum was established in 1973 to exhibit contemporary artwork by Native American and indigenous artists across the globe. While there, we viewed an exhibit of the Trachoma Control Program on the Navajo Nation. I remembered some of my student peers having trachoma while growing up on the rez. Even as recently as the 1970s, I saw adults with active trachoma and scarring from old trachoma. Being a health professional, it was interesting to see this depicted in art form.

In 1995, the Navajo Code Talker sculpture was erected on the campus of Northern Arizona University to honor the original 30 code talkers. Specifically, his son, the late artist and sculptor RC Gorman, sculpted a bust of his father, CN Gorman, as a tribute. In his later life, Gorman exhibited his works and lectured on Navajo life ways in various institutions and museums. Gorman passed in 1998 at the age of 90.

I never met Mr. Gorman but to me, his was the epitome of a life lived in accordance with Dine' philosophy – a long life of sharing and giving; and a long life as learner, teacher, and activist. Wow!

The museum director Hulleah Tsinhnajinnie (Tuskegee-Dine') and curator Veronia Pasalacqua were not present on the day of my visit. The CN Gorman Museum is housed in the George Hart Hall, named after the first dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis.

Needless to say, I joined the museum, made a contribution, and plan to stop in whenever I visit my daughter during her years on campus.

For more information about the CN Gorman Museum, one can go to the website:

Lillian Tom-Orme
Research Assistant Professor
University of Utah School of Medicine
Division of Epidemiology
Salt Lake City, Utah

Navajo leadership: cowardly, incompetent, and uninspiring

Responding to President Shelly's state of the nation interview, which the Navajo Times ran a few weeks ago, Navajo voters need to be treated as adults and told the truth. We need leaders willing to do those things while confronting the reality of the issues at hand.

When times are tough and the stakes are high, the last thing we need is someone blowing smoke up our posteriors and promising us a rose garden that does not exist.

There are several very good tribal leaders of other tribes and it is no secret they succeed because they lead with courage from the front. They lead based on the reality of the situation. They share with their tribal members all the known dangers and challenges at hand.

They give them the best picture of what they're confronting, and the best view of the reality which they're about to enter.

They treat them as adults; they tell them the truth.

The truth is my fellow Navajo people, unless we make major changes in our leadership, we are in for a long rocky ride.

It is not hard to understand why there are too many Navajo people still unemployed. Thousands more have given up on work, and hundreds more have simply dropped from the rolls in futility.

At every turn it's getting harder and harder to get by, while our Navajo leaders stand in the way of prosperity with no imagination and handicapping decision-making.

The nation-building discussion held recently, while the intent is probably helpful, the real intended outcome to go after the trust funds is a stark example of how unimaginative our leaders are. There is no real leadership on the part of leaders to urge people to go after other funds; in contrast, if our leaders were committed to securing the funds by other means that would be the real test of leadership.

In such hard times, a good leader addresses the reality of the situation, makes difficult choices, and then provides a simple and honest plan for working through the mission or the mess. Their plan would unite the group, not divide it; inspire it, not demean it. If the Council has its way in going after funds; I submit it will not be inspirational, but confirming what we already suspect, which is our leaders are weak and lack real imagination.

So far this leadership has been cowardly, incompetent, and uninspiring. The results so far have been devastating.

It's time for Navajo voters to encourage good young Navajo leaders to emerge, and the truth to lead us.

Wallace Hanley
Window Rock, Ariz.

Horse rental open for Canyon de Chelly tours

Justin's Horse Rental is still in operation as the original operator for horseback tours into Canyon De Chelly. Tours are available from 7 a.m. to dark, seven days a week.

Justin's Horse Rental does anything from a two-hour, three-hour, and four-hour trip. Maybe longer hours depending on how long people want to ride.

Justin's Horse Rental is temporarily located at the Changing Women Coffee Shop where trips start.

Tso's Horse Tours is across from Justin's Horse Rental, but this is Tso's first year in operation. Justin's Horse Rental has been in operation for over 30 years. The new phone number is 928-675-5575, not 928-674-5678. I

ndividuals who would like to take a horse ride, please call the new phone number or stop by at the Changing Women Coffee Shop for a horseback tour into the canyon. Justin's Horse Rental will be back at the original place of business shortly.

Justin Tso Sr.
Chinle, Ariz.

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