Bigfoot and leader sightings
By Duane A. Beyal
WINDOW ROCK, September 13, 2012
The man wore a military camouflage outfit and ran across a highway at night in Montana and was struck by two vehicles.
The news item brought to mind the state of affairs in the Navajo Nation today. Is leadership a mythical concept existing only in legend and story tales?
Gone are the days of strong and powerful leaders who live on in memory and history. Today we have a president who is shackled by the bureaucracy and who longs for the past system in which the chairman wielded unlimited power.
But we learned the hard way that no one leader or office should be given too much power and authority. Now we have a three-branch government and the concept of checks and balances. This system was supposed to be temporary until the people vote for a form of government they want.
That was the promise of the 1989 reforms but the process ground to a halt because the Navajo Nation Council has been unwilling to consider and approve changes that take away their power.
We have a Council with a reduced membership, the result of one of the few expressions from the people as to what changes they want. But again, the promise of reducing the Council from 88 to 24 members was to reduce costs and improve efficiency. Instead, the Council is shackled by their rules, laws and policies that have brought many actions to a standstill.
The most obvious effect of the 24-member Council is the difficulty we see in getting enough delegates to make a quorum then keeping them at meetings to maintain the quorum. This may be the practical result of fewer delegates who are obliged to attend the same amount of meetings that had confronted the 88.
In politics, vice presidents are viewed as having no power and follow a schedule of photo ops and attending events the president can't fit on his schedule or that he doesn't want to go to. Playing second fiddle was never much fun but it came with perks like travel, the use of tribal planes and a salary.
Today the broad picture is a government filled with vice presidents who dutifully go through the motions and perform as they perceive leaders ought to behave. But where is the leaderships on issues such as government reform? Why can't the old BIA way of doing things be updated? We can't we help more students go to college?
The people need leaders who can see clearly and make changes for the benefit of all, not one who suddenly discovered the Bennett Freeze as Shelly did months ago after serving for years on the Council.
And the Council needs to move forward but is unwilling or unable.
As elections come and go, we, the voters, must endure campaign rhetoric and attack ads, inane arguments and boring speeches.
We must be aware of those who would pretend to be leaders then prove ineffective in office. Much like the man who tried to create a bigfoot sighting in Montana, if you see anyone running across the highway at night wearing a king's robe and crown in an attempt to create a leader sighting, beware the consequences.
To be fair, in the same way our government mirrors the federal system, our politicians can be as goofy as those in Washington.
In this age of technology when anyone with Internet access can find any information they want, our search for leadership resembles the hunt for the mythical bigfoot.
Then again, remember that time by the San Juan River…
Beyal, the former editor of the Navajo Times, has served as press officer for Chairman Peterson Zah, the interim chairman's office and the speaker's office, and as an assistant to President Zah.