Dangerous drivers do not value life

September 27, 2012

Text size: A A A

A few weeks ago a rainstorm came roaring through the area making driving between Ganado and St. Michaels nearly impossible. Several drivers slowed down and turned on their emergency lights. Other drivers raced headlong into the storm at 70, 80, and even 90 mph, hell-bent on getting to their destination.

I watched in astonishment as these dangerous drivers passed two or three cars in one long breathtaking maneuver. Even more shocking: these dangerous drivers were passing in "no-passing zones" up hills and around blind corners.

One driver in a brand new dually pickup truck pulled into his or her lane at the very last possible second barely avoiding a head-on collision with an oncoming car. Instead of a pistol, these dangerous drivers were using vehicles in a deadly game of Russian roulette.

Lately, I've been wondering what could possibly possess drivers to put their lives and the lives of other people on the line. Wanting to know more about how American Indian motor vehicle accident fatalities stacked up against the national average of all drivers in the United States, I discovered a 2009 Kaiser Family Foundation report that revealed, "Unintentional Injury is the third leading cause of death among American Indians… and almost half of these (47 percent) are due to motor vehicle accidents."

Another report by the Bureau of Indian Affairs noted, "American Indians/Alaska Natives continue to be killed and injured in traffic crashes at rates that are 2 to 3 times that of other ethnic groups and that of the national average."

The somber point from these and other reports: Indian people are literally driving to an early grave and taking innocent people with them.

After a few days spent mystified and puzzling over dangerous drivers in the Navajo Nation, I finally found an answer I felt comfortable with as to why some people drive like lunatics. Yes, we need more tribal police officers patrolling the roadways (another campaign promise turned to hog-wash before our very own eyes). Yes, we need more driver education efforts (government budget woes make this a near impossibility). And yes, we need improved highways that can handle the increased traffic (good luck with that one).

What I settled on was that dangerous drivers do not value life, plain and simple. Why else would they hurl thousands of pounds of steal, plastic, and gasoline into no passing zones, up hills, and around blind corners at mind-boggling speeds? That, or they're just plain out of their minds.

Milton Bluehouse Jr.
Ganado, Ariz.

Government's revenue problem starts with the richest people, not poor

When we, the middle class, think of class warfare, we think of promoting anger, resentment, and envy among the have-nots against the haves.

That's what Mr. Romney has accused Mr. Obama of doing, but those charges have always been phony. The truth is that Mr. Romney has been trying to provoke anger of the richest Americans who need no government assistance but get it anyway, against working poor, older Americans, disabled workers, police, senior citizens, veterans, and significant number middle-class Americans, especially the retired oldest senior citizens, Native Americans and Latin Americans. The oldest American senior citizens paid their taxes 40 years ago.

Political promise was the put-on that he will be an economic president of all 100 percent Americans. Mr. Romney divided the country between the American people who matter and the 47 percent of the middle-class Americans he does not care about and whom he doesn't know how to communicate.

Mr. Romney believes 47 percent consists of middle-class people who do not make enough money to be required to pay federal income tax. They are freeloaders, he said, "who are dependent upon federal government, who believe that they are scroungy victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, Medicare, Medicaid, veterans aid, general assistance, to housing, food stamps, to any federal government hand out."

The older Americans already paid their taxes.

The group of people includes some middle-income Americans who make $50,000 a year but are not required to pay taxes after they take advantage of child credits, marriage penalty relief and other tax breaks, many of whom are part of the Bush-era tax cuts that Mr. Romney backs with a blind ideological emotion.

Mr. Romney was not talking about the wealthy Americans who make so much money that they are able to avoid paying any tax at all or who, like him, are able to shelter their incomes in overseas banks or tax loopholes that permit them to pretend that ordinary income comes from investment and thus pay lower taxes.

Mr. Romney has been paying, by his own account, about 14 percent of his enormous income in federal income taxes. We can compare the hidden Romney's tax with the American middle-class tax return; we, the middle class, paid taxes to pay for the foreign wars.

The Native Americans who live on the Native American reservations go to Flagstaff to buy groceries or a vehicle they pay local and state taxes to help Flagstaff to advance future community development.

The government's revenue problem does not start with the poor but with the richest people through the Bush tax cuts and other changes. The tax cuts for the richest people should expire now, and the middle-class cuts should expire too. But that will not happen as long as rich people like Mr. Romney protect the rich by turning the working poor and middle class into the enemy. Politicians complain about people who don't pay taxes and who, therefore, don't deserve a say in government.

The shame is not that those people don't pay income taxes. The shame is how many poor people there are when the top 1 percent can amass uncountable fortunes fed by tax breaks and can donate tens of millions of dollars to political candidates to keep it that way.

Edward J. Little Sr.
Tuba City, Ariz.

Confluence: 'This is a place of sacredness, not a place for tourism.'

My story is not one of a kind, it is like many stories across this Dineh land of ours. I grew up in the most Western part of the reservation, commonly known as Bodaway/Gap. But to be more specific the name Tsah Tah will always be dear to our hearts, it's a place where my family lived for as long as I can remember. Many good memories are being recalled of this area.

There are also many sacred sites including the Confluence where the two rivers meet, male and female, a place of emergence, a place of offering, and a place of many stories.

I remember my grandma getting after us saying, "This place is very sacred, don't be running around and going to the edges of the canyon for no reason…the only time you need to be out there is to pray and make offerings using the corn pollen. Never go there without your corn pollen. Don't go there just to look around and sightsee. It's a very holy place…and living and breathing."

And to this day my family respects that teaching. It may be our backyard but we don't treat it like a tourist spot. My message is to all relatives of Dineh land, please help us preserve and keep our sacred sites as is. It might seem like nobody lives out there but we do, and with this Bennett Freeze finally lifted, now we can continue to build and rebuild.

As far as economic development…this is not the place. It's common sense, how in the world did this talk about escalade ever get this far?

Mr. Shelly, Mr. Deswood, and Mr. Hale…you should be ashamed of yourselves. Where are your teaching, your respect, and your dignity as a Dineh? Didn't your grandparents teach you anything?

Have respect for your relatives. I'm sure there are other ways for economic development. And we all know there is money for Bennett Freeze area and now the escalade partners are seeing dollar signs and planning on ripping off the tribe.

There are many relatives in need of electricity, water, sewage systems, and road improvements. Our government should work on these before anything else. We've been waiting 45-plus years. We are going to protect our backyard. This is a place of sacredness, not a place for tourism. It will be a big mistake according to our elders.

Ty Tsosie
Bodaway, Ariz.

Response to article, "Maryboy questions decision made by Navajo Oil and Gas officials"

This is a letter of response to the article published in the last issue (Sept. 13) of the Navajo Times entitled "Maryboy questions decisions made by Navajo Oil and Gas officials."

I am a delegate to the Navajo Nation Council and a shareholder in Navajo Oil and Gas on behalf of the Navajo Nation. Along with four other elected delegates of the Council, I represent the nation's ownership of Navajo Oil and Gas. I am acting as a fiduciary agent of the nation in challenging the oil and gas business decisions of Navajo Oil and Gas. My questions to Navajo Oil and Gas are consistent with constituted oversight responsibility and should not be interpreted as interference with the company production operations on a day-to-day basis.

I believe Navajo Oil and Gas is wasting its money (or is it the money belonging to the nation?) in the exploration and production of oil and gas. I provided examples of waste and inferior management decisions in letters as outlined correctly in the article. And I confirm my "frustration" with the response from Mr. Wilson Groen, CEO, Navajo Oil and Gas Company.

Statements to the contrary that Navajo Oil and Gas has attempted to reach me as a delegate without success are deceptive. Why did they meet with reporters and not with me?

Denetsosie is reported to have said there is a "separate wall between the tribe and the board of directors. But the tribe has a role in the company through the shareholders – five members of the tribal council that act as sort of a liaison between the oil company and the tribe."

This is the problem with the current Navajo Oil and Gas management: they regard the Council member shareholders as no more than "liaison" with "roles" to play. This attitude and governance policy of Navajo Oil and Gas management indicates that they are running the company as they wish and without oversight by the shareholders who represent the nation as owners.

I have asked for details of the decision to invest $100 million or more in the Resolute Company (non-Navajo) to acquire an additional 10 percent interest. I ask Navajo Oil and Gas to disclose the development-drilling plan that justified the $100 million, that is, how many wells per year and at what annual pace of drilling. I ask for an oil reserve report that backs up the expenditure.

This is vital information because in the San Juan Basin, partly Navajo, there is information that a Canadian oil and company has drilled two or more test wells and discovered oil in the Mancos Shale while spending less than $20 million. The Mancos Shale is anticipated as one of the largest oil finds in the United States.

Navajo Oil and Gas remains silent on how much oil it has found there but disclosed that it has completed six wells in search of coal-bed methane gas, which is no longer profitable at current natural gas prices.

The Navajo Oil and Gas Company has failed in the Mancos Shale and the San Juan Basin while the Canadian company and no less than six well known oil and gas companies are spending money on oil and not coal-bed methane gas. This failure will cost the Navajo Nation nearly $100 billion over a generation.

The answer given to my inquiry as to why Navajo Oil and Gas Company are spending exploration and development outside the nation in Montana Mr. Wilson Groen is unsatisfactory and deceptive. He states that it is small – about $6 million – and it is "providing the company with a chance to get involved with new technology."

That new technology can be acquired from a consultant without investment or a partner with know-how. No need to put money outside the Navajo Nation to go to school.

Kenneth Maryboy
Navajo Nation Council
Bluff, Utah

American taxpayers need answers

At the Sept. 19th Resource Development Committee's follow-up public hearing in Fort Defiance, Calvert Curley of BIA Regional Office emphasized non-compliance of grazing regulations by permit holders, but did not acknowledge the BIA Agency's failure to follow its own policies and federal grazing regulations.

This is Part 2 to BIA Fort Defiance Agency Branch of Natural Resources range program deficiencies. Part 2 is about the agency's Range Management Unit fencing projects and its associated land disputes. Disputes evolved over deviations from approved fence locations, inconsistent fence application approval process, and insufficient monitor activities by the agency.

RMU applicants were misled when the agency issued fence material prior to superintendent's approval when the agency allowed applicants to start site preparations and fence construction.

Today, the agency claimed the range unit is not legal because the superintendent did not sign the fence application. Jerome Willie, why do you blame the RMU applicant when it is your responsibility to ensure all protocols are followed before you issued fence material in 1992?

Many RMU's under dispute at your agency have insufficient documentations or totally missing. One RMU in District 18 remain incomplete in 40 years with expansion of homesites inside the RMU creating hostility and violence among community members. You and your staff contributed to land disputes for decades because you failed to perform your responsibilities.

In other cases, Fort Defiance Agency allowed livestock trespass onto Indian allotments when it approved RMU range fences enclosing allotments but failed to compensate affected allotees as required by federal grazing regulations. Two of these cases occurred in District 18, one in Houck community.

Even range management plans are inadequate or totally lacking. The agency RMU range management plans have a short list of goals and objectives. BIA manuals are very specific directing Branch of Natural Resources rangeland management specialist to prepare a management plan for all range units.

As a range specialist…this is your job, Mr. Willie. Fort Defiance Agency approved range units in areas totally unsuitable for livestock grazing with bedrock or shallow soil exposed to water/wind erosion. The agency range specialist failed to properly advise the grazing committee. But the fact remains that it is BIA that has technical expertise to provide technical assistance, it is BIA that approved the RMU, it is BIA that provided fence material, and it is BIA's responsibilities to monitor RMU's in perpetuity.

At the July public hearing RDC Committee asked for solutions. Mr. Curley, your office at the BIA Regional Office must expedite the implementation of a region-wide Standard Operating Procedures specific for Navajo region. Written policies must direct agencies to follow uniform and consistent process with the development, approval, and monitor programs of RMU's.

As with my offer in the Aug. 23rd letter, I am still open to the agency's rebuttal.

So Mr. Willie and Mr. Curley, do we have a public forum on KTNN? If neither of you are willing to come forth, perhaps assign Mr. Harold Russell. Or should we proceed with Part 3?

You still have the option to prove me wrong and set the record straight, gentlemen. American taxpayers need answers.

Nels Roanhorse
Oakridge, Ariz.

Back to top ^