Happy Vets' Day from long-time soldier

November 29, 2012

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I joined the U.S. Army in March 1974 at the age of 18. My first enlistment was for two and a half years in West Germany during the Cold War era.

Later, I re-enlisted for three more years, after returning to the States. I got discharged from the Army in 1979.

In 1990, I re-enlisted into the Army Reserve, deployed to the Middle East and served in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. After the Gulf War, I was discharged from the Army again.

In 2003, our country was at war again and I re-enlisted in the Army National Guard. I was deployed and served in Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2004-2006.

In 2005, I re-enlisted to continue my military service as a National Guard soldier.

Presently, I am serving as a peacekeeper in the Middle East. The duty of a soldier is not only wars and conflicts but also preserving the treaty of peace between countries. I believe in God, country and honor. This has been a long journey of serving my country, USA.

Happy Veterans' Day to all and to all veterans who paved the way of freedom for our enjoyment.

Staff Sgt. Kaye Gene Yazzie
Multinational Force and Observer
Sinai, Egypt
(Hometown: Sanders, Ariz.)

Diné need more education on NGS

This is in response to the article written by Alistair Mountz ("A Coal Economy," Sept. 27).

According to Navajo Nation Attorney General Harrison Tsosie and Navajo Generating Station and Salt River Project Senior Director Jim Pratt, all parties involved are negotiating the amendments of the lease for Navajo Generating Station. The main objective of the negotiation between Tsosie and Pratt is in response to the uncertainty of NGS continuing its operation in the future.

Regardless of the location of NGS at the edge of the Navajo Reservation, the facility does not provide electricity to the Navajo people. The NGS is owned by the Department of Water and Power in Los Angeles, Calif., which only provides electric power to the state of Nevada, California, and city of Phoenix.

In their negotiation, the Navajo Nation and NGS need to reach an agreement on the terms of attaining electricity for Navajo people.

NGS currently uses coal and water from the Navajo reservation. It is only fair that in their negotiation with NGS, the Navajos should get electric power. I believe all Navajo Tribe members need to be educated and fully aware of the confidentiality regarding the negotiations between the NGS and Navajo Nation. It gives the readers an impression of a cover-up, which is not the case.

Much is at stake for the Navajo Tribe as far as entrepreneurship and the 32-percent annual revenue, which should go back into the Navajo Nation allocation programs. Is there something they are not telling the Navajo Nation people? If this amendment moves forward, is it in the best interest of the Navajo Nation?

According to Tsosie, "There are two rulings still on horizon which involve investment. So much must still be discussed and negotiated such as how much mercury is still in the Lake Powell."

Does this mean this would allow Navajo Nation to look at the cost of the mercury emission, contamination, and the percentage of mercury still evident in the lake?

The clean up of mercury in and around Lake Powell could cost $75 to $155 million. Pratt admits that he is highly concerned with the National Environmental Protection Act. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is concerned with the hazes that cause poor visibility around the Grand Canyon area, which is emitted by the NGS.

Who is taking the responsibility for the cost of the cleanup? What is the outcome for NGS if the Department of Water and Power in Los Angeles decides to sell their 21.1 percent? What is at stake for the Navajo Nation? What entities will benefit from the negotiation?

In conclusion to my analysis and response concerning the negotiations between the NGS and the Navajo Nation, I affirm my strong belief in what is in the best interest of the Navajo people regarding our rights to natural resources.

Tsosie stated, "We aren't negotiating a new lease and it isn't going to expire" and "They are renegotiating certain terms and conditions that already exist."

Marian Y. Begay
Tsaile, Ariz.

Give grazing officials more authority

Cats, dogs, horses, pollution and trash are an epidemic within the four sacred mountains on Navajo land, Diné bikeyah. Polluted rivers and the near absence of sheep on the overgrazed land crying desperately for relief but Navajos aren't paying attention. There are only hundreds of horses multiplying like rabbits. Time was horse steak was as common as mutton stew but that favorite dish has truly vanished now.

All of us can continue to just talk and talk about those animals and the harm they are doing. But in the end, it is not the animals' fault, but us Navajo people, lovers of our walk in beauty (land) and mutton stew. The grazing officials are afraid to enforce the laws concerning overgrazing. Most livestock owners have a little bit more animals than the law allows. The problem with this isn't only bigger sand dunes but the lower cattle prices. The negligent enforcement hurts all of us, especially the livestock owners. Perhaps it would be better to require and educate grazing permittees on livestock and land management, especially the effect of cattle prices.

We need educated grazing officials with some enforcement authorities just like law enforcement and separate this office from politics as much as possible. The grazing officials should be charged with animal control, including doggies and kitties. The grazing officials' title has to be changed to accommodate their duties and be paid for 40 hours a week plus full benefits as they will be responsible for the continuing trashing of our environment.

I realize that these words are just words on paper but we need people who are concerned to voice it. Making these necessary changes might take an act of Congress so to speak. What I meant is to put it on referendum in the coming Navajo election. That is our only true method to bring about changes that are friendlier to the animals, land, and environment.

Someone has to take an active role and make these necessary changes if we are going to be responsible for a stronger Navajo Nation. I don't appreciate recommending these needed changes but I am truly concerned for our land, environment, and animals. I hate to see the rib bones where rib steaks are supposed to be and dead cattle, horses, dogs, and cats. I am also concerned with people being hurt sometimes drastically in animal/vehicle accidents. Most could have been prevented. Dead animals contribute to our ill health, too.

Loren Crank
Montezuma Creek, Utah

Energy drinks dangerous

The increasing rate of energy drinks consumption among children and teenagers is becoming a huge public health concern.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 31 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds and 34 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds regularly consume energy drinks.

The ingredients in these so-called energy drinks are mostly sugar, caffeine, and unregulated herbal stimulants. Consumption of large amounts of sugar and caffeine can lead to excess weight, diabetes, and risk-taking behaviors, such as smoking, illicit drug use, and abusive/violent behaviors.

It is very important for parents to be informed and vigilant about the dangers of energy drinks. The negative consequences of energy drinks are far more important to be aware of before anyone buys or allows their children to consume any type or form of energy drinks. We must not be fooled by the unique designs and cool colors that energy drink companies use to advertise their products to attract consumers, especially children and teenagers.

People need to know that energy drinks offer little or no nutritional value and will not improve athletic performance.

Marie Nelson
St. Michaels, Ariz.

Dismantling special ed unit

I am so angry with the director of Bureau of Indian Education Navajo, Dr. Charles (Monte) Roessel.

For 20 years the BIE Special Education Related Services-Cooperative Agreement Unit, formerly known as the Eastern Navajo Agency, served Navajo students in 17 to 19 schools providing speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, care coordination, psychological services, adapted physical education, record-keeping and audiology services.

This organization hired some of the best in their fields. The students benefitted greatly and often improved so much that services were no longer needed.

Roessel took over the BIE Navajo one year ago, then hired BIE-SERS-CAU Supervisor Delaina Franzoni in January 2012.

In February 2012, Delaina started destroying the BIE-SERS-CAU and removing services from Navajo students. There used to be 48 employees; now there are 13. What is Dr. Roessel doing with all of the money?

Roessel and his father spent their whole lives fighting against the BIE. Do you think it is possible that Dr. Roessel took the position of director for the sole purpose of destroying the BIE?

Last year the BIE-SERS-CAU served 18 schools and provided all of the above services. Now, only 14 schools receive occupational therapy, only four schools receive speech therapy, no schools receive physical therapy, adapted physical education, audiology services, care coordination or record keeping. This is breaking all of the special education laws.

No one affiliated with the BIE will respond to questions or concerns. I assume that they think if they don't address the problem, it will go away.

What needs to happen is Navajo parents sue the BIE, especially Dr. Roessel and Delaina Franzoni for removing legally mandated services for their children.

No one is fighting for the students! Not the schools, not the parents, and not the superintendents. Is it the same old story that Indian children don't matter?

I was a speech language pathologist for the BIE-SERS-CAU, 2006-2012. Due to Delaina eliminating education technicians (all Native Americans), APE (one Native, one Caucasian), care coordinators (all Natives), audiology, and records technicians (all Natives) and being disrespectful and spiteful to me and my Native colleagues I was compelled to leave. Of the seven speech language pathologists, five are left.

Delaina's attitude was nonchalant and she appeared pleased when I handed in my resignation.

What Dr. Roessel and Ms. Franzoni did to Navajo students is illegal and unethical. Eliminating positions that were held by Native Americans smacks of racial discrimination. They have not hired anyone to replace the few jobs they kept.

Although I am not Navajo, I lived and worked in Crownpoint for six years and feel a part of the community. I took a job in Chandler, Ariz., but am returning to New Mexico in January because that is where my heart lies.

Why are the Navajo parents allowing the administration to break the law without consequences?

Debra J. Blanton
Speech Language Pathologist
Chandler, Ariz.

Kayenta lost out on good leader

My daughter and I traveled from Flagstaff to Kayenta to vote.

As we traveled to Kayenta, my daughter, a single mother who works part-time and is going to college, was excited about the general election telling me how important it is to vote.

However, our day in Kayenta was a rude awakening. We witnessed our Navajo people show no respect for one another.

My daughter and I heard horrible remarks coming out of individuals who were campaigning for chapter positions. One lady was actually telling my daughter and me not to listen to the "white people," they didn't speak Navajo, and they were "liars."

She went on to say in Navajo that they were "homosexual people," then she had the nerve to say, "Vote for me…"

As my daughter stood in line to vote, I sat on a rock bench and listened to people in line waiting to vote speak so badly about the candidate running for office as being not a good person because he was gay and couldn't speak Navajo.

After my daughter voted we walked towards a larger food stand and waited in line, only to hear the candidate who was up for re-election speak so negatively and laugh out loud when degrading the other candidates. What was worse, several older women joined in on his remarks.

My daughter and I got out of line and walked to the other campaign tent. It was like night and day.

Candidate Cordova, who was running for chapter president, came up and shook our hands and introduced himself in Navajo. I asked him questions in Navajo and he responded back in Navajo. I was shocked. I wanted to yell out to the people in the voting line "This individual speaks Navajo better than my full-blooded Navajo children."

We sat and enjoyed our visit with those around the camp and listened to a woman who was proud that her daughter was helping Mr. Cordova campaign and explained that the individuals who were helping all had college degrees.

They knew how to write grants and really wanted to improve the Kayenta community. Not one bad remark was said.

On our trip home my daughter said she would never move to Kayenta because her son, my grandson, is half African-American and Navajo. My niece, who is full Navajo and gay, is so kind and caring, and works hard to support her parents.

I was taught to always show respect as a Navajo and never make fun of people because it will come back on you.

Racism and discrimination won the votes in Kayenta, and in turn racism and discrimination will be representing your chapter and your community.

Mr. Cordova, on behalf of my daughter and me, we apologize that we did not speak out. I know the community of Kayenta lost out on a good leader. I also want to let everyone in Kayenta know that I plan to send this letter to every Native American paper.

Alice Marie Yazzie
Flagstaff, Ariz.

Advice for our incoming leaders

The newly elected leadership need to be honest with themselves and others, be loyal to their family and be trustworthy.

"True leadership would not talk about success but rather shows commitment and tangible outcome of leadership," according to Father Samuel H. Begay, U.S. Marine.

The late George H. Kirk Sr., U.S. Marine, Navajo Code Talker, said "Remember, the plight of our Code Talkers and our nation is all about family and their surroundings. Leadership is not about a political gain and power."

And the late Virgil H. Kirk Sr., retired Navajo Nation Supreme Court Justice, said, "Awareness, commitment and preparedness of your own surroundings shall make you a true leader in the eyes of your enemies."

I want to take time to recognize true leaders for their ethical honesty to themselves and their families. Most of all for their humility, labor to commitment and for not pretending to be some other person. Ethical values come from our disciplinarians (fathers, maternal uncles, etc.). I look at politics and leadership today and wonder just how they were raised.

My message and prayer to all leadership in this term, is to value yourself and family first. Look at the communities' true needs and prepare for a result that is tangible for the sake of all in the community.

I am sharing this message for all to live a beautiful and honest thought, life, hope, self-awareness, and prayer.

Geri Binet'ne-Kirk
Window Rock, Ariz.

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