An unexpected trip to Israel

December 13, 2012

Text size: A A A




I It should not shock or surprise us that our Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly has taken an unexpected trip to visit Israel, a government that has committed itself to carrying out genocidal practices against it's population of indigenous Palestinian peoples.

I make this argument because our president has illustrated himself to be unfit to make the kind of informed, wise, and strong decisions that promote the inherent rights of our own Diné people; let alone prove himself to be the kind of leader that is concerned or educated about the campaign of genocide waged by Israel.

In his official press release he is quoted as saying "Our trip is also about cultural exchange in this part of the world where the Israeli people co-exist with their neighbors," listing his priorities as "Agriculture, Technology, Tourism, Infrastructure, and Government Services".

Meanwhile his actions within the past year alone have shown his complacency in the violation of the human rights of our own people through his endorsement of the toxic "Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement".

As part of his campaign to support this bill, his "government services" included sending armed swat teams and Navajo tribal government officials (and in some places state police) to intimidate his own people at public forums and to censure opposition. His open investment in coal and the policies that support them, as well as his contradiction between rhetoric and actions when it comes to uranium, all serve to create enormous obstacles to the implementation of plans proposed by Diné entrepreneurs to transform our nation into one that produces clean energy projects.

To hear that our president believes the apartheid government of Israel has more to offer than the Diné people in his homeland fighting against his policies is hurtful and unbelievably ignorant. In communities across our nation there is a struggle to localize food production by returning to traditional methods of farming and irrigation suitable to our climate, our soils, our native foods, and the values of our culture. Instead of visiting these projects or investing in them President Shelly has gone to Israel to learn about "Fertigation", a method that is dependent on the use of chemical fertilizers.

There are other Diné entrepreneurs such as myself trying to introduce sustainable ways of building energy-efficient homes out of local materials, with wastewater recycling systems that allow us to optimize our use of this precious resource.

The underlying conflict in all these issues is that all these grassroots projects employ "alternative methods of development" that empower communities to work together to meet their own local needs. However the projects that have received open support and funding within the past year are based on the unsustainable model of top-down private investments, based on illusions of trickle-down economics.

If President Shelly was really interested in how he could create the kind of development that will really serve the numerous needs of our people he would know that his first priority should be to invest in his own people and become a leader that protects our rights. If he is to represent us on the international level then he needs to become knowledgeable on the unsustainable structures that underlie our current globalized market systems.

Lastly, it is imperative that he begin to understand what those of us on the grassroots-level understand; that in order to establish alternative forms of development we have to fight against the status quo of existing systems of power that prevent us from achieving our self-sufficiency. This makes it our responsibility as the largest tribal nation in the U.S. to stand in solidarity with the struggles of indigenous peoples all over the world who continue to fight removal, exploitation and open acts of genocide on their ancestral lands. I stand in solidarity with the people of Palestine and those indigenous nations and non-indigenous peoples fighting against continued corporate, religious, and political exploitation.

Only when we hold our leaders accountable to their electorates, only when we take a united stand against unsustainable market-practices, and only when we accept that all our homelands are changing from climate change, will we be able to unite around a new vision of how humanity should progress. From my experience returning home to join the resistance inside my nation, this is the true heart of the Diné people, and it is a vision that has not been respected or shared by our President Ben Shelly.

Janene Yazzie
CEO, Sixth World Solutions
Lupton, Ariz.


Tribal money could be better spent

How come it is not forbidden to go to other countries once Diné government gets into office for their pleasures and act like they're just honeymoon goers?

Diné Nation President Shelly and his wife are in Israeli, for what? To use the people's money first class and gain nothing from it?

Vice President Rex Lee Jim went to Washington, D.C. for the 2012 White House Tribal Nations Conference last week first class. Look at the front page of last week's Diné Times, Dec. 6, 2012. He looks completely guilty, knowing that Diné government surely can get away with a crime. Look at the other tribal leader. It looks like his tribe is doing well and is smiling with no worries.

All these decades we have never seen one mile of a paved road being worked on, on the Diné Nation, more houses built, more jobs, scholarships for all high school graduates, water and electricity for the people that are in dire need, etc.

These are many tough challenges that cannot be solved in Diné Nation because Diné Nation government continues to drag and wait for their next paycheck. It's like they are saying, "What should we rip off next and never get handcuffed."

Just recently Diné government sent $98 million then after that they sent $10 million back to the federal government. Do they have a brain? Now you know that Diné government has millions of loose screws in their head.

My hometown of Chinle could have a Wal-Mart, indoor rodeo, and more jobs for people. They just blame it on land issues and blame people that are tight with their land.

Diné government can't go anywhere daily, they sit on their $10,000 chair and desk to act like they are king and queen. Diné Tribe would be different if Diné government were all top gun educated people that don't look back. Will federal government stop giving Diné Nation money because of what they're all doing?

Joe Indian Yazzie Jr.
Chinle, Ariz.


Misperceptions about President Obama

I would like to offer my two cents on the recent re-election of our president. During the election we as citizens of this country exercise our vote by choosing who we feel would better lead our people and government.

My choice was quite simple, President Obama. However as I was out lending my time and support for our president I've seen a lot of misperception of our president. Elders were mad because they said he was supporting Mexico, young adults were afraid of new wars and crazy theories, others have said he will force us into buying health insurance, and finally people looked at our president as a lying Muslim.

Now if you look at it, it looks like something straight out of what Fox News has been preaching to the people in their shows. It looks like the campaign of Sarah Palin and the far-right people. A lot of what we see from the reservation politics on our president is a bunch of "jini". It was a good thing I was there to clarify who our president is.

President Obama is in support of the Dream Act, he has ended the Iraq War, he will be ending the Afghanistan War in 2014, he has passed a comprehensive healthcare law, and he embraces everyone as one, not two.

Also, as Navajo and Native American we are entitled to healthcare and education through historical treaties, so I wouldn't worry much about healthcare. I like that he says, "We are not a blue state, we are not a red state, we are the United States of America." This statement just makes you a more proud American.

It is in his platform/support that: the auto industry is back and strong, nearly 500,000 manufacturing jobs have been created since 2010, the middle class sees less taxes to pay, he has asked the richer Americans to pay their fair share of taxes, strengthen Medicare, end insurance abuse, putting woman in charge of their health, rewarding teachers, lowering student loans, helping veterans, investing in American energy, addressing global climate changes, improving natural gas production, increasing oil production, clean coal energy, wind and solar energy, strong support for the Dream Act, and supporting tribal/White House relationship.

This is just some of the few issues that I feel is important to our nation. I urge you to take the time to read up on them.

I ask each and every one of you to take the time to learn our president's platform and his support for all.

We as Navajo people were raised to respect one another. Through k'e we can compromise and help one another, and through this I believe we can restore harmony. We must always be in harmony within our four sacred mountains and continue to pray and make offerings to Grandfather Talking God, and sing the songs to preserve and respect our holy people. It seems like even our medicine people do not offer this kind of talk when we have elections; it seems to always get out of hand.

Titus Jay Nez,
Church Rock, N.M.



A response to Navajo president's trip

With little forethought and no commentary on the continued Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people, our Navajo Nation president has taken an ill-advised trip to Israel to learn something of agricultural practices there.

During this trip we can already guess that he will make no reference to the continued suffering of Palestinian peoples or make any attempt to visit them in the West Bank or Gaza Strip. If he did try to visit the Palestinian territories (under Israeli control), it is pretty certain that Israel would prevent him from doing this, which is further proof of the exclusionary violence with which Israel subjugates the Palestinian people.

What's worse is that he was sponsored by organizations we don't know much about, what are referred to in his own press release as, "faith-based groups and non-governmental organizations."

These organizations are likely involved in a protracted campaign to clean up Israel's image after its murderous rampage in Gaza a few weeks ago. Whoever the source of funding might be, it is almost certain at this point that President Shelly has allowed himself to be used as a propaganda pawn for Israel in exchange for a free trip there.

At the time of this writing he is set to visit the right-wing Knesset in Tel-Aviv that supports the continued colonization of the West Bank despite persistent and nearly unanimous international condemnation of these settlements. He will visit an Israeli farm in southern Israel near where once stood the "depopulated" Arab village of Al-Jiyya, which was brutally destroyed in the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine by the Israeli military.

Ben Shelly will find little traces of the Palestinian people who lived there because the have all been forcefully moved to the Gaza Strip where they are confined into prison-like conditions that international humanitarian organizations like Oxfam International, UNICEF, or Amnesty International have condemned.

In short Ben Shelly will have visited a country under international scrutiny for its treatment of its ethnic minorities and that was built on the forceful depopulation of Arabs from Palestine in order to make way for European Jewish immigrants. He has done all of this without taking any consideration of the greater significance of his actions or how these reflect on the Navajo Nation and its people. It's just another example of foolish blundering from a president who is out of touch on many issues.

Andrew Curley
Flagstaff, Ariz.


Why was health provider fired?

My primary care provider, Dr. Donald Lewis-Kraitsik, was fired from Tséhootsooí Medical Center in August of 2012 and escorted out the door by security guards.

Donald Lewis-Kraitsik is someone that I had worked with in the ambulatory care clinic as a nurse for many years and his ability to work and communicate with patients led me to designate him as my primary care provider.

He implemented the first adolescent health clinic for Window Rock High and served many roles in the Fort Defiance hospital such as clinical director, Employee Health Program and primary care provider for many patients. I had considered Tséhootsooí Medical Center as my medical home but this is no longer the case since Lewis-Kraitsik was fired.

In any employer and employee relationship, when there is an accusation, it is incumbent on the employers/supervisor to get both sides of the incident/situation. It is my understanding this was never explored with Lewis-Kraitsik's unique/undignified termination.

This move was also shocking since Navajo Area has problems filling permanent medical doctor positions that might build rapport with patients. Many of the hospitals are using locum (temporary) providers who work on short-term contracts. As a Native advance practice nurse, I had considered working at this health care facility but have changed plans.

Letters were written to Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Leland Leonard, and Clinical Director, Dr. Michael Tutt, of Tséhootsooí Medical Center regarding this dismissal and to date there has been no response from these two administrators who made the decision to fire. The letter was also copied to members of the health board and there was no response from the members as well.

What is becoming evident is there is no transparency regarding this health institution. Tséhootsooí Medical Center needs to be a healing, lifesaving institution. It has a sacred trust with the patients and staff. I hope the health board and hospital administration can work on creating a culture of safety and trust.

Sandra Dodge
Family Nurse Practitioner
Crystal, N.M.


Elections in Kayenta

This is in response to a letter written by Alice Marie Yazzie in reference to Kayenta Chapter voting on Nov. 6, 2012.

First I voted at the chapter and everyone was quiet and no one talked bad or loud about any candidate. I went over to candidate Clitso's food stand and was given a cup of coffee.

I voted many times at the chapter and I never experienced any kind of rudeness on the part of the voters or candidates.

As to Mr. Cordova's loss, I feel that he has many more opportunities to run for elected offices since he is a young person. I did not vote for Mr. Cordova because as a town manager, he would have an inherent conflict if he were elected. I believe the honorable thing he should have done before running was to resign his township position before running for the chapter president position. Then I would have voted for him.

Daniel Peaches
Kayenta, Ariz.

Back to top ^