Natives must take some responsibility

January 3, 2013

Text size: A A A




R

ecently there's been quite a bit of controversy about closing the NCI facility and Thoreau Community Center for lack of funds. There's a concept that we Native Americans do not understand and that is the concept of personal responsibility. How long will the government assist the Native Americans in caring for their own people?

The lifestyle of the Indian people is not improving, but getting worse. All kinds of crimes, domestic violence, alcoholism, drugs, youth rebellion, gambling and theft problems with Navajo leaders exist and are growing. One only has to read the newspaper to know that our problems are not getting better, but worse.

Perhaps it would help us to know what "personal responsibility" looks like in our daily lives. For example, we, the Navajo people, need to step forth and assist those hurting people on the streets of Gallup and elsewhere. Start with the family and then expand to the chapter meeting, and have the people share ideas on how to help their relatives who have problems with alcohol. Then, the church could step in with sound biblical teaching.

Let me offer my elementary perspective. First of all the Navajo people have lived for many years in a socialistic society, always looking to the government for answers to their problems in the form of welfare checks, handouts, federal grants and more. The government has been babysitting us for years. Because of this, we, the Native Americans, do not know how to care for ourselves or our people.

NCI and Thoreau Community Center have done and are doing their best. Thank you for your efforts. In order to keep the operation of these facilities it will continue to take millions of dollars every year. The government is cutting back the funds that were used to keep it open. The problem is that even the U.S. government is in too much debt. Our leaders in Washington, D.C., are borrowing monies from socialistic and communist countries like China. A few years ago that was unheard of. We are going to be paying higher and higher taxes and some foreign country will be able to take over the United States without firing a shot.

All these support services with human wisdom and ritualism have been used for years. Yes, some have received help through these programs for which we are grateful. Consider this though: One cannot completely recover by being re-programmed by professionals, specialists, and spiritualists. There is only one true way for anyone to receive permanent recovery, and that is through a personal relationship with the Almighty God through the Lord Jesus Christ according to the words of the Holy Bible.

If man had the answers to our own problems, we could all love each other, there would be no crimes, domestic violence, substance abuse problems, etc. We could all enjoy and experience life and old age. We have big problems that we can't possibly fix. May the Lord have mercy on us.

Pastor Milt Shirleson
Window Rock, Ariz.


Employees key to food program's success

In the early 70s I was introduced to Mr. Louis E. Eskeets who was the head of a food program in the 1970s. The program was the Surplus Food Program under Social Services. The program was shut down temporarily and reopened due to the overwhelming outcry by the Navajo people to continue with the tailgate food services now known as the Navajo Food Distribution Program.

The success of this program is due to dedicated employees with a courteous attitude in serving our Navajo people throughout the Navajo Reservation and their extensive perseverance and commitment to provide food deliveries to our Native people on the reservation they serve.

Recognition at the national level could not be possible without the establishment of the National Association of Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations.

I saw a certificate or list of names from the Mountain Plains Region, Southwest Region, Midwest Region, and the Western Region. These are names of the other Indian tribes throughout the United States. The recognition or certificate was for those who worked for Food Distribution Program for 25 years.

I am proud of the program's accomplishments and sincerely appreciate the staff and their highest caliber efforts in making the program an ultimate success. There are 85 employees nationwide and 20 from the Navajo Nation.

The 20 employees from the Navajo Nation are Arlene Becenti, Lillian Begay, Thompson Begay, Rita Begaye, Herbert Benally, Allen Burbank, Albert Cooley, Edbert Dixon, Diane Henerson, Sallie Johnson, Pauline Kee, Sara Moon, Tim Murphy, Geneva Nakaidinae, Orlinda Platero, Harry Sandoval, Lee Secody, Sally Tsosie, Dennis Walker, and Fannie A. Williams.

Jacqueline Browning
Crownpoint, N.M.


Why not nursing home at Confluence?

I lived in the Confluence area for 33 years herding sheep with no running water, no electricity, no paved roads, no housing for our large family although we lived in a comfortable small hogan, and taking care of my father's cattle until he passed away six years ago. He was laid to rest about five or six miles within the Confluence area where he gave his offering and prayed for his people to live in happiness and love one another, not fighting between each other. He loved to be among nature and the quiet surroundings. He passed down his grazing permit to me before he passed on.

Today my cattle are still out in the Confluence area. We still go to the sacred prayer sites to give our offering and pray for our people's needs. We don't want to share the sacred prayer sites with the camera-toting tourists.

Bodaway/Gap Chapter voted in October (barely) to develop the Grand Canyon Escalade project. What I don't understand was twice passing the resolutions earlier in the year in opposition to the development. Didn't that count?

What's wrong with our chapter officials? We voted for them to help other chapter members, not work against them. The new chapter officials aren't any better.

The supporters of the project stated there were tourists already at the site. To this day I've only seen a few tourists trying to find their way out. They say the tribe would manage the site better. The tribe would have to hire private security. They'll have to pay a fortune to do that. The Navajo Police won't do the job.

Instead of building an expensive resort why not build a nursing center for our elders so they won't be sent off the reservation? They'll be closer to their home and livestock where they grew up, a place where they call home. There will be jobs available for sure.

Our sacred sites will be destroyed forever. It will never be the same again. We will witness the greatest destruction of one of the Seven Wonders of the World by a non-Native organization.

My grandmother and my mother would get after us young kids to not throw rocks down the canyon. The Holy People live down there, they would say to us.

I have made it to those meetings and I didn't see any threats of violence although there were some people yelling at each other. The whole thing is causing division of relatives and friends in the communities.

One Hualapai I've met in Flagstaff said it all: "That Skywalk is a piece of junk. Don't let them build the resort on your land." He mentioned the Hualapai Tribe is paying big money for the Skywalk ever since the stockbrokers started pulling out.

Mr. Albert Hale, you and your Confluence Partners LLC have betrayed, backstabbed, and lied to us. Come on, Mr. Hale. Come back down to the Native world and join the right people. I'm totally against the Grand Canyon Escalade Project.

Robert Wilson
Page, Ariz.





Thank you, Elouise Cobell

Dine' Bike'yah, the land of the people, I have known it growing up on trust land. As a kid, you only know what you are told: This land was created for us. The Creator brought us to this place to live and prosper. However, we are recognized as a Third World country, poverty stricken, and living in society of desperation and hopelessness. The U.S. government manages our land, so is it really ours to keep?

As an heir to allotted land, I received statements for years showing deposits of a few cents here and there. One would think, what a waste to send statements of trifling amount to an account that seemed non-existent. Many fractionated landowners probably never even set foot on such land or have no idea where it is located.

Elouise Cobell, a name we all recognize. For 15 years she has been in shadows of a settlement that would undo the injustice brought on by the Department of Interior for the mismanagement of funds for Native land. Her tireless effort and her inspiration to take on the U.S. government for the Native people were substantial.

When I received a check from the Cobell settlement I had an overwhelming sense of sadness. My sadness stemmed from the recent passing of Elouise Cobell who spearheaded the lawsuit against the U.S. government in 1996. She was not able to witness the fruits of her labor through the final commencement of payment.

Elouise never gave up her fight to undo the wrong that the U.S. government has done in mismanaging the finances of the Individual Indian Money accounts. The litigation process was lengthy and the expense mounted, but in the end it was absolute that injustice was done by the U.S. government. It was time to pay the dues. It may not replace what was taken away from us but it helped some to overcome winter's harshness. It also helped some alleviate the stress of Christmas and instilled joy for those who weren't expecting a payment. For others, it was a stab in the back and crumbs for the resolution and again, the U.S. government's failed duties.

Whatever the feeling, I am deeply honored by this woman, Elouise Cobell for bringing the issues to the forefront and making the case a historical settlement. Elouise and her staff worked tirelessly to recoup what was owed to the Native people. She stated, "I never started this case with any intentions of being a hero. I just wanted this case to give justice to people that didn't have it."

As you contemplate your spending please remember Elouise Cobell and her efforts. We must pay homage to her idea of a new generation of Native Americans creating a community of success and fight for a system that will provide justice for all. To evolve from poverty and follow the path paved by Elouise for future generations. Thank you Elouise Cobell, your spirit will always be with us as we tread on the land.

Jeanette Long
Coolidge, N.M.


Why jump on a sinking ship?

It doesn't take an economist to see that Navajo Mine is a sinking ship and BHP is abandoning it. If you're on a ship and you see the captain abandon ship, that's probably not the best time to buy it.

Yet that's exactly what the Navajo Nation appears to be doing with its own purchase of a sinking ship. Just days ago, BHP Billiton announced it would be selling Navajo Mine to the Navajo Nation. Navajo Mine supplies coal to be burned at the Four Corners Power Plant.

Speaker Naize of the Navajo Nation claims this is the first step of many to diversify their energy future. Ironic since coal is already the Navajo Nation's largest revenue source.

The current market trends clearly show that coal is a sinking ship. Large coal companies and BHP – the current owner of the Navajo mine – already see coal as a liability. This year alone, 54 coal plants across the country retired or announced plans to retire and no new coal plants broke ground.

The world's largest private-sector coal company, Peabody Coal, has warned of slumping coal sales across the country and plans to limit capital expenditures in 2013. Peabody doesn't stand alone among the large coal companies that are warning investors of the same trend. BHP's CEO has publicly said that, "Coal is going to decline. And frankly it should. We've been cautious in our energy coal investments."

The Navajo Nation under the guise of preserving jobs has announced its interest in buying Navajo Mine, but the reality is that it is investing in coal.

Conveniently, the price tag is not yet known to the public, but whatever the price is, it's probably too high. The better solution would be for Navajo Nation leaders to see that the energy winds have shifted and take active note that coal is not a wise investment.

A path that transitions coal to clean energy would be a far wiser investment. BHP is contractually obligated to manage the mine until 2016, giving the Navajo Nation plenty of time to invest in job-creating renewable energy sources. When a ship is sinking, it's probably time to seek out a lifeboat and arrange your own departure. Maybe it's time for the Navajo Nation to arrange its own departure from the sinking Navajo Mine.

Ed Becenti
St. Michaels, Ariz.


Tribe should support emissions standards

On Nov. 15, United States Environmental Protection Agency approved in part and disapproved in part Arizona's Regional Haze State Implementation Plan to control air pollution at Apache, Cholla, and Coronado coal-fired power plants. For nitrogen oxides, USEPA is disapproving Arizona's emission limits at all of the units at the three power plants.

The USEPA is promulgating a federal implementation plan for the disapproved elements of Arizona's state implementation plan. The FIP includes emissions limits based on best available retrofit technology, implementing selective catalytic reduction for NOx on most units and compliance requirements for all the units.

In the next few months the USEPA will unveil the long overdue final FIP for Navajo Generating Station.

To give some historical perspective, in 1967, Arizona's Governor Jack Williams created "The Governor's Pollution Control Advisory Council" under the State Department of Health to advise on power plants and smelters. NOx regulation was advised by the council every year from 1967 to 1972. In 1969, the nation's first enforced air quality standards were set by the new California Air Resources Board for total suspended particulates, photochemical oxidants, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and carbon monoxide.

In 1970, USEPA was created to protect all aspects of the environment. The enactment of the Clean Air Act of 1970 resulted in a major shift in the federal government's role in air pollution control.

For mobile (vehicles) sources, the following table illustrates what the nation did to reduce NOx.

Year / NOx

pre-control peak USA Fleet 1963-1967 - 4.9 grams/mile

1975/1976 USA Federal - 3.1 g/m

1980 USA Federal - 2.0 g/m

1991 USA Federal - 1.0 g/m

1994 USA Federal - 0.4 g/m

2004 USA Federal - 0.2 g/m

2007 USA Federal - 0.05 g/m

The tightening USEPA motor vehicle emission standards since 1970 made possible a reduction of NOx of 99.98 percent from pre-control peak. So, why are the federal and state governments only beginning to implement rules for stationary sources of NOx on or close to Native lands — 42 years late? To know why is to know how money, power and influence is wielded by special interest.

Although assessing human exposure and quantifying health benefits are outside the scope of the requirements of the Regional Haze Rule, USEPA sets NAAQS to establish levels of air quality that are protective of public health, including the health of sensitive populations, for a number of pollutants including particulate matter.

The USEPA agrees that emission reductions achieved to improve visibility will also improve air quality. Improved air quality, in turn, affects public health and may enhance tourism in and around Native lands.

Native people disproportionately bear the health costs of polluting energy sources. Existing health disparities (including the notoriously underfunded Indian Health Service) and high un-insured rates among Native people compound these health consequences.

Given the magnitude of NOx emissions, why does the Shelly administration want more delays in the case of NGS — that Lo-NOx burners and Separated OverFire Air technology is good enough — a 40 percent reduction is better than a 90 percent reduction?

Glen Manygoats
Flagstaff, Ariz.

Back to top ^