Don't close Diné Bi Olta

March 21, 2013

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A while ago, I read a letter to the editor of Navajo Times which discussed the possible closure of Tséhootsooí Diné Bi'Olta', our Diné Immersion School. After reading this, I could not help but think, Why?

I have read and heard positive things about this school. Their teaching of Diné language and culture is a response to the community's wishes for their children to learn their Diné language and culture. So the thought of the school possibly closing never crossed my mind, especially since we Diné have the second-largest indigenous population within the U.S., have the largest rez that includes most of our homelands, and are strong willful people that excel in the education and continuation of our future generations ("Education is the ladder").

Today, when someone speaks about education, right away I know most people generally think of K-12 schools, colleges, universities, trade schools, etc. But what about the teachings, practices, and paradigms of Diné education? Is this type of education not just as important? Does not this type of education create healthier, more "sustainable" and prosperous communities?

When I say indigenous education paradigms, I am talking about our winter stories, Hooghan songs, Dzil biyiin's, understanding power of prayer, planting and growing food, Nanise' knowledge, teachings of respect, hunting with respect, Diné philosophy, K'e to our people, K'e to our spherical habitats, walking the corn pollen path, Sa'ah Naaghee Bik'eh Hozhoo, Diné bizaad, and Shima Nahasdzaan doo Yadilhil Shitaa' understandings.

Today though, many of our people instead talk about how we need more economic development, more infrastructure, more foreign-reflected governance, more paved roads, and even more sidewalks/bike lanes. Now some of these developments can and do bring about good productive dealings, but Diné Bi'Olta' has much more to offer our people than bike lanes or infrastructure or economic development.

Us young adults need to stop fretting over the necessity of money that keeps us away from our homelands. If our Diné communities are to become stronger and healthier, then us displaced educated adults need to return home to serve our families and spherical habitats, all the while experiencing the appreciation for just doing so. That is the power of k'e.

We need to stop barking and waiting for legislative actions from our Secretary of the Interior appointed "business council" government system, and instead lead our local governments by exercising our Diné indigenous governance within them. We should focus on developments that serve to invite families, the cohesiveness of a community, from young to the elderly, into the places such as chapter houses where the discussions, initiatives, and voices of gratitude/concern take place. This will only help shape our future, which Diné Bi'Olta' has been striving to do since its inception.

Educational foundations such as Tséhootsooí Diné Bi'Olta', Diné College, and Navajo Studies Conference should be growing and overflowing with our young children, educated adults, and loving elders. Our people, language, and ceremonies should be flooding our spherical homelands, because that is what has sustained our people and the earth for thousands of years.

Elijah Allan
Shaatohi, Ariz.

Nursing homes should get higher priority

I had a traditional mother who raised nine of us and half of us were born in a hogan. She was a wise woman and raised us with a deep understanding of Navajo traditional values as well as a respect for the changing times of the non-Indian world and encouraged us to achieve educational and career goals. Today, we all have a higher education degree of some type, a value that we have handed down to our own children.

My lovely mother, shimá passed about eight years ago. She lived in the Chinle Nursing Home for some time before we actually brought her home again. On my visits, I'd sit with her and tell her stories. Sometimes we'd say nothing, just sit together quietly. I'd watch her look out the front door looking at the sheep pen, at the horizon beyond the peaks and she probably thought of the old cherished memories. We buried her by her father, in the mountain.

Nursing homes are a necessary part of Navajo life. It is a typical family set-up where relatives are scattered around the reservation or around the country and some have re-located living in other countries - a result of interracial marriages - and immediate family members cannot care for their elderly folks.

Even today, the deep respect for my aged father and mother still remains, even after they've gone. Sadly, it has become a common factor that Navajo families face shortage of care facilities yet the top programs usually range from new casinos to programs on feral dogs or horses. The important family-related programs end up at the bottom of the annual budget. This is unethical. It is bad. Budget contracts for Navajo elderly care programs should be on a continuum for a five-year span at a time rather on an annual appropriation basis.

Yael Begaye
Tucson, Ariz.
(Hometown: Chinle, Ariz.)

NGS lease: We can do better

Navajo Generating Station lease extension negotiations have lately been a subject of discussions. Should NGS shut down like Mohave Generating Station? Should NGS convert to a non-coal burning plant? Each option has good, bad, or unreal conditions associated with it.

Personally, NGS closing is not my objective. My intent is for the Navajo people to finally begin receiving a fair share of NGS profits as a direct result of natural resources used on their homeland.

The current offer for NGS lease extension is only $42 million which is only enough to cover Navajo government employees payroll for six months, nothing for the 110 chapters.

After this lease is negotiated and we look back to this day in 10, 20, or 44 years, can we honestly say the agreement was the best we could have negotiated? Today, we have another chance to make it better for as many Navajos as possible, your own people who are less fortunate than you.

I am upset with Johnny Naize, Harrison Tsosie, and Ben Shelly agreeing to accept peanuts offered to Navajo all over again. NGS owners are not the only game in town, there are outfits in Japan or Germany who may be interested in partnering with Navajo on NGS.

Didn't they see the news reports about sequestration recently from Washington, D.C., concerning lessening Indian programs by $130 million?

Instead of Shelly whining to Obama about what we're not getting, he should stand up to NGS owners and tell them what our resources are worth and demand fair market value. If NGS owners won't go along, just tell them to buzz off and contact someone else who may be willing to work with Navajo.

Navajo has to have better than $42 million. I'm suggesting over $100 million per year, even $200 million per year for Navajo plus negotiate to purchase the Los Angeles Water & Power's 21.2 percent interest of NGS which will earn Navajo at least $118 million additional totaling about $328 million per year for Navajo from NGS. That is what I call real negotiations to sell a "non-renewable resource of value" NGS participants would like to continue owning. This is better than the piece-of-junk mine Navajo Nation President Shelly is talking about buying for Navajo.

We have to improve our infrastructures as roads, power lines, water lines, etc., and be equal to places like Phoenix, and help those who are truly in need. For those of who will benefit the most from a quick negotiation settlement think about those who are less fortunate. You see them every day whether they are relatives or members of communities close to your homes.

Tulley Haswood
Rock Springs, N.M.

Tribe should not control NHA budget

Published by Gallup Independent on March 15, 2013: "Tug of War over Multimillion Budget between Navajo Housing Authority and Navajo Nation Council." Navajo Nation is saying NHA is just sitting on millions of dollars.

I disagree with Navajo Nation saying NHA is just sitting on millions of dollars. NHA has developed a lot of housing throughout the reservation and should be given credit for that. The Navajo Nation wants to control NHA's budget. Yes, United States Congress passed the Self-Determination Act, which became a law.

The question is, is Navajo Nation capable of running this entity?

There was a study made on Navajo government some years back, the finding was the Navajo Nation's expenditures was tremendously high, progress and accomplishments were very small.

Navajo Nation has been accused of misusing funds and they are trying to forgive them. If they did, they are going to do a lot of damage to Navajo government. This is what I mean by, is Navajo Nation capable of controlling NHA's budget?

An example, back some years Navajo Nation had an enterprise, Navajo Forestry Product Industry. They shut themselves down due to violating the policies and instead pointed fingers at others, which is why BIA did not sign the contract again.

Housing development has to start within the chapter; it takes a lot of procedures such as Land Track Art Study, Biological Survey, Consultant Suitability, Accessibility, etc. When it comes to processing all these documents, Land Department, BIA, and Economic Development drag their feet, sometimes it takes years to process these documents or should I say to properly process.

Ray Redhouse
Tsaile, Ariz.

Navajo is a nation of thieves

Yaa'teeh, 'historical' is primarily concerned with people or events of the past established by history - factual. 'Historic,' on the other hand relates to likely to have lasting importance. With that being said here's a little of both. You decide whether it's applicable or appropriate as it relates to the Diné Nation. Be realistic and practical as this concerns you - everyone.

It's unmistakable, indisputable and profoundly undeniable that the Diné Nation by its own actions has collectively become a "nation of thieves." Now there's something historic, historical - put that in your book. The validity in such an assertion is substantial.

The enduring prominence of deception and thievery is indescribably present today as well as the past. Since 1970 to present date this has plagued our nation. This has ranged from petty theft to theft in the millions. This is historic as well historical as lasting and enduring. This also gives credence to a "nation of thieves".

Since 1970 the principal, primary source of deception, thievery has been perpetuated by our elected officials (coyotes). These very individuals who speak of trust, accountability, responsibility, and integrity in all sincerity is nothing but lies. Unfortunately theft is spread across and within the four sacred mountains. It now evolves tribal employees as well as individuals as family relatives, friends, coyotes, everywhere you look or turn.

What, if anything, will it take for the Diné to see the big picture? How are we to rid ourselves of the assertion of a nation of thieves?

A good start would be to rid ourselves of all those coyotes, thieves currently in office.

At the end of the day folks, what do you get when you put lipstick on a pig? A pig with lipstick.

Mike Halona Sr.
Albuquerque, N.M.
(Hometown: Buffalo Springs, N.M.)

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