'The elders told us …'

June 13, 2013

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A n article by the Navajo Times stated our highest elected official took a personal trip to Israel and claimed to have learned about farming and proclaimed Navajos were descendents of Israel. The truth is no one really knows where the Navajo people originated; our history for tracing our human ancestry was not recorded in a book. Our history was recorded in songs and stories passed down through eons in oral tradition.

Our elders told us of unique worlds starting with nothingness and with each passing world we slowly emerged through a transition constantly evolving until the Navajo Holy People arrived at the present world. These stories often contain wisdom thinly veiled for the listener to learn from and discuss with the elder concerning life and its tribulations. The elders recognized life was fluid, full of love, hope, sadness, etc. Their hope was we use these stories and apply them to our lives.

The elders told us never to dig things up and we did. We dug coal and handed our resources to companies resulting in the displacement of thousands of Navajo people in what is referred to as the 2nd Long Walk. This also resulted in the artesian wells being used to slurry coal from the Black Mesa to Nevada. T

he only other place this happens is in China. Only recently did these get shut down due to efforts of grassroots movements like the Black Mesa Mining Coalition. The list goes on and on of the desecration of our beautiful Dinehtah. Horrific atrocities are happening and still happening all around the reservation due to uranium mining and just by being down wind from the Nevada atomic testing sites, not to mention Church Rock, N.M., and the largest radioactive waste spillage in America.

The elders said don't gamble and told us the story of the divine gambler and how he took the Navajo people's livelihood. We didn't listen and now we have gambling. The problem is these places are not in ideal locations and the only population seen in the Navajo casinos is the Navajo themselves. Some people view the casino as a blessing, however, tell this to an elder who lost their monthly social security check to the casino.

Additionally there isn't a rise in the scholarships from casino money. Another issue with the casino is gambling addiction, again where is the risk mitigation, and programs for the addicted?

Recently the opening of Twin Arrows was seen as a triumph for Navajo Nation business. The VIP event was perhaps a sparkling and a terrific event for some rich and connected people. In pictures you see, state senators and even our highest elected official himself surrounded by bilagaanas and other people. I didn't see elderly people or regular Navajo people. I disagree and believe Navajo should have been invited based on the fact there is only roughly 300,000 Navajos compared to the rest of the world with a population of 7 billion people. A solution should've been holding a special opening for just the Navajo people inviting our elders and asking for a blessing from them, and serving them traditional staples.

Then have your gala for the VIPs and your rich friends. Therein lies the problem our leaders do not put the people first nor think of our people as Very Important People.

As a leader you have to do what is the most good for your people regardless of your own religion, your personal feelings, your clans, or business. Navajos need more dynamic leadership, we need to elect people who lead by example, who love the people, and put the people first. In order to grow as a nation our leaders need to band together at the right times and do what is right and most good for Dinehtah.

For instance, common sense will tell you giving our rights away for another 50 years at a fireside deal that supports us for only a short time and puts billions of dollars into pockets of your bilagaana friends – this should be a quick no.

The Navajo leaders have the cards in their hands, they need to be the captains of our ship and lead us into calm waters. They need to seize the day and make the companies pay what they owe us.

Sean Alvin Begaye
(Hometown: Fort Defiance/Dilkon, Ariz.)

Treat veterans with respect, thank them

On June 2, 2013, I was asked to go check on my aunt and uncle who were attending a veteran's meeting at the local chapter house. My daughter and I arrived and went to the front door of the chapter house and it was locked. There were several vehicles parked outside so we decided to go around the back.

Under the shed behind the chapter house were several individuals, our local veterans, having a meeting.

The meeting was almost over and they mentioned that the chapter officials would not open the door to the chapter house for them and allow them to hold their meeting inside. It was sad to see our veterans outside holding a meeting under that shed. Don't the people have the right to use the chapter house?

It is a public building, and it does belong to the community members. I am wondering if other communities treat their veterans in this same way. These are our veterans, we should be proud of them and treat them with the respect that they have earned and so truly deserve.

The following is an example of a proud grandmother. I am very blessed to have known a woman for over 48 years of my life, my mother, Marie Tsinajinnie. She was a very proud and loving grandmother of her grandsons serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. Every chance she got she would tell them, "Thank you, for what you do over there, because of you, we can sleep all hours of the day and night without any worries, thank you, but leave the women alone."

This is what she would tell her grandsons. Sad to say we lost her in July of 2012, but she understood what it was all about, freedom, and living our lives the way that we do in this great country.

Please treat your veterans with respect and thank them for their service, the veterans and those who are currently serving. I am starting to understand some of the things that they go through, and it is sad and it hurts to see your child go through these things, but all I can do is listen, and try to be there for them.

Thank you to all the veterans and to all the current soldiers, you are all in my prayers, and may you return home soon to your loved ones.

Martha Tsinajinnie
Klagetoh, Ariz.

1969 NGS lease did not favor Navajo

On September 29, 1969, Navajo Tribe signed a lease agreement with owners of the Navajo Generating Station (NGS), where the tribe signed an unfair agreement that mainly favored the owners.

The lease was written to renew for an additional 25 years after the first 50-year period, at the discretion of the owners and ends in September 2019.

One of the owners – the Salt River Project (SRP) – recently proposed Amendment No. 1 for least extension. On April 29, the tribal Council approved Resolution CAP-21-13 with several changes to the proposed lease amendment, basically to benefit Navajo for the better.

But on May 7 SRP responded to the tribe indicating the owners' rejection of Resolution CAP-21-13.

Several conditions relative to NGS lease extension are reasons for the Council's resolution:

1) The Council questioned the Bureau of Reclamation's involvement with NGS as a conflict of interest to which SRP responded in a May 7 letter to the tribe indicating that, "Neither the U.S.A. nor the Bureau was a party to the Lease…"

As the owners suspected a possible conflict of interest question initially, they included that the Bureau gave their 24.3 percent interest to SRP for the beneficial use of the U.S, which was intended to mean paying for the Central Arizona Project construction and operations, and water agreement settlements with ten tribes in southern Arizona.

2) On page 2 of the document, 25 U.S.C. § 323 Rights-of-Way and Easements, it states: "NOW KNOW YE that the United States of America, in consideration of the premises (NGS Lease), has given and granted the said Grantees (NGS Owners) as tenants-in-common, the rights-of-way and easements in, on, over, along, and across the lands described" and "TO HAVE AND TO HOLD the exclusive possession thereof in the undivided fractional interests…" and "…for a term of fifty (50) years from the date (9/29/69) of this indenture or until any earlier termination of such rights."

There is no mention of the lease extension beyond the first 50-year period in the §323 grant.

3) On December 11, 1968, the Interior and corporation representatives wrote Resolution CD-108-68 and required the tribe to approve whereby it was signed by tribal Vice Chairman Nelson Damon, where it's stated in the said Resolution Resolved clause, "No. 3 It shall be understood that the Navajo Tribe's promise to limit its claim to 50,000 acre-feet of water per year shall only be for the term of the lifetime of the proposed power plant, or for 50 years, whichever shall occur first, commencing with the date of enactment of this resolution…" and "No. 6 If, for any reason, this resolution is terminated or expires by reason of the terms and conditions contained in this resolution, the Secretary of the Interior shall take the necessary action to have the 34,100 acre-feet of water per year, allocated to the coal-fuel power plant on the Navajo Reservation near Page, Arizona, returned to the Navajo Tribe for their exclusive use and benefit."

There is no mention of the lease extension beyond a 50-year period in this resolution, which expires nine months before indenture of lease end date.

4) In the 1948 Upper Colorado River Basin Compact, it states in ARTICLE XIX, "Nothing in this Compact shall be construed as: (a) Affecting the obligations of the United States of America to Indian tribes."

This is contrary to SRP's stance that the tribe has no allocation rights to water used by NGS.

The above nullifies the 1969 Indenture of NGS Lease Agreement where it states in Section 8, (e), "The grantee(s) of such right-of-way shall have the right to procure an extension after the initial fifty-year term, for up to an additional twenty-five year term…"

Being that this is a major oversight by the NGS owners SRP is now willing to negotiate the lease extension. As such, the tribal Council has a major leverage on the lease negotiations.

Tulley Haswood
Rock Springs Chapter

The debate over 'redskins'

I wish to respond to the so-called debate over the sport teams' usage of the term "redskin" in the May 8, 2013 issue of the Navajo-Hopi Observer.

Specifically, political noise is being made by two women who have never played team sports. Where am I coming from?

I have been a dyed-in-the-wool Cleveland Indians fan since spring 1953 when my father (played on the 1949 Flagstaff Babbitt's softball team who lost the state fast-pitch championship to a team from Ajo) took a family of five to Phoenix to see the Indians play the New York Giants and to have my sister's picture taken with Willie Mays.

In 1957 I played on a Babe Ruth League team by the name of Pyland's Indians. The latest reason for my continued obsession with the Cleveland Indians (formed in 1902 as one of the first major league teams) and now the Boston Red Sox, is that center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury is my clan-nephew (his mother is Tacheeni, my clan-sister). In 1959-61 I played on the Flagstaff American Legion team and played in the state tournaments.

When all the noise a few years ago centered on the Dartmouth Indians and Stanford Indians – and the Cleveland Indians, I wrote a letter to the editorship at the Cleveland Plain Dealer in 2006 suggesting to the general manager of the Indians to trade All-Star Ted Sizemore straight across for the young upcoming Ellsbury. I offered my help to the Dolons (owners of the Indians) to be in their corner should objectors like the ones cited in the NHO article ever appeared in court with their wimpy "racist issue".

I wrote: "It is about time that a real Skindian donned an Indians uniform in Cleveland. After all, it has been several long years since real Skindian major leaguers Calvin Coolidge Maclish and Allie Reynolds wore Indian and Yankee uniforms, respectively."

In conclusion, I wish to quote what my grandmother said in our Dineh language when I visited her at Middle Mesa on July 20, 1969, as men were walking on the moon: "Who is taking care of the sheep? They must not have enough work to do and that is why they thought of crazy things to do. They must have had to take thick coats and a big bag of air and food like 'kneel-down bread' that does not need to be cooked."

Tacheeni Scott
Flagstaff, Ariz.

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