Fundamental laws must be considered

June 20, 2013

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B ased on my assumption, (Da t'sí, sha'chiin doo gii'át'eh) though I am not an attorney, but from the Diné traditional perspective, I am compelled to express my opinion.

It was the most concerned action recently to overrule the consideration of applying the Diné Fundamental Laws by the Navajo Nation Council amending the legislation on renewal of the 25-year agreement on the Navajo Generating Station, which has further connection with the Diné water rights.

This action has eliminated the consideration of the inherent rights of the Diné people at large of all their concerns from the traditional basics that were voiced across the Diné Nation. These concerns are in terms of preservation and protection of the welfare of all growths and every walk of life. These are the needed principle protections from the legacy of hazardous contaminations to the health and environment as land, water, and air.

Our elected leaders, through the legislative process, have grown to disrespect our traditions. Our government has become primarily the commercial business operation entity. We need to get it back on the right path.

On the basis of our elders' traditional intellectual collective, it is the factual verbal and written historic under the injustice of the conquest and invasion resulted the Treaty of 1868 which brought back the restoration of the Diné Nation truly on basis of Diné Fundamental Laws.

By virtue of the Diné Fundamental Laws, hence reserve the teaching that we, as people, have the factual rights of say-so over the lands, territories and resources that we have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired.

We, as the Diné people, have the principle right to own, use, develop, and control our homeland, territories and resources within the sacred mountains, including rivers and places as our traditional inhabitation and ownership since time immemorial. Yes, by the basis of our right we have to freely control and determine our political status to move forward with Diné economic and social developments securely to have interaction with our natural heritage, not by means of being under pressures by any government and any business-related entity.

We have our rights to our government to serve in the utmost interest of the Diné people to preserve and protect our inherent rights and fundamental freedom to enjoy the clean and safe environment and the welfare of life as equal to any nation in solidarity to build a strong sovereign Diné Nation.

Henry Barber
Gallup, N.M.

Looking for Larry from Chinle

I am looking for a fellow Marine from the Vietnam era. It was 1969 and I was at a base near Cam Lo. A young man, a fellow Navajo, was having a bad feeling about his next assignment.

"If I don't come back," he told me, "I want you to find my parents and talk to them."

All I remember about my fellow Marine is that his first name was Larry and he was from Chinle. He would possibly have been with 2-4 Echo Company, 4th Marines, stationed at Rockpile near Tang Ha Mountain.

The only Larry from Chinle I could find on the killed in action list was Larry Rogers Billie, killed in 1966, so it couldn't have been this young man.

I am still suffering from survivor's guilt and PTSD, and maybe it would help if I tied up a few loose ends. I always felt bad that I never followed through on his request. If anyone knows the whereabouts of this fellow Marine, and what happened to him, please call me at 928-688-5457.

Guy Bitsilly, 1-3 Charlie, 3rd Marines
Houck, Ariz. (Hometown: Tohatchi)

GOP and Dems both want to close schools

There is more going on than reduction and closing of public schools on the reservation. Across the U.S. education and public programs such as Social Security are under attack.

"No Child Left Behind" of the Republican motto has changed to a Democrat slogan: "Race to the Top" is both ideological and backed by more as free speech. The former advocated testing, choice and accountability for teachers or a school can be closed if not performing to a set standard.

The student's performance was used as a scapegoat. The real move is to advance privatizing charter schools, ban all union teachers and relieving all parental involvement from school boards to cut taxes to recover from the debt of two undeclared wars. Unemployment will continue to shoot through the roof experienced since the Great Depression and World War II war debt.

The Obama administration is outright collaborating with the Republican education agenda, both are waltzing to the same music. The Democrat's "Race to the Top" is even more penalizing than "No Child Left Behind."

The Democrat secretary of education handed out billions of dollars with a stipulation: If you accept any of this money (impact aid), one of the things you agree to is closing of schools if not performing with a turn-around called a "transformation."

The accountability is people will get fired and schools get closed. This is the exact Republican line of thinking to privatizing schools and working in partnership with Obama. Whereas the Democratic agenda has always been one based on equity (fair play), the kids with the greatest needs should have the smallest class size and the most resources as the reason for federal aid to education.

There is no accountability with private involvement. The Bill Gates Compact Aid is all for adding new charter schools. The untaxed offshore accounts will become more tax breaks for big businesses to privatize our public education. To sequester is to deprive "the commons" membership, remove them, "the writing on the wall" is to start waiting in line. Sequestration sounds more benign and has turned the tail wagging the dog away from what is really coming down the pipe.

Austerity is more appropriate, because jobs are no longer in safekeeping for us if the state and federal government continue to cut the public sector one after another. Look at what's happening in the European Union with 20 percent unemployment rate (1 out of every 5), in Greece it's 50-plus percent (1 out of every 2) where austerity is enforced in an extreme economy, especially on a nationalized political scale that has become very stern, harsh and brutal.

I hope to have readers from the local and Navajo Nation School Board members.

Teddy Begay
Kayenta, Ariz.

Prairie dogs getting out of hand

Just recently, while passing through the Eastern Navajo Reservation to our surprise we came across numerous live prairie dogs roaming across the roads, peering at us as they sat at the entrance of their underground homes. There were too many to count or even to take pictures of them, as they were too fast in moving about.

This infestation location is our famous Crystal, N.M. Even at the school grounds we noticed these huge lively critters darting everywhere into the old abandoned chapter house, trading post, and even the lawn of the local church. We happen to speak to a local CHR who said, "No one is doing anything about the situation."

I said, "Isn't it dangerous as prairie dogs cause plague or Black Death?"

Later we were informed that the prairie dogs were considered endangered species but edible (well cooked) and sold for $2 each locally and considered safe. Also, the first time the prairie dogs were getting closer to the chapter house property they were around the last two years.

My question is why is this situation not being addressed by our health department or tribal officials as no one is seen out in the fields trying to eradicate the infestation?

No precaution signs posted regarding the invaders, only a sign that reads "Keep Navajo Land Beautiful" posted at the entrance road to Crystal. Why are we waiting until humans are found dying or sick because of bubonic plague?

The fleas on the prairie dogs carry the deadly bubonic plague, which is then transmitted to humans. Where are our teachers and people who care about the health of the Navajo population? We need action. See for yourself, it was gross to see what we saw.

Rosemary J. Gorman
Tuba City, Ariz.

NPH and NHA partnership

The Navajo Partnership of Housing has partnered with the Navajo Housing Authority since our founding in 1996. It has been NPH's good fortune that NHA has understood, valued and supported our work. NPH was created to bring information and education about finances, credit and mortgage lending to the Navajo Nation. NPH has helped over 398 Navajo families obtain nearly $47,000,000 in mortgage lending to build, buy or rehab housing.

NPH has partnered with NHA to build and sell 51 single-family homes in Karigan Estates. These attractive homes are designed to be affordable and energy efficient for Native American Housing and Self Determination Act eligible low income and NAHASDA eligible over income and essential families. A select number of homes may also be purchased by families earning more than 100 percent of the United States Median Income. Research and common knowledge supports that there is a need for housing for all income levels in the Window Rock, St. Michaels and Fort Defiance area. Karigan Estates is fee simple land thus allowing for true homeownership of both home and land. Karigan Estate homeowners will have the opportunity to develop equity in their homes.

As a former executive director of several Tribally Designated Housing Entities I have known NHA CEO Aneva Yazzie since 2006. I have worked alongside her through our national and regional Indian Housing Organizations. I know of her hard work ethic and strong determination for NHA to truly make a difference in reducing the need for housing through greater accessibility and affordability. I have been impressed with the size and complexity of NHA. Aneva inherited significant legacy issues when she took over the helm. As I have observed she has energetically undertaken a series of reforms to make NHA more accountable, productive and responsive.

Working closely with NHA from the board to the administrative staff to the front line people I see a level of professionalism, commitment and capacity that is growing and improving daily.

The "Phase II Housing Needs Assessment" and the "Sustainable Journey of Beauty Plan" prepared by Swabach Partners has impressed me as a very thoughtful and visionary plan to document the housing need chapter by chapter and to ultimately create greater access to quality housing for the Navajo people.

There will always be disagreements over process, policies and priorities that are the nature of a democracy. But there is no conflict or disagreement that the human heart and mind can devise that it cannot also devise a solution if there is willingness. Everyone involved cares deeply about the many families that are housed in substandard conditions or have no housing at all.

NHA has come a long ways and many good plans are in the offing. My request to the elected leaders and the housing professionals, for the sake of those who desperately need housing come together in a spirit of openness and sincerity in a good way and good will surely follow for all. A house united will prosper.

Timothy E. Horan
Executive Director
Navajo Partnership for Housing
Gallup, N.M.

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