Nazlini's Baptist church

August 1, 2013

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I have been here and there in the past and present to different churches and other Native respected beliefs to listen to the great words of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. Nothing else.

A Baptist church started up in Nazlini, Ariz., a pastor Joel preaches the bible and switches to saying, "It breaks my heart how you American Indians live, you don't need your traditional ceremonies and all Diné religion beliefs."

A lot of people just walked out the door to say, "We don't need this nonsense talk in our community, it's best he just move out of Nazlini and go talk trash elsewhere."

A lot of people were glad for a new church to be up and running for Nazlini residents and nearby communities. This church comes with discrimination, prejudice, ignorance, hatred, arrogant bad attitude, and having no respect for Diné people's ways - it is very cruel.

When people confront him, he tells them to "leave and get off my property." Who gave him the right to rule without a home-site lease and immigration papers?

We all have personal, religious views on how we want to pray and worship. If our children and their children hear these kinds of words inside a church, they will pass it on to the next generation and so forth.

It doesn't matter what race or color you are, we all have the same blood color and are God's loving children. We Diné people need to stand together and have respect for each other's churches, religion, and for those that hold no beliefs. We have different instruments and songs to make a loud noise unto the Father, the one forgiven God that takes care of us 365-24-7.

Do not be afraid to speak up and raise your voice if this is happening in your neighborhood. Just call the police like I did and report it. I came across people from Nazlini and they said, "Pastor Joel goes to the local bingo hall and ask him 'What are you doing here?'" He says, "I'm looking to see if any of my church members are here gambling."

It's none of his business what Diné people are doing.

God works in mysterious ways. Thank you United States government for having the Religious Freedom Act. We all need to live long and continue to walk in beauty as Diné people.

Joe Indian Yazzie Jr.
Chinle, Ariz.

Leading by example

On July 12, I received a certified letter from the Navajo Nation concerning my lease fee. The Tribal Ranch Program asked for $7,200 for the three years I have had my herd of 20 head of cattle on Sims Ranch. This was my first contact with the Navajo Tribe concerning my lease with the Navajo Nation since my eviction notice May 31, 2010.

According to Council delegate Russell Begay, the Navajo Tribe has five years to respond to my case. On May 4, 2011, during the informational-recorded meeting with the NNDA, I mentioned to them that I have not paid the Navajo Nation a lease payment for the Sim's ranch since May 28, 2010. I questioned them about this to prevent a big balloon payment in the future.

The NNDA stated that the lease payment is not required because there is no lease contract. It was recommend to me to pay my lease payment when it came up for usage of the range. This was discussed when a woman was billed for two years (for 50 head) in February of this year. I anticipated the same response from the tribe.

Don't get me wrong, the $7,200 is not the case, I am more than willing to pay this amount. The main issue is the governing bodies and NNDA is out of touch with reality. They are still charging lease fees for tribal ranches with capacities that were set 33 years ago.

In one recent quarterly NNDA meeting the new bid ranchers were disturbed. The tribal ranches (pastures) cannot sustain the herd capacity set by the NNDA. NNDA stated, "the contract has been sign and they cannot change the herd capacity which has to be amended through the Resource Committee."

Do the ranchers have to do the legwork? What happened to the chain of command? I do not know the policy of a NNDA meeting, are the minutes being taken so there is communication between the ranchers, NNDA department manager, Resource Committee and president?

During this drought the rest of the ranchers around the nation have either drastically reduced their herd size or completely sold out. One non-Navajo lessee stated he would have to sell out if there was no rain by August.

On the Navajo Nation ranches we are still billed for overgrazing these sparse pastures. The leases by design are to accommodate one-third of their pasture for wildlife. Apparently the NNDA do not follow their own recommendations from their quarterly meetings regarding carrying capacities of our leased ranches.

At the first Navajo Nation Resource and Development Committee public hearing they encouraged Navajo livestock producers to avoid the practice of overgrazing and to enforce the rules and regulations. Our government should lead by example if they want to protect the land and stop overgrazing. If they will not stand up and follow their own guidelines it will never be done. They will continue to lose credibility and we will continue to lose our valuable land resources.

The Navajo Nation business strategy does not correlate with their sentiment toward the land.

Justin D. Yazzie Jr.
Farmington, N.M.

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