Overqualified or underqualified?

WINDOW ROCK, September 19, 2013

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I agree with Council delegate Duane Tsinigine's (Bodaway-Gap/Coppermine/K'ai'bii'to/LeChee/Red Lake-Tonalea) stance in "How is the Navajo Nation helping our young college graduates find a job in the Navajo Nation jobs?"

Even I couldn't pass the qualifications for the Navajo Nation Personnel office. (I have a bachelor's and master's degree in education, plus Arizona endorsements in SEL, Physical Education, Reading Specialist and overall rated as a Highly Qualified Teacher by the State of Arizona). I applied as a Developmental Specialist and as a teacher for the Juvenile Facilities. I also worked for 32 years with the BIE, from Shonto to Kaibeto to Havasupai Elementary School, then came home and couldn't find a job with the Navajo Nation, nor Tuba City Unified School District and Page Unified School District.

I was willing to take the pay cut to work with the Navajo Nation, to enjoy the extra "holidays" that the Navajo Nation has. I have applied for a job SIX TIMES, every time I was told that I did not qualify. I was told that one has to know "someone" to get onboard with the Navajo Nation. I was overqualified, underqualified, did not have the proper documents (when the documents were to be turned in AFTER hiring), but it was used against me.

I can only imagine what our young collegiate grads have to suffer. The main reason their applications are rejected is that "no experience." Yet they promote in-house applicants who have NO college degrees. The continuance of "favoritism" stenches throughout the Navajo Nation departments.

For example, the Navajo Nation Head Start (allegedly) hired some people because they are close friends of the main administrator. These jobs were never advertised! Positions were never established in the overall organization chart and position descriptions were never approved, but people were appointed to these positions and now working full time for the Navajo Head Start.

The Navajo Nation DOES NOT have internship programs for the college graduates within their departments, therefore our children have no option other than to leave the Navajo Nation to get a job. Starting out as interns give the college graduates years of experience, which is the most effective way to train and hire permanent young workers for the Navajo Nation.

How is Council Delegate Danny Simpson helping and advocating for the Navajo college graduates? Does he have a college degree? Associates? Bachelors? He seems to not believe in bringing these fresh young minds back to the Navajo Nation.

Martha Tate
Ts'ah Bii Kin Chapter president

Farming in North Dakota

I was taught as a young man that we don't inherit the land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.

On my family farm in North Dakota, this could serve as both a statement of principle as well as a description of how we work and live. When it comes to the land, we try to take the best of what we've learned from those who came before us, care for it in our own time, and hand it off to the people who have the strongest claim on our conscience.

We couldn't do it without technology. To be good stewards of the soil, we must take full advantage of what science and innovation can offer, always on the lookout for how modern tools can help us grow more food and protect the earth.

My farm comes down to me from both sides of my family. My father's grandparents and my mother's grandparents planted and harvested these same acres. They're gone now, but I'm reminded of them every day. I put seeds in the same dirt. I look upon trees that they planted. I use dams and dugouts that they first built.

They left a mark hereÑa permanent and intentional mark, not a random one like a bit of graffiti sprayed onto a wall. Every day, I see evidence of their ability to produce food from the land, using hard-earned knowledge and wisdom.

In several spots on our farm, our grandparents established shelterbelts between fields. These look like simple lines of trees, but they're really examples of carefully designed environmental architecture. Tall trees such as cottonwoods, green ash and box elders rise up in the middle. Surrounding them are shorter trees and bushes. Placed together like this, in different sizes and densities, they form a living wall.

We use shelterbelts for the same reasons that my grandparents used them: They provide windbreaks, protecting livestock from blizzards and soil from the steady, erosive attack of air and water.

My ancestors also taught us the importance of technology. We have an obligation to use the best tools available to us. My parents and grandparents were among the first in our area to use commercial fertilizer and drive diesel tractors. This ability to accept new ideas made them better farmers who produced more food for our family and community.

We've tried to follow in their footsteps. When genetically modified crops became widely available as a new tool of technology about a decade ago, I was skeptical. Would they really work on weeds without hurting the crop? I had strong doubts.

Then I witnessed the amazing results. Suddenly, our fields were free of weeds and full of crops. The stalks were strong and the kernels clean and healthy. We were able to grow more food on our land than ever before, thanks to this new technology that allowed us to make the most of our limited resource.

Best of all, genetically modified crops helped us protect the soil.

In the past, the best way to control weeds was to till the soilÑto turn it over with disks and chisel plows and moldboard plows. This method helped us defeat weeds, but it also exposed the black earth to the elements. Tilling released needed moisture, killed earthworms, exposed more potential erosion and disrupted the natural workings of the soil.

Today, we conquer weeds without stressing the soil. We also use fewer pesticides, drive over our fields less often, and grow more crops. My great-grandparents would be both astonished and thrilled to see how we've protected the land that they first planted and gotten more out of it than they ever could have dreamed possible. Yet they'd instantly recognize our determination to do what's best for the land and to adopt technologies that help us achieve our goals.

I'm the fourth generation in my family to work here, and the fifth generationÑmy son and nephewÑare beginning their own careers on the farm. I expect that their children and their children's childrenÑthe people from whom we've borrowed this soilÑwill be here as well, taking up tools that are beyond the scope of my thinking and growing more food than I can imagine.

Terry Wanzek
North Dakota state senator
Truth About Trade & Technology board member
Jamestown, N.D.

On Sept. 10, President Barack Obama made the following statement:

I just addressed the nation about the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Over the past two years, what began as a series of peaceful protests against the repressive regime of Bashar al-Assad has turned into a brutal civil war in Syria. Over 100,000 people have been killed.

In that time, we have worked with friends and allies to provide humanitarian support for the Syrian people, to help the moderate opposition within Syria, and to shape a political settlement. But we have resisted calls for military action because we cannot resolve someone else's civil war through force.

The situation profoundly changed in the early hours of Aug. 21, when more than 1,000 Syrians - including hundreds of children - were killed by chemical weapons launched by the Assad government.

What happened to those people - to those children - is not only a violation of international law - it's also a danger to our security.

Here's why: If we fail to act, the Assad regime will see no reason to stop using chemical weapons. As the ban against these deadly weapons erodes, other tyrants and authoritarian regimes will have no reason to think twice about acquiring poison gases and using them. Over time, our troops could face the prospect of chemical warfare on the battlefield. It could be easier for terrorist organizations to obtain these weapons and use them to attack civilians. If fighting spills beyond Syria's borders, these weapons could threaten our allies in the region.

So after careful deliberation, I determined that it is in the national security interests of the United States to respond to the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons through a targeted military strike. The purpose of this strike would be to deter Assad from using chemical weapons, to degrade his regime's ability to use them, and make clear to the world that we will not tolerate their use.

Though I possess the authority to order these strikes, in the absence of a direct threat to our security I believe that Congress should consider my decision to act. Our democracy is stronger when the president acts with the support of Congress - and when Americans stand together as one people.

Over the last few days, as this debate unfolds, we've already begun to see signs that the credible threat of U.S. military action may produce a diplomatic breakthrough. The Russian government has indicated a willingness to join with the international community in pushing Assad to give up his chemical weapons and the Assad regime has now admitted that it has these weapons, and even said they'd join the Chemical Weapons Convention, which prohibits their use.

It's too early to tell whether this offer will succeed, and any agreement must verify that the Assad regime keeps its commitments. But this initiative has the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force.

That's why I've asked the leaders of Congress to postpone a vote to authorize the use of force while we pursue this diplomatic path. I'm sending Secretary of State John Kerry to meet his Russian counterpart on Sept. 12, and I will continue my own discussions with President Putin. At the same time, we'll work with two of our closest allies - France and the United Kingdom - to put forward a resolution at the U.N. Security Council requiring Assad to give up his chemical weapons, and to ultimately destroy them under international control.

Meanwhile, I've ordered our military to maintain their current posture to keep the pressure on Assad, and to be in a position to respond if diplomacy fails. And tonight, I give thanks again to our military and their families for their incredible strength and sacrifices.

As we continue this debate - in Washington, and across the country - I need your help to make sure that everyone understands the factors at play.

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