Greed and blind ambitions

WINDOW ROCK, September 26, 2013

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In Diné history we have always been able to survive when things got tough. Back then our Diné lived by different standards of moral and spiritual values and a traditional mindset.

Today we have adopted too many ideas and practices that go against what made us Diné. There was a time when we looked to the old people for traditional teachings filled with thousands of years of wisdom. Today many of us are now the old people. Many of us have dropped the ball and have little to offer the coming generations of Diné.

There was a time when we lived by the four sacred forms of fundamental law (moral laws, nature's laws, common laws and civil laws). Today our leaders have compromised those laws with greed and blind ambitions.

We see daily the deadly symptoms of the disease of corruption in our government. Yet we choose to do little to improve our existence and the future of our children. Our good intentions (tribal Council reduction) are hijacked and perverted by the culture of the corrupt.

As a nation of Diné we have placed our trust in the all-powerful, all-knowing government. All too soon we may be ruled by the corrupt and we become completely powerless and broke. This is what the disease of corruption does.

We should apply common sense principals to the acts of corruption by those named in the abuse of slush funds (Navajo Times, Sept. 12, 2013). Those individuals should never be elected to any office again. They are not evil people, but they cannot be trusted, and common sense tells us that trust is greater than love. These individuals have betrayed our trust and they have no love for Diné.

Corruption is evident in the way the various tribal departments do business. A good example is NHA. They are all controlling. They produce housing projects that have become ghettos in less than a decade. They have lost millions of dollars on failed projects. Yet they are still operating with the blessings of the tribal government.

As a nation of Diné we need to remember who we really are. We are a people who are willing to live by objective truths and trust. Granted, there are times when we lose sight of truth and we choose to give in and believe the untruths. We must not take part in the pursuit of lawlessness and corruption. Can we keep our leadership and efforts sacred? Sacred practices are real truth. To seek truth is to oppose the culture of corruption.

Wally Brown
Page, Ariz.




Slush funds helped soldier

I was an Spc./E-4 in the U.S. Army, stationed in Fort Hood, Texas. My unit was set to deploy to Afghanistan in December of 2008, so in November of 2008 I traveled back to Arizona to spend two weeks with my family before I was suppose to deploy overseas for 12 months.

Yes, I did go through all the proper channels to request discretionary funds to assist us with travel expenses to make the trip home. In my mind, it may have been my last trip home, because being in the military you have that kind of mentality (because) you never know what might happen.

So of course I made sure to see my parents and my siblings before I left to go overseas. I never thought in a million years that my name would pop up in the Navajo Times stating the date that I received discretionary funds. But there you have it, the reason I requested the funds and the reason I will never ask for anything from the Navajo Nation again. The newspaper can try to smear my father's name, but I only know my father as an honorable and hard-working man.

During the time he was in office, he must've put over 150 thousand miles on his truck driving between Cameron and Window Rock. He stayed up late every night worrying about the people trying to think of ways to help the people, the same people that would ultimately do everything in their power to smear his name.

My father and my mother both live humble lives, they've never lived extravagantly, so to even assume that my father was being peculated is absolutely ridiculous. Are family members of delegates exempt from receiving discretionary funds? If so, I never got the memo. And if it's such a huge no-no then why don't they restrict it for the families of tribal employees? If I ever thought that this would blow up into the bomb that it is now, I never would've asked the Navajo Nation for anything. I joined the U.S. Army because I looked up to my grandfather who was a code talker. He went to war and fought for what was his, his family, his tribe, the Navajo Nation. I had the same mentality. I had pride in the Diné Nation, I wanted everyone to know where I was from and that I joined the military because I wanted to protect what was mine.

But now, squash that, if the Navajo Nation is just out to ruin the lives of innocent people, then I want to say that I will never ask the Navajo Nation for anything for as long as I live, because it might someday come back to haunt me. I no longer have pride in the Navajo Nation government, but I will always have pride in my father Jack Colorado, because no matter how hard the Navajo Nation government tries to take down one of their own, he will continue to stand tall, he will continue to tell the truth, even while they try to twist his tongue. He is a child of God, and we have faith that he will be redeemed.

I pray every day for the people who have so much hate in their souls. I pray that they may find peace and that they may someday see the faults of their own doings. May God bless each and every one of us.

Edith Charleston
Phoenix, Ariz.

(Editor's note: The Navajo Times simply reported the findings reported by the Navajo Nation's special prosecutor's office.)

Elderly in need of assistance

I am a 72-year-old man and have worked most of my life and had taxes taken from me. I came back to the reservation to a house that has utilities except a tub and heating system. I struggle with my budget and applied for the weatherization program and was denied three times in the past three years. I finally got a letter stating I was approved. I was so happy I got my load of wood and coal then I got another letter stating that my application was denied due to lack of funding. This put me in the worst situation than I am already in.

I have a son who helps me out but I can't see myself taking away from my grandchildren. I read about all the money being exchanged by our so-called leaders and it just enrages me that all this greed is going on while the elderly do without.

When my children were in college I had to struggle with their scholarships. I can imagine what students are going through. Our leaders swim in the money but we, the elderly and college students, suffer. What is the tribe coming to? There is so much É greed while we are forgotten. I pray that one day, people who are entitled to assistance are remembered.

Money is the root of all evil. Rules also cause disloyalty, distrust, poverty, greed, and the future manages to put you in place. Take time to remember life is only a loan.

Herbert Nez
Newcomb, N.M.

Basic concepts of the traditional horse

Knowledge is at the heart of Diné philosophy. Accumulated knowledge becomes wisdom. Many contemporary politicos and certain rectilinear thinkers do not know that miniature agronite (hadahoniye') stone horses are included in the Blessing Way (Hozhooji) medicine bundles (jish) and are revered as sacred holdings.

The miniature horses permeates and symbolize Diné life way prosperity (yodi doo nitliz altaasei bee iina at'e) and ensures Diné people to remain stable (bee holdzil) and to journey (as'ah bik'eh oodaal) on the corn pollen pathway (tadidiin bik'eh atiin) without outside interference.

The quintessential horse song Lii' biyin represents the epitome or highest ideals of Sa ah Naahgai Bik'eh Hozhoon. It ensures a Diné person to be protected and to be happy and to be a balanced person. Just listen to a traditional horse song. Hopefully, you will take it to heart.

Furthermore, the physical make-up of a traditional horse represents many things. For an example, the mane -- long and black heavy hair represents the dark rain clouds (niltsah) that ensures and brings moisture and well-being to all life forms on mother earth (nohoosdzaan nihima) and in father sky (yadilhil nihitaa'). The resonating voice of a horse represents the divine, hallowed, and consecrated connection between earth and sky. Just like the emitting voice of a bluebird (dolii) that when it sits on top of a corn tassel, it brings many wonderful blessings to the earth surface people (Nohookaa' Diyin Dine'e) through male and female rainfall and pristine snow, not artificial snow. Imagine what would happen to the law of relativity -- if disconnected.

The eyes represent the dynamic and transparent crystals, which can foresee the future of the Diné people -- the children of the Holy People (Diyin Dine'e). It also brings clarity to our future, especially, for our children. Why is this not taught in the westernized classroom? Shouldn't our children embrace the basic concepts of the traditional horse, and from a historical standpoint, how they have significantly contributed to Diné society? Embracing change should be about balanced thinking and the true reason for being and becoming. By the same token, the tribal leaders should not support another reductionist, in practice methodology like the John Collier era, which many of our traditional elders have been subjected to and have been traumatized by.

The hoofed foot represents arrowheads and ensures protection of all the Diné people and other life forms. From a traditional standpoint, the arrowhead shape hoof can also be coined as the inherent sovereign status of the Diné people. Isn't this the fiduciary (trust) responsibility of our tribal government to protect our invaluable resources against compelling interests and outside infringements and intrusions? What happened to the ubiquitous rainbow reflected on the Navajo tribal flag? That multihued spectrum which brings moisture to our voice, the power of communication -- the nature of the sacred talking prayer sticks and feathers (k'eet'aanyalt'i).

The time-honored and archetypal references I have alluded to are the valid and substantial reasons why many traditional leaders, grassroots people, medicine people, spiritual leaders, and even the common lay people are questioning. It is the brutal, heartless, and merciless treatment and sale of wild horses that they are not comfortable with and, thereby adamantly object to such foreign practices. Go back to the collective voice of the people and get their free, prior, and informed consent on traditional or creative ways and means to manage and control wild horses with dignity and respect.

Anthony Lee Sr.
Lukachukai, Ariz.

Little help to reach Common Core standards

As a teacher's aide at Tohaali Community School, I am very discouraged to find out that there is a lack of educational support for these students and also a lack of teaching resources for teachers. One cannot expect these students to be ready for the next level of schooling if their teachers cannot teach what is expected by the state.

Since the entire state of New Mexico has switched to the Common Core State Standards Initiative, which is a U.S. education initiative that seeks to bring diverse state curricula into alignment with each other by following the principles of standards-based education reform, that has left some schools with no help in transitioning from one form of standards to another. Tohaali Community School, being one of the oldest BIA schools in northern New Mexico, there is not enough funding to help this transition for both students and teachers.

I am extremely agitated with the fact that no one is reaching out to them. Common Core is all about preparing children for college, but how can one do that when there are no resources to teach from? For example, Common Core expects fourth graders to be reading non-fiction books. The problem with that is there are no non-fiction books in the libraries and the administration refuses to buy any. So without any help teachers are sometimes forced to buy their own supplies with their own money, which in fact takes away money that might go towards their own family needs. This has many teachers outraged. If the administration will not help to prepare these students then who will? As a current student at Kirtland Central High School, I understand that this little BIA school in a rural area of the Navajo Reservation does not cross anyone's mind. With everyone that I have talked to about this dilemma, less than a handful of people know about this school. I have taken this situation into my own hands and I want their cry of help to be heard. I am sure every parent wants to see their child succeed and attend a higher educational institute, whether it is a community college, university, vocational school or even the military.

However, without providing teachers the proper resources it makes the task at hand that much harder to accomplish. So I say support our local BIA schools to help make the transition to the Common Core Standards or see the future generations fail to achieve higher educational institutions because of the lack of resources in grade school as well as junior high.

Athena Talk
Newcomb, N.M.

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