BHP walked away from meeting

WINDOW ROCK, Oct. 31, 2013

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I met with them and we had a good meeting, very direct and respectful. They explained to me the reasons why the waiver language and I alluded to my concerns. I was upfront in saying that I was not qualified to talk legalese with them. We agreed to have a sit down where BHP reps and persons designated by the community would talk about the specific concerns point for point.

I had also told them very pointedly that I speak from a position of believing that the Navajo Nation and the people deserve more consideration from a company who for many years enjoyed paying a royalty rate of 25 cents a ton for coal. The company by having such a carte blanche deal has grown immensely wealthy, mining coal on Navajoland for over 50 years.

We agreed to meet Wednesday, Oct. 30, at the Shiprock Chapter House. NTEC and BHP are scheduled to sign the agreement containing the waiver language on Oct. 31. In making the final arrangements for the meeting I told them that Russell Begaye and some attorney friends would be at the table. BHP called me back later in the day and told me they would not meet with lawyer types, they said they would not talk about the legalities of the waiver language as "it was set already and they did not want to have DOJ say they were second guessing them." Thus the meeting was called off.

I was confident that we would be able to have them recognize that there is/are problems with the waiver language, but we didn't get the chance, as BHP walked away from the meeting. I had told them in our Saturday meeting that if, after our sit down we determine that all is in order, than business would carry on.

I also said that if in the event that we do substantiate that there is a problem with the language, than it would be incumbent upon us to remedy the concern.

Now we are stuck with this blanket waiver that releases BHP from all "known or unknown, suspected or unsuspected" past, present and future liability.

Duane "Chili" Yazzie
Shiprock chapter president
Shiprock, N.M.

Kayenta clinic not helping my son

My son, Kyle John, has a rare illness called aceruloplasminemia. Iron accumulates on various parts of the body -- brain, heart, liver, kidney, pancreas, and eyes. A number of illnesses are developed over a period of time -- dementia, diabetes and tremors -- to name just a few.

He is the first patient ever treated for this illness in Arizona. He was completely off balance, lost some of his eyesight and was 110 pounds from 200 pounds before he was diagnosed. Phoenix doctors had to do a lot of research before they could correctly treat him. In the meantime my son went into multiple seizures, which damaged some of his brain cells.

We have experienced multiple roadblocks by Kayenta Indian Health Center and still have not been able to get adequate medical service.

Kayenta Clinic has had so many doctors leave that we are unable to interact with any one doctor. Most of them are contract doctors.

The diabetes department and dietician had no idea how to help Kyle. We have never gotten a follow-up appointment from either department. Kayenta Pharmacy took two weeks to locate some of his medication that was not in stock. The head pharmacist left and the department lost Kyle's medication for four days and was finally located in a different department.

My son Kyle has not been seen by a regular doctor since May when his doctor left Kayenta. The Phoenix oncology doctor would like a Kayenta doctor to monitor Kyle's blood sugar and health. On Aug. 26, 2013, a Dr. Alt summoned a meeting with Kyle and I. Dr. Alt told us that Kyle would no longer receive any care at Kayenta, which included his medication. The reason she gave us was that Kayenta doctors were not knowledgeable about Kyle's illness and Phoenix doctors were more knowledgeable. Phoenix is 300 miles away from Kayenta.

It takes a few days and sometimes a week to make an appointment to see a doctor. I've called every two minutes from 7-8 a.m. and lines were busy. We are given an hour every day to make an appointment.

Kyle has tried to make a dental appointment but there is no dentist, only dental aides and a secretary. Why is Kayenta Health Service Unit allowed to operate in a manner that does not address the critical needs of Kayenta community and surrounding chapters?

I have appealed to Linda White (Kayenta IHS CEO), area director, Kayenta Health Board, Navajo Nation president, Kayenta Chapter House, Kayenta Township, and the Joint Commission.

My son and I know there is no cure for this illness that totally takes away your life and we live in a remote area. All I ask is for a little assistance to help prolong my son's life. There is no reversal of damages from this illness like dementia but other areas like blood sugar can be managed. This is not hearsay or jinii like a previous Navajo Times article implied. We are real people with medical needs and Kayenta Service Unit needs to live up to their mission statement.

Margaret Yazzie
Kayenta, Ariz.

Navajo Nation needs to abide by NPEA

I was disturbed by the article pertaining to the Navajo Preference in Employment Act in the Oct. 24 edition of the Navajo Times. I read some of the proposed legislation and DOJ letter regarding the proposal on amendments to the NPEA law. My first thought was a comparison to what President Obama has done regarding his waivers and exemptions on the Affordable Care Act (exemptions and waivers made to Congress and staff, White House, corporations and unions).

Specifically, politicians seek to exempt themselves from requirements with which others are expected to comply. Rather than correct the problem, e.g., elevate its managerial performance standards and treat all employees with respect and fairness, the Navajo Nation would exclude itself from accountability for good personnel management and encouraging Navajo employment. This deprives its employees from an external, independent review of questioned management practices. And pity the poor Navajo Nation employee who gets on the wrong side of a politically connected supervisor.

The proposed amendment deletes the application of the law in order to exempt the Navajo Nation from legal NPEA coverage. I understand the reasons for the proposal are that the law prevents hiring for technical positions and it's costing Navajo Nation big expenses. Division directors/managers/supervisors should be held accountable when there are complaints of unfair employment practices filed against them. They should not be excluded from accountability and/or review under the law. The problem is not the employees' fault but they will be the ones penalized, potentially and actually, under the proposal.

The existing problem is that many of the individuals selected, promoted or appointed to positions with managerial and/or supervisory responsibilities are not actually qualified, experienced, or trained in personnel management. Consequently, they do not practice fair and equal application of personnel management processes in hiring, promoting and terminating an employee nor are there adequate efforts for internal trainee/developmental positions to enhance Navajo qualifications. And under the proposal, such managers/supervisors will be encouraged in their wrongful actions in hiring with no requirement to consider qualified Navajo preference applicants while the employees will suffer from a lack of needed external review of problems.

In the long run, Navajo Nation organizations will suffer in efficiency, effectiveness, and productivity due to an incomplete, unfair and prejudicial "just cause" review system for Navajo employees.

Any organization is dependent on three things: funds, property/supplies/facilities and its employees. The proposal is telling one third of the organizational resources upon which the Navajo Nation depends that they are not really important and are not entitled to a proper independent review of their concerns. Is the legislation really proposed as a cost savings measure? If so, I suggest a real cost effectiveness study of what is proposed, both in the short-term and in the long-term.

Further, I fail to see how the operations of Navajo Nation would be improved by telling Navajo Nation employees that they have no expectation of any audit or external review when questionable or problematic personnel situations arise. If the idea is to cut costs then let's look at other and numerous areas of wasted funds in and by the Navajo Nation -- and not just automatically deprive employees of their existing rights.

Evelyn M. Meadows
Piñon, Ariz.

Schools need to help boys succeed

In the Navajo Times article "Lost Boys" by Cindy Yurth (Dec. 1, 2011), the article states girls are outperforming boys on the Navajo Nation. Many of the boys that grow up on the Navajo Nation grow up without a male role model in the home. The girls on the other hand get all the attention from both parents.

Cindy Yurth quotes Russell Goodluck, a former Chinle High School graduate, "Navajo parents have much higher expectations for girls than they do for boys."

Educators are trying to figure out why the male dropout rate is very high. The education system is made for only girls.

It is often said that girls achieve more than boys. I beg to differ. When you look at high school students you often see groups of students studying. The majority of those are male students. Male students don't seem to have to try to study, it seems effortless to some of them.

Both boys and girls compete with each other in the classroom. When a girl achieves her goal, her success is shared with everyone.

What about the boy who sacrificed so much? Their success is put on the back burner. There is little hope that after high school a male student will go on to college and succeed.

In high schools all around the Navajo Nation there should be programs to work with male students. With these programs they will not feel alone, and will have a male teacher they can talk to about anything. The teachers will be their guides to keep pushing them to succeed with their education. Helping them realize their potential will allow them to find the right colleges and will create many open doors for them.

These programs will help the dropout rates and will keep students interested and hungry to learn more. These changes need to happen now before we lose the Navajo boys in all education systems.

Shinelle Harrison
Chinle, Ariz.

Seeking information on Intermountain school

I am writing a creative biography concerning the history of a building where the Indian school existed until 1983 in Brigham, Utah (previous to that, it was Bushnell General Military Hospital from 1942-1947).

What little is available online indicates that only Navajo children were at the school. I would like to get in touch with any persons who went there to learn more about the history of that school. I can be contacted at 520-335-4330 or

Thanks very much in advance.

Kerrie Stepnick
Brigham City, Utah

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