People, your trash talks!

WINDOW ROCK, Nov. 14, 2013

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I live north of Chinle where Nazlini Wash flows into Chinle Wash. Over the weekend while doing my walk, I was extremely disgusted by the most recent trash dumping. I know there's been dumping in this area for some time. On this day it was really bad. It made me angry.

Lots of trash was strewn down the wash from the dumping site. It was pushed downstream by the stinky water NTUA releases into Nazlini Wash. I approached the site to investigate. It's really true that you can tell a lot about people from their trash, including eating/drinking habits, products they use, and their medical issues. The most disturbing items I saw were used diabetic syringes and used feminine products.

I went through piles of trash and found items with these names: Alice Mitchell, Clarence Clauschee, Raenelle Nez, and Alira Teller. You want to know their chart numbers and the meds they take? Visit the site and you'll find out easily.

I found evidence that Lynniah Curley was checked out from Chinle High School on Oct. 23 at 11:36 a.m. I also found sketches for a planned homecoming float. After the parade, remains of that float were dumped at the same site. I tell you, my people, it was a sad sight indeed.

I'm sick of hearing announcements on KTNN asking people not to dump trash. People aren't listening. I'm disappointed with the tribal government for not making proper trash disposal easier. In Chinle, one has to visit the chapter house first to pay a fee then drive to another location to drop off trash. Never mind trying to drop off trash on weekends. It's easier to dump it illegally.

Can't the tribe make free trash disposal available for tribal members? Why can't sales tax revenue pay for these services? Perhaps local schools could get in on the action and allow families to use school dumpsters.

How about Basha's? They make lots of money off our people. Along with other entities, they should help. I may be shunned or worse for the comments I've made but I refuse to be silent. Come on shi k'ei, shi dine'e, let's keep our community free of illegal dumping.

Brent Toadlena
Chinle, Ariz.

When in Rome -- a history lesson

The Roman Empire took about 1,500 years to evolve and then fell. Today the name ÒRoman EmpireÓ still holds a high mystique -- portraying a once ferocious and powerful empire conquering countries across Europe and Asia. Yet, is Rome a country? What happened? Historians debate what happened but the core feature appears to be that it lost its civic virtue among the people that undermined the once firm, manly stance. The Òforeign barbaric mercenariesÓ invaded, took over and made them weak. The once mighty empire effectively decayed through use of Praetorian Guards that routinely assassinated potential leaders with demands for lots of money.

How does the Roman Empire compare with the great Navajo Nation? The term Navajo Nation is barely 30 years old and the Navajo government (empire) is barely 80 years old but are we replicating the Roman Empire trail of demise? Most of us know that the Navajo Council government was initiated by the federal government -- a move to expedite oil-gas lease with major energy company. The Council evolved over time but the core traditional values are not clearly incorporated and over time the traditional virtues and meaning of sovereignty became more and more fuzzy.

Based on my reading, reviews, and direct contacts I surmise some key or major development with our government and governing participations.

True respect and practices of traditional values/virtues existed prior to 1910. Hozho and k'e were the foundations.

After 1910 to about 1950 the meaning of tribal sovereignty began to evolve. Legal foundation enhanced the concept -- who decides what for whom? Navajo or feds? It appears that some Council members (Wauneka, Gorman, Brown, Maloney, Smith, etc.) and chairman Nakai best understood the concept of tribal sovereignty and promoted it in practice.

In 1960-1980 came the legal meaning of sovereignty as self-determination -- and again key Council members and Chairman MacDonald understood this to mean ÒWe have full right and are equal in the arena of Washington proceedings.Ó Navajo was placed on the map.

In 1990 to 2000 came the concept of Òa government of the people, for the people and by the people.Ó Governing of, for, by the people was heavy. Few Council members supported it -- others called it a waste of time. Chairman Zah best understood the value of this as a necessary backbone for our land, our people, and our government. This struggle continues today.

Now, have we reached the point of having barbaric mercenaries take over -- they have control over us and our money and are mercilessly inflicting pain and hardship to snuff out potential leaders.

Question is -- who are the barbaric mercenaries? Maybe as Pogo says, ÒI asked who are the enemies -- I looked and find it is usÓ! What do we do now? Nancy Evans Shiprock, N.M.

Were casinos a good idea? When I proposed the Emergency Bond Financing Legislation to the Navajo Nation Council for the first Navajo-owned casino I did not intend to be taken for granted. The purpose for the legislation was to generate money for all Navajos that could benefit from the revenues from the casinos but so far I haven't seen anything yet. No detailed budget has ever been publicized.

The Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise reports to the Navajo Nation Council are always behind closed doors in executive session, which is wrong because it is the Navajo people's money. The Navajo people do not hide their money while they are putting their hard earned money in the slot machines so why should the enterprise hide behind closed doors? Publication of revenue from the Navajo owned casinos should be on a monthly basis.

Since the purchase of the Fire Rock Navajo Casino, Churchrock Chapter has not yet been allocated any revenue back to the community. A lot of promises have been made but since then has been all talk. The Navajo people keep Fire Rock Navajo Casino in business year-round just as Navajo Arts and Crafts Enterprise.

The Gaming Enterprise should've stayed focused on building the permanent Navajo casino at Superman Canyon Road by Gallup, instead of building a Navajo casino in the middle of nowhere near Flagstaff, which is not bringing in any revenue to the Navajo Nation.

The revenue that was made within five years were in the millions/billions from Fire Rock Navajo Casino and it could've been utilized to purchase computers for schools, scholarships given to our Navajo children that are seeking a higher education after high school, build nursing homes for the elders, and build housing infrastructure since the Navajo Housing Authority cannot do their jobs to build those housing infrastructure for those that have been waiting for a lifetime, paved dirt roads, and electric and water extensions to the Navajo communities instead of begging for money from the state and federal government.

The Navajo Nation casinos create a lot of frustration due to losing hard-earned money and money that the elders get from first of the month which could be spent on more important things rather than making the pawn shop, the liquor stores and loan companies rich. The casinos also lead to marital problems, drinking, domestic violence, and health issues from secondhand smoke.

In conclusion we all need to wake up and question ourselves, ÒIs the Navajo casinos a good choice we made?Ó Let's all get together and ask this question. I need your suggestions and input. Start sending letters out to your elected officials. Not only at the tribal level but also at the state and federal level. We need resourceful input on how we can better manage the casino revenue for the Navajo people before it's too late.

May God bless each and every one.

Ernest Yazzie
Church Rock, N.M.

Don't waive our civil rights

The final agreement signed on mine purchase was done by scratching each other's backs. There are a lot of people walking around with red marks on their backs. BHP Billiton came to Shiprock Chapter House and convinced the people there was nothing hide in the agreement. They did not tell us about the waiver of liabilities they were going to ask for. This was sneaked in the last few days before the final rushed agreement was to be signed.

They took away the people's civil rights that live surrounding the mine area. People's land, houses, health, and their livestock were damaged by the coal dust. With these waivers, these people cannot recover their damages from BHP. Or any other damages they have caused.

Throughout history people fought hard to obtain their civil rights. Shame on our leaders that do not care about their people's civil rights. You do not waiver people's civil rights.

Sammy Ahkeah
Shiprock, N.M.

Congress must pass Farm Bill

This fall, Congress has an important opportunity to create jobs and grow the economy by passing a long-term, comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill. The Farm Bill impacts every American, every day by providing a wide range of programs that strengthen our nation.

The Farm Bill is crucial to maintaining a strong agriculture sector and an abundant food supply that benefits all Americans. Over the past two years, producers have faced a multitude of disasters -- from drought to flooding. These events demonstrate how important the safety net is to keeping producers going strong. Under the 2008 Farm Bill, the Farm Service Agency was able to provide $13 million over the past two years in disaster assistance in Arizona using Farm Bill programs.

A new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would provide a strong crop insurance program, reauthorize the now-expired disaster assistance programs, and provide retroactive assistance for livestock producers. By reforming the safety net to eliminate the direct payment program -- which pays producers whether or not they are in need of assistance -- the Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would also save billions of dollars in the next decade.

In addition, it would allow USDA to continue export promotion efforts that have led to the best five-year period in agricultural trade in American history, and provide FSA with the tools to extend additional farm credit in Arizona.

The Farm Bill is also a job creation bill that would empower USDA to partner with rural communities to grow, expand and support new businesses.

A new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would help Main Street businesses grow and hire more, strengthen infrastructure in our small towns and provide new opportunities in bio-based product manufacturing and renewable energy. For example, in Arizona USDA has provided more than 63 projects since 2009 to help farmers, ranchers and rural businesses save energy through the Rural Energy for America Program. This and many other efforts could continue with a new Farm Bill.

A new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would make important investments in nutrition programs that provide critical assistance to vulnerable Americans, including children, seniors, people with disabilities who are unable to work, and returning veterans. It would enable USDA to continue our work with more than 500,000 producers and landowners to conserve the soil and water. It would undertake new strategies to improve agricultural research, and it would ensure a safe food supply.

All of these efforts strengthen our nation. A new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would continue the job growth we've seen in recent years and help grow the rural economy. That's why President Obama has identified passage of a new Farm Bill as one of his top three legislative priorities this fall.

This is a prime opportunity to give America's farmers, ranchers and producers the certainty they need about the next five years of U.S. farm policy, while investing in the rural communities that stand at the heart of our values. The Farm Bill has stood as a model of bipartisan consensus for decades and it is high time that both Democrats and Republicans come to a compromise on this new Farm Bill. It is our hope that Senate and House conferees will reach a consensus quickly and move a Farm Bill forward as soon as possible.

Robert Piceno
State Executive Director
USDA Farm Service Agency
Phoenix, Ariz.

Alan Stephens
State Director
USDA Rural Development
Phoenix, Ariz.

Clarifying Water Rights Task Force

We want to thank Jack Riley, who wrote a letter to the editor last week, for giving us the opportunity to correct a misconception some, like Mr. Riley, have. None of the six people Mr. Riley listed is a member of the Task Force.

The Naa'bik'iyati' Committee of the Navajo Nation Council appointed a Water Rights Task Force last year to address water rights-related issues concerning the Little Colorado River. The Task Force consists of Council delegates only, with the speaker of the Council serving as the chair of the Task Force.

After the Task Force was established, it was decided by the Task Force and the larger Committee that some citizen advisers should be appointed to provide a more diverse input from the grassroots citizen and professional levels.

The advisers have no vote, no control over when or if meetings are called, no control over meeting proceedings, and no control over meeting agendas. We are only what the term "adviser" specifically suggests. Also, we serve without any compensation, including no travel expense and no compensation for time we take off work to attend meetings.

The six people Mr. Riley listed are the six who were nominated to serve in an advisory capacity only. Of the six, only the two of us have been able to continue in our capacity as advisers. In addition, neither the Task Force nor we ever took up or even proposed the subject of coal mining. So, we're confused as to where Mr. Riley came up with that subject, and why he presumed the goal of the actual Task Force was to stop coal mining. That very much came out of left field.

Yet Mr. Riley makes a relevant observation when he wonders where the Task Force is. To our knowledge, the Task Force has had only one meeting the past seven to nine months in the Leupp Chapter area. Perhaps Mr. Riley's letter will stimulate more frequent meetings of the Water Rights Task Force, and invitations to the meetings for Advisory Group members.

Jack Utter
St. Michaels, Ariz.

Nicole Horseherder
Black Mesa, Ariz.

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