Hurray for hands-on learning

WINDOW ROCK, Dec. 19, 2013

Text size: A A A

I was thrilled to read about the STEM curriculum being implemented into courses at Ganado High School. Years ago this very type of teaching and hands-on experience based learning was researched and discussed at length, but unfortunately did not become a reality. Now it appears upper administration has shown approval and enthusiasm for such course offerings.

I applaud the efforts of Mrs. Dowse, Mr. Geiger, and all others involved for their hard work and dedication to this way of teaching and learning. It makes so much sense to have applicable knowledge and skills in place prior to graduation. I wish the teaching staff and students of GHS great success.

Donna Hutchinson-Muri
Tumacacori, Ariz.

BIA created grazing mess

The Bureau of Indian Affairs Navajo Region website has this mission statement at Indian website: The Bureau of Indian Affairs Navajo Regional Office's mission is to: "É enhance the quality of life, facilitate economic opportunity, and to carry out trust responsibility to protect and improve the trust assets of the Navajo Nation and individual Indians."

Navajo Region and Fort Defiance Agency Natural Resource have not enhanced the quality of life nor facilitate economic opportunity for livestock producers. BIA does not meet its mission by taking away people's grazing permit when they created the problem themselves. Allowing dispute cases created through BIA Agency's negligence to go to Interior Board of Indian Appeals does not meet BIA stated mission statement. They only blame the permit holders as violators.

Secondly, BIA let grazing permit dispute cases bypass District Grazing Committees and allowed it to go to IBIA. Agency records show BIA did not follow the Department of Interior government-to-government relation policy that would have minimized disputes at the agency level. This is not protecting and improving the trust assets of the tribal members. BIA does not promote its federal trust responsibility by not following government-to-government relation mandates.

In 2009, Fort Defiance Agency Resource manager, now holding top management position at the Regional Office, accused a grazing permit holder of violating 25 CFR 167.8(c) by having two grazing permits. He made unilateral decision to take away the grazing permit when it was his subordinate, Jerome Willie, who violated the regulation by authorizing a second permit in 1991 without following government-to-government relation mandates. This means Mr. Willie did not follow the federal guideline with the Navajo Nation grazing committees. Then in 2009 his supervisor, Calvert Curley, again did not comply with the federal guideline.

BIA has trust responsibility to reject recommended actions of tribal governing bodies if federal regulations are not followed as you failed to do in 1991. Why accuse permit holders of violating 25 CFR 167.8(c) when it was BIA that violated the law?

Even BIA superiors at the Regional Office did nothing to correct agency's failure to follow the government-to-government relation policy. They only supported the agency resource manager's decision and did nothing to correct the agency's mistake 23 years ago.

In this case appeal process to the Department of Interior took four years. Recently, IBIA made a decision and ordered BIA Navajo Region to return the grazing permit to the permittee because BIA failed to follow a number of federal policies, regulations, directives, etc. In the spirit of government-to-government relationship BIA and Navajo Nation share responsibility when regulating the administration of grazing permitting system.

In 2009, Fort Defiance Agency violated the Interior government-to-government relation policy when it refused to accept District 18 DGC Resolution DGCM No. 18-01-05-09. This tribal resolution would have ended the dispute. If officials had done their job with the cited federal policy the dispute case would have never went to IBIA.

The website, Docket No. 11-142, is public record. A decision has been made by the board and signed by two federal administrative law judges for BIA to return the grazing permit. For permit holders who had their grazing permit taken away they should not give in. They need to join forces.

In summary, back in 2005 BIA Navajo Region was asked to do program review of Fort Defiance Agency Natural Resource alleged natural resource gross mismanagement and program deficiencies. Navajo Region refused to take action, nor did it acknowledge the request. Now eight years later the issue is surfacing in the news media. It appeared in Navajo Times on Aug. 23, 2012, Sept. 27, 2012, July 4, 2013, and now.

There are many grazing permit holders on the Navajo Nation who are caught in land dispute cases because BIA failed its trust responsibility. They created far too many grazing land disputes by not following its rules and grazing regulations. Navajo Region knew about the situation in 2005. They have done nothing to correct the problem.

Perhaps it's time Navajo Nation Council and Washington look into this situation and do something.

Nels Roanhorse
Oakridge, Ariz.

Speaker must face the people

The Diné grassroots liaison made some good assertions in his letter to the editor on Dec. 12, "Navajo culture and culture corruption." In regards to the culture of corruption, that is "an old Indian trick that he learned from the white man."

Newspapers are filled with stories about the Native Americans taking money to fulfill their personal agenda at the expense of their constituents. Sadly, it has become all too common throughout Indian Country, even at the chapter and school board level.

In the Diné culture, the bribery and conspiracy charges have created "disharmony or imbalance" between the Speaker of the Council and the people he represents. Being elected to the elevated position of Speaker of the Navajo Nation Council, Mr. Naize represents the people from his chapter, the Navajo Nation Council, and the grassroots living on and off the reservation.

Corruption is an issue deeply rooted in moral standards and ethical behavior involving the violations of trust, honesty, and respect for the fellow men and women whom he represents. To a culture that believes your words are sacred, the Speaker must begin to make amends for this imbalance. He cannot hide and ignore his people. He must face them and provide an explanation (i.e. the truth). As of this writing, he still has not faced the people on this issue.

In the bilagáana world (based on the evidence printed by the Navajo Times) it is more likely than not the speaker will be found guilty as charged. In this situation, governmental entities usually suspend the accused without pay, stripped of his governmental power, and be replaced by another so the government can continue to function without a cloud hanging over their head until the accused is cleared. Most likely the accused will get a slap on the wrist, then, continue his/her political career.

For example, President Ben Shelly got caught with his hand in the cookie jar and got off easy and he is planning to run for another term. In fact, the vast minority of the 20th and 21st Council got caught with this hand in the cookie jar and they are planning to run for another term. As voters, we need to ask ourselves, "Do we have a bunch of crooks running our government and are they planning to continue to run other government?"

"Do we want people representing our interest that betrays our trust and puts their personal interest above the best interest of the Navajo Nation and its people?"

"Do we continue the same old, same old, or do we want to change and elect leaders that truly and unconditionally serve our interest as the people as a whole?" as stated by the grassroots liaison. We, as voters, must take that responsibility and make a change.

Raymond Yazzie
Window Rock, Ariz.

Look carefully at 'want to be' leaders

Previously I shared my perceptions of valuable characteristics exemplified by three elected leaders in the last five decades. First example is to live the core value of Hozho (compassion, respect, understandings) in all K'e (relationship); second is to understand the need to demonstrate these values to the outsiders (the enemies) that we are here and we count; and third is to recognize that "self-governing" is the formal process of relationship that excludes no one.

Today, do these assets remain valuable for us? Should our formally elected leaders be held to honor and to uphold these standards?

Each and every elected individual contributes a piece of something to the foundation and the evolution of our government. If the seven deadly sins are foremost we will have an evil government. Do we want these to become the foundation for our government?

Do we have a vision for our future — a missing piece?

Every "want to be" politician will promise to listen to you and to bring home what you want. How many vow to tell you how much money they will hoard for themselves?

No one states "I will cheat to take money only for myself (relatives, friends) and hide the truth from you."

With no vision of a Navajo land and Navajo government that is based on relationship (K'e) rooted in Hozho for all — we will continue to reinforce the seven deadly sins (Christian teaching that is consistent with Diné traditional values).

Some recent community initiatives can be steps to defining the vision for our land, to affirm a mission for our government that recognizes local groups as the critical building blocks for a central government. Initiatives to craft alternatives to the current government together with the recent resurging movement for chapters to play key roles in the decision making — these actions present high potential to finally create a formal government that is of, for and by the people. The potential is the hope for us.

The potential is in the hand of every Diné person. Each and everyone has the opportunity to act — the responsibility to look and evaluate your own elected leader. Ask yourself: "Is my leader trustworthy and should I support him/her to continue acting on my behalf?"

If we continue to wait for someone to straighten out the violators, be prepared to wait for the lengthy legal processes and very few of us have the resolve to wait for a final outcome.

In the next few months or weeks we will have "want to be" politicians lining up making promises to be a kind and trustworthy leader. We need to share with one another of what we see as being "trustworthy" and critically define a government that promotes all people.

Nancy Evans
Shiprock, N.M.

It's not presents, it's presence

Yá'át'ééh Késhmish. Christmas has come again, the time when families, friends and loved ones share in harmony, happiness and high spirits. Christmas is the jolliest time of the year. It is the best time to spend with friends, family, loved ones, and a time to remember those who are dear to us. Keep in mind that it's not the presents that make Christmas so special, it's the presence of those you love.

Wishing you the timeless treasures of Christmas, the warmth of home, the love of family and the company of good friends. Have a blessed and meaningful Christmas!

Natasha Hardy
Miss Navajo Nation

Time to learn from the elders

Yá'át'eeh Késhmish sh’ k'é doo sh’ diné'e! I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas with many blessings. This is the time of year to appreciate all of your loved ones and to tell them you love them. The most wonderful thing is to share a meal and great conversation with your family. We also need to acknowledge and help out those that are less fortunate then we are. Please appreciate the many blessings you have received and many more to come.

The winter season is also a great time to listen to prayers, songs, and stories from our elders. Please, don't forget about our elders and bring them firewood and make sure they are warm.


Kansas Begay
Miss Indian World 2013-2014

Back to top ^