New leadership does exist

WINDOW ROCK, Feb. 20, 2014

Text size: A A A

Y á'át'ééh shi ké’ dóó shidiné'é. Háá'dee shii naaltsoos da'’’nólta'. Yá'át'ééh nihiid’’niid.

On Feb. 6, 2014, Ms. Marilyn Daw asked the question, "Is new leadership nonexistent?" I believe "new leadership" is needed and "exists." I agree that we need "leaders who will serve, lead, protect, and represent the Navajo people honorably. Leaders who are accountable and transparent. Possess integrity and honesty. Have the education, experience, and the knowledge to move our people forward. Our future, as Navajo people, depends on it."

All is not lost. There is hope. Our hope is in the many educated, honorable, young Navajo people out there who have been raised with values of honesty, integrity, and respect. The challenge is lack of opportunities and welcoming in of this new generation. It is time to enact the Navajo philosophy of "nihaa n’j’dáá" and to welcome the children you have sent to be educated, to now serve our people, and to lead us into the new generation.

The Navajo Nation is one of the largest tribes in the United States and has great potential and opportunity to step up and be a leader in this nation. Many tribal and non-tribal entities look to the Navajo Nation to see what actions we take. Therefore, it is critical that Navajo Nation leaders, specifically the Navajo Nation president, be knowledgeable, prepared, and eloquent before their people and at the national level. Nihi Nanit'a'’ needs to be ready to face the storm and challenges that face us and to lead our people into this new world. There have been many candidates whose names have been raised for the Navajo Nation president, many of which are familiar names of the past decades.

However, it is time for a change. We will always hold true to our Navajo values and upbringing but let us help, let us serve, and let us give of ourselves and our knowledge and education so we can thrust our Navajo people forward into prosperity and honor. We need a leader who is grounded in Navajo culture, highly educated, well rounded with a diverse background, and is a problem solver. Only one name rises to the top of my list when I think integrity, education, honor and leadership: Chris Deschene.

He is a veteran, an attorney, an engineer, a family man, a community leader, and a volunteer. Chris grew up on the Navajo Nation in Lechee, Ariz., and attended school in Page, Ariz. He excelled in high school student as straight-A student and varsity athlete. Chris was one of very few Native Americans to be accepted into the prestigious U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. Upon graduation, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lt. in the U.S. Marine Corps.

While in the Marines, he served as an infantry and reconnaissance officer with two tours in the Persian Gulf. After 10 years of honorable service, Chris left with the rank of major and returned home. He went on to graduate school at Arizona State University to earn a master's degree in engineering and a juris doctorate in law.

Chris also has served as a public servant at the state level. In 2008, Chris was elected and served as the state representative from Navajo Nation in the Arizona House of Representatives. In 2010, Chris campaigned successfully to be the democratic nominee for Arizona's Secretary of State and the first Native American to do so. From these experiences, Chris has gained direct experience with the legislative, executive, and judicial processes of the federal, state, and tribal governments including the Navajo Nation government. Since completing his education at ASU, Chris has been living on the reservation with his wife, raising their two young boys in his hometown. He is now the wrestling and football coach of his old high school in Page.

Ms. Daw's letter reflects the same frustrations I have. I am disappointed with the slow progress the Navajo Nation has made. I am tired of chasing our tails and various groups pointing fingers at each other. We need to work together to solve our problems. We need to sit at the same table and come to a medium ground. Our dismal track record will remain the status quo unless we welcome a new generation in and choose Nihi Nanit'a'’ who will make a difference.

Karletta Chief, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor University of Arizona
Tucson, Ariz.

Hubbard lived a long, distinguished life

I am saddened to learn of the passing of Senator Arthur Hubbard. I don't think I've ever met a finer gentleman than Senator Hubbard in my life.

I last seen Senator Hubbard at the Arizona state capital about a year ago. He was smiling and shook everyone's hand even though he had some difficulty with walking.

I first met Senator Hubbard sitting behind a desk in Window Rock in 1961 or 1962. He was director of Public Works Department with the Navajo Tribe. I was with my councilman from Kayenta, and he helped us get the information we wanted.

I served in the Arizona legislature with Senator Hubbard and he always signed my legislative bills that I introduced and helped me support the legislation in the Senate.

He lived a long distinguished life and I am one of the many individuals who had the honor of knowing Senator Art Hubbard.

Daniel Peaches
Kayenta, Ariz.

Uncertainties still concern for people

Lorenzo Bates stated in Tuesday's Farmington Daily Times newspaper that he informed the community members in all six chapters about the mine purchase. However, as I stated in this same article, only English was spoken by Mr. Bates, so how does he know if he got his message across. He only speaks English, so he can't really explain an important issue such as "the purchase of BHP mine" to the non-English speaking community members. Most of these community members are our elders. Some elders from Tiis Tsoh Sikaad Chapter complained they did not understand a word their Council delegate talked about and they said, "We don't know what he talked about and it would have been better if he had an interpreter."

Mr. Bates did not try very hard to inform his chapters, he did not provide an interpreter, and he himself did not bother to organize any public meetings, or pass out information at the special Council sessions. Not only the six chapters he serves but what about the 110 chapters across the Navajo Nation? So he failed the people.

As for Speaker Johnny Naize, he stated in Tuesday's Farmington Daily Times, "When the council took office, they took steps to be more transparent." He also said, "The one way they are transparent is by implementing a five-day comment period, which allows the public's written comments to be passed along to delegates and ensures that the public's voices are heard by their leaders." I disagree - this five-day comment period does not work and it is made to fail.

Even Council Delegate Katherine Benally has stated to forget the five-day comments because it don't mean a thing. We have people living out in the country far from power lines, some have electricity but they do not have Internet and no computers to get their information on comment periods. We have people who can't read English and have no idea what Internet is. This western system of transparency does not work for Diné people, so I say our rights as Diné people is being violated when it comes to big corporation deals, it's all done in Window Rock behind close doors with no transparency and accountability.

As for the BHP Billiton loaning $85 million to NTEC, Mr. Pat Risner states that this money will be paid back through cash flow generated by coal sales from the mine to Four Corners Power Plant. My question is, "What if the coal sales is a failure and what if it does not generate enough money to pay back BHP Billiton? What happens then? Will Navajo Nation have to step in and help pay the loan back? All these uncertainties along with the liability waiver are still a big concern for the Diné people.

Sarah Jane White
Tiis Tsoh Sikaad, N.M.

Leaders are an 'embarrassment'

Tribal election is fast approaching and the Navajo people need to elect all new leaders so the nation can get back on a clean slate. The Navajo voters need to do just that.

The current leaders are a total embarrassment to the Navajo people and the nation abroad. The backscratcherr Council have demonstrated they are narrow-minded and na•ve. It's time to run them out of office for good.

I am particularly disappointed with the speaker of the Navajo Nation Council for refusing to voluntarily step aside from his position until the pending criminal charges against him are fully resolved. His refusal makes him foolish, childish and untrustworthy to the people who entrusted him to uphold the laws of the Navajo Nation.

I was very confident he would choose to temporarily step aside and I supported him during the ordeal he is caught up in. I find his decision to fight the pending criminal charges are beyond reasonable limits and unacceptable to the people.

Further, his decision sends a clear picture he is selfish and serves his best interest. Also, he set a very dangerous precedence for the younger generation that it's OK to commit a crime and continue to serve the people. I am wondering who placed him above the law.

The most troubling part is he chose a former U.S attorney to represent him to fight the charges. His decision to retain free representation is ill founded. This particular law firm is intended to serve the less fortunate people and not greedy politicians. The speaker and the attorney general have proven themselves to be freebies by resorting to free legal service.

We the native people know very well how inhumanely the U.S. government treated us for many centuries. The former Joint Use Area and Bennett Freeze residents know all too well how unforgiving the U.S. government is.

It would have been fewer headaches and less embarrassing had the speaker chose to voluntarily step aside from position. His decision is not in the best interest of the Navajo people and may cause a repeat of 1989, by the people. It might be harsher this time around.

In conclusion, the recent legal opinion by the department of justice on the status of the speaker and the backscratcher Council is highly questionable and is a conflict of interest. It shouldn't take one entire month to issue a legal opinion. Additionally, the legal opinion should have been made by a dependent law firm in all fairness.

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to address these issues of concern.

Vern Charleston
Farmington, N.M.

Services at Fort Defiance hospital unacceptable

I had to do some soul searching before I decided to write this letter but the more I thought about it, the more upset I was.

My mother fell and injured herself at home Friday, Feb. 7. We took her to the emergency room at the Fort Defiance Hospital and checked in about 1 p.m. We didn't leave there until 7:30 p.m. that night, 6 and a half hours later!

There was one ER doctor, all 12 rooms were full, and I believe he said he was working a double shift. The other physician that was supposed to be there was still in Florida. Apparently, no one told her she was scheduled to work. There is just so much the nurses can do. They kept apologizing for the wait. A couple of times the doctor came in and all he could do is reassure my mother he hadn't forgotten about her before he actually got to treat her. The apologies were accepted because this was something that was totally beyond his control.

This is something the CEO or chief medical officer of the hospital needs to address and correct. What is going on at Fort? Why was there only one ER doctor on duty?

I don't know about the rest of the community but for me, this is totally unacceptable. And it's not just ER that is suffering. There is only one orthopedic doctor on staff. A fully staffed orthopedic clinic needs to have at least five or six doctors. Every doctor has to do an ER rotation during his or her internship or residency. That's how a doctor figures out if they are going to have a specialty or if they are going into general practice.

With that said, if there is a shortage of ER doctors at Fort Defiance Hospital? Why hasn't the CEO or chief medical officer filled the void with the permanent general practice doctors we have?

From what I understand, they have two recruiters at the Fort Defiance Hospital. Why are they paying these people if they aren't going to do their job? Why is there a problem in actively looking for doctors and nurses to adequately staff the hospital as permanent staff?

We shouldn't have to be paying contract providers to come work here for only a couple of weeks at a time. If the recruiters aren't going to do their job, get rid of them. Replace them with someone who will find permanent medical staff for our local people.

After reading the article in the Navajo Times a couple weeks ago about Fort Defiance Chapter wanting to have an audit done of the facility, I wasn't sure if that was the right thing to do, but after my recent experience in the ER with mom I'm in total agreement with them. We, the community, need to know if the money is being spent wisely and on direct patient care. We have a right to question why they can't retain permanent staff.

Teresa Bennett
Fort Defiance, Ariz.

Teddy Begay
Kayenta, Ariz.

Back to top ^