Pleasant memories with the Navajo people

WINDOW ROCK, May 1, 2014

Text size: A A A

M y wife and I recently retired from position as professor of economics and statistics, and my wife as professor of biology. We have been teaching in the same college for about 10 years (at the) Navajo Technical College in Crownpoint, N.M.

The time spent in Crownpoint and Tsaile, and the pleasant memories of these places we would always cherish. Both of us always felt we owed a lot to the Navajo community. It was the Navajos who treated us as if we were one of them.

We want to express our sincere gratitude to the Navajo community as a whole and to the Navajo Technical College community in particular for all their goodness showered upon us. We wish we stayed in Crownpoint a few more years, but the call of our family duties was very strong that forced us to leave our NTC Crownpoint family.

During our stay, there were certain issues I used to think about and which most of the time kept revolving in my mind and had economic implications, but was not sure about, who I should discuss this with, as those issues were beyond the jurisdiction of NTC administration.

First, my observation is that students have to spend a lot on gas when they drive their trucks long distances to reach NTU or NCC to attend a class. Moreover, they drive on unpaved rough and muddy roads that damage their vehicles during snow and rain and they have to spend a lot of time and money on repairs. This all is very painful and unfair burden on those already economically struggling families. Most of the dropouts happen due to this problem. This is a very serious issue and the government should urgently pay attention to this.

In this connection I have a suggestion to offer. The Navajo Nation government should take up this issue with the state or federal authorities and put pressure for providing grants to provide for small buses on reservation roads as much as possible. These buses should pick-up not only the students but also the general public from different locations on the reservation, and charge a nominal fare to cover a part of the transport expenses. This will save the students from a big drain on their resources.

Moreover, students have to be educated about disadvantages of early age marriage. They should be provided awareness to have more progressive outlooks and not to rush into marriages. The marriages put a stop on their further professional advancement. They should aspire for higher achievements. They have to be made aware of the avenues that are open to them for financial aid to go for more sophisticated courses and become professionals like doctors and engineers, rather than doing only lower level courses. They need a lot of career guidance. There is no dearth of brain and intelligence. There are very creative students.

May God bless the Navajo Reservation and its noble people.

Dr. Rajinder S. Bhinder
Professor Surinder K. Bhinder
Chadds Ford, Pa.

Threats made by Lundstrom

As a veteran I am appalled at the threats made by State Representative Patricia A. Lundstrom during our Rock Springs Community Veterans Association meeting. To threaten our people for votes by saying, "I have the authority to take that funding and move it someplace else with a simple phone call" is a complete shame.

I take great pride in being a Native American warrior who served the people of the United States with competence and devotion to duty, and as such we deserve representation that does not need to resort to such low tactics for votes. How are we supposed to think that Rep. Lundstrom has any interest in our area and our people when such selfishness and self-preservation is evident?

In her speech she also mentioned, "We will have to work with whoever wins." But how are we supposed to work with someone that wants to keep us at the end of the knife?

Richard R. Sandoval
Rock Springs Community Veterans Association
Rock Springs, N.M.

Fan of the Redskins, John Wayne

My name is Earl W. Milford, a full-blooded Navajo. I am of the Salt People Clan, born for the Red Streak into Water Clan. My maternal grandfather is Bitter Water Clan, and my paternal grandfather is Edge of Water Clan.

I started school at Fort Defiance Boarding School (BIA) where if we got caught speaking our Navajo language or running away, we were made to chew on yellow laundry soap, spanked with a wooden board, or made to kneel on a broken broom handle. I remember marching to class and dining hall because we were told we were going to war with Korea. I was only 6 years old, 1951-1953.

Well, I did end up going to war. I am a proud Vietnam veteran, MOS 11B20P, Parachute Infantry, 1st Battalion (Airborne), 12th Infantry, 1st Calvary Division, 1965-1966. Most of the time, I spent as point man, and always got called "chief". I think it was because I was a Native American that being a point man came natural. They did not understand that I came from a semi-desert country. My Vietnam ribbon has three battle stars, my Purple Heart ribbon has one bronze oak leaf cluster, and my Combat Infantry badge has a parachute badge.

What I am getting at is the name of "redskins." Many school sports clubs picked the name "redskins" because it stood for the fighting warrior spirit, as many clubs on our rez are proud of that and of respect for our noble warriors. In the battles that I have fought, I have had comrades who are white, black, oriental, etc., die beside me and we all have the same color blood, red.

I am proud of my favorite sports football team, the Washington Redskins. My skin is red, so what? What about the other teams, Chiefs, Seahawks, Browns, Scouts, and Warriors?

When you watch the Washington Redskins on TV there are thousands and thousands of fans cheering on the Redskins.

Last but not least, as a little boy in boarding school, we cheered John Wayne and his crew for shooting down bad Indians.

Earl Milford
Fort Defiance, Ariz.

Respect each other

Have you ever wondered how many sacrifices many individuals take to protect our freedom, safety, protection, and health/mental stability?

I want to address a topic of reality. Nowadays I see a lot of people losing respect for one another and taking everything for granted. I see my traditional ways fading away for my people, the Diné, as well as a lot of young teens that disrespect the meaning of freedom. Every day I hear and see young individuals say "I hate my parents" or familiar phrase "I hate my life." Agree? Constant problems always seem to occur to each and every one of us but turning towards bad solutions create a huge problem for our next generations.

I was born in 1995 and grew up with a single parent. I had no father so my grandparents, relatives, brothers, and my mom raised me. Most of my family members are deceased. I'm pretty sure everyone has the same situation as I do. I graduated high school and I am now attending college. Growing up I began to realize that my ancestors are passing away meaning I have to be the role model to pass the teachings onto my nieces, nephews, and other children.

Many individuals are beginning to give up and act like there's no solution to their problem. Not just a problem with us Diné but it's a worldwide problem. Life issues are like math, because math problems always have a solution, right? Same with life, how we treat our problem is how we began to treat others as well.

Since 2010, New Mexico is the fourth state with the highest suicide rates. Crime rate in New Mexico is 5.59 percent and has increased 2 percent since 2010. Every year troops get deployed; approximate total of every branch combined there is 995,609 soldiers (36 percent of U.S. population) that get deployed to protect our country's freedom, and 10 percent of the total troops that deploy face death.

Every year there is total of 99 deaths for firefighters across the country and 6 deaths every year for police officers. As you look at those numbers you should begin to think that people that don't even know you are sacrificing their lives just for citizens like you and me to live. So why are we living like this? Living lazy, ungrateful, showing disrespect to one another, and living irresponsible?

I get discouraged personally of how I'm living after I see these numbers. Even individuals that are physically disabled from walking or running never give up. Meanwhile people who are not disabled just sit around and basically be lazy. We should think and understand that we should improve our way of life.

The very last topic that I'd like to address is troops and their families. Have you seen a veteran or active duty armed forces individual and you just walk past by? If so, change that next time you see a solider, give them a hug or a handshake and say "thank you." I say this because they sacrifice more than anyone in return.

All every soldier gets in return is a metal or a simple certificate that says "honorable discharge". In return, show appreciation by living healthy and "walk in beauty". Pass teachings that we have learned to other kids. Diné people are the most powerful group of Natives. I'm proud to be Diné and I respect the land that I grew up on. As a nation we shouldn't be trying to be better than one another, we should try to stand together, help one another, and respect each other.

Chelsea Edsitty
Sheepsprings, N.M.

Back to top ^