Grads and liquor don't mix

WINDOW ROCK, May 22, 2014

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A t this time of year, with graduations and other end of the school year events, we frequently have parties with family and friends.

Sometimes we are tempted to provide a host site for underage drinking. However, we should remember that it is a fourth degree felony to provide alcohol to minors, other than our own children in our own homes. This felony also applies to purchasing alcohol and giving it to minors to drink in other locations.

Underage drinking can have very serious consequences that may impact our young people's lives in the short term and sometimes in the long term. Think about the effects of alcohol poisoning from binge drinking and drinking and driving, both of which can be fatal. In addition, underage drinking parties lend themselves to fighting, unprotected and/or unwanted sex, property damage, and bullying to name a few.

Our laws serve to protect youth; the legal drinking age is 21 for good reason. The development of the brain is affected by drinking and our young people are still learning about risky behavior and good choices. Please help them make good decisions by following the law and keeping their best interests at heart.

Let's hope that our communities are smart and keep our youth safe and healthy.

Pamela Drake
Executive Director
San Juan County Partnership
Farmington, N.M.

Setting the record straight

It is time to expose the wrongful accusations and misrepresentations put forward by Richard Sandoval (Navajo Times, May 1, 2014) and others against our sitting State Representative Patty Lundstrom.

Mr. Sandoval refers to a meeting on April 27 of the Rock Springs Community Veterans Committee, at which Rep. Lundstrom was present and provided some remarks. I was at that meeting, along with many other fellow veterans, and I can say that Mr. Sandoval is totally mistaken in his claim that Rep. Lundstrom "threatened" the veterans on that occasion.

As we all know, there was coverage from KOBF-TV news of Rep. Lundstrom's remarks, based on an audiotape of excerpts from those comments. Of course, the audio provided to the TV station cut out important parts of Rep. Lundstrom's comments, and therefore it was all taken out of context. Since then, her opponents have intentionally misrepresented what she was saying.

It is unfortunate that KOBF-TV did not choose to run its interviews with the several other veterans who expressed their understanding of what transpired, and who expressed their continuing support for Rep. Lundstrom in all of this. Along with the angle of attack from her opponents, KOBF's coverage was one-sided and governed only by the motive to foster controversy.

To put the record straight: Rep. Lundstrom was explaining how state appropriations work, which included her comment that existing appropriations -- such as the current $50,000 for the Rock Springs Veterans Center, which Rep. Lundstrom sponsored -- can be withdrawn and re-authorized for any purpose by any legislator in subsequent sessions. She went on to explain that she would never do that, because she supports the veterans, and she takes her lead from the local leadership. She explained how important it was for a community to be united in their support for their projects.

Unfortunately, Rep. Lundstrom's opponents have lifted a few phrases from her comments and then tried to convince the public that she was "threatening" the community with taking their funding away. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I know it's election season, and the voters have the right to vote for their preferred candidate. But smearing someone's name and misrepresenting their words and their intentions? That's not the way to run our democracy.

As a veteran, I am ashamed by such behavior when it's engaged in by my own fellow veterans and Navajo people. And if that's the kind of democracy I was defending as a soldier in the armed forces -- well, it just hurts my heart to even think about it.

Patty Lundstrom is a well-known supporter of the veterans, regardless of which community they come from. She is a friend of our Navajo people, and she has been a hardworking, honest and effective representative of our communities in the state legislature.

Jonah Jones Rock
Springs Community Veterans Association
Rock Springs, N.M.

Thanks for caring

I am writing you with this hope in mind. I would like to again thank three women in your readership area for a genuine act of caring one year ago.

On May 5, 2013, my wife and I were making a great circle tour of the sensational parks and special places in your area. We flew to Salt Lake City from Baltimore and then drove to Mesa Verde and right on around to Zion National Park and back via Salt Lake.

Last May 5th this soon to be 73-year-old experienced a "magic moment" that is the most vivid and appreciated moment of our trip to me.

We pulled out to a circular scenic overlook at Canyon del Muerto on Route 7 near Chinle to take our last picture of a great day. As I got out of the car, a crushed soft drink can caught my eye about 30 feet off the paved walk. I am a fanatic about trash, especially at places of natural beauty. But as I reached down for the trashed can my ankle twisted in the sand. I fell so quick I had the feeling I had gone down in a single blink of my eye. All would have been OK except I fell into a low -- rich with needles -- cactus. At first I didn't realize I had picked up over 100 needles along with the crushed can.

And now the magic. Before I could clear my mind, a senior lady walked down to check my condition. In an instant she signaled to her daughter and granddaughter that I was in more trouble than I knew. The younger women who were stationed at -- a gift location rushed down with tools to remove the needle spines from my head, arm, and torso.

And while their skill spoke volumes, it was the gentle calm way in which they removed every stickler. They then urged me to drive to the hospital in town just to make sure there was no risk of infection. I did and I want to report they had removed every single needle. A 100 percent success. But it was their gentle caring manner that really made it special and unforgettable.

My hope in sending this note and picture to you is that part or all of it will meet your approval for publication. If the world were populated with kind, helpful, and gentle people like these three women, we really would have a wonderful life together.

Owen Crabb
Baltimore, Md.

Congrats, graduates

Wishing you the warmest of wishes on your Special Day. You all worked very hard. With the success of graduation come more challenges and opportunities in life. Face them both with the same perseverance and determination as you have always done.

Congratulations on your graduation and best of luck for the new beginning in life. May you reach all your goals and may you achieve all the things you hope for. Ahe'hee!

Natasha Hardy
Miss Navajo Nation

What happened to our water?

It's been over a year since the Navajo Nation Council disapproved the Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Agreement. Shortly thereafter, the council appointed a new negotiation team that included people from grassroots organizations. My question is where is this group and what have they accomplished? When are they going to announce the progress they've made? My constituents want to know.

The Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Agreement would have benefited over 30 chapters in the south central region of the Navajo Nation. This region is in dire need of water. Economic development is constrained by the lack of water. If the council had approved the agreement, we would be anticipating a $350 million water pipeline project.

Further, the Agreement would have quantified our water rights, established buffer zones around the southern edge of the reservation (that would have prohibited non-Navajos from pumping Navajo water), established $5 million to develop a management plan for the N-Aquifer, as well as other benefits.

As I stated, the Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Agreement would have provided a large water pipeline project, similar to the one that is being built in northwest New Mexico under the San Juan River Settlement Agreement. As a result of the San Juan River Settlement Agreement, over 40 chapters now have the opportunity for economic growth and prosperity. I'm honored to say I voted "yes" for the San Juan River Agreement when I served on the Council.

If the new negotiation team is unable to resurrect the Little Colorado Settlement, council members who voted "no" need to explain what they plan to do to bring water to the people living in the Tse'zhin taa region.

Lee Jack Sr.
White Cone Chapter
White Cone, Ariz.

Money veto was wrong

President Ben Shelly took the money out of the mouths of Home for Women and Children, Tohdenasshai Committee Against Family Abuse, Inc., and Ama Doo Alchini Bighan, Inc. These shelters are vital to our communities.

The reasons were based on the evaluation of contract non-compliance, on one shelter. Why deny the other two shelters.

Non-compliance issues are exposing clients' confidential information, failing to provide staff development and training policy and procedures, failing to comply with personal policies and financial discrepancies. These listed issues are also constantly being violated by Shelly's administration, in all areas of his programs.

I like the issue of financial discrepancies. President Shelly spends millions of dollars in interest for Navajo Mine loan and performances bond, without the people's input. The reason was, this was his project with Speaker Johnny Naize and Delegate LoRenzo Bates.

The $407,786 supplemental funding he vetoed for the three shelters is pocket change, compared to the purchase of Navajo Mine.

Sammy Ahkeah
Shiprock, N.M.

Who remembers the Natives?

In this day and age racism is still alive and some Native Americans unfortunately are very accepting. I read a recent letter from Earl Milford and found his statements appalling and out of touch with reality.

First, Mr. Milford, thank you for your service in Vietnam, however, times have changed since a Native American mascot was seen as a noble warrior and now as a caricature on American television. The eagle feathers and the headdress once represented a great warrior who was capable of war and peace; these were sacred objects given to only the most brave and noble warriors. Native Americans are trying to bring the injustices our ancestors endured to light using mainstream media and furthermore the stereotypes we suffer from such the American Indian alcoholic, the rich Indian with casinos, Indians pay no taxes, or my favorite, we get free college (there is so many more).

Moreover there was a holocaust in this country where over 48 million Native Americans were killed by war, famine, and disease; a 96 percent decline in the populations of the Americas and nobody seems to talk about it. This was the result of manifest destiny and there is only short blurb in history books. By comparison the Nazis in their final solution committed genocide on 6 million European Jewish people. People are still outraged and there are movies, novels, etc. -- based on this. There is even a national museum about their plight on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Native Americans do not need our people and elders to support the drunken behavior of football fans taking the image of a noble warrior and trash it with fake war paint and their flamboyant racist behavior on national television.

I can tell you I have served my country deploying overseas to Iraq as a U.S. Marine and to Afghanistan as a soldier in a FORSCOM unit; times have changed in the military. All persons of different ethnic groups and cultures now are respected and Native American service members do not have to put up with racial slurs of "Chief" or "Redskin". It's considered unprofessional and there are consequences for this behavior utilizing the Department of Defense Equal Opportunity Program.

Sean A. Begaye
Fort Bliss, Texas

Principal removal not fair

Why does the Gallup McKinley County School District never learn from the mistakes of the past?

In 1819 mission schools cut hair, imposed uniforms, and forced conformity. It didn't work. Yet, the district now wants to put people from an eastern business school in control of six of their schools. The purpose is to "raise student scores on standardized tests".

Since 1928 till the present research has said hire more Native teachers and principals. Now two of the GMCS schools indigenous principals are being moved. A Navajo elementary principal was removed and the community is asking the Dine' Department of Education to take them over. They've had enough after the district's attempt to consolidate schools and now this. The Navajo principal at Crownpoint Elementary was told she had to transfer out of her community, a community the superintendent says she is ill suited to meet the needs of because she is like a "square peg trying to fit in a round hole."

Parents have set up a web page with a petition to get her reinstated as principal at the school .

Tearful students presented her with cards, dances and songs on Friday. On Monday they will meet the man sent to replace her. One student worried, "What if he doesn't know us?"

Added funds, resources and changes these principals have been asking for from the beginning will be given to the new principals. Any positive outcome will be lauded as the success of the program or the new principal - not the result of funding and support changes that could've been implemented long ago.

The school has 28 Navajo staff out of 37. As new leadership takes over the accomplishment of building this staff may be lost. It took four years to put together the hard working team. Students need teachers from their own communities - that's what the Merriam Report, National Tragedy Report of 1969, and the National Indian Education Association's current web page says. The GMCS District isn't listening!

Community members told Superintendent Chiapetti they are tired of people coming from the outside with curriculum and tests that are "not made for us." Students take standardized tests that contain ideas foreign to them. They read about moles, daisies and robins to test reading comprehension. What about sheep, tumbleweeds and crows? They are asked to identify the "important idea" in a story and our children choose "brothers should always share" over "kids like different things". What is important to you?

Chiapetti was told "people are more than just test scores, they have hearts, minds and spirits." Why do we continue to allow our children to take tests that signify little if anything academically and nothing at all about their heart and spirit?

Our students are not test scores, our teachers are valuable and our principals are not "square pegs in round holes". Take action! Sign the petition! Waive the test! Waive the test to force the district to see that the teachers, students, parents, and administrators are not the problem. The problem is the tests!

Josie Kingfisher
Crownpoint, N.M.

Donations needed for memorial

As I have mentioned recently that our goal is $73,000 to be raised through donations from the community and the public, I am writing to ask you to join my campaign to raise money in creating the Native Warrior Memorial bronze sculpture monument to honor Native American veterans who have served and sacrificed for their country to pay tribute to all war veterans. We must represent those who have gone before us and paid the ultimate price for this great country.

Memorial Day is upon us, Monday, May 26. Please remember to honor your fallen heroes. My brother, Cpl. Jerry Lorenzo Daw, was 21 years old at the time he was killed in the Vietnam War on June 8, 1967, shot down by a sniper.

I am glad some of you read my article in the newspaper with interest to the proposal to set up a life size statue at the Navajo Nation capital in Window Rock. The matter is the money. No matter how long it takes I'm going to finish this project. I really don't mind asking for money when the project is worthy. Can I count on you to be part of this effort?

Please help us with your donation. Whatever you decide to send, please send it today. Your contribution will help us provide the money we need to continue. But without your help it cannot be done. Please consider our request seriously. Your donation is not deductible.

Make payment payable to Floyd Dawson, P.O. Box 231, Tonalea, AZ 86044. For more information, please contact me at 928-401-1390. Thank you for your generosity.

Floyd Dawson
Tonalea, Ariz.

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