7 delegates who walked out should not be re-elected

WINDOW ROCK,April 10, 2014

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As news broke April 4 that Navajo Nation Council Speaker Naize was placed on leave, I felt a sense of appreciation that the Council actually took their constituents' well-being into consideration.

Yet, as I read that seven of the 24 members walked out in hopes of getting the bill turned down, I began to wonder who these seven were. For these seven seem to not have their people's wishes and integrity in mind, so with election season coming up I plead with the public that these seven should not be re-elected in office because of their actions on this day.

I commend the actions taken by the rest of the Council for your decision on this day has greatly been seen around the Navajo Nation that you are listening to your people rather than hide behind the evils of power.

On April 7, I saw the headline that Speaker Naize was filing for a restraining order on the decision of the Council. To this I have to say, "Why Mr. Naize can't you respect the wishes of your people? Power is a very powerful mistress that consumes many, yet you are in the public eye for a reason and that's to help the people, not ignore them."

As to Speaker Pro Tem LoRenzo Bates, I applaud your actions of trying to keep our government moving forward, because what you stated, "We are here to serve the Navajo people and that should remain the focus of Council at this time," from the press release was great. I can see that you're respecting the sanctity of K'e. The actions of the seven members of Council don't seem to respect this concept, for they have shown their true colors on April 4.

Jay Ross Slivers
Lukachukai, Ariz.

Homicides require federal, tribal collaboration

Having spent the last 17 years of my career in the FBI working on the Navajo Nation I felt compelled to respond to the recent Navajo Times article (April 3, 2014) wherein it was reported that the number of homicides on Navajo was up to "eight in 2013" from a low of "three in 2012." FBI special agents from either Flagstaff, Farmington, Gallup, or Monticello, along with Navajo Division of Public Safety criminal investigators from the seven criminal investigative districts across the Navajo Nation, respond jointly to every homicide on the Navajo Nation wherein the NDPS patrol division has already initially responded. The FBI and NDPS criminal investigators thereafter jointly work the homicide matter in order to present the investigation for a prosecutive opinion to the U.S. attorney's office in the federal judicial district in which the crime occurred.

The cases are never "turned over to the FBI, which conducts the investigations and makes the arrests." Rather, as indicated above, the cases are worked jointly by a cadre of FBI special agents and NDPS criminal investigators. To imply otherwise demeans the dedication and investigative efforts of both the Navajo criminal investigators and the Navajo uniformed police whom are always the first responders to every homicide occurring on the Navajo Nation.

Every time there is a federal homicide trial relating to a Navajo Nation murder case, the federal courthouse is teeming with NDPS officers, evidence technicians, and criminal investigators, all of who have had an integral role in investigating the matter.

Recently, in the district of Arizona, there was a homicide trial (U.S. v. Randly Begay) in Prescott, Ariz., wherein multiple NDPS officers lined the hallways awaiting their call to testify as to their part in the investigation. The "case agent" at the prosecution table with the assistant U.S. attorney was a veteran Tuba City criminal investigator. The FBI, too, was represented by multiple special agents involved in the investigation.

The joint NDPS-FBI investigative team testified and presented evidence in a professional manner. Randly Begay was convicted of federal crimes related to the February 2013 murder of Roderick Ben in Tuba City and was sentenced to 37 years in the custody of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. The collaborative efforts in this murder case, between NDPS Patrol, NDPS Department of Criminal Investigations, the FBI, and the U.S. attorney's office for the district of Arizona typifies the joint response to every homicide, which occurs on the Navajo Nation.

Sadly, the numbers provided to the Navajo Times regarding 2012 and 2013 homicides are inaccurate. The actual number of homicides in 2012 was 34 and in 2013 it was 42. Despite these high numbers of homicides (the city of Seattle had only 23 homicides in 2012), the residents of the Navajo Nation should take some solace in the fact that the patrol division along with criminal investigators of the NDPS, in partnership with the FBI, vigorously investigate each individual case in an effort to provide federal and tribal prosecutors with all of the available facts and evidence so that considered prosecutorial decisions can be made in every homicide case occurring on the Navajo Nation.

McDonald Rominger
Supervisory Senior Resident Agent
FBI-Flagstaff, Gallup, N.M., Pinetop-Lakeside, Ariz.

Naize, others are getting off easy

The recent headline reads "Naize alleges coup." There is in fact a coup of corruption and Mr. (Johnny) Naize is the most visible current symbol of it. But he worked hard to be number one. He had many chances to do the right thing, but whined his way out of them. Naize is getting off easy, as is everyone else who has stolen from the nation. His charges are only "bribery and conspiracy." It's really theft and stealing.

In the next paragraph are what Naize and many others are eligible for from Title 18, U.S. Criminal Code. It's a real eye opener. Too bad the U.S. Justice Department and FBI won't do their jobs against all the thieves, inside and outside Window Rock.

S. 1163 - embezzlement and theft from Indian tribal organizations - "Whoever embezzles, steals, knowingly converts to his use or the use of another, willfully misapplies, or willfully permits to be misapplied, any of the moneys, funds, credits, goods, assets, or other property belonging to any Indian tribal organization or entrusted to the custody or care of any officer, employee, or agent of an Indian tribal organization; or whoever, knowing any such moneys, funds, credits, goods, assets, or other property to have been so embezzled, stolen, converted, misapplied or permitted to be misapplied, receives, conceals, or retains the same with intent to convert it to his use or the use of another -- sShall be finedÉor imprisoned not more than five years, or both; but if the valueÉ(does) not exceedÉ$1,000, he shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned not more than one year, or both."

Naize's lawyers are a problem. Brian Lewis was a Navajo DOJ lawyer just a few months ago. Now he's suing our delegates and causing useless trouble. Troy Eid is good pals with DOJ and is also suing the Hualapai Tribe. He says he's pro-tribal. Not here, and not at Hualapai. They're part of a worldwide firm, and work for multi-national and energy corporations, too.

What's up with the free legal defense for Naize? Arizona lawyers say this Naize thing, if carried to the end, will have a price tag of maybe $250,000. Where's that coming from? Why is Naize worth this much to outsiders? Why is our "notoriously disloyal" Department of Justice so closely tied to Naize's defense? Phoenix contacts tell me the coal companies, energy companies, electric power companies, and select politicians are concerned about losing one of their "yes men" - Naize. They're already worried our Navajos might vote in a new government this November that will stand up for us and sovereignty, instead of abusing us and being errand boys to DOJ and outsiders, like recent decades.

This well-informed jini' from Arizonans, the shady issues surrounding the lawyers, questions about who their other clients are, the suspicious DOJ connections, who's paying for Naize, all these come together and smell rotten. There needs to be investigations into the lawyers and DOJ questions, who's paying the bills, why's there this desperate pushing by outsiders of Naize's whiny issues, and more.

Outsiders, Naize, other errand boys and DOJ are pushing the corruption coup higher up against us and the 12 councilmen who finally did at least something to stop the embarrassing mockery by Naize by putting him on paid leave. His issues are not about due process. He's had plenty. The law says he "serves at the pleasure of the Council." The Council is displeased, and the people are too.

James Henderson Jr.
Window Rock, Ariz.

Tuba City song & dance group gives condolences

In respect to the tragedy with the tent April 5 during the Spring Festival Benefit Song and Dance in Tuba City, the song and dance organization expresses their condolence for those injured. We are grateful to all that attended this event.

The following people donated groceries and/or an item for dancer awards: Evelyn Bennett, Jacob Begay, Mildred Begay, Polly Lewis, Rosita and Ruth Mike, Nora Shorty, Betty Tapaha, and Nelson Yazzie. Song and Dance Committee includes Vice President Dee Yellowhorse, Secretary Rachel Begay, Treasurer Lillie Sloan, and all the members.

The Spring Festival has been an annual celebration since 2004. The chapter house had ToNaneesDizi Student Enrichment Program sponsor the benefit song and dance at that time. However, this 10th annual year there was no sponsor but the chapter house wanted to include the song and dance event. The chapter house, aware that the organization needs funds towards our future, proposed building at the song and dance land site, asked the song and dance organization to hold the song and dance event so the chapter house set up their tent for the event.

The song and dance organization feels bad about the tragedy that occurred. The police department, the hospital emergency department, and the fire department all came to aid the injured people.

Medicine man Jacob Begay, of Tuba City, performed some songs and a Calming of Bad Weather prayer after the tent tragedy. The songs and prayers were to calm the people's thoughts and feelings about the incident. About 200 people from different areas of the Navajo Nation were in the tent, including the host group from Many Farms and master of ceremonies Derrick Sloan from Tuba City. The event concluded with awards to 20 group singers and all dancers.

Dee Yellowhorse
Tuba City, Ariz.

Rally behind effort to remove derogatory mascots

The recent efforts of Council Delegate Joshua Lavar Butler to pass legislation against the use of derogatory mascot names in professional sports is finally an issue that speaks volumes for all other important issues facing the Navajo Nation.

We can finally rally behind and acknowledge the power we have. Council Delegate Jonathan Hale's suggestion to deal with this issue across the board by doing away with all reservation school "derogatory" mascot names altogether is, finally, something we can all agree on. I want to help end the use of mascot issues. I have seen how our Navajo Nation leadership wrought havoc on traditional Navajos, almost completely wiping out the identity of the resistors of Diné people who live on Hopi Partitioned Lands.

Instead the grassroots community has been labeled "resistor(s)," "unlawful," "rebels," and "anti-government," where lawyers and Navajo leadership cornered and intimidated family members into political slogan corners (usually in the press) when they should be protected by "free, prior, and informed consent."

During football games or public sports events, there are banners and chants -- "Skin the Warriors!," "Scalp the Chiefs!," "Utes! Go Back to Your Rez!" For Thanksgiving I saw a flyer advertising bar specials in Tempe, Ariz.: "Party Like A Pilgrim, Get Drunk Like an Indian. $2 beers -- You Call It!" Former Chairman Peter MacDonald recently stated in the Gallup Independent that he is really OK with being called "a R*****n!" A paragraph later, Council Delegate Leonard Tsosie said, "Maybe we should recognize that Native people have grown accustomed to this and learned to live with it as we have many other things." Really? I do not understand these sentiments. I cannot live with it. It's kind of crazy to read Mr. MacDonald and Mr. Tsosie sharing these sentiments. I'm sure Dan Snyder is laughing.

Unsurprisingly, after almost a complete media silence in the local press, the Washington Post features Amanda Lee Blackhorse, a Navajo woman on the front lines in the righteous fight to do away with the Washington mascot issue. I urge everyone to educate their peers about Amanda Lee Blackhorse vs. NFL Football, a class action lawsuit tailored to do away with the use of Indian mascots forever.

Doing away with the Washington mascot name and use of Indian mascots is not difficult. It just needs Navajo people to educate one another and continue to document a legacy that actually belongs to us, like informing the world and the global community that communities like Big Mountain and HPL communities exist. These are golden opportunities worth treasuring instead of casinos and corporate energy. It is worth it to make it known, we are informed by our culture. The words of our elders are resounding above the sounds of a sold out NFL stadium. This is what I want to say, personally. Thank you for reading my words.

Malcolm Benally
Kayenta, Ariz.

My dream is to sit in a box over the fair

I recently came back from a trip to New Orleans. I work as a refrigeration technician for a company called Source Refrigeration Technologies and I was there doing work and I had this wonderful idea of performing magic for some of the Hurricane Katrina victims.

I have been studying and performing my own brand of underground street magic. I take most of my inspiration from a magician named David Blaine. While I was there I went to the lower and upper 9th Ward of New Orleans and performed my street magic there. I went through some really rough neighborhoods and thought to myself, What did I get myself into? I thought for sure I was going to get into some real trouble, but I was able to perform for some families and everything turned out to be OK. I had this overwhelming sense of fear as I walked through these neighborhoods and when I came out of it, it was one of the most beautiful things that I have ever felt.

It was amazing because I was able to speak about our culture, traditions and our language. Some of them never even knew we existed as a people, some of them asked if we still lived in teepees and asked if we still hunt buffalo. Some were only familiar with the movie "Windtalkers." So it was nice to talk a little about our people.

I am deeply humbled to have met some of the most amazing people in my life there in New Orleans. The traditions, culture and history behind the city were absolutely amazing and the food was some of the best food that I have ever eaten. I'm taking my magic to the next level and plan to do a tour on the Navajo Nation. I also plan to speak out against alcoholism, adultery and domestic violence.

When I was 14, I watched Blaine perform his very first magic special on TV and since then I was hooked to magic. I was born to alcoholic parents and was raised by my grandparents so I speak fluent Navajo. I'm very aware of our traditions and our culture. Blaine is my inspiration and my hero to this very day. He led me to believe in my wildest dreams he was a man I looked up to. Now I could be an inspiration to kids on the rez, and inspire them to chase their wildest dreams and stand up against alcoholism and domestic violence.

I was able to rise from the ashes and become a better man for myself, my kids, and be an example to our people by speaking out about things like this. I hope if all goes well my dream is to sit inside a glass box suspended over the Navajo Nation Fair for three days and three nights as a test of endurance. I want to do it for the families that have been affected by alcoholism, domestic violence and adultery, but most of all, be an inspiration to today's youth, that no matter what happens in your life you can still believe in your dreams and make them come true. That is my story and I wish to spread it. I'm looking for perhaps some sponsors to make my dream come true.

Brian Yazzie
Phoenix, Ariz.

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