Letters: ‘A tribal copycat veep’
A commentary on the letter of Ms. Deidra Williams Angulo, of Steamboat, Arizona, titled, “Lizer, we are watching,” in the Navajo Times online issue of July 2, on your “Jo’ A’ko’t’e'” page.
As indigenous, our strength is our resilience. However, it is very depressing and an insult to citizens of a society when a few pathetic politicians make a mockery of public trust and social justice. What is squandered within the madness of political incompetence is the ideology of “to serve, to protect, and defend” its citizens or an ideology.
Afterwards, it is insane how a government can conjure up new rules and contradictory laws for the public, of which certain public officials have no intention of complying. It becomes a place where greedy and arrogant public servants seem to believe they have easy access to our public assets and resources and they can do whatever pleases them.
This is where public-granted social responsibility is misconstrued as the power-to-rule.
Moreover, it is a disgrace these social issues come from personal problems by way of constituents who are selfish, ignorant, inconsiderate, arrogant, and greedy who vote for leaders very similar to them in character. This is where society suffers and deteriorates due to the lack of humanity in core values and beliefs, and political dialogues become nothing more than ambiguous punch lines, as the corrupted place blame onto others yet seek public attention and approval.
Then there is the absurdity and obtuse thought process where public officials who establish residence on glass plates or live in glass houses assume their curious constituents will not be tempted to watch their behavior through a microscope or a telescope. As public servants, the voting public has interest and expects governmental transparency and accountability, to get more bang for their buck.
And yes, as described by Ms. Angulo, there was once a time when our dignified and caring public servants imparted public service through an unwritten code of ethics and moral conduct. Nowadays a few politicians are secretive with their motives, yet the mind-numbing social media devices have recorded them as parasites of society.
As an example, the president of the dominant society who executes his divide-and-conquer maneuvers with violence, contempt, chaos, lies, name-calling, labeling, denial, hatred, betrayal, and blame. These are the manipulative, self-serving techniques and blaming diversions Mr. Trump employs in his attempts to regulate the behavior of the population to side with his fixation in his destruction of democracy.
Another example, a tribal copycat veep who violates a stay-at-home tribal presidential order and curfew. As reported, amid a pandemic he sneaks off to a distance, to what could be viewed as political effigy stake burnings of supposed rivals, for possible entertainment.
When confronted by his constituents, he imitates how Mr. Trump attempts to distract the public with his name-calling and labeling. Their projection of their shadow carried a curse, which seems to imply the rules of society do not apply to him and further insinuate they are better than us.
Common sense dictates this paradox of supposed leadership, whether it be the dominant society or a tribal government, is not a political issue. It is usually a profound individual psychological problem of the accused, and history has its account of them.
With COVID-19 still at the helm everywhere, Mr. Lizer puts in jeopardy the safety, well-being and health of our indigenous community members. It is to the point where our laws are contradictory and inconsistent with political motives. As a result real enforcement and concrete prevention of crimes are but a pipe dream.
As COVID-19 has revealed, it seems our weaknesses come from within our socio-political system. It mimics the dominant society that plays politics as a game of greed, ignorance, and egotism. These political acts of self-interests are what distort and hinder our communication, cooperation, coordination and compliance in achieving something greater than ourselves.
And to render a personal perception of the verbal assault of the veep, some 2,000 years ago, it is alleged a devout philosopher once said, “The tree is known by its fruits.”
Robert L. Hosteen
Chinese, Canadian nationals growing cannibis
I am a farmer in the Shiprock Chapter farming area. My children and I grow 40 acres of white corn, which we convert into Neeshjeezhii.
At our farm, we run a youth mentorship program where we support up to 10 youth and engage in volunteerism to help other local farms.
Since January the community has been witnessing greenhouses being built in Shiprock and Hogback chapters. These greenhouses are growing marijuana (cannabis). These greenhouses are owned and managed by Chinese and Canadian nationals.
The Chinese nationals are paying our Navajo people five dollars per hour with no retirement or health benefits. This is an exploitation of indigenous people, a practice that the Chinese have engaged in throughout the world.
The San Juan River Farm Board is the entity that invited and allowed the Chinese to farm marijuana on indigenous lands. The farm board is a regionalized board comprised of several chapters, with one member from each chapter: Shiprock, TseDaaKaan, Gaadiiahi, San Juan, Nenahnezad, and Upper Fruitland. Dineh Benally, Shiprock Chapter Farm Board member, is the president of the farm board.
Marijuana is not legalized on the Navajo Nation, however, the Navajo Nation Council approved five acres to be designated for a pilot project by New Mexico State University, at Navajo Agricultural Products Industry (separate from this operation).
There are a series of concerns that I have as an enrolled tribal member. I have gathered evidence to show that the farm board has utilized their position of power to engage in the illegal growing of marijuana on Native lands and internal profit sharing. Below I have listed the steps that the farm board has taken to bypass necessary approvals and community transparency:
• The farm board authorized the Native American Agricultural Company (of which Dineh Benally is the owner) to represent their interests and screen all cannabis businesses license applications coming onto the Navajo Nation. NAAC then entered into agreements with Aqueous International Corp. and Net Zero Group Corp. — major companies who are now growing marijuana illegally on the Navajo Nation.
• The farm board has empowered itself to serve as “the board” for these two Chinese and Canadian companies. Dineh Benally is the president of the board for these two foreign companies.
• The farm board allows Native American Agricultural Development Co. (which Dineh Benally also owns), to collect business plan revenue via cannabis provisional license processing fees.
• The farm board collects Navajo Nation annual hemp/cannabis license fees.
• The farm board authorized the drilling into the uranium contaminated underground water to use for watering the hemp/cannabis.
In summary, the San Juan River Farm Board is promoting, facilitating, cultivating, and distributing hemp/marijuana (cannabis) without proper approval.
These authorizations and empowerment by the farm board are not listed in the Navajo Nation farm board’s plan of operation or their policies and procedures. The actions taken by the farm board are the roles and responsibilities of other governing bodies in the Navajo Nation such as the Navajo Nation Council, Resource Committee, Naabik’iyati’ Committee, Judicial Branch, and Navajo Nation president and vice president.
The farm board does not have the authority to create all of these authorizations, without any checks and balances. Provided the fact that Dineh Benally owns and leads all of these entities, he is easily able to approve all of the actions that he wishes to take, regardless of the risk it poses to the community.
As a concerned citizen and downstream farmer of Dineh Benally’s operation, I am frustrated with the complete lack of supervision that this operation has.
The safety of our water, crops and community members is in danger. Why are none of our tribal government officials stopping this? What is forbidding our chapter level officials and our Council people to prohibit these illegal activities in our communities?
Everybody is quiet, like a very well greased engine. We, their constituents, voted these officials into their roles. We trusted them to defend the Diné Fundamental Law.
The farm board enacted their own authorizations and other non-Navajo entities that were well beyond our elected farm boards’ official roles and duties. We should be putting young Navajo farmers on these farms, not the Chinese people.
An umbrella to deter criminal activities
While the Navajo Nation continues its restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19, the Northern Agency has one who uses this as an umbrella to deter his criminal activities.
Where does Dineh Benally claim he got his license to farm marijuana hemp? Not from the Navajo Nation.
Hemp may not be illegal on the reservation, but the farming of hemp is illegal. Marijuana is still illegal on the Navajo Nation. No one is exempt from the laws of the Navajo Nation.
If New Mexico licensed him to farm hemp, then it is on New Mexico land he should be farming, not on the Navajo Nation. And if New Mexico did license this person, then New Mexico should be made aware of his illegal activities of farming on Navajoland where it is deemed a crime.
If his license to farm marijuana hemp was a federal license, then the Federal Licensing Board should be aware of the illegality of marijuana and the farming of hemp on the Navajo Reservation.
Now it is said how he is selling to others, Navajo and foreign entities, licenses to farm marijuana hemp on the Navajo Nation, Shiprock Agency, which can be ruled as fraud. Something New Mexico Department of Agriculture and the Federal USDA should also be made aware of.
Fraud is often punished by very large fines and could include imprisonment, and fraudsters are typically banned from the position or profession they abused to commit their crimes. No one other than the Departments of Agriculture has the right to permit the farming of marijuana hemp.
His total disregard of the Navajo Nation laws should be enough to deny any present and future application to farm hemp or marijuana by this individual who shows no intent to follow protocol.
Hemp is farmed on open fields while marijuana plants are usually potted in greenhouses. The small fields of hemp surrounded by many greenhouses shows his intention to farm marijuana under the guise of farming hemp, another form of fraud.
Thus his criminal activities call for his position as Farm Board president to be vacated and he be banned from future political public office and that any future applications to farm both hemp and marijuana be denied. This should also include all other farmers who have allowed the growth of marijuana hemp on their leased Navajo farmlands.
Those who have knowingly sold their leased farmland to these illegal activities should be charged, fined hefty and/or imprisoned, and required to forfeit their farmlands back to the tribe to be offered to other families who would farm our Native plants and foods as few traditional farmers still do.
All illegal plants need to be confiscated and destroyed. The buildings where these illegal substances are illegally sold and stored should also be forfeited back to the community for legal businesses looking for buildings.
The semi-trucks that transport these illegal plants should also be reported to the Department of Transportation of their trafficking and distribution crimes since farming of these substances on the Navajo Nation is illegal and they are knowingly or unknowingly breaking Navajo laws.
The local Navajo government officials who support and make excuses for Dineh Benally’s criminal behaviors and actions should also forfeit their position and offices they hold. Being part of this conspiring action shows little respect towards Navajo Nation laws and procedures, thus making this unethical behavior from those in office.
The local law enforcement may not be able to enforce Navajo Nation laws due to personnel shortage, but this gives many criminals the idea that they can hide out on the Navajo Nation with very little chance of being detained. So this may be one reason this person feels he can continue to ignore tribal laws and do as he pleases for self-gain.
His claiming that his illegal farms are of “essential work”, thus giving him the right to disregard tribal curfew laws lead to the question, “Who signed off his essential work permit?” Or is this just another of his criminal actions of forging such documents?
He gives little regard to neighboring farms and houses. The unpleasant stench given off by these farms make it harder for those with breathing problems and all made worse by his employees who speed up and down roads with no regard to the safety of other traffic, something that is said that he persuades, especially against those who have complaints against his illegal farms.
We must now ask our Navajo Nation Police, Shiprock Agency, and the Navajo Nation Department of Justice to investigate and punish these criminals, those who continue to commit crimes against the Navajo Nation and its people, to the full extent of the law.
Example must be made that the Navajo Nation, though sovereign, is not a place where criminals can come to hide out and continue their criminal behaviors.
If these people just have to farm marijuana hemp, then by all means do it. Just farm it off the reservation. Majority of our Navajo programs have been, and still do, go out through our Navajo communities teaching of preserving and strengthening our Navajo heritage, traditions, culture, and customs, our way of life. Something that we as Dine’ should continue to make happen for the benefit of our future generations.
Farming of hemp and marijuana have no part in our Navajo culture and should not be allowed within the Four Sacred Mountains, keeping our sacredness intact so our future children may learn exactly who they are as Diné.
We ask our elected officials to help in the preservation of our livelihood. Leave the outside life where it is, outside our Navajo Nation.
Remington is a bad investment
I know this (Remington Arms) is a bad investment. Why should we purchase the bad reputation the previous owners developed with unreliable, defective and short-term merchandised firearms. It’s going to be like “made in china.”
Remington was a good company once, a reputable rep, but no longer. It was rifle-oriented and expanded to handguns. Not a wise decision.
I’ve owned several of their firearms back in the day when I was knee high to a billy goat, which is what they called my uncle.
Remington used to be a good company. They manufactured bolt-action rifles and 1911s handguns during World War II. Their equipment got worn. It manufactured over and under tolerances.
If it is to be purchased, it should be for less money and be brought on to the rez. Start off smaller with new equipment and managed by people with mechanical and firearms knowledge.
This is my own opinion, maybe it counts.
Lack of assistance for Shiprock residents
There are many topics to express opinions about, but I will concentrate on lack of assistance to Shiprock residents during this COVID-19 pandemic.
There have been some food distributions at the church by the intersection of Highway 64 and Highway 91 a few times, but there has not been any at the chapter house.
The term of the chapter officials is coming to an end soon and what have they done to support their constituents?
The absence of improvements and/or progress is very evident in the whole community of Shiprock.
Yes, everyone is confined to their homes, but the chapter officials can still work from home to facilitate projects that have been ongoing for several years.
The small road repair at the crossroads by the flea market was done in a short time and workers kept their distance from one another. That was proof that projects can still be done like the Bluff Road maintenance. This rough road has not been graded in more than a year.
The funding from the CARES Act can go to helping all Shiprock residents with two or three months of utility bills.
Additionally, the population of students from K-12 is probably going to continue partially online and they need internet service to succeed in this expectation. Not all students’ parents can afford the extra expense of online learning so Navajo Tribal Utility Authority can also contribute to this shortcoming.
Our chapter officials and our representative to Window Rock really need to step up to their responsibilities of advocating for the needs of our community.
The issue of hemp growing is continuing even after people have expressed their opinions about the lack of morality of our farm board president using his position to carry out his illegal activities. How is this business contributing to the economy of the Shiprock community?
Wilford R. Joe
The creator made 2 special birds
When the creator created this world, at the end of creating the animals, he created two special birds. One was called the beautiful bird, the other one was called the eagle.
Both of these birds were given a gift.
The beautiful bird was given the gift of beauty. He had all the colors of the world upon his body, more colors then the parrot, brighter than the parakeet, his wings were beautiful, feathers, claws, beak, eyesight were all perfect, he was the most beautiful bird of all.
Then there was the eagle. The eagle was given the gift of power. He could give and take anything away but only in this world. He was the most powerful animal in the world.
One day beautiful bird and squirrel were sitting in a tree talking, beautiful bird noticed another bird circling in the sky, and asked squirrel, “Hey, who is that bird?”
Squirrel said, “I don’t know. I always see him up there but he rarely comes down.”
As they were talking, beautiful bird saw the eagle land at the edge of a cliff, there he sat at the edge of the cliff looking down.
Then the beautiful bird said to squirrel, “Hey, I’m going to go fly up there and see who this bird is. I’m the beautiful bird, I know all the animals of the world but not this one.” Squirrel said to him, “No, just leave him be, leave him alone.”
But the beautiful bird did not listen and flew up there and landed right next to the eagle. He sat there looking at the eagle, up and down, looking at this great bird that dwarfed him — next to the eagle he was a very small bird.
And he goes on, “Hey there, who are you? What are you? I’m the most beautiful bird in the world. I have all colors of the world upon me. I’m beautiful, look at my feathers, they are clean, look at my beak, it’s straight, look at my claws they are sharp and clean, look at me!” he boasted.
“Look at you, you only have three colors upon your body, white, gold, brown. Me, I have all the colors of the world upon me. Look at your feathers, look at mine. Your claws are chipped and dirty, look at your beak, it’s crooked, look at mine. Look at me. I’m the most beautiful bird in the world.”
The beautiful bird went on and on about himself. The eagle just sat there looking down at the beautiful bird. Finally he got tired of listening to the beautiful bird and decided to go so the eagle flew off.
As the eagle took off, the tip of his wing touched the beautiful bird on the forehead.
When that happened, all was taken away from the beautiful bird. No more colors, no more eyesight, no more claws, no more feathers, all was stripped of the beautiful bird, and all the eagle left on the edge of the cliff was a black piece of skin.
The beautiful bird was no more, he tried to fly but fell and only fluttered. As he fell down, bouncing off the edge of the cliff, he fluttered into a cave and never, ever came out. For he was ashamed of what he had become, so he only came out at night, ashamed to face the animals of the day, he once use to live with.
The eagle had taken everything away. That’s how the beautiful bird became a bat, that’s why the bat only comes out at night, and that’s why the bat has no feathers, no beak, and no eyesight.
That’s how the beautiful bird became a bat and the bat came to be. That’s why the bat is the way he is today.
Wendell Wallace Yazzie
Hard Rock, Ariz.
Thank you for your column
I want to take a moment to thank you for your column in the Navajo Times (“Humbled by the vast beauty of the world,” June 18, by Duane Beyal).
It was a pleasure reading your memories of observing the fascinating nature of Navajoland. It really took me back to the wonderful time I lived there.
I was such an uninformed Anglo moving to Ganado, for my first job out of college in my native Arkansas, in January of 1966, but I soon recognized there was a magical, almost mystical beauty in your beautiful homeland.
I taught at Ganado High School for five semesters, leaving there in the summer of 1968, but my memories of the drive along the highway to Chinle, overlooking Beautiful Valley, the sunsets from Buzzard’s Roost, and the walks down to the Anasazi homes in Canyon De Chelly are as vivid in my mind as if they were yesterday instead of more than 50 years ago.
And I owe much to your people for their allowing me to share in their lives for that brief time, forever changing my worldview.
Wish I could be there again, maybe to visit with you over a Navajo Taco in Window Rock (is that still possible?).
Thanks again for sharing your memories.