Letters: Ahéhee’ IHS dóó teachers

Too often, we are quick to point fingers at the Indian Health Service and its workers for not helping our people gain access to basic health care. Often we do not appreciate our teachers for the sacrifices and commitments they have made.

I would like to acknowledge and say ahéhee’ nitsaago to both our IHS workers and teachers. You support the Diné people through this challenging time, and you are doing it truly remarkably and wonderfully well.

I grew up in Red Mesa, Arizona, but live in Wáashindoon now and cannot get a vaccine. At the same time, most of my family at home has received at least the first dose, and most completed the second.

Many Washington, D.C., people would jump at the chance to get a vaccine. Yet, finally, our people are at the front of the line, for a change.

This is not only with the Navajo IHS, but all IHS regions. From Phoenix to Albuquerque, to Washington state, to some of my family in Nebraska, they are all getting the vaccine out faster than the non-Indian facilities.

Our IHS staff has worked hard and dealt with truly challenging conditions throughout the past 11 months. I know our IHS workers and their families have suffered much — thank you for your sacrifices.

Similarly, our teachers on the Navajo Nation deserve a ton of credit. They have had to completely overhaul their teaching routine and work remotely in an area where most do not have reliable Internet — let alone high-speed broadband.

This is not only a challenge for teachers, but also students and their families. Now I understand that many non-Navajo school boards and administrators are forcing Navajo schools to go back in person. I believe this is a real problem of others controlling our agenda.

However, despite this grim backdrop, our teachers are mobilizing and working to deliver the best education for our Dineh children. Thank you.

Ahéhee’ nitsaago to all the IHS workers and teachers supporting our communities, our people, and our children.

Jackson Slim Brossy
Washington, DC
(Hometown: Tsaile/Wheatfields, Ariz.)

Energy interest mired in old thinking

The energy development interest is mired in a mindset that says there is nothing wrong with how they do business. The first impulse is to oppose any suggestions that energy development could be done in a different way.

They bristle at the talk of addressing the climate crisis and of renewable energy. The automatic reaction to the Biden administration’s strategy on the climate issue has been to hit the trenches with contingency plans to hunker down for an all-out campaign to defend their domain.

The business of energy development is fused with the ideology of capitalism, which is built on the law of supply and demand. The driving force is the economics, the profit margin.

Because of the bottom line at the bank and the rat race to maintain it, it is a battle with many fronts with an all-encompassing effort to stay ahead of the game. There is little regard for the human and environmental devastation strewn along the way. That is the cost of doing business, just an expense.

It must be a vicious cycle with potential threats to the supply line, the perceived damage that could be done to the infrastructure of society and government, the payroll of families and the health of the corporate bottom line.

The metering gauge in the boardroom must be erratic, vacillating between emboldened confidence and frenetic anxiety over the policy that looms to save the environment.

This appears to be the dynamics of the energy development world. We understand.

Antithetically, the energy development hierarchy does not seem to have any reason to be open to understand the argument of the environmentalists to preserve the earth. The environmentalists’ arguments are pragmatic science.

I suppose that with sincere objectivity, the corporation and the environmentalist could find common ground and agree on some basic premises based on facts — if there were such an opportunity.

On a separate paradigm, I do not believe the corporate big wheels readily comprehend why Indigenous peoples claim the earth as our mother, that the earth has a life essence, a spirit.

Indigenous understand the corporate mind. There is no doubt in our Indigenous mind we can show you the fallacy of your corporate ways and why you need to rethink your priorities. This is a challenge.

Our planet, our home is in trouble, it is imperative that we have a conversation. We ask respectfully that we come to the table as equal humanity; the future of our collective world, your business, the lives of our grandchildren and coming generations depends on us to do so.

Duane “Chili” Yazzie
Shiprock, N.M.


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