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Letters: Benally: a Navajo Escobar?

It is a good thing you (Dineh Benally) weren’t elected. The Navajo Nation would’ve been in a world of hurt, because you lack dignity, integrity, and no moral compass.

I believe you would’ve violated every rule and regulation to satiate your hunger for wealth and power, and making excuses to justify your actions doesn’t cut it. You probably got people wondering from the outside, “Who is this guy, a Navajo ‘Pablo Escobar’?”

So you better get yourself together. You would’ve led the Navajos into disgrace. Way back when I was still in the military, I lost respect and trust of my fellow work team because of an act by a Navajo soldier named “Lonetree.”

Ernest Jones
Chinle, Ariz.

Don’t forget White Clay!

To President Nez and all delegates: We live less than 50 miles from the heart and capital of the Diné Nation. Leaders like you and our Sawmill community leaders are like sleeping giants.

Sleeping or not, let me tell you, we are living just near the folds of your earlobe, but you and our chapter leaders don’t hear us or maybe you do, but ignore our requests.

Some of us have electricity, but not all of us. Thanks to the leaders of the 90s who accomplished powerlines for us, although today it’s a hassle to get a line extension for those that don’t have electricity.

Oh yes, we have leaders, but they don’t have the authority or plan (seems like it) to assist this little community. Instead we have OJT workers who came up through OJT experience (friends and relatives of officials or employees already working) who are now employees who dictate who can get and who can’t get electricity or other services.

They have more authority than our elected officials, individuals who we selected and voted for to run our chapters. We do get some services from our chapter.

We usually get leftovers of what the locals get or we don’t hear of anything until everything is gone or because we get there too late, a day or so later, due to bad weather or impassible winter road conditions, a trip of at least 15 miles over rough roads to get to our chapter.

We have asked for waterline extension to our little community of “White Clay,” a community just north of Sawmill, east of Canyon De Chelly, south of Wheatfields, and west of Crystal, New Mexico. We are the most neglected community on the Navajo Nation.

Although we are close in proximity to modernization, technology, etc., we don’t have the luxury of enjoying access to water like our neighboring communities of Navajo, New Mexico, Fort Defiance, or Sawmill.

Like everywhere else on the Navajo Nation, our community has members with a high risk for serious complications from chronic medical conditions, diabetes, heart disease, etc., but lack of basic amenities that many of our neighboring communities and America take for granted is a very big problem for us in White Clay.

We do not have access to clean water for daily living requirements. It would be great if we all had access to clean water, electric, and sewer like our neighboring communities and the vast America enjoys and takes for granted. Instead we lack running water at a time when it’s critical to wash hands, have the necessity of flushing a toilet, access to a shower, clean water for cooking, etc.

We haul water from windmills and we’re told we shouldn’t be drinking windmill water because it contains all kinds of minerals, which is not good for human consumption, but only good for livestock use.

Our chapter allows us to get water from the chapter facility, but there is a limit as to how much we can get, thereby making more trips back to the chapter house on another day when it’s convenient for workers to be on chapter premises as we travel over rocky rough roads to get more water or travel to other places away from Sawmill to obtain water or to get it from the windmills in the area.

As a result, there is excessive wear and tear on our vehicles. These vehicles are our sources to obtain other essential necessities such as food, clothing, hospital visits or appointments, children attendance to school, etc. Furthermore, not everyone has a vehicle. That being the case, Mr. President, I ask for your assistance.

You need to protect the Navajo population equitably, including White Clay, as well as other neglected communities/chapters. For White Clay, we may be few in numbers, but we still need and require access to clean water, a basic human right to have access to clean drinking water.

It’s been said that it’s too far from Sawmill to White Clay to extend water and the cost would be very expensive, but we see millions, if not thousands, of dollars spent by the Navajo Nation government for what seems trivial in comparison to access to water and none is ever spent for White Clay.

When inquiries are made of infrastructures such as water development to gain access to water, remarks have been made that our chapter government doesn’t present and follow through on major items of concerns for our community; that there is no evidence of ever seeing any planning or proposals for such improvements or initiatives; that they don’t do enough lobbying for the chapter; and that it’s up to our chapter leaders to work for major issues and concerns that affect our communities, etc.

You read in the papers that this and that chapter got approved with money and it seems like the same chapters year after year pull through funds for infrastructure construction to improve the livelihood of their constituents. Praise those chapter leaders that get developments for their chapter while we continue to sit on the sidelines wishing and hoping our local leaders would do the same for our chapter.

With all this money coming from the government as a result of this pandemic and after awakening another sleeping giant — America at large have realized that the majority of the Navajo Nation’s people have no access to running water.

I am requesting that some of it come to benefit our White Clay residents/community. If the cost of extending water from Sawmill or Crystal is too expensive, maybe a separate well could be established in the White Clay vicinity and the water extended to the people of White Clay.

There are entities that could help or that the tribe could tap into such as the Indian Health Service office of Environmental Health, Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, Navajo Engineering Construction Authority, the Army Corps of Engineers, and our wish/hope for usage and access to clean water could become a reality.

White Clay don’t even have the luxury of getting our elders fed through the Senior Food Program, due to bad rocky roads that cause a lot of wear and tear on tribal vehicles.

We don’t have daily bus runs to get school-aged children to school, let alone accessibility to Internet, should schools continue online classes, due to the pandemic — the list is long for White Clay.

I know you are a busy man. Thank you for letting me take up some of your time and thank you for all the work that you do for the nation.

Celia Yazzie
White Clay, Ariz.

Save tribal scholarships

Chief Manuelito (Hastiin Ch’il Hajin) advised Diné people “Education is the ladder,” and his wisdom is as true today as it was in 1883. Diné College and Navajo Technical University are the ladders to achievement for our young people.

I have worked for 25 years in higher education, 12 of those years as an administrator at Diné College. I personally witnessed many Diné youth reap the benefits of a tribal college education in employment opportunities and in Diné cultural knowledge.

Yet Trump’s Republican administration has proposed a 2021 budget that eliminates tribal college scholarships. Zero, nothing, Ádin. Trump wants no more federally funded tribal scholarships for our youth.

In contrast, Joe Biden and the Democrats will invest in Native college students by:

• Doubling the maximum value of Pell grants.

• Providing two years of tribal college without debt.

• Investing $70 billion in tribal colleges and minority serving institutions.

Today we find ourselves at the bottom of a high cliff, but we must continue to provide a ladder for Diné students to climb to a brighter, more prosperous future.

Vote Democrat to save our tribal colleges.

Priscilla Weaver
Teec Nos Pos, Ariz.

Laws do not allow hemp

This is in response to Dineh Benally’s statement that the former 88 Council delegates passed legislation to authorize legal industrial hemp (marijuana) to be grown on farmlands in the year of 1996.

Dineh Benally’s statement is not quite true. In 1996, according to the legislation, the Navajo Nation Council recognized Navajo tribal members and other entities of the Navajo Nation have the desire to grow industrial hemp for the purpose of economic development.

The legislation had to indicate a redefined definition for industrial hemp. The definition of the Controlled Substance Act of 17 Navajo Nation Code Subsection 390-395 is that hemp would have to change its Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) level from 1.4 percent to 0.3 percent in order to qualify as a product to be farmed.

In the year of 2000, within this enactment of legislation, it clearly states it “does not authorize” the cultivation, growth, possession, development, or propagation of industrial hemp until the Navajo Nation creates a regulatory system for industrial hemp farming and the Navajo Nation obtains all necessary applicable permits.

Therefore, the Navajo Nation Council committees: Resource, Economic and Development, Health, Education and Human Service, and Public Safety passed the legislation to change the definition of industrial hemp.

In this legislation, it states that the Navajo Nation Council felt that this was in the best interest of the Navajo Nation for economic development. The health, welfare and safety of the people would not be endangered.

In 2018, the 23rd Navajo Nation Council once again enacted the controlled substance definition. The Navajo Nation Council committees: Resource and Development, Health, Education and Human Services, and Law and Order (public safety) found this re-enactment of changing the definition of industrial hemp again is still in the best interest of the Navajo Nation.

The Council attached Public Law 113-79, dated Feb. 7, 2014, and the Agricultural Act of 2014, to support their amendment.

So, this brings up the questions to the Navajo Nation Council committees: Were there any health, community, economic development, and air quality assessments completed before they moved on to pass this legislation to allow the growth of industrial hemp on the Navajo Nation? Where were these industrial hemp farms supposed to be located? Would there be zoning areas to establish within the chapter boundaries? Should have chapter resolutions been attached to allow industrial hemp farming for this supposed economic development? Will these industrial hemp farms be allowed to be located near schools or childcare centers?

If these assessments were done, what were the results and how would it impact the lives of the Navajo people? Apparently, the Navajo Nation Council, Dineh Benally and his industrial hemp entourage did not take any assessments into consideration. Does the Navajo Nation give the authority to Dineh Benally and his industrial hemp entourage to write their own industrial hemp regulatory system and regulations?

Dineh Benally’s USDA application packet to the Secretary of Agriculture Department, Sonny Purdue, has not been approved to allow industrial hemp farming on the Navajo Nation. So how is Dineh Benally allowed to issue industrial hemp applications and permits now?

I now assume that we don’t have to follow the regulations or laws set by the Navajo Nation, we can do what we want without any repercussions. The Navajo Nation Council, Dineh Benally and his industrial hemp entourage have a lot of explaining to do to the people, particularly Gadii’ahi, Shiprock, and Hogback communities. How is industrial hemp farming in the best interest of the people?

The Council members are not the individuals who live near these industrial hemp farms that have atrocious smells, which get imbedded in homes, furniture and clothes.

The Council members are not the ones who are hearing constant loud generators that are adjacent to homes that run from 8 p.m. to 4 or 5 a.m. in the morning. The Council members are not the ones dealing with ongoing hazardous traffic and trash every day.

Why did Dineh Benally and his hemp entourage not understand clearly in the legislation that it indicates this “does not authorize” the cultivation, growth, possession, development, or propagation of industrial hemp and obtains all necessary applicable permits?

Dineh Benally needs to explain and confess to the blatant lies he colorfully creates. Will the revenue earned from Dineh Benally and his hemp entourage’s illegal hemp farming be collected by the Navajo Nation? Will the revenue be put into the General Funds account for the whole Navajo Nation to use, since the Navajo Nation Council cited that due to lost revenue, industrial hemp farming would boost the Navajo Nation’s economy?

To conclude, will the Navajo Nation Council, Dineh Benally and his hemp entourage answer the questions that are imposed?

Michael J. Roy
Gadii’ahi, N.M.

Will animals help us with COVID?

Hello, my name is Wendell Yazzie, and I’m a Native American storyteller, from Hardrock Arizona, on the Navajo Indian Reservation. I was watching the news a while back and they said something about making a vaccine from llama blood.

It reminded me of a story of animals giving up something for mankind. It’s called First Man and First Woman. It’s said that in the beginning when Creator created this world, after he was done making all the animals, he created First Man, and put First Man here on this earth to be a caretaker of all that he created.

So one day, first man got thirsty while watching all the animals of the world and decided to go to the river and get a drink of water. While he was drinking water he looked down and noticed two tiny ants following each other. He looked up and noticed two bears, two wolves, two deer, and in the sky he noticed two hawks, two owls, two majestic eagles, and realized there was two of all the animals, and if there is two of everything there must be another one of him. He said he will go and look for the one like him.

The next day he went north in search of one like him, but came back alone. Then he went east still looking for one like him, but came back alone again. Then he went south and nothing again.

Finally, he went west and searched and searched, but came back alone again. He went in all four sacred directions and found no one like him. Then he felt a pain deep inside his chest, a pain he had never felt before. This pain he felt scared him and he raised his hands to the sky and cried out and said, “Father! Creator, why is there two of everything and only one of me, and what is this pain I feel inside me?” This pain he had felt was loneliness.

That night when he went to sleep, Creator came down one more time and put first man in a deep sleep. While he was sleeping, Creator gathered all the animals of the world and sat them down in a circle, a sacred circle, with a fire in the middle of it. Then he called upon Bear and asked Bear to pick up First Man and bring him to the middle of the sacred circle where all the animals sat.

Then Creator said to the animals of the world, “Animals! First Man is lonely. What shall we do? All of you have a counterpart, a mate … female. What shall we do for First Man?” he asked the animals. All the animals said, “Make him a mate, make him a mate!” Creator said, “No, that’s too easy. You animals live here with First Man, you have to give up something for First Man to live.”

The animals talked among themselves, because in the beginning, all the animals of the world had the ability of speech. They could talk just like you and I can talk. After a while they came to a decision and the deer stood up and said, “We give up our ability to speak, so First Man can survive.”

“Is this so?” Creator asked. All the animals of the world said yes. Then Creator said OK and he clapped his hands. When he clapped his hands all speech was taken away from the animals of the world and everything turned into howls, growls, chirps, and whistles. No more speech.

Creator walked up to First Man and took a piece of First Man and created First Woman right next to him and covered them both with a buckskin with the head pointing north, arms pointing east and west and legs pointing south. Then Creator raised his hands to the sky and called down lightning. Lightning came down and struck first man and woman, but they did not come to life.

Then he called upon the four sacred winds, the winds came from the four sacred directions, spinning and rumbling like tiny tornadoes and entered at the head, arms and legs of the buckskin. Then they opened their eyes and they were both alive and breathing. This is how First Man and Woman were brought to life in the beginning.

Our bodies are examples of that. When lightning struck them, our bodies imitate lightning. That’s why our nervous system and blood vessels imitate lightning. That’s why they twist and wind through our bodies, like lightning, and when the four sacred winds entered their bodies they left sacred marks and those marks are our fingerprints and footprints. The winds gave us our finger and footprints. That’s why we all have a different print.No one’s the same.

Our final mark is the sacred swirl on the top of our heads. That’s why when a baby is born we’re all born with a swirl on the top of our heads. That’s how we’re all marked to this day.

Our bodies imitating lightning and whirlwinds on our bodies, so that’s why we all have different prints and swirls on our heads. That’s how we were created. By the hands of the Creator, that’s why animals can’t talk to this day, because they gave up their speech to help us.

So will the animals help us again so we can survive this pandemic?

That’s the story of First Man and Woman, and the animals.

Wendell Yazzie
Hardrock, Ariz.


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