Letters: Check on your loved ones
Ya’at’eeh’ from the Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President.
Hozho, to walk in beauty and harmony, is what we, the Diné people, strive for in our everyday lives. Hozho is the foundation of who we are as a people. It is our way of life and has been since the beginning of time.
The Diné have always been resilient and we have learned to adapt yet maintain our cultural teachings, values, and tradition. We are spiritual people who will never lose hope even when we are confronted with trials and tribulations.
Case in point, on Aug. 5, 2015, a major toxic spill occurred on the San Juan River. This spill became known as the Gold King Mine Contamination Spill.
In Navajo philosophy, water is one of the four elements of life. So, in essence, water is life. It is therefore imperative that we do everything we can to protect and preserve our air, land and water.
Although it has been more than a month since this happened, we continue to address and monitor this devastating situation, which has impacted our people emotionally, physically and financially. No amount of money can compensate the loss and the emotional pain that the Diné are experiencing. But I have faith in my people and know we will overcome this tragedy as we have many other times in Navajo history.
About 13 Navajo chapters were directly impacted. These chapters are comprised of farmers and livestock owners that depend upon the San Juan River for survival and to generate revenue. Sadly, there were four suicides committed within one of these chapters. We do not know if they were related to the spill but we must address this situation as a nation.
As President of the Navajo Nation, I am asking each and every one of you to get involved by listening to your family members, share words of encouragement and tell them you love them. Let them know they have value and are important to you. Check on your grandparents; make sure they have enough water, food and wood especially in preparation for the winter season.
These are little things that are a very important part in a person’s life to make them feel loved, appreciated and important. Even a hug is a blessing.
It is predicted that this will be an El Niño year, which means the Navajo Nation will have more snow than usual. The last time Navajo Nation experienced an El Nino winter, we had $1.9 million in damages and the Nation responded during Operation Snowfall.
As a result of the current contamination spill, the Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President created Operation Yellow Water, which is a website to inform the public about updated information and how to assist communities who have been impacted.
I encourage all of you who have been affected by the spill to work with the Navajo Nation Emergency Operation Center in Tse Bonito, New Mexico. The Emergency Operation Center is working with federal, state, county, tribal and private entities to ensure that resources are sent directly to the impacted chapters.
We thank individuals and entities from throughout the country who have reached out to assist the Navajo people. You have expressed your love and support through prayers and donations and we say a sincere thank you to each and every one of you.
Honorable Navajo Nation President
Honorable Navajo Nation Vice President
People truly going nuts over piñons
With happiness and excitement in our hearts, crops of piñons have been harvested throughout the Navajo Nation. Gathering family members to go piñon picking is like a family reunion where you spend practically all day together, searching for the right piñon tree, then crawling under and around the tree scrounging for piñon nuts, picking one by one with your fingers. You might run into some cactus, get into some sap or get poked by a tree branch you didn’t see. All this is part of the joy of being together and sharing with family.
Later at home you start roasting the piñon nuts, as Cindy Yurth mentioned in the Navajo Times (“Going Nuts,” Sept. 24, 2015). It leads to piñon stories, talk about culture and tradition, even the sap has its story.
Sad thing though (and we don’t believe this is part of our tradition) when you get chased off and told not to pick. Worse, some residential areas are throwing nails on the road to prevent piñon pickers or anyone to pass, they’re even blocking the roads. This is outrageous!
I wish I could mention the area, but with due respect, I decline to do so. I’ll just say on the Navajo Nation. Are these people who are surrounded by these piñon trees going to pick every one of them or just let it go to waste?
The reservation is open space and anyone should be allowed to pick piñons anytime and anywhere they want.
People that chase off those that are picking piñons should think and see that piñons are a treat, and could also be someone’s income. It’s just as bad as people saving spots for the Navajo Nation Fair parade.
To all the piñon pickers, have respect and don’t throw trash. Pick up after yourself. It’s the least you can do.
So, with this on my mind and bothersome, I ask that you residential families allow the public to pick piñons at their convenience. Besides, you didn’t plant the trees, it’s God’s gift.
White Cone, Ariz.
Constitution would provide framework for law
According to the Navajo Nation Council delegates, the Navajo Nation constitution is a master document, the very important set of laws laying out the foundation of Navajo Nation democracy and the Navajo Nation rule of law. They emphasized that the Navajo Nation constitution does not grant us rights, but rather gives our government the power to protect those rights of the Navajo Nation sovereignty.
The Navajo Nation Council delegates stress that the Navajo Nation constitution establishes the three branches of government and the system of check and balances that keeps any one branch from dominating. They believed the Navajo Nation constitution creates the framework for electing Navajo Nation leaders and limits their power. So the Navajo Nation people believe that the Navajo Nation constitution creates the Navajo rights that are the heart of the Navajo Nation democracy.
Whenever two-thirds of the Navajo Nation Council delegates deem it necessary, they shall propose amendments to the Navajo language fluency in the Navajo Nation constitution, or on the application of the Council delegates, two-thirds of Navajo chapters shall call a convention for proposing amendments to Navajo language fluency.
In either case, both shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the Navajo Nation constitution when ratified by three-fourth of the Navajo Nation delegates.
The consensus of the Navajo Nation delegates believed that the Navajo leaders, who framed the Navajo Nation constitution, wanted to make it difficult to change the Navajo supreme law of the Navajo land. They established two methods of amending the Navajo Nation constitution. Two-thirds of the Navajo Nation Council delegates can petition the Navajo Nation Council delegates for a Navajo Nation convention, but there have always been misgivings that a Navajo Nation convention might have the authority to go beyond the amendment on the table. If and when a full blown Navajo Nation constitutional convention would take place, three-quarters of the Navajo chapters would have to ratify an amendment for it to go into effect.
If Navajo Nation Council delegates approve a Navajo language fluency in the Navajo Nation constitution, then three-quarters of the Navajo chapters must ratify before it changes the Navajo language fluency in the Navajo Nation constitution. The Navajo language fluency requirement changes require the Navajo Nation constitutional government process.
The idea of the Navajo Nation constitution in today’s non-Navajo political landscape, it makes sense that we are in the midst of a Navajo cultural discussion about rule of Navajo Nation law as it relates to the future of the Navajo language fluency, culture, value, identity, heritage, and character.
Edward J. Little Sr.
Tuba City, Ariz.