Letters: Continue supporting Dilkon Youth Services
This is a response to the article written in the Navajo Times by Leonard L. Tsosie regarding Dilkon Youth Services. We, as the kids of Dilkon community, have come to share our response to the article and say our thoughts about it.
The youth participants of Dilkon Youth Services come to ask the president and vice president of the Navajo Nation to continue supporting the need of the Dilkon Youth Services Program. Fortunately, ever since we participated in the program it helped us improve physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally to stay positive. The activities and sports we played during the services such as basketball, bike rides, dodge ball, and many more activities that have helped us improve on our motor skills to understand, listen, cooperate, and behave.
Believing that this definitely will enable us and others to make wise and valuable decisions within our lives, to stay drug and alcohol free, and keep out of trouble. For example, kids could be riding bikes with their friends instead of fighting and destroying property.
In conclusion, for these reasons we ask to continue supporting the program to benefit us and others to improve physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. We would like to thank NHA, Board of Commissioners and Navajo Nation Council delegates to add the program to Indian Housing Plan of 2016.
‘Diné bizaad cannot ever go away’
I do not agree with the idea of the “Navajo Nation Referendum: Navajo Fluency Only” to obtain an employment with the Navajo tribal government or with any other programs. On the flyer of the 2015 Navajo Nation Referendum Election, the sentence “Must fluently speak and understand Navajo” is scratched over. Continuing, it states, “Must be able to speak and understand the Navajo language.” It still means “fluently”.
I understand there are some Navajo tribal programs that are required to speak and understand the Navajo language. But, I feel it is not right for an experienced Navajo applicant to be denied employment because he/she could not speak their Native language. It is kind of sad though they did have the work experiences that were required for the job and they hire a white man instead.
Then, there are many fluent Navajo language speakers on and off the Navajo Reservation. How many non-Navajo speakers does the Navajo Tribe employ today?
They are the intelligent tools for interpreting today’s technological systems and they do more in helping with the tribal welfare. Many individuals had studied and learned to read and write the Navajo language, and some do not enter into politics. How many of the Tribal Council members or employees can read and write the Navajo language? I could guess.
I attended and observed a Tribal Council meeting in Window Rock once and I heard some of the Councilmen speak English from their platform. Some seem not interested in the discussion and just browsed into their laptops. Understand that all resolutions, announcements, memorandums, scheduled events, reports, and so on are all written in the English language. There are none written in the Navajo language. Please, correct me if I’m wrong on this.
After the Navajo people came home from the Long Walk of Hwelde (Fort Sumner) our Navajo language changed combining with the English literature.
I feel the BIA boarding school had helped me increase my knowledge on speaking my Native language. Further, today we are still teaching our children and grandchildren to speak our Native language in our homes. The youth are being taught to read and write the Navajo language in their schools too. There are many children’s books out there that have been written in the Navajo language by various authors. The Holy Bible and the Book of Mormon also have been published in the Navajo language.
The Navajo language cannot ever fade away. The only things that will fade away are the Councilmen that lose their election term. Our leaders are rushing into making this “referendum” too quick, just because they made the mistake on eliminating a perspective qualified Navajo presidential candidate from its voting ballot.
Not to be hired for a job because of not knowing to speak the Navajo language could be the reason for a high unemployment rate on the reservation. Our young people are going off the reservation to the border towns or out of state to find their jobs. Can you young parents of today see what your children might want to study for their future career job?
Tuba City, Ariz.
Children are leaders of today, not tomorrow
First and foremost I would like to extend my gratitude and appreciation to the students of Holbrook School District and Winslow Residential Hall that had the courage to stand up and speak on their own issues and requested for Dilkon Youth Services funding from Navajo Housing Authority back in 2013.
In spite of what Navajo Nation Council Delegate Leonard Tsosie’s antics and complaints of how housing plan fails to address on unmet housing needs that numbers over 52,000 homes across the Navajo Nation in the article of Navajo Times on July 9, 2015. Although Delegate Tsosie maintained his objection saying that the 2016 Indian Housing Plan by NHA isn’t congruent with what the Navajo people want Ð homes. Also quoted that Dilkon Youth Services Program, which provides youth activities, cultured awareness and crime prevention activities, was ineffective and considered to be a buy-out or payback project due to my support of NHA during turmoil between NHA and RDC.
It would make a whole lot of sense if Tsosie personally toured and evaluated the youth services; also visited with the youth, then state your reasoning. There’s no time for this type of attitude and behavior or to make any assumptions and to listen to jini will not help us as a nation to address these huge and serious issues that we are consciously unaware of concerning our innocent children, today.
This proposal took several visits and surveys taken within Holbrook School District and at Winslow Residential Hall in which we supported the students’ humble ideas and requests. The utmost need for combat on alcohol, drugs and other related substance abuse; crimes, violence, gangs, and other suicide issues involved over children within the five communities I represented.
Two young students mentioned, “If these types of services were available our friends would have been here with us now.” This shocked me that our children have spoken from their hearts and mind with honesty and being truthful about this situation, which I respectfully advocated on their behalf. I give full credit and honor of their effort to this one of a kind proposal.
I certainly believe it’s about time we as parents, educators, leaders, pastors, medicine people, and Hataaliis need to discuss a solution immediately on how to stop this epidemic disease that is affecting our children. Which is also diagnosed as a historical trauma relating back as far as the Long Walk (Hweeldi 1864 to 1868) to signing of the treaty.
This would be worth appropriating funds for research projects that will assess our self-images and self-identity involving our elders that truly believe in our unique language, traditional and cultural teachings.
In closing, our children are leaders today, not tomorrow. We can punish and discipline them, but within a few minutes they will come out and say, “I’m sorry.” They are very forgiving. Unlike adults, we hold grudges forever. So, if you think any youth service is not a place for a cure or healing, this is not a place for you. I truly believe and have a passion for these kids who can cure themselves by talking to one another on their own issues.
Elmer P. Begay
‘There is a confrontation of economies’
Since the introduction of several economic development proposals in 2014, one can easily see the reactions of the border towns, in this letter of Farmington and Gallup. What is interesting to the two towns’ reaction, at least in my opinion, is that the Navajo consumer is a formidable ally to their tax base, because they use that tax base to invest, leverage, finance, and attract for expanding their economy.
What is also interesting for these towns is that the government of the Navajo Nation through the bond proposal and other private ventures the Navajo Nation engaged in since 2014, is recognized as a formidable foe that has shown its capability of entertaining the idea of expanding the economy within the borders of the Navajo Nation Ð of keeping the Navajo money within a Navajo economy. Their only hope now is that the Navajo Nation doesn’t follow through with any other economic development proposals during their process of resurrecting the economies.
Since 2014, the city of Gallup has constructed four new hotels, has caught onto the idea of developing a distribution center, and of opening its once “local-only” franchise businesses stance to opening itself to outside national franchises. Gallup is now on a path of a reclamation project for its famed and self-titled “Indian Capital of the World”, which now brings a new meaning given its recent course of action, of attracting more of the Indian’s capital (dollar) to build Gallup.
Similarly, Farmington has its responses too, development of high-end local business catering to higher income families, and a migration of housing developments northeast and west of the town. The southwest part of town, having been annexed provides the city the ability to collect local taxes, and likely to be leveraged for future development. The land annexed sits directly east of the Northern Edge Casino. And if that’s not enough, the city of Kirtland as well annexed and incorporated to become a municipality. Now, to reach Farmington, Kirtland will become the first municipality east of Shiprock to capture the Navajo dollar.
The above are samples of the initiatives undertaken by the Navajo Nation, as well as samples of a few reactions by a few border towns. All in all, however and in conclusion is that border towns are maneuvering with preemptive measures with all intent purposes for salvaging the Navajo dollar they so enjoy and depend upon.
While much can be said internally of “what should be done,” “how it should be done”, and onto “what are the causes of it not being done,” it would be better to first understand the dynamics that have taken place since 2014 and accept the fact that there is a confrontation of economies. Secondly, it would also serve our purposes to then move onto the fact that the border towns responses are the result of initiatives by the Navajo Nation and to be proud that such initiatives whether it succeeded in its passage or not, has awoken our desire to develop a Navajo economy.
Raymond K. Nopah