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Letters: Dark side of our elected leadership?

Yaadilah!   It has it been that long since I last submitted an open op-ed to the Navajo Times? LOL. I could easily open up with an Eagles’ “Lyin’ Eyes” soundtrack or simply drop down to a past rez fave “Your Cheatin’ Heart” and write about broken hearts, iss. Or bust out strong with an Astorath tune where many of our rez youth hang out?

My op-ed now is not really an “opposite of the editorial” since Navajo Times usually runs a certain capacity of “Letters to the Editor” away from their “editorial.”

As much as I get a chance to read Navajo Times today compared to years ago, all I can say is that life is so sacred that no single news coverage globally can capture the emotions and frustrations exhibited by our indigenous people on a daily basis. Literally speaking, mass global social IT media surpasses any single thought or concept at trillions in a second. My point is, why is Navajo at the sheer end of this techno media? Our so-called tribal government, for instance. What is it? What has it done? Where is it going? Why does a fake or pretend government actually run by non-Diné/Navajo stooges continue to control our true Diné/Navajo cultural destiny as prescribed by our traditional elder teachings, ceremonies, all stemming from a multiple core of our “death march” survivors (aka the Long Walk) and exalted in our Diné language expressed by our foreign wars Navajo Code Talkers?

And for many of our Navajo veterans who have never received their entitled benefits, many are gone today but those who are here today need the help to get what is due them. It should not take another legislation to do this where Council delegates squabble at meaningless rhetoric.

There are many Diné/Navajo peeps among us who have received an education either locally or abroad. Simply meaning, a non-Navajo education or a complete Navajo education, think about that. Rez education or a non-rez education where graduates locally and abroad start to disagree among themselves in a heartbeat on who has the better education? With daily health issues stemming from diabetes, cancer, alcoholism, drugs, meth, vodka, uranium, coal, oil, gas, methane, neglect, etc., who is ultimately keeping track of our affected rez peeps who live on or near such sites and how long are they determined to live?

There is complete neglect by our so-called tribal government every four years and these next four years will be no different. Certain strong issues coming from our far Eastern Navajo people who are still living without hope, our far Western Navajo peeps who are being micro-managed by Window Rock on what is good for their local people, Utah Navajos who have been extremely neglected for years are finally making their move away from Window Rock, and our Southern Navajos, what a success story they have going for themselves. We have many rez farmers, ranchers, park vendors, etc., who live and work hard to provide for not only their families but for others. Yet their elected tribal officials rather congregate in border towns or urban areas away from their slogan “Buy Navajo.”

In regards to our Utah Navajo water rights settlement agreement, per se, if you read the details you will find out who will actually benefit. There are those among you who want to only benefit for themselves. Trust me and don’t forget the upcoming Little Colorado River water rights settlement fight.

Don’t be fooled by any tribal official or non-Navajo attorneys that this LCR is going to happen. The Hopi/Navajo grassroots have the final say-so on this one. And do not forget hidden agendas of our non-Diné/Navajo attorneys or so-called legal counsel who exhibit nothing more than a 7th Calvary approach in doing away with our water rights and much more.

We often think why can’t we hire our own Diné/Navajo attorneys? Again, I remind you once again, we are simply being controlled by a cluster of non-Navajo attorneys sent to Window Rock to control our assets, etc. How much are they actually getting paid? Our current 24 elected Council delegates today really have no power as long as they do not stand up for their Diné/Navajo people in unison. We know most are super afraid to stand up for their constituents — look at the way they vote.

The only power they seem to yield is when most of them collect their paychecks away from their constituents. Remember, these checks are coming from their Diné/Navajo people. My last reference will be at Navajo Nation Council’s birth of a “wild child” named Navajo Technical Energy Company. Ha ha, yaadilah, we Diné/Navajo grassroots hope this Navajo Nation Council “wild child” will not come before our elected leaders one day like Navajo Nation Oil and Gas Company, asking for more beeso.

Our elder and young grassroots professionals will do whatever they can to protect our people’s Permanent Trust Fund. In my closing remarks, I enjoyed as best as I could to witness and learn from our rez peeps who were elected into office by their respective Diné/Navajo chapters, whether young or elder, and at the same time a sadness comes as I pick up many hitchhikers who are under the influence of not just what I mentioned earlier, but simply under the influence of neglect from their own so-called leaders. So much waste of their young talents and abilities.

They’re just looking for work so they can help provide for their families and survive. They might not have a college degree but what they do have is something called “hozho.” I may not be Paul Harvey but, good day!

Ed Becenti
Window Rock, Ariz.

Where are Council, president?

This week the Navajo Nation Council deliberates over the FY 2020 comprehensive budget. One of the items we should be watching for is the budget for Council and the president. Did they increase their budget while the rest have to deal with a consistently decreasing budget? We still haven’t done anything with bootleggers and drug dealers.

The laws are still the same. No teeth. We can’t even get the inmates to pick up trash. I think it would be good to see those inmates assigned to clean up after the fair is over. Part of their community service. The legislation for Title 17 needs to be reintroduced to bring up to date the laws so that we can enforce the amendments.

Back to the bootleggers and drug dealer issue. These people live in homes in our communities. Some live in NHA homes or in homes with or without an active home-site lease. If caught and convicted, these violators should be excommunicated from the Navajo Nation. Revoke their census number. The laws should be amended to reflect that.

Why do we continue to allow these people to remain to conduct illegal activities? The laws should be there to protect the general public, be enforceable by public safety and resolved by prosecutors.

Our financial resources should be there to assist them so we can have safer communities. Let’s not forget about the horses and cows that still roam the roadside, creating a danger for drivers and their passengers. Why hasn’t Council or president done anything to make the roads safer? The owners should be penalized for allowing this to happen.

Our rangers and grazing officials should have the resources to enforce the laws regarding trespassing livestock and violating owners. Since the president is such good friends with the New Mexico state officials and congressional folks, and Speaker Damon is from New Mexico, then they need to push for road replacement for New Mexico Highway 64 from the Arizona stateline to Shiprock. That is the worst road to drive on. Very unsafe. There are better-graveled roads in Arizona than that one. Where is the support from Council and president? The Navajo Nation Fair is this week, as well.

The parade is on Saturday. If you should be present at the parade, you should ask the president and Council questions about the roads, the weak laws and the lack of financial resources to make our communities safer. This is the time for our elected leaders to make good decisions about how to spend our valuable and limited financial resources.

The budget should reflect that. Kudos should be given to the Navajo Nation EPA director because this was the first time I read that a public official would uphold law and said that illegal dumping would be prosecuted. Good job. That action needs to be duplicated by his boss and across the street at Council.

At least he’s using the authority in the right way and not killing jobs to appease outside groups like the IEEFA (Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis).

Jarvis Williams
Kayenta, Ariz.

Support Begay’s ‘business court’ bill

Delegate Kee Allen Begay Jr. recently invited public comments regarding the creation of a special court to handle businesses and related matters “within the Navajo Nation.” “The Navajo Nation Council has heard many times that Navajo consumers have been mistreated by certain businesses.

On the other hand, businesses everywhere want to be sure that other businesses are playing by the same rules,” said Begay. Unfortunately, we have few businesses within the Navajo Nation that offer any product or service that lasts longer than the moment of consumption such as food and fuel. We have no auto dealers, no home dealers, no Wal-Marts, trading posts, etc.

These businesses have either been regulated out of existence or will not even consider entering this anti-business environment. The Navajo Nation is an over-regulated island of socialism that is much easier and profitable to handle from afar, forcing the Diné to the border towns.

Many of the regulations are so fanciful the Nation does not even have the means to bring the regulatory bodies into existence. This massive over-regulation has made consumer problems much worse, putting all of the oversight into unfavorable jurisdictions or into black market scenarios where business is being conducted with the assumption that the Nation will not or cannot do anything about it. This is visible all across the reservation — squatters selling everything from burritos to automobiles along the highways.

The U.S. economy is booming, more than at any time in history, Black and Hispanic unemployment has reached the lowest levels ever recorded. President Trump has done this through the unprecedented reduction of job-killing regulations. The Navajo Nation has one of the worst economies in the entire country, but it can get worse.

Please contact the tribal Council and tell them you want businesses here on the Navajo Nation. Don’t chase what little we have off the reservation.

The public comment period will be open until Sept. 25 and comments can be emailed to comments@navajo-nsn.gov. Written comments may be mailed to: Executive Director, Office of Legislative Services, P.O. Box 3390, Window Rock, AZ 86515. Comments must include the commenter’s name, position title, address (for written comments), and a valid email address and should contain “Navajo Business Court” in the subject or message.

Shawn Redd
Winslow, Ariz.

NTEC mine purchase moronic

In response to “NTEC’s coal mine purchase draws critics” (Navajo Times, Aug. 29, 2019), not only is the ongoing purchase of three thermal coalmines by Navajo Technical Energy Company moronic but it continues the trend from the other purchases NTEC made in early August of this year.

NTEC acquired about 20 percent of the outstanding shares of Texas Mineral Resources Corporation and two seats on the TMRC Board. TMRC is traded on the OTCQB market — the middle tier of over-the-counter trading of stocks. TMRC is a penny stock with negative earnings-per-share. So far, the corporation has large negative net income from continuing operations for the last five years. It is a volatile penny stock and highly speculative.

However, this is in line with what NTEC is doing with the three mines. NTEC’s CEO from his PR (Aug. 5, 2019): “Moseley commented on how this investment aligns with one of NTEC’s central business objectives. ‘NTEC is excited to participate in the development of TMRC’s round top mining concession of rare earth minerals.

NTEC as a company is charged with identifying and investing in transitional energy-related opportunities. The mineral deposits being developed by TMRC are vital to future battery and other green energy-related technologies,’ Moseley said.” Now that is a real stretch. The leading mature battery tech (Li-ion) does not use rare earth metals (lithium and cobalt are not rare earth). Rare earth metals are only tangential to battery and/or green energy technologies.

Our nation’s leaders should revisit and review a bill that approves amendments to CAP-20-13 — the purpose and why NTEC was created. The last thing we want is a rogue Navajo Nation-chartered company. If the signs are there, leadership should not hesitate to start replacing management/executives.

Both Navajo Nation legislative and executive branches should bring in NTEC executives to answer questions. The IEEFA has published a relevant list of 13 questions that should be used as a starting point (http://ieefa.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/13-Questions-on-Navajo-Bid-to-Buy-Powder-River-Basin-Coal-Mines.pdf).

If NTEC is not forthcoming and transparent (Navajo Times, March 14, 2019), as they were when they were questioned by the Council during their failed attempt to buy NGS/KMC, the Navajo Nation leaders should review options to stop the purchase. With written statements as NTEC’s CEO’s letter to NGS participants (Feb. 25, 2019), “In other words, it is entirely incorrect to assert that NTEC is the equivalent of a subsidiary of the Nation or, as was also claimed, that the Nation has the authority to direct and compel business decisions or that NTEC’s revenue flows directly into the nation coffers.

“Quite the opposite, in fact, the operating agreement expressly bars the Nation from directing or interfering with NTEC’s operations. By way of further example, no members of government (Navajo, federal, or state) are permitted to be on NTEC’s Management Committee. “Finally, NTEC has a very limited and carefully proscribed dividend obligation. NTEC’s primary contribution to the Nation (as with any company) is through sales tax and royalty payments.”

And around $150 to $167 million at stake at the outset and our Nation is the sole shareholder and final backstop to NTEC. Our leaders should not hold back any questions. I don’t know how the Navajo Times article (referenced at the top) arrives at $75.7 million, but my numbers are from (https://trib.com/business/navajo-nation-coal-company-receives-approval-to-purchase-cloud-peak/article_2c79f07e-79ba-5793-bfb7-0c49f2a45714.html) and is $15.7 million (cash payment bid) plus $40 million (promissory note) plus $8 million (federal government) plus $8 millions (Campbell County) plus $78 million (pre-post petition taxes) plus $16 million?

Sixteen million dollars is unclear. At the Navajo Nation Division of Natural Resources 2019 Summit (NTEC presentation at Twin Arrows), NTEC revealed that they created a new position, special projects coordinator, to finally start gathering information on renewables. NTEC took five-plus years to finally get started, even though the resolution that created NTEC in 2013 (Exhibit A, Article X) contains an investment and re-investment into renewable and alternative energy clause.

What was instead the priority for NTEC — the acquisition of the 7 percent in Four Corners and more mining interests in TMRC, Cloud Peak bankruptcy assets, and NGS/KMC.

The comments made by and attributed to Andrew Curley, on the whole, is correct, with the exception, “dinosaurs of the coal industry whose expertise is digging up decayed dinosaurs.”

Coal is not decayed dinosaurs, but plant matter that did not have a chance to decay (the process of decay releases the energy acquired while living). What is decayed is moral and ethical decisions being made by NTEC management to pursue more coal. If somehow NTEC keeps shipping 50 million tons per year (Cloud Peak 2018) plus 4 million ton per year (Four Corners) of coal in the next 10 years and if 100 percent of that coal is combusted, 1.11 giga-tons of CO2 emissions can be attributed to the Navajo Nation.

The sooner we quit our addiction to fossil fuels, away from the past and toward a carbon-neutral future, we can finally become the ancestors our descendants deserve.

Glen Manygoats
Flagstaff, Ariz.

‘Green’ madness has to stop

Did you know the Navajo Nation has undertaken 24 renewable energy projects over the past 15 years and none succeeded? Twelve of those projects the Navajo Nation itself has invested in the feasibility and pre-development phases.

One of them is the Paragon Ranch solo project. Twice before outside developers have placed major dollars into the Paragon project and each time they have concluded it is not a moneymaker. Here we are again, taking state and tribal money, investing in Paragon Ranch. Before the tribe proceeds, it should ask the question: Where is the market?

In other words, where is the power going to be sold? It clearly will not be to the Navajo people. The Nation only has 40,000 families that buy electricity for their homes. Remember, Navajo is not where the market is. The market is in the big metropolitan areas such as Phoenix, Las Vegas and Denver.

Transmitting or moving the power is also another major cost that has made Paragon unfeasible. Again, developers, not government, have looked hard at the cost to move power from a remote area such as Paragon Ranch to a market. Each time the assessment for the project has come back that it is unfeasible. Now the tribe is going to inject more tribal government money with the state to try to make it feasible. This is total madness. Council needs to stop this madness.

We don’t have Class 4 wind, and no control if the wind blows or sun shines every day. Understand that this project is again being proposed to be funded by taxpayers and Navajo money. In other words, the government is wanting to fund the project. Projects such as Paragon Ranch have a hard time succeeding because they are funded by the government.

When private businesses develop projects, they develop them to be successful. Two things businesses always do are generate revenue and jobs. Government is only good at spending money, not generating revenue. These are the hard questions every Navajo should be asking President Nez. How much revenue and how many jobs will Paragon Ranch create before we throw more tribal government money to this project? This mentality that government-funded projects are going to bring much-needed revenue and jobs to the Navajo Nation is false and is wishful dreaming. The “green” madness has to stop.

Navajo Nation has to stop becoming the laughingstock of the west, especially when it comes to being an energy player. Navajo needs to have a diverse, reliable, stable, and affordable energy portfolio.

Renewable industry is not really regulated with any proper waste management. We are blessed with natural resources such as oil, gas, helium, and coal. Let’s use those resources, which the Holy People provided the Navajo people. More importantly, they generate revenue and create real jobs. Council has to ask these tough questions before wasting more Navajo money. With all respect, President Nez and Navajo Nation Council (tribal government) are no energy experts and don’t have any energy experts on their staff.

Ben Touchin
Waterflow, N.M.

Flagstaff train tracks unsafe

This letter of concern has taken me some time to write. I have finally come to terms to address this issue. Back in 2017, I lost my brother in an accident in Flagstaff, in which a train was involved.

After visiting the railroad tracks where it happened and gathering as much information as I could from the incident report, I feel that there should be great concern towards the safety of the community. I find it very disturbing that a train runs constantly across from the many local bars, which to me is very dangerous, especially for the people who have made the choice to try and cross these tracks after becoming intoxicated.

I feel that BSNF or the mayor of Flagstaff should step up to improve the safety around these tracks. I know for a fact that where my brother was hit and killed there is no guardrail that should come down to keep anyone or anything from crossing. I find it appropriate to consider the idea of building crossover bridges in a number of various places throughout the community. This would be greatly appreciated within and around the Flagstaff area.

This would put many worries for our loved ones at ease, if and when they do choose to drink at these local bars, especially for the many college students who use these areas to cross to get safely back to the Northern Arizona University campus where they reside. Providing warning signs, flashing lights, alarming horns, and guardrails is proving to be not enough to prevent accidents. I understand that it takes a huge amount of funding for this type of construction, but I do believe that once it is complete and is being put to use, it will have proved to have been a much-needed development which prevents many unwanted deaths. I chose to voice my opinion and concern, as well as taking this opportunity to do so.

Thank you for your time and understanding.

Shawna Negale
Flagstaff, Ariz.

Let non-Natives join Chamber

They say one shouldn’t bring up a problem, unless he/she has a solution. So here goes:

1. Problem: Navajo Nation needs a Navajo Nation Chamber of Commerce, chockfull of Diné and non-Indian members, with a (printed and online) membership roster and, most importantly, the (enthusiastic) backing of Speaker Seth Damon and President Jonathan Nez.

Solution: Get in contact with a professionally assertive/pleasantly aggressive person(s) who’s got not only the (recruiting/sales) Chamber of Commerce background, but also the desire to have the satisfaction of building a membership that can be called upon to sponsor (pay for) fundraising events, publications that promote the members, scholarships, programs, education, infant car seats, bicycle helmets, etc. Man, the list of beneficial things that non-Indian members (business and civic) can do, are willing to do … is endless. The mind boggles, really.

One more thing concerning a (100 non-Indian member) Navajo Nation Chamber of Commerce: Vice President Myron Lizer, who reportedly formed the Window Rock (Jr.) Chamber Of Commerce, can serve as president/CEO/executive director of the Navajo Nation Chamber of Commerce with President Nez and Speaker Damon overseeing.

Sure would be nice if the Navajo Times got behind such an endeavor, what with Navajo Times’ advertisers, such as the border town car dealers, being ideal (potential) Navajo Nation Chamber of Commerce members. Remember, once you get these 100 corporate/non-Indian members in the fold, each paying at least $5,000 per year (that’s 50 grand!) plus in kind services/resources then it’ll be like taking (financial) candy from a baby.

I leave you, the Navajo Nation leaders, with one thought: If it’s there, why not take it? After all, they took it from you. Maybe they feel guilty and are “just waiting” for someone to suggest something that’ll make them feel better. Maybe that someone is …

Jerry Sanchez Sr.
Redding, Calif.