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Letters: Deportation story all too common on Navajo

A local story reported a Navajo mother of three young children who decided to move her Navajo family to Mexico with her husband, Joaquin Gonzales-Michi (“We are a family; Dine says she’ll accompany deported husband,” Jan. 10, 2019).

Mr. Gonzales-Michi had been in the United States for 18 years and has been ordered to deport back to Mexico before Jan. 18, 2019.

This story is all too common on the Navajo Nation as more Navajo citizens are getting married to foreign nationals. There were Navajos that met undocumented Mexican workers in migrant farms across the United States. Some of these individuals had gotten married and produced Navajo children. The problem is the spouses are not citizens of the United States.

Often, these foreign nationals are working and providing food, clothing and shelter for the Navajo families they produced. When the “bread winner” is deported, that leaves the Navajo spouse and children behind.

One Mexican national married to a Navajo had a productive business on the Navajo Nation but was detained and deported in Gallup, when they came to pick up supplies. When they get deported, it heavily impacts the Navajo children and spouse they leave behind.

As a former New Mexico lawmaker, I introduced a bill (HB 23) in 2011. This bill includes New Mexico secretary of taxation and revenue waiving the requirements in the Motor Vehicle Code for a foreign national.

The tribe’s own requirements for the issuance or revocation of a driver’s license to foreign nationals will have to: 1) reside on the reservation or pueblo grant of the tribe, as determined by the tribe; 2) is married to and lives with an enrolled tribal member, as determined by the tribe; 3) is the parent of a child who is an enrolled tribal member and who lives with the child.

The bill was a “buy-in” concept. Should the tribe in New Mexico support such an initiative, they can impose their immigration law based on this legislation. The legislation died.

I would believe that the Navajo Nation could initiate similar legislation on behalf of the Navajo families married to a foreign national. It can be done since the Navajo Nation has sovereign authority over its people.

Ray Begaye
Shiprock, N.M.

Nation is a failed socialist government

Happy New Year to the Navajo Times staff. I congratulate the Navajo Times for keeping the urban Navajos informed about their government and local rez news.

I also commend Bill Donovan for his accurate reporting on the Navajo government. It is a blessing that he is still alive.

I worked for the Navajo Nation government for 30 years from 1971 to 2001 with an interim of three years at Diné College as dean of instruction. I worked with the Office of Management, Budget and Policy Analysis within the tribal government.

I not only did my job, but also studied the history of the tribal government and constitution. The problem with the constitution is that it has to be approved by the Secretary of Interior. That is like the U.S. taking the Declaration of Independence to the King of England to have it approved.

The Navajo Nation government is a failed socialist government. It is a centralized government with absolute power of the Navajo Nation Council and they will never give that up. They created its so-called three-branch government, therefore, they can also dissolve at anytime they wish and the lawyers helped them do it.

I was demoted from ASO IV to AS0 III because I won’t draw a three-branch chart and lobby against it. I would not lie to the people.

I am retired now and still watch the Council trample over the rights of the people. They are paid to vote yes and paid to vote no by special interest groups and have nothing to do with the benefits and rights of the Navajo people. They have given away billions of dollars of natural resources with very little to show for it. The reduction in Council members was a reduction in numbers, not power.

Enough is enough for me and I am going to dedicate the rest of life, time, energy and resources to help the Navajo people to govern themselves with Diné language and culture, tradition and ceremony as the priorities.
I support Harrison Tsosie’s effort to approve a government of the people’s choice, but I say the Navajo tradition, language, culture and ceremonies is the constitution of the Diné people, which is encompassing, flexible and can change with the times.

What is needed is a manifesto or declaration of sovereignty, which includes the Diné origin creation story identity as the Holy People and the boundaries (Four Sacred Mountains) and language, culture and ceremonies.

Take off your sinner handcuffs and return to the Holy People, free, prosperous and powerful.

Ralph Davis
Albuquerque, N.M.

Treaty should have been No. 1 story of 2018

The last issue of the Navajo Times dated Thursday, Dec. 27, 2018, was disappointing to say the least.

Year 2018 was Naaltsoos Sani’, the “Year of the Treaty,” meaning the “whole year” should have been dedicated to our 150th Treaty signing.

Yet, on the list of important events page, the treaty came in at No. 4 for the year, when it should have been No. 1 on the list.

The treaty our ancestral leaders signed liberated our people, acknowledged our sovereignty and established the nation-to-nation relationship with the United States. Without that there would be no Navajo Times.

In the year of pictures section there was also no mention or photo of the unique and rare visit the Dineh Tah Navajo dancers took in April to Tennessee and Ohio as official cultural ambassadors for the Navajo Nation.

The purpose of the trip was for the 150th Treaty commemoration. The group was given two official plaques by the Office of the President and Vice President, which were presented to the President Andrew Johnson National Historic Site and the General William Tecumseh Sherman Home.

Photos of these plaques were sent to the Times but were not published. Instead I was informed by email on April 26th by staff reporter Cindy Yurth that, “I can’t think of a paper in the entire country that runs pictures of plaques.” Yet clearly in this last 2018 issue on page C7 there is a photo of Kenji Kawano “holding a plaque.”

I guess staff reporter Cindy Yurth didn’t get the memo on plaques being in photos.

It’s bad enough the outgoing leadership dropped the ball on making the 150th Treaty year one to remember. Add to that the failure of the Navajo Times to give little, if no reverence, in its final edition of 2018 to the 150th Treaty year is shameful and insulting to our ancestral people and leaders.

This was the year to truly pay our respects to them, their sacrifice and to never forget what they did for us.

It is also evident that there is a bias by those on the Navajo Times staff towards the Dineh Tah Navajo dancers, a group which has done nothing but carry on the rich traditions of the Navajo people as cultural representatives of the great Navajo Nation.

The Navajo Times, however, sure does a full page editorial feature on the Zunis and their harvest dance taking up several pages, yet the Dineh Tah Navajo dancers were not given the same regard in their program for the 150th Treaty year. So much for Navajo preference!

And of course powwow and Zuni dancers would have their photos in the final edition but not a Navajo dance group that made a historic and significant trip for our ancestral people, nation and leaders.

I will from now on always read the Navajo Times as partial distorted truth with its inept bias as a preferential publication indifferent to its very own people whom its meant to serve.

Shawn Price
Dineh’tah Navajo Dancers
Albuquerque, N.M.

Looking to new Council for protection

Former Navajo leadership and Navajo Technical Energy Company weren’t telling us straight. Part of their rhetoric for the NTEC purchase of NGS was to save the revenue.

Saving the revenue would be true only if the power plant and the mine operations were continued by outside corporations. All potential buyers have walked away. If NTEC takes over the plant and mine, there is no more revenue.

The other thing they weren’t talking straight about is saying that the IRA Section 17 Harter is not connected to the proposed purchase. The proposed purchase may not have been the impetus for the charter effort at the outset, but they are certainly connected now.

The NGS owners and Peabody would be eager to sell to the Navajo Nation and they would expect the same sweetheart deal BHP got, where BHP was excused from all liability past, present and future. This would include the environmental mess and the reclamation.

They need to answer for the depletion of the N-aquifer, but NTEC and these former “leaders” were willing to send these corporations on their way with their golden parachutes.

The BHP Navajo Mine was bought for $92 million. Of that, BHP had to front the Navajo Nation $85 million, which was paid back with another loan that we will be paying back for years. The purchase cost of NGS and Peabody Mine could be over $200 million.

A great concern is we are talking about the people’s money. It should be the people who decide if we pawn the future of our grandchildren or not.

Quotation of the day: “If we are only talking about money, shame on us. We are here to represent our people and protect them,” by Charlaine Tso, 24th Navajo Nation Council.

We trust that commitment to protect the people also means protecting our land, water and air. We look to the new Council to protect us with compassion, intelligence and courage.

Duane “Chili” Yazzie
President
Shiprock Chapter House
Shiprock, N.M.

Crisis gives opportunity for King Day

As we commemorate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the crisis in America gives us a prime opportunity to move from symbolism to substance to “form a more perfect union, establish justice, and insure domestic tranquility.”

When people are oppressed, they eventually rise up to resist. Our lawmakers and policymakers must reject laws, dismantle policies, and end practices, which serve only to relegate fairness and justice to the back of the bus.

We must rebuild and reassemble a rigged political system designed to stymie and stifle the will of the people. We must not allow the outcome of elections to be based on gerrymandering, voter suppression and dark money.

We must remind our lawmakers that secrecy and lack of transparency sow discontent and distrust.

As we reflect on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we must individually examine our words and deeds to make sure we do not contribute toward the toxic environment of hatred and racism and divisiveness.

In remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., let us work to achieve the dream of economic opportunity and racial equality. Let us renew our commitment to compassion, understanding, kindness and love. Let the healing begin.

James Kimes
Prescott Valley, Ariz.


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