Sunday, October 1, 2023

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Letters: ‘Desperately need new leadership’

Letters: ‘Desperately need new leadership’

You have heard me say many times, “Navajo has an identity crisis.” The recent uproar of complaints of the candidates’ fluency in the Navajo language completely baffles me. Most of our young people are setting high standards by choosing to better themselves through education, and some serving in the military, protecting our freedom.

Our younger generation will face many obstacles when trying to establish their future careers. We should support our youth in their endeavors and give them a chance to serve in our government. The reality in today’s society is most of our youth will speak more English and very little Navajo.

During every election, candidates express to support the youth and veterans, but after they get elected, they are forgotten. We have a well-educated young man running and all kinds of barriers are being put up from every direction. These younger generations are our precious resources for the future of the Navajo people. It’s time that we support them.

With the recent decision of the highest Navajo courts and the complaints by some Navajo candidates, let me ask you, does your child speak the Navajo language fluently?

Furthermore, my guess is 90 percent of the Navajo government top managerial positions held by educated young people who speak very little or no Navajo language. Think about this, how many of our present leaders in all those branches speak fluent Navajo?

Also, all those who ran in past elections spoke fluent Navajo, including those who are running at the chapter level? Aren’t we discriminating against our younger generation?

About those disgruntled people that are complaining, what are you really saying, you well educated young people and veterans have no part in our government? What about this “Shiyazhi i’ yeego iinilta’ nihida’hnidiida’a’l.” Do we still hold true to our Navajo teachings?

Another penetrating thought for those fluent Navajo speakers, how is their English language? How can you articulate with the top-notch leaders in Washington, D.C., state officials or others?

With all the problems the Navajo people encounter during the election, our lifestyle has not improved significantly. We desperately need new leadership with someone who is also fluent in the English language. The change is here for our young educated people to take leadership of the Navajo Nation government.

Milton Shirleson
Window Rock, Ariz.

Verbal test not part of prez qualifications

The Navajo Nation Supreme Court appears to mandate that a candidate for president of the Navajo Nation must be able to speak, understand and comprehend face-to-face Navajo conversations that are based on a vague and manipulative standard proposed by appellant Whitethorne, who is a complainant in the Deschene-Tsosie-Whitethorne case being heard by the Navajo Supreme Court.

The Navajo Supreme Court cannot impose a Navajo language fluency verbal test on Chris Deschene when such a verbal test is not part of the qualifications to run for the Office of the President of the Navajo Nation and the same test scrutiny to speak fluent Navajo was not imposed on the other competing candidates. Chris Deschene is entitled to equal protection and freedom from “racial discrimination” in his bid for the Office of the President of the Navajo Nation.

The question the Navajo Supreme Court should have considered is whether someone who is English-literate and Navajo-deficient can be denied from running for the Office of the President of the Navajo Nation. However, there is a Navajo Supreme Court case of Matter of Appeal of Vern R. Lee, No. SC-CV-32-06 (Navajo Supreme Court, August 2006) that should make the Navajo language fluency requirement void (not valid or legally binding):
“If an election requirement defeats the ability of the people to elect leaders of their choosing and candidates to run for office, it must yield.”

Based on this Navajo Supreme Court ruling, the election requirement of Navajo language fluency defeats the ability of the people to elect leaders of their choosing and it must yield to the Navajo people who are the arbiters (any person who is given an absolute power to judge and rule on a matter). But it seems like the Office of Hearings and Appeals and the Navajo Supreme Court do not want to acknowledge this court ruling. Or are they purposefully ignoring it in order to disqualify Chris Deschene. If so, then it appears the Court has made this case a personal matter and is biased.

Chris Deschene was right not to take the Navajo Language Fluency test because the other candidates for the Office of the President of the Navajo Nation did not receive equal scrutiny and forced to take such a verbal test. The OHA is not a court, the hearing is not a trial, and Mr. Deschene cannot be forced to take the verbal test. He only has power of that decision and not the Navajo Supreme Court.

The Whitethorne Navajo fluency definition was made on the spur of the moment and accepted by the Navajo Supreme Court. It should not be used to determine the Navajo-speaking fluency of Mr. Deschene because to use this ad hoc definition as proposed by appellant Whitethorne, who is a compliant in the case against Mr. Deschene, would be biased and prejudicial. I do not believe the Supreme Court took into consideration the future ramifications of their decision with the dwindling numbers of “fluent-speaking” Navajos who would want to become president of the Navajo Nation and who would not be able to do so because of the “newly founded” Whitethorne definition of Navajo fluency.

– In a linguistically divided Navajo Nation you’ll get someone who may be bilingual, but not the most competent. There is no substitute for competence. The Court is denying the ability of the people to elect a person with the experience and expertise to move the Navajo Nation forward socially and economically, and I might add linguistically.

– The Navajo Nation government operates mostly in English and many of the documents they receive and review must be understood and comprehended in the English language. To write these documents into the Navajo language would be too expensive and some of the content will lose its meaning in the translation that could prove to be a detriment to the well-being of the Navajo Nation and its Navajo people. In the same manner, a person who is English-literate will be able to understand the nuances of the English language when meeting with English-speaking government officials.

– No one seems to be looking at this case as a way out of this whole issue of Navajo language fluency requirement that is being imposed on Chris Deschene and him alone. That is discrimination. That is biased. That is totalitarianism – totalitarian state is a concept used by some political scientists in which the state holds total authority over the society and seeks to control all aspects of public and private life wherever possible.

Leslie J. Nelson Sr.
Fort Defiance, Ariz.

Navajos are bound by language, culture, and kinship

A few weeks ago, I had the courage to speak up and contest the Navajo Election Administration Office for not fulfilling their duties of checking all required qualifications from the candidates. One of these candidates who submitted a false sworn statement at the time of filing was Chris Deschene. What most readers do not understand is that this candidate lied under oath, yet he continues to campaign and not admit to his mistakes.

On Sept. 26, the Navajo Supreme Court judges made a decision to remand the case back to the Office of Hearing and Appeals. Mr. Deschene was very angry about this decision and was recorded on video referring to the judges as “knuckleheads.” He also criticized Dale Tsosie ‘s spiritual beliefs and instilled in people’s minds that the opposing litigators told him he is not Navajo enough.

I attended the Supreme Court hearing and none of the judges or attorneys stated whether he was Navajo enough. It is very disappointing to see a presidential candidate acting immature and falsely informing his supporters that he was told he was not Navajo enough. This does not represent “a new generation of leadership” to me.

I am saddened to hear that we, who had the courage to voice our concerns, are getting blamed for dividing our Diné people. I am saddened because we are being accused for discriminating those who cannot speak fluent Navajo. I am saddened that Lorenzo Curley introduced a legislation to remove the Navajo language requirement from all elected positions on the Navajo Nation. I am saddened that some of my own friends and relatives are blaming and shaming me for speaking out on this important matter.

I am a Diné youth and I do not speak fluent Navajo, and that is my own fault. I went to boarding school and lived in the dormitories for 12 years — both on and off the reservation, but I am not going to blame others for my inability to speak the language fluently. What I will do is make an effort to read, write, and speak the Diné language everyday.

The Diné language is very important, but honesty, integrity, and transparency in a leader are very important too. It is not OK for some of our leaders to continue to lie, cheat, steal, and mismanage funds. Everyone makes mistakes, but the courage to admit to one’s own faults and learn from it is what makes one a leader.

Regardless of what happens, we need to remember that we are all Diné and we each have our own teachings, beliefs, and prayers that were passed on to us. We are bound by our language, culture, and kinship and we have what it takes to work together to heal ourselves and our people.

I want to say thank you to those who have the courage to speak up and to those who are working towards a better, healthier nation for our future generations.

Colleen Cooley
Shonto, Ariz.

Time to unite, stand together, reject divisions

It is time we all make an effort to unite and stand together as one people. It is time to reject divisions and antipathy/resentments within our 110 Navajo chapter communities and vote for Maj. Christopher Clark Deschene.

Our “Diné Dynasty Showcase” of our everyday life of the Navajo people has reached its embarrassing moment with this political democratic governmental election evolution. With these two outsiders “used car salesman lawyers” who have no outside world military or foreign affairs experiences or even with any Navajo medicine men’s experiences or skills to dictate for or dictate to the Navajo people. Who are they to dictate U.S. without the consent of the Navajo voters?
They, with their three-piece suits lawyers, are just capitalizing on the Navajo money to pocket for themselves or even for world fame title for their office wall showcase.

It has been acknowledged that many ambitious small businesses continue to encounter financial-monetary difficulty — world block — that hinders their economic growth for prosperity for all Navajo voters and their offspring as they are in an educational mote of learning both English/Diné (Navajo) languages across the four Navajo reservations within our three states of the Southwest of the United States.

Maj. Christopher Clark Deschene is no different from this learning process of difficulty, which he cares for between these two cultural world of English and Navajo-Dineh language.

This business about the presidential candidates between a newcomer, Maj. Christopher Clark Deschene, and the former Navajo President Joe Shirley, is an opportunity to tell the world and the Navajo voters, why? Who should be the next “best of the best” performing presidency for the future Navajo Nation — businesses — and not with our verbal personal nasty political opinions of attacks?

The eyes of the world are upon us, as we conduct ourselves in this foolishness of business clash of the English vs. Dineh language clash problem. It is not about Maj. Christopher Deschene or Joe Shirley’s presidential candidacy, which will have a negative impact on our next four-year dramatic fate on our young voting people, the greatest generation, the baby boomers, or even our traditional elders and in-laws, if we don’t make the right choice.

The choice is yours. I challenge you that you will make the right choice. Your and my future is on the line with this language difficulty problem. Let’s fix it with your voting power. We need new cohorts of knowledgeable bloodline of leaders, managers, revolutionists, entertainers and artists for this 21st century Navajo Nation government. Get out of your closet and vote!

We need to stop electing career corrupt politicians. They had their chance to lead to fix this English/Navajo language problem. So, get out there and vote for U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Christopher Clark Deschene, former Naval Academy cadet, Arizona State University engineer, civilian lawyer, and with his first lady lawyer and his presidential running mate, vice presidency/educator Fannie Attcity.

Sam Grayeagle
Tsayatoh, N.M.

Long Walk: Why reopen wound?

The implication that the actual trail of the Long Walk route could be revealed, given that studies have been done to discover just where our ancestors walked has me broken and concerned (article: “Hwééldi at 150,” Navajo Times, Oct. 2, 2014).

My question is, why break the desire of our forefathers? Why reopen a wound that has just now begun to heal?

Many of us already know the tragedy either through stories that have been orally handed down to us or nation-wide publication, via written books, articles, Internet, etc. Why bother this sacred trail?
If it is open to the public, it would be like reopening a grave, and that is a Navajo “no no” — Doo ál’jjda! Perhaps this is why our beloved ancestors had prohibited the return to this infamous place, because they viewed it as the final resting place of many of their own — a mass grave.

I personally feel that this “study” of the trail be locked away in a safe and the key or combination be forever forgotten.

Irvinson Jones
Bloomfield, N.M.

‘Let us vote to determine our prez’

You read the papers and know what the people want. Give it back to the people and let us vote to determine who we want for our next president. I am voting for Chris Deschene.

Come on comrades! Let’s vote Chris Deschene. We’ve been denied, lied to and overlooked all these years. We’ll have our man to look out for us.

Youth, you’ve been told you’re unqualified or overqualified and that you have to leave the reservation to look for a job.

Grandparents and parents, your son is back. Vote him in so he can lead us. Chris Deschene has the best résumé to be our president.

Jack M. Silversmith
Houck, Ariz.

No polling sites in urban areas

During the primary elections, I, along with approximately 6,000 Diné people residing in Albuquerque, did not get to vote at the local election polls for the Navajo primary election. Why?
I was told the Navajo Nation did not allow National Indian Youth Council to be designated as the Albuquerque urban area voting poll site. And we found out that there were no other urban voting poll site for Diné people living off the reservation. This is a violation of our voting rights.

I inquired if there will be a polling site for urban Navajos and the election office said no that we need an absentee ballot. Now with all this mix up and candidate confusion, who is to say we will receive the absentee ballots requested on time?

Now, we are told that the November general election may be delayed and that someone has filed a complaint because Chris Deschene does not speak fluently the Navajo (Diné) language. The question begs all families: does the whole household speak Navajo fluently?
It is doubtful the answer would be 100 percent yes for the whole 300,000-plus Navajo population, but this should not prevent a Navajo candidate to run for office. This action again has violated our individual rights to vote and to not acknowledge or have our votes counted. This is a violation of our civil rights to vote.

Joe Shirley as previous president for two terms advocated having 24 Navajo Tribal Council delegates only. This process has placed a hardship on all communities, chapter and Navajo citizens. Elders have shared how it is quite difficult to locate a Council delegate who represents 6-8 chapters under the current system.

The full representation of Council delegates in the Navajo Tribal Council needs to come back. The referendum was never codified, so it is not tribal law. Where are the lawyers in charge to protect the Navajo citizens? Since it is not law, it is not valid. The previous number of 110 Council delegates should be acknowledged.

Merlee Arviso
Albuquerque, N.M.

$554M: It’s our money, we want it now

The Gallup Independent wrote Diné, U.S. sign historic settlement agreement (weekend issue, Sept. 27-28, 2014).

The lawsuit against the United States ended with a commemorative ceremony with the settlement agreement. With this agreement comes this $554 million, which opened up politician’s eyes and already talking about that this money will help the people for years to come.

What I personally believe is that this is the Diné people’s money. As I see it with past events dealing with wasteful spending and you people are all aware about what’s happening for decades about our “so-called government” for reckless spending for personal gains for years. Our money in the millions is gone. We have been short-changed with poor management. For instance, in the Desert Rock deal, the Korean running off with our money in Shiprock, the Chicken Farm caved in and the Navajo Dam Escrow account has been raided. Now we hear about problems with the Navajo Nation Oil and Gas Company.

A lot of our money has been spent in Las Vegas, Nev., for luxury meeting places for the benefit of those people involved, especially during the week of the National Finals Rodeo. What about our money from the Arizona Public Service Company?

Check with about $70 million that vice president Jim got in his hands and we don’t know what happened to it. We were never told where it went or what it was used for. Along with the check came the porterhouse steaks and other goodies cooked outside the council chambers. Also, Fire Rock Casino gave jackets and caps to our council delegates. We have our money loss on gold-diamond rings to the delegates. What about the rest of the people?

We even had the council speaker trying to have a secret deal or scheme for a legislative building to house office spaces, swimming pool on the roof and a helicopter pad with big letterings on the building “Lawrence Morgan Legislative Building” Éyou remember? It was all in the newspaper.

You all see for yourselves what has been going on with the court sessions involving those former delegates who got in trouble. We kept quiet about all these tribal events involving all the government corruptions.

You all know that we, the Diné people, don’t have access to our money, from all the resources (oil, coal, etc.), the lease payments and to this date, all the Diné people, young and old, have not received a single cent.

You people in government have control of the people’s money, which you abused in wasteful spending and for personal gains. Now leave the people’s money alone and give the Diné people their check from this settlement money. It’s our money and we want it now!

Raymond Mike Franklin
Toadlena, N.M.

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