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Letters: Diné are stricken by poverty

Letters: Diné are stricken by poverty

In our Diné Nation, poverty is the root of all our social and economic disasters. Sadly our leaders have done little to nothing to recognize this horror and take effective measures. Why use what remains of the $554 million settlement to establish more government programs?

Many government programs are a waste, acting as Band-Aid that deals only with the symptoms of the hideous poverty of our Diné.

Generally, government programs have had little success in solving the insidious poverty of our Diné. When programs have failed the government simply manipulates the data. We are then led to believe the program had a positive impact. So, where are our millionaires? Why are our sheep corrals empty?

The “war on poverty” is a fine example. As in any war there are no winners or losers. There are only survivors. Our Diné are the poverty stricken, walking wounded and survivors of that ongoing war.

Why then must our Diné surrender everything they have ever had just to keep our government operating?

The only ones to gain anything are government employees with high paying salaries and big government pensions. Do they want the problems solved?

If the problems were solved they would be out of high paying jobs. By this and other means our Diné have been held hostage and in the grip of poverty for over 100 years and the conditions are only getting worse.

The Hero Twins allowed the monster of poverty to live for a wise purpose — so our people would remain industrious. But that can never happen if the millions, or even billions, that were earmarked as Diné money never ended up in our pockets, not even a penny. The only thing we get is some candy and a sack of peanuts around Christmas time. That is insane.

It may not seem like much, but the only path away from the poverty of our Diné is to give us what remains of the $554 million settlement money. Forget the set-aside laws because those laws don’t apply to these specific monies. In doing so, consider it a down payment of justice due. There is no question, it is our money and we need it now.

I’ve written this letter by kerosene lamplight because that’s the only light 40 percent of our Diné still use.

Wally Brown
Page, Ariz.

Disappointed in Delegate Pete

I watched the voting on Legislation 0309-14 on Thursday, Nov. 13. I am very, very disappointed in my Council delegate, Leonard Pete, who represents Chinle Chapter.

He again voted against this legislation to change the language to Title II. This would have opened the door for our educated young men and women to become leaders of this great Navajo Nation. He did not understand the content of the legislation. He should have asked for interpretation before voting. I do not understand this man. My faith has diminished and I lost all trust in him.

This is the second time he voted against the resolution, which his chapter voters supported by a vote of 47 to 0. He, too, voted in support of this chapter resolution on Oct. 21 at the Chinle Chapter meeting.

He voted against himself again. He did not follow the directive of the chapter voters who put him in office. He said he was his own man and votes the way he wants to no matter what the voters back home say. He voted against the veterans, youth, elders, etc. The eyes of the elders, youth and veterans were on him for his favorable vote. But no, he turned his back on them again. Is he going to continue this type of behavior for the next four years?

This legislation was not about Maj. Chris Deschene but was to make minor changes to eliminate the discrimination part of Title II and to let the people decide who they want as their leader. This is all it was. Was this so hard to interpret and understand?

By the vote of five councilmen and four no-shows on Nov. 13, 2014, the door was closed on the highly educated young men and women who want to come home to become our leader. It has pushed them farther away from their own reservation. Where did the quote, “Youth are our future leaders” go?

I am beginning to believe that this is only from the mouth of many and not from the heart. I strongly suggest that a full and complete, honest explanation be given to the voters by the five delegates who voted against this legislation.

I want to make it clear that this is my personal opinion from what I observed. It is not about who is running for president or who is being challenged in court.

The election process has to get back on track as it has been in the past. We cannot have outside attorneys running our judicial system and pretend to be lawmakers for the Navajo Nation. This belongs with the Council.

Harry Claw
Chinle, Ariz.

Letter about Jews, Diné is inaccurate, false

In the Navajo Times letter to the editor titled “Israelis helped Diné in the past” by Yael Begaye, it mentions how some Navajo protestors are demonstrating misleading information to their own people that the Israelis helped Diné people in the past.

Mr. Begaye also claims that the Navajos learned their skills and the way of life from the Jews. He explains too that if the “Moslem Jihads” were to overtake the Navajos it is more likely they will end up as a patrilineal society as opposed to a Navajo matrilineal society, and that the Diné people will be treated like the citizens of Israel.

It has become common today to dismiss the knowledge of Diné culture and the teachings of their ancestors. Yael Begaye indicates that the Navajo protestors are mistaken because they overlook the fact that the “Arabs gave nothing — nothing” to the Navajos.

In the Diné history there is no indication of any knowledge that the Jews taught the Navajos of their culture. He mentions that the Navajos learned to herd cattle and sheep, and even shown them the latest attire of clothing.

In addition to the livelihood of the Navajos, which Yael mentions as they lived on berries and rabbits also lived in caves. The Diné people had never lived in caves or little huts. The statements in his response to the protestors are inaccurate views of the Diné people.

Furthermore, the statement “they did not wear their hair in buns and did not know anything about harvest” is also a false statement.

Although the Navajos may seem trivial, it is in fact crucial in term of today’s concern over the Diné culture. It has come to my understanding that the Diné teaching has always been here, which was brought by our ancestors. As of today, there are still many of our elders that are willing to pass the information to the younger generations.

As Diné people, the teachings of our ancestors should and must be carried on to our children. The more teachings and more understanding of the Diné philosophy will eliminate some of the stereotypical information that is being demonstrated.

Melvin W. Gatewood
Tsaile, Ariz.

Are young Diné being locked out?

I’ve heard a lot of stories over the years about how hard it is to find employment on the reservation. On my journey to make it home not only as an educated Diné but a veteran of the U.S. Army, I find myself in the same situation. How is it my degrees and years of government service experience are not enough for the Navajo Nation? But they have other non-Native and Natives alike with minimal qualifications holding residency in all parts of the Navajo Nation employment?

There are entry-level positions where someone with minimal education would normally apply though people with degrees apply for these jobs and then get denied because they are overqualified. On the other extreme a position that requires a master’s degree offers just above minimum wage.

It’s never what you know, it’s who you know. Evident as I have been enquiring about how the Navajo Nation conducts business, 99.9 percent of response I get when telling my story I’m told, “Maybe they hired their relative.”
Is this a type of lock out for the young Diné? Who have the fortitude to go out and get educated and experience? Not just going out, but willing and able to come back and try and make a difference, help out our community from which we came, only to be denied.

Making the (Iniidnaaghahagii stilkai doo chikai) young men and women feel like all their efforts and sacrifices are for what? Very well educated, knowledgeable Diné who are making other communities, towns, businesses that much better than our own nation.

With this everyone wonders why are the youth not coming back? Because we’re being shut out. Why are the same issues being recycled and no solutions being thought of? Why are we, degree-holding professionals being put at arms length?

From my experience and the current change that is upon us, I believe it’s my generations prerogative to keep fighting, fighting for these positions with our combination of Navajo teaching and education to make a difference. To make a difference we have to fight, continue to push ourselves beyond the limits, beyond our formal education as we were taught, but also to push ourselves to the culture limits. Not only for ourselves, but our generation, our people, our future.

So I say to you, fellow readers, if you find yourself in this situation, fight for the things that are worth fighting for. My nation, my heritage, my people (Kwe’e siziniji’) as I stand here, still fighting.

Valerie Tsosie
New Haven, Conn.

Lawyers are trying to get our money

“Deschene Disqualified” read the headline of a local paper recently pertaining to Chris Deschene’s failed attempt for Navajo Nation presidency. I knew Chris when he was at Page High School. I thought he was a well-mannered intelligent young man. It’s good he got educated attaining engineering and law degrees, serving in the Marine Corps and discharged with the rank of major. Impressive.

It is unfortunate with such a résumé he was denied the presidency opportunity because of our Navajo fluency law.
We, the Navajo people, have expected for many years a person such as Chris Deschene to change our conditions for the better.

But the law is the law. Example, if one was stopped by a police officer for driving at 75 mph in a 55 mph speed zone, do you think the police officer should just look the other way? Of course not.

Law firms and lawyers are vying again for our government and money. Some made millions off our enterprises and government. They want their cash cows. We don’t control our government or money. Lawyers do.
Stories in the news media show hardly any leader in the Navajo government following the laws. A good example is the present and past Council members who are facing legal issues with the so-called slush fund, which includes the president, vice president and six present Council members. To put salt on the wound, 77 past and present delegates and presidential personnel are guilty of raiding the slush fund.

We should be concentrating on ridding our government of crooks who have been in position for ages, instead of blocking efforts for our highly educated, experienced, and honest young people to lead us.

It’s sickening to witness our leaders believing non-Navajos such as Stanley Pollack, who negotiate deals with outsiders and convincing our leaders that is the best deal Navajo will ever have.

The present Gallup/Navajo water agreement stands out like a sore thumb. This agreement was to bring water to Window Rock as well, but everything is only focused on Gallup.

Stanley Pollack negotiated this deal advising Navajo leadership which was to include water line to Window Rock. But the problem with this is the money being used for the project is New Mexico state money, which means the money can’t be used for Arizona communities.

Although I voted for Chris in the primary elections I disagree with his support of SB-2109 proposed by Senator Kyl with Pollack informing Kyl the tribe was in support of the idea when in reality none of the tribal leaders were aware.

My first thought of Chris when I heard he was running for president was great, we need a young person with the skills and education Chris has. That idea was shattered when I read the article Chris wrote in 2012, where he praised the SB-2109 settlement agreement indicating that it was good for Navajo.

Tulley Haswood
Rock Springs, N.M.

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