Monday, October 2, 2023

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Letters | Diné votes are important

I’ve always seen Navajo politics as icky but for some reason I thought the Navajo votes were safe from the ugly side of Navajo political lies, back-door deals, greed, and the good ol’ boys club.

This year I decided to run for Navajo Nation Council delegate to represent the communities of Dilkon, Greasewood, Indian Wells, Teesto, and Whitecone. Unofficially, I won my primary race.

Then I saw there was going to be a recount for the presidential candidates. And at first, I rolled my eyes and said, What’s the point?

But as I thought about the bigger picture, the long-term goal of why voting is important. What was I missing here?

So, on day 1 and 2, I saw the Navajo Nation recount begin to unfold on social media and decided to see for myself our democratic process of how we vote in our new tribal leaders.

On day 3, I physically went to Window Rock and saw with my own eyes that ballots were being lugged around in soft-case suitcases. My jaws dropped and I said a bad word.

On day 4, I watched two poll workers recount by hand their ballots three times and then found 100 ballots that were temporarily missing, which promoted another recount to include the 100 ballots. I began to question the chain of custody of our ballots.

On day 5, I saw 45 absentee and early ballots that were unopened and not counted in the unofficial results.

Democracy is complicated yet simple. It is easy to solve our community concerns if there is political will.

As a Council delegate candidate, I believe I have a responsibility to be the kind of leader that listens to all voices and considers all votes. As a candidate, I ran for water infrastructure, for agriculture and for small businesses.

The Navajo Nation recount sets an example that our elections have corruption. It shows that our votes are not held to high standards. Our votes should be held sacred and safeguarded from fraud.

We have this moment and opportunity to break the cycle of corruption at our local level and in our local elections. As Navajo people, we take pride in our votes.

We take pride in our veterans and the belief that their service has allowed us to have the right to fair elections. Navajos have the highest percentage of voter turnout in elections across Indian Country.

Our elections need to meet the high standards that are set by the voters. We are a large nation and our Navajo votes are important at the national political level. It can have impact in state and county elections.

We need to show up in all spaces to protect our future, our water, our children, and our sacred places. Our votes and leaders help to determine the types of funding we get for our people and our environment.

We have been given another opportunity to get more people out to vote and show transparency and a true democratic process.

We have a role to play among Indian Country. How we elect our leaders reflects on how our people are governed. We are building our voting muscles, our voting voices, and our Native power.

How do we build a good path forward? Do we have a re-election? If we don’t, what do we want instead?

No matter what happens, we must fight to make our voting system fair, clean, transparent and accountable.

All races are important and it is our responsibility when we vote because it impacts politics at the national level. Those leaders we choose as delegates, as president and chapter officials have impact on future governments.

How do we build confidence and safeguards for our future elections?

If we can break the cycle of corruption, we have a chance to make sure there are funding for a fair voting system, for Ella Mae Begay, for public safety, for the veterans that have no indoor plumbing and have to wake up late at night in the winter just to use the bathroom, elder programs, safer roads, enhancing our Navajo language programs, for water infrastructure, to help small Navajo businesses, for our farmer and ranchers, and to protect our Mother Earth.

Remember that your votes are sacred and that Navajo votes are important in national politics. Be proud of what we are trying to accomplish here. Voting is sacred.

Cherilyn Yazzie
Dilkon, Ariz.

Letter should be retitled

The Navajo Times of Sept. 15, 2022, has a letter titled “A strike against Buu.” It probably should be titled “A strike against matriarchal society.”

Navajos are a matriarchal society and Buu Nygren’s mother is Táchii’nii.

My grandson, who is bi-racial, was asked if he was Mexican (he is not) by a Navajo woman at a clinic, and he said, “I am Honágháahnii”.

The woman was thrilled to hear that he is Navajo and a good relationship started that day. My grandson identified himself by his clan as most of us do.

I have heard stories that Chief Manuelito wanted his people to get an education so we would have equal footing in the world. I have heard comments encouraging students to get a higher education and come back home to help our people. Both candidates have achieved that educational goal.

To me, it is who will advance our people. Here is a case in point: Every year Navajo Housing Authority submits an Indian Housing Plan to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development after an authorized official of the Navajo Nation (government not NHA) signs the certification.

NHA gets more than $80 million in grants.

Yet, some or most of the Navajo people who have private homes they built have no electricity and running water. If you called NHA, I think they will tell you they provide the IHP to the public.

How many years have the IHP not being read or changes made to it by our leaders to make a difference for our people?

As to wars, Americans have fought in many wars and now those our veterans fought against have made their home in the United States of America.

My first cousin, who I love, served in Vietnam.

Love the rain we had in Shiprock. Please vote wisely.

Nancy Todea
Shiprock, N.M.

Nygren is not Vietnamese

In the recent letters to the editor column of the Navajo Times newspaper, letter writer Kash Deal, from Tuba City, wrote a short but effective letter regarding candidate Buu Nygren’s surname.

Buu Nygren is currently one of the two candidates for the Navajo Nation president position.

I have been waiting for someone to bring the matter of the Nygren name.

Off the bat, the surname Nygren is not a Vietnamese name. Nygren is a Swedish and Norwegian surname.

The closest Vietnamese surname sounding like Nygren is Nguyen. Nguyen is a common Vietnamese surname much like Navajo surnames as Yazzie, Begay, Benally, Nez, or Tsosie. Nguyen is a popular Vietnamese surname with currently over 40% of Vietnamese have such a surname.

Mr. Buu Nygren states that he is one-half Vietnamese and one-half Navajo. That his paternal side is Vietnamese.

Why did his father give him a surname that is not of Vietnam origin but rather of Sweden and Norway? What is the real Vietnamese name of Mr. Nygren’s father?

Navajo presidential seat is of utmost importance, sacred, and a profound position for a worthy Navajo individual elected by a majority of the Navajo people based on their faith, trust and integrity in their candidate.

Any individual candidate with a spotty past, even with a questionable surname, needs to explain the many questions that already are on the minds of Navajo electorates.

I challenge Mr. Buu Nygren on behalf of the many voters who also may have questions about Buu Nygren’s past in particular to his Vietnamese side.

The challenge is to have Mr. Nygren produce his Arizona state birth certificate to show who is his father for the record in which the document be printed in the Navajo Times newspaper forthcoming editions.

Will Tsosie
Shiprock, N.M.

A rebuttal to ‘A strike against Buu’

A rebuttal to the letter, “A strike against Buu” by Kash Deal, of Tuba City, from the Sept. 15th issue of Navajo Times.

Insight and prejudice are two different perspectives. Insight is the reflection of the observer, who only finds a name or a label of a person to be a social identity to the outside world. Prejudice is a disease that blinds and infuses hate.

However, with our Indigenous clan system, social identity is the four-directional foundation that reveals the origin and family lineage of relationships of a human being who stands in the center.

Besides incest prevention, our webbed kinship is maternally-woven for sanity, security, stability, strength, and survival of the collective.

Our Navajo society is currently confronted with far more urgent and profound self-generated social complexities than to have a social discussion under a shade tree on a mere identification “label,” of a candidate seeking a chief position.

A suggestion to Kash Deal is to explore the life of a half-Comanche “Quanah Parker.” What about our own people with a Spanish, Mexican, or English names with their degree of descent, including their sacrifices in war? This is the reality of the changing times these days.

Our recent primary election indicates that real social change was not embraced, as revealed in quantified non-participation. It seems our choice of the voting public is whether “to continue with business as usual if given another chance” or “try an attempt to reinvent the wheel for alleged promises of social progress.”

Then there is the possibility of quick “bait-and-switch” of agenda after the general election.

The whole point of a political election should focus on how our entrusted elected can empower and maintain a society where citizens manage or remedy their self-inflicted difficulties, thus work towards a self-correcting and self-preserving social system.

However, for sake of security and comfort a continuance to shield ourselves with the coping cocoon of resilience. Perhaps resilience is excusable for those who still rely on instincts of “wait-and-see” approach to further navigate the unknown future.

This is probably because of impact scars from previous political pretexts and vices with gestures of moral weaknesses eagerly copied from the dominant society.

Experience indicates modern time is to live in a world of lies and deception. We are in an age where covert political ventures result in personal “cash deals” and where fiction transforms into reality.

And whether intentional or not, but what seems to promote the Nygren political movement is his display of symbolism that attracts older citizens who yearn for the “good old days.”

With an obsession with nostalgia, we seem to overlook the subtle political propaganda of an inscrutable Navajo candidate.

The candidate seems to use drawn out language of Native clichés from a time gone by and his cool, catchy appearance wearing a stylized, feathered “Natani Nez” (translates to “Tall Leader”) hat, aka, “Billy Jack” hat, as used in a fictional 1970s Navajo hero movie.

As Indigenous, we are a visual and creative people like a show-and-tell with magical splendors, e.g., an introduction of our clan identity. Advertently, such a “Billy Jack” hat reminisces when our forefathers wore such hats, thus mimics a return to the “good old days.”

Perhaps these are just unknowingly, yet subtle and clever political vote-swaying gimmicks of reverse mirror-imaging from the candidate?

Then again, it could be the obvious, Buu Nygren is using his “Natani Nez” black hat for shade on a hot day? Or perhaps an onset of an Indigenous prophecy of the forthcoming of the Rainbow Tribe to clean up our mess? Such notions are for the voters to decide.

One thing is certain: If we keep prolonging the pandemic it will get worse before it gets better. There is no such thing as coincidence when suspicion comes alive.

Maybe it is us, the general public, who are the suspect. For what the dominant society does, we copy, just to fit in.

Presently, the dominant society seems to be undergoing its fictional superhero worship of its Marvel movie characters. This will be fulfilled when citizens are saved from the skeletons in their closets, whereby they feel better about themselves while in their real world of chaos.

Robert L. Hosteen
Beclabito, N.M.

‘Nygren’ has many meanings

I must respond to the letter to the editor, printed Sept. 15, 2022, titled, “A strike against Buu,” by Kash Deal, of Tuba City.

First, deal or no deal, the surname Nygren is Swedish, originating from the country of Sweden — if one flew from Stockholm to “South Vietnam,” say Ho Chi Minh City, that would be 5,522 miles apart.

You’re way off, Kash. That would be like me saying Kash Deal is from Chile, Argentina, 5,575 miles from Tuba.

Kash Deal says, “Different tribes are going to make fun of us because we got a South Vietnamese for president. Wake up, Navajos!”

Kash Deal needs to understand that “Nygren” means many things like “new leaf,” “new growth,” and lastly, stay with me Kash Deal, Nygren means “new branch” as in the Navajo Nation executive branch needs a new leader to grow a new branch in tribal government, one that all Native Americans, Native American allies and friends, even in-laws, can be proud of.

One that is responsive to the needs of the Navajo people, each one with a Census number, a branch that can count accurately and not be off by 80,000 tribal members, and a tribal government that listens to what each of us is saying and wanting for our future.

Doctor Buu Nygren comes from a matrilineal society, the Navajo Nation where each of us introduces ourselves by our mother’s clan first, not our father’s clan first.

Last I checked a doctorate trumps a master’s degree.

Let the chips fall where they may says this Druid voter. I vote at To’hajiilee, but my umbilical cord is buried in Window Rock, iss.

Patrick “iPat” Murphy
To’hajiilee, N.M.

Disappointed in Navajo Times, Nez administration

I am writing this letter to express my disappointment with Navajo Times and the President Nez administration for the recent letter titled “A strike against Buu,” which was printed in the Sept. 15, 2022, issue of the Navajo Times.

As an organization that touts itself as a respectable source of information for Navajo readers, the printing of the racially biased letter written by a fake author demonstrates the insensitive and disrespectful attitude of the editor and Nez administration.

If this was an attempt to sell newspapers then Navajo Times has joined the likes of Enquirer and the rest of the sensationalized publishers. These types of “newspaper” organizations simply print anything to sell papers.

As for the Nez administration, they are complicit participants as President Nez and his administration allows a government-controlled organization to allow their editor to print racially biased letters that target his political opponents.

This should not be acceptable by the Navajo readership. I would like to see Navajo Times separate itself from allowing further racially biased content to be part of the newspaper.

Further, President Nez should publicly disavow the actions of Navajo Times and call for a more respectful political discourse for the election.

If there is something to talk about then we should be talking about the lack of law enforcement response that seems to have further jeopardized Navajo residents during the recent Wells Fargo Bank robbery. The Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety is under the purview of Nez.

No candidates for Navajo Nation president or Council have brought forth the issue of public safety and a plan to make it better. That discussion is lacking and should be at the forefront of the Navajo political scene.

Thieves, drug dealers and bootleggers are getting a free pass to reign on the Navajo Nation. Navajo residents are held hostage because Navajo leadership refuses to change or strengthen the law to hold these folks responsible.

Home-site leasees should be revoked for violating the illegal substance provision. Convicted drug dealers, bootleggers, human traffickers, and child sex offenders should be banished from the Navajo Nation.

Candidates should begin their speeches and promises with a plan for public safety. Business and increased economic development will be better developed once public safety is addressed.

Jarvis Williams
Kayenta, Ariz.

Editor’s note: This letter and the identity of its writer were verified by calling the phone number included with the letter. Our policy is to include all opinions and views of our readership as long as they do not make unverifiable charges or lie about others.

The Navajo Times is a for-profit corporation of the Navajo Nation and operates separately from the Navajo government. We are owned by the Navajo people. Neither President Jonathan Nez nor the Navajo Nation Council controls the newspaper and its news-gathering activities.

Passing of journalism greats left hole

The passing of Tim Giago and Bill Donovan has left a hole in the heart of American journalism. It was such a pleasure to read either of them. Thank you, gentlemen, and rest in peace.

When the New Mexico Pueblos were hammering out compacts with the state to legalize gaming, Pojoaque Governor Jake Viareal would threaten a strangle-hold roadblock on access to the capitol and Los Alamos Lab anytime the state pushed too hard. New Mexico would always back off and play nice again.

At the time, Giago was terrified of what these compacts might mean for future tribal sovereignty.

“We deal with the queen and other sovereigns, not their lackeys…” was his motto.

I figured granny would get tired of frittering away her Social Security check and we’d collectively come to our senses. Was I wrong! And I hope Tim was, too.

Bill Donovan’s “50 Years Ago” columns, deftly edited, would make for fascinating history. With its 20-20 hindsight and old man wisdom, it was a highlight of the “Navajo Times.”

He’s already sorely missed, but you are a mob of rising stars, sailing in the slipstream of giants’ wings. I particularly enjoy Mr. Quintero’s photographs.

PS: Mr. Beyal, I heard you awhile back on “Native America Calling” — very good showing — and I appreciate you having the huevos to call ‘em as you see ‘em, editorially speaking.

Mike Burke
Albuquerque, N.M.

Trail-riding group not affiliated with political issues

In the Navajo Times edition, dated July 28, 2022, there was an article covering the “Bears Ears Summer Gathering” at the Bears Ears Meadows in the Manti-La Sal National Forest in Utah. There was mention of the “Dusty Trailriders” in this article along with pictures and captions.

This trail-riding group was established in 1998 with a goal that focused on sound principles of providing wholesome family fun and entertainment. For this reason, it has been established that the Dusty Trailriders will not participate in any type of political or coalition issues.

In short, the Dusty Trailriders did not participate in this event. I realize that it may be difficult to differentiate among the different groups, which are represented in events such as this summer gathering.

If gatherings are focused on anything political, please know that the Dusty Trailriders are not involved; neither can members of our riding crew speak on behalf of this group.

I thank you for your cooperation in this matter and assume you will notify the proper department of my request to withhold using the name “Dusty Trailriders” in articles regarding a political stance.

If you have questions, please do not hesitate contacting me at my postal address (P.O. Box 7458, Shonto, AZ 86054) or phone number (928-401-8746).

Jimmie K. Black
Shonto, Ariz.


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