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Letters: Dismissal of Deschene appeal is wrong

Letters: Dismissal of Deschene appeal is wrong

Ya’at’teeh from Totah. I would like to comment on the ongoing chaos caused by the Navajo Nation Supreme Court in dismissing the appeal by presidential hopeful Chris Deschene.

The dismissal is one-sided in favor of Dale E. Tsosie and Hank Whitethorne, the two unsuccessful candidates in the primary election.

First, I must say I can’t speak the Navajo language because I don’t know what it is but I can speak my native Diné bizaad fluently as the great Creator blessed me with. I know Navajo is a thief and I hope not to get there.

The dismissal is outright wrong and it’s causing a devastating impact to more than 50,000 registered voters on Diné Nation. It tells us there is a justice for only few like the two unsuccessful candidates and their supporters.

In reality the dismissal tells us voting citizens as Diné our vote of at least 10,000 during the primary election does not count. Further, it tells the young people they wasted their time getting educated to take charge of the tribal government regardless of their education levels. The most heartbreaking part is it tells our veterans they are the least important and do not deserve respect and recognition.

Chris Deschene is proven to be all of the aforementioned. He is young, highly educated and a veteran in the high ranks. Isn’t that our philosophy as the Diné elders in teaching our children? He is a high caliber person with a vision to lead us into the future.

It was as easy as one, two, three for the Supreme Court to tell Mr. Tsosie and Mr. Whitethorne they failed to meet the 10-day filing period for grievance and dismiss their appeals. It would have prevented the current chaos instead of referring the appeals back to the hearing officer.

We need to replace the current justices with other qualified individuals that will make impartial decisions. The pay-to-play politics demonstrated by the justices is over and unacceptable. It’s time to make these positions elected positions inclusive of the attorney general and I would like to urge the new tribal Council members to consider it and place it on a referendum.

Presently, I feel Mr. Tsosie and Mr. Whitethorne are feeling the agony of defeat way too much. They need to forgive and forget so the general election can go forward. I urge them to be a good sport.

In conclusion, I would say another candidate like Russell Begaye should not be allowed to run because he does not seem to respect the tribal sovereignty by trying to sue the tribal government in the gas and oil matter. Neither should the fourth runner-up because of his criminal record.

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to express my views and opinions on this ongoing chaos.

Vern Charleston

Farmington, N.M.

Fluency should be applied to all candidates

I am currently a master’s degree student at Arizona State University studying curriculum and instruction in education. I can admit I am not a fluent Navajo speaker, but I can speak basic Navajo, read and write Navajo, and I can understand a Navajo conversation.

I can also recite a 12-verse Blessing Way prayer, which I learned from my dad. Now, I am learning a Diné traditional sacred mountain Blessing Way song Ð Hozhooji Dzil Biyiin. I am confident that in time, I will have a good command of the Diné language.

I am also aware that the Navajo Nation has never had a young well-educated candidate, who is an attorney (juris doctorate), an engineer, a former U.S. Marine Corps officer, and a former Arizona state legislator. What more can you ask of a candidate for Navajo Nation president who is highly qualified

Personally, I feel that Chris Deschene is a role model who is setting an example for our younger people. I believe that he will make a great innovative leader for our people if he were given the opportunity.

— From a historical standpoint, the Navajo Nation had plenty of time to make this qualifying fluency condition a requirement. Shouldn’t this have taken place before the election and applied to all political candidates? In that sense, are young non-fluent Navajo speaking people limited to what opportunities the tribal government can offer them

It is constantly stressed to the younger generation that they are our future leaders, educators and role models …

In this regard, I am learning both educational venues of thought, Western and Diné. With that said, more than anything we should be encouraging and motivating the younger generation to carry on what they will leave behind for younger generations yet to come.

— Now you have just posed a serious challenge to the young people by limiting what they can accomplish. I personally find it insulting to the younger generation to go off an implied fundamental law that is politically motivated.

— Who are we to measure and judge the qualifications and capabilities of young Navajo people who are educated and who are trying to relearn the wisdom and knowledge of our traditional life-ways in which Diné language is vital and integral part thereof

— Another moot point: How many Council delegates, tribal attorneys, tribal judges, tribal division heads, and tribal employees speak fluent Navajo

— At the end of the day, we are all human, no one is above or greater than the other. According to the Diné way of life, we are all equal beings who dwell as children of Mother Earth and Father Sky. We should all be dwelling amongst each other in peace, stability and humbleness.

In reality, the younger generation are the ones who will continue to carry on the torch in the context of who we are and where we come from and after all, we are your future. The younger generation should be treated with dignity, equality and respect.

Sharon Lee

Lukachukai, Ariz.

Climb Manuelito’s ladder — is a big lie

As a young individual living here on the Navajo Nation, I, for one, have always been told, “Get an education, leave the reservation, make something of yourself, but come home and help your people.”

Lately, that has become a big lie. I am referring to the whole Deschene situation. As a young person I can see that these individuals who are arguing this complaint are simply fearing that we, the younger generation, are finally starting to realize what’s going on around us and that we are ready to take charge and clean house, so to speak.

Many of our past and present leaders have fallen prey to greed, corruption and deceit, but lately it has become apparent that our own leaders who speak about the youth becoming the future leaders of our people, they resort to a form of bigotry to make the younger generation question themselves about who they really are.

It’s one thing to tell the youth to climb Manuelito’s ladder, then simply give the impression that these achievements we grasp for are meaningless. So why would you tell us one thing and one day go back around and question our validity of being a Diné individual

— Why are several individuals hassling one of our children who has done just that. He has gotten an education, he has bettered himself with the military, yet we are blinded by our own selfish needs and tricked into believing our government “works” for us.

I am sure Joe Shirley Jr. has not achieved this high honor of being in the armed forces yet here Mr. Deschene is a veteran who has come to lead his people. I believe this qualifies him for this position —

Mr. Deschene deserves to lead his people, he is a veteran, which we as a nation, honor and respect with pride, and he is a lawyer who has the ability to find the wrongs done to our nation, without having to go to an outside party to assist with a problem.

Lastly, every elder on this reservation prays to our divine beings every morning and asks for the betterment of their children/grandchildren, yet they are siding with these individuals who lodged these complaints. This is very wrong.

I believe if we as a nation ask our holy people these requests and turn back around and deny our children the chance to better their people then I quite simply have to say that K’e is being thrown off balance.

This is not how I was raised to be a Diné. I was always told, “You are born Diné, be proud of who you are.”

Am I going to be questioned about my status as a Diné just because I can’t “fluently” communicate with my grandparents? I think not, because being fluent is another way of demeaning our youth into believing they are not Navajo themselves.

Jay Ross Slivers

Lukachukai, Ariz.

Deschene meets all qualifications

So let’s take a look at (the Chris Deschene issue).

Qualifications for President and Vice President are:
1. Must be a registered voter, a member of the Navajo Nation, and be on the agency census roll of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Check, check and check.

2. Must be at least 30 years of age at the time of general election. Check.

3. Must fluently speak and understand Navajo and read and write English. OK, a little rusty here, but what defines “fluent.” But wait, the other vice presidential candidate is hardly “fluent” either, let’s not forget his first speech. No comment there. Next.

4. Must not have been convicted of a felony within the last five years. Definitely check.

5. Must not have been convicted of any misdemeanor involving crimes of deceit, untruthfulness and dishonesty, including, but not limited to extortion, embezzlement, bribery, perjury, forgery, fraud, misrepresentation, false pretense, theft, conversion, or misuse of Navajo Nation funds and property, and crimes involving the welfare of children, child abuse, child neglect, aggravated assault and aggravated battery within the last five years.

— OK, maybe not all of them but 95 percent of the aforementioned above applies to the current Council delegates and the other presidential candidate …

6. Must have unswerving loyalty to the Navajo Nation and must be competent and capable of upholding the oath of office — Moving on.

7. Candidates elected, who are employed by the Navajo Nation, must resign from such employment before taking the oath of office and shall not be employed by the Navajo Nation during their term of office. No problem here.

8. Must not have been indicted by a federal grand jury at the time of filing of the candidate application. Any candidate for the Office of the President or Vice President who is indicted by a federal grand jury subsequent to the filing of the candidate application shall be disqualified. Check. Next.

9. Must not if elected, be in the permanent employment of the United States or any state or subdivision thereof; nor be an elected official of the United States or any state or subdivision thereof. No issues here either.

10. The Navajo Nation president or the Navajo Nation vice president shall serve no more than two consecutive terms. Chris hasn’t served any term so this does not apply. Next.

11. If elected, shall maintain qualifications stated herein throughout their term of office. I don’t see this as an issue at all — Is this what our current and future crop of educated Navajos face when they decide to come home and look for meaningful employment

Are they going to come back to being told they are not Navajo enough? It seems like a catch 22. Either you need to be an employed lifer with the tribe or be related to a delegate. Because from my experience, that’s what the going trend is —
Chris, carry on, you got the old guard running scared. Keep challenging that status quo.

Steve Bigman

Phoenix, Ariz.

(Hometown: Kaibeto, Ariz.)

Language is not the primary issue

Attention Navajo people: Language should not be a core factor in our tribal government. Fluency does not equivocate to good leadership regarding places of office on the Navajo Reservation.

The Navajo people need to understand that we need a president who has a strong economic plan that will bring jobs, curtail the “brain drain” and provide resources that will aid the Navajo Nation.

There are numerous problems that cannot be addressed due to this current controversy that is dividing the Navajo Nation. Currently, the Navajo Nation has access to little or no capital, unstable education system, weak outside investment, and no support for individual enterprising Navajos attempting to create businesses on the reservation.

These are only a small portion of the current issues, such as a lack of infrastructure in the Navajo Nation.

Language should not be the determining factor in selection of qualified officials — Fluency should not be the main issue Ð a leader is a person who will advance our nation into the modern world. Language can always be learned. This is what people do not understand. We need a president who will modernize the Navajo Nation. You cannot run a modern society in the 21st century on 20th century values.

Chris Deschene gives us the opportunity that we have been looking for to pull the Navajo people out of the Stone Age and make our nation a modern one. He has a strong economic plan to solve the problems contributing to population loss. Navajo Nation has suffered long enough with crooked politicians that range from tribal Council members embezzling all the way up to Navajo Nation presidents making back alley deals.

You hear the Navajo elders and former leaders state constantly that we want our language to be heard and spoken in 700 years. It is a valid concern, but what they need to understand is that the Navajo Nation will not exist in 700 years unless we as a united people start building a strong economic infrastructure that will last and benefit our children and future generations.

It is time for the Navajo people to stand on their own two feet and the way we will do this is by supporting Chris Deschene for president.

I grew up in Kayenta and went to school at Monument Valley High School. I left the reservation to join the U.S. Marine Corps because of the lack of opportunities available on the reservation.

Despite having found opportunities in urban settings, most Navajos that I have talked to confess that they would love to go back to the reservation and work and live there. I include myself among these statistics. I also want to be able to go home and raise my family within the four sacred mountains.

Please understand, language is not the primary issue for tribal government. The primary issue needs to be a strong economic plan and development goals that will lead us into the 21st century.

Richard Brown

Tucson, Ariz.

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