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Letters: Entire rez is an essential community

Based on my observation, the CARES Act should be used to help with food and essentials for people living on the reservation. We only have a few grocery stores and most are limited in inventory. It appears to me that the entire reservation is an essential community therefore it is still busy as people are buying necessities. The lines at the fast-food restaurants are very long and dollar stores have empty shelves. In addition, border towns are limiting access for Navajos to shop for food and other essentials so we need to develop our reservation.

We should re-evaluate and streamline our business development procedures so we can get Super Walmart, Safeway, Target and Starbucks to come to the reservation. We need to find ways to be self-sufficient and quit spending our money at border towns.

The border towns have underlying racism and discrimination, as evidenced by their recent actions. Make this happen quickly and show them we don’t need them, please. The Navajo Nation needs to move forward and quit coming up with excuses and throwing money into the general fund. Be specific and get it done.

If the federal government can waive regulations, why can’t we do the same to develop franchises quickly or other options based on public opinion and experts?

The CARES Act should also be used to help those who wander the streets. The drug addicts and alcoholics are pitiful as many are not welcomed at home and they have no choice but to wander. We need to get them help, many are stuck without options and we need to reach them.

We should develop programs to help them overcome their addictions. Maybe give them a temporary home during the pandemic then put them in recovery programs. We should also have a place for those that are COVID positive to stay. Many are still driving around or at home infecting others. Someone needs to help care for affected families since many of them are alone and dying at home.

I don’t think their deaths are reported in the official reports. I hear many people calling the police when they are very sick and have to be rushed to the hospital.

Why we are sending them home when they will infect others at home? It just doesn’t make sense how the reservation hospitals are taking care of our people.

I’m not sure if CHRs are checking in on them. Why not give every family some money? There are some tribes giving $500. Why not? We read about people stealing money from the tribe all the time. Why not help all of the members so they can have money for their bills? There is nothing wrong with giving money unless tribal politicians want it for themselves, like usual. The federal government gave us the money so follow their advice.

Thanks for reading my comments and I pray we will only get stronger together.

Marisa Greeson
Tuba City, Ariz.

Shift of U.S. like a bad dream

The paradigm shift of the United States within the last three years has been surreal, like a bad dream. The political maneuvers through hastily authored self-serving policies and hatred-driven agenda of the current administration of the dominant society has been a mockery and desecration of justice, civility, equality, and human decency.

The president’s disturbing influence and vile encouragements to his enablers and supporters further inflamed and altered the practices of prejudice, deception, recklessness, immorality, and criminality into normalcy.

When questioned, his response has always been with denials, temper tantrums, accusations, retaliations, and self-praises. Then on the third month of 2020, the unknown equation of our future became known when we found ourselves on a head-on collision course with a deadly viral pandemic. The rest is history. This paradigm shift is ongoing, but now, at the helm is COVID-19. And as whistleblowers await their hero status, the breakout of this pandemic is of no coincidence.

This COVID-19 does not care about written laws, rules, rights, freedoms, or political affiliations. It is parasitic. It does what it does. The logical explanation seems to be that it is no accident when humans recklessly intrude and tinker with various virus kingdoms — a prelude to an abomination, a deadly curse. Surely, nature has established delicate veils and barriers around domains of such viruses for a reason.

If there is breach to the virus’ boundary, the barrier that separates them from us, then devastation flows. Would this pandemic be circumstantial evidence, where an alleged runaway deadly microscopic parasitic virus now roams without restraint to disrupt and cease our convenient ways of life?

Throughout history we have experienced similar human suffering, yet as a species when will we realize this could be our self-inflictions? Examples: Nuclear power plant disasters, uranium exposures, toxic air and waste pollutions, plagues from hantavirus, swine flu, and swarmed insects, deforestations, melting of polar ice caps, and erratic weather conditions to name a few.

Instead of meddling and attempting to possibly weaponize viruses, perhaps we could instead pursue our advance research in magnetism, hydroelectric, windmills, and geo-thermal as resolves to our future clean power sources.

This COVID-19 pandemic will cripple bodily functions, even death, if we do not heed to the advices and precautions from our medical, health, and law enforcement officials. It also has revealed to the outside world of how the federal government continues to practice racism through their neglect and abandonment of the indigenous people, without regard to their treaty obligations, especially during such crisis.

However, in recent news the feds finally complied with their funding to our tribe after our lawsuit. The outside world is now aware of our plight and vulnerabilities and has extended their assistance. And the pandemic has shown our tribal government the priorities in needed infrastructures within our homeland.

These priorities are modern adequate facilities, equipment, supplies for our medical, health, and law enforcement-fire department personnel, local food supply and distribution centers, rapid transport-delivery systems, livestock watering-feeding stations, domestic water supply and electrical systems, reliable communication networks, and includes an accountable plan of operations for an emergency command center with qualified staff.

With the recent federal government funding, it is our hope those in tribal authority consider an investment in aforementioned infrastructures, with intention towards self-reliance, self-sufficiency, and as part of an emergency backup system, if we are to be a true nation.

And always remember to honor, express kindness and appreciation to all our local and distant pandemic-responders in keeping us safe, strong, and encouraging us to survive. Through shared responsibility and participation we need to heal our broken circle of self, family, community, and of life.

Express reverence and kindness towards our world we live on, along with its nature and all living things. Also be mindful, to consider, comfort, and pray for those families who lost dear ones to this plague.

Even after the darkness gives way to the light of a new dawn, keep hope alive, as we proceed from our transformational cocoon to offer our emotional prayers of gratitude.

Robert L. Hosteen
Beclabito, N.M.

‘Unconscionable’ to move forward with Chaco plans

I am sharing a response to the non-extension and virtual hearing for the RMPA/EIS public comment period for additional oil and gas development in the northwestern part of the San Juan Basin. It’s unconscionable that Interior Secretary Bernhardt is moving forward with a management plan to lease the remaining 7 percent of lands in the Greater Chaco region for more fracking when those most impacted can’t effectively engage.

The Navajo Nation has been hit hard by confirmed cases of coronavirus. Per capita, it’s just behind New York and New Jersey. In New Mexico, over 1,000 members of the Navajo Nation have been affected.

At a time when people are focused on keeping their families safe and dealing with other issues compounded by the crisis, the Bureau of Land Management’s Farmington Field Office and Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Navajo regional office are holding “virtual meetings” before the May 28th deadline to comment on the draft plan.

The coronavirus is a respiratory disease and communities in the Greater Chaco region have been subjected to poor air quality from existing oil and gas development causing pre-existing conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, diabetes, and heart diseases, making these communities particularly vulnerable to the devastating effects of Coronavirus.

Many residents in the region live in heavily developed oil and gas areas, and many live within a mile of one or more oil and gas wells, pipelines, or other infrastructure. If adopted, the amended plan would allow between 2,354 to 3,101 new oil and gas wells in the region further exposing residents to more health impacts.

Moving forward with the planning process is disgraceful and callous. This is just another example of broken promises by the federal government to honor their tribal trust and treaty obligations — and a prime example of environmental racism.

Wendy Atcitty
Farmington, N.M.

Remember the code talkers

Upon remembrance of the recent anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE-Day), I wanted to take a moment to express my heartfelt gratitude to the Navajo Code Talkers who served bravely and with great dedication and distinction in both world wars and in both the European and Pacific theaters.

May we never forget their sacrifice, contribution and service to our great nation.

Lee Jarvis
Lakeland, Fla.

COVID-19 behind prison fences

To families and the general public, with family members in the federal or state prison system, check on your loved ones. They are treating us badly in Lompoc, California.

“They” meaning correctional officers. Lompoc Correctional Institution is a complex with more than one facility and two camps. There are currently more than 110 positive cases of COVID-19 here (80 inmates, 30 staff).

This is 29 percent of all cases for the local area, Santa Barbara County. Lompoc’s first community-reported COVID-19 case was March 26. We are all confined behind locked doors, gates, and many different fences. The only way for the virus to have infected us is through staff. On March 8, visitation was suspended “until further notice.”

On March 30, the facilities reported their first COVID-19 case. We had zero cases at the low facility in March, but many cases at the medium, and two at the camps.

On April 16, our communication with the outside through communal phones and email was suspended “until further notice.” Commissary was also suspended at this time, and our facility was placed on lockdown “until further notice.”

“Social distancing” is impractical in already confined and crowded spaces where bunks are only three and four feet apart. This infection outbreak is all due to the mismanagement of this place and, further, due to the failure in following its own guidelines, this virus has spread.

Staff who were working at the medium facility were brought to the low facility, and now we have many cases of COVID-19 running like wildfire. At least one inmate has died and with numerous elderly inmates here, I’m sure this number will grow by the time this letter reaches the outside.

This should be an eye-opener for many families, the CDC, and health inspectors. I share this because we have many Natives here and other nationalities from all over the world locked away. I understand all the brothers and sisters have done wrong, but we still have rights and families waiting for us to come home one day.

Lonnie Ben
Lompoc, Calif.

Searching for photos of old Fort school

I grew up in Fort Defiance and my father was the superintendent of the Good Shepherd Mission. At that time it was the only orphanage for Navajo children on the reservation.

I have been trying to find photos of the white school in Fort, where I attended. It was a two-room school with husband and wife teachers. When I visited there a few years ago I could not find the building to show my children and grandchildren.

I was in Fort Defiance from about 1933 to 1940. Of course, so much has changed. The two trading posts are gone and the new hospital is now a derelict. I was operated on for appendicitis at the old hospital — a one-story Army barracks building.

The head surgeon was called out in the middle of the surgery to kill a bear that was attacking a hogan. He gave my father the pelt. So many memories. My father used to hold Easter sunrise services at the Window Rock. He had a bugler climb up into the window and when the first rays of sun hit he blew a tune and the service started. I do have some photos of that.

Can you help me? My email address is helmsj@aol.com. Thank you.

James R. Helms Jr.
Arcadia, Calif.


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