Letters: Failure to discuss alcohol bill disconcerting

On June 17, 2019, the Law and Order Committee of the 24th Navajo Nation Council met in Window Rock, to hear reports and discuss “new business” per an agenda that also included upcoming meetings, travel (to Washington, D.C.) and their meetings for the month of July.

As I am one to follow the proceedings of the Navajo Nation (and other governmental entities) that impact our Navajo people, adequately research legislation, attend the meetings required, participate and comment if the meeting(s) are open to the public, I felt compelled to attend the aforementioned LOC meeting wherein Legislation No. 0116-19: “An Action Relating to Law and Order; Amending Regulations and Standards of Conduct for All Elected Officials By Including Restrictions Against Use of Alcohol While On Travel” was on the committee’s agenda.?

Since a similar Legislation (No. 0115-19) was also entertained on the previous Friday, June 14, and was passed by the LOC, I was certain that this bill would be approved as well.

Unfortunately, this was not the case. Instead, the members abruptly decided they would not even motion to open the discussion for consideration and moved on to the next legislation on the agenda.

Both aforementioned legislations were introduced to the LOC by Navajo Nation Council Delegate Edmund Yazzie. The LOC consists of Chair Eugenia Charles-Newton, Vince R. James, Eugene Tso and Otto Tso.

Apparently, there was already a consensus to not bring this bill to the floor for discussion or, more importantly, for public participation and comment. As it is, the Navajo Nation Council public comment period is only five days, which is not enough time for public review or dissemination for our consideration. This has to change. It would be far more inclusive for the public to have this comment period extended to 30 days, a reasonable amount of time for said public participation.???

If this does not concern them, it should be of interest to you, the Navajo people, as we have seen the results of (non)elected tribal members who go on travel and forget they represent us at all times and partake of alcoholic beverages and forget their place as our representatives.

I recall the tragic incident with the former Navajo Nation president’s daughter and the tragedy of “Karisgate” when she destroyed a tribal vehicle and was fortunate that no one was killed or injured. And the pornographic display of a Navajo Nation Council delegate who put his private parts on Facebook and still serves on this Council. Or the Navajo Nation Council delegate who was in a local newspaper because of a domestic violence incident and was found to be absolutely intoxicated in his hotel room.

How is it that these lawmakers failed to address one of the most critical issues of our Nation without one word of discussion?

For any future Navajo Nation Council committee meeting regarding the public’s safety and well-being, they should be conducted on or near the Navajo Reservation so we can participate. It is our government and we should have a part in the process of participation.

Mervyn Tilden
Church Rock, N.M.

Rest in peace, senator

“Everyone respected him” is a perfect fit in describing the late John Pinto, state senator of New Mexico for more than four decades. He was my cheii and colleague when he was working with the transportation department in the early 1990s.

I was deeply saddened to hear about his passing on May 24, 2019, via KOAT television evening news. I would like to extend my condolences to his family and loved ones. Remembering him in the positive ways will bring you healing.

I tried to get the Navajo Nation Council to recognize and honor him for his dedication and devotion to his constituents of the Navajo Nation and the district he represented.

On July 12, 2015, I even wrote a column to the Navajo Times urging the tribal Council to officially recognize and honor him, but it fell on deaf ears of the Council members. They didn’t seem to care at all.

Instead, at the end of 2015 some good-hearted Hispanic legislators from New Mexico honored him for his untiring and hard work. They demonstrated how well they respected him. Why our own tribal Council did not see his accomplishments is a total mystery. Shame on them.

He was a very humble man, action-oriented, polite and outgoing. He also had foresight, was an educator, achiever, and a champion in securing funding for education, capital outlay projects, and the veterans statewide. The most visible accomplishment is the construction of U.S. Highway 491 from Gallup to Shiprock.

As an elected official he had a super-clean record while serving as a state senator when others fall short of their goal and commit some degree of crime. There are very few good, honest and committed people and the late senator was one of them.

The late senator was a humorous person and some people teased him about how he managed to get re-elected every time and he would say “It’s a secret” with a laugh. He hardly ever campaigned and still got re-elected. His record spoke for itself.

He was a loving husband, the best dad and the greatest grandpa. The legacy he left behind will be cherished and treasured for many years to come.

We will miss him dearly. He departed from this world for another called Heaven where there is beauty and harmony all around.
Rest In peace, senator.

Vern Charleston
Farmington, N.M.

Kudos for wrestling coverage

As a former wrestling coach of 32 years, it was outstanding to read the three articles last Thursday about wrestling: the Border Wars Wrestling Folkstyle Challenge Tournament, the Sheep Camp wrestling team and Window Rock’s wrestling coach Marc Hillis for putting on wrestling camps and tournament for our wrestlers who need mat time during the summer.

Wrestling is a great and wonderful sport!

Marty Conrad
Fort Defiance, Ariz.

Honor Run was spiritual awakening

On May 23, it was cold as dark clouds moved in from the southwest and threatened us with heavy rain. In the early hours of morning, we all stood around while a few singers sang a blessing song led by Mr. Ramone Yazzie Sr.

Then brother Larry Anderson Sr. feathered off a bike, then proceeded to bless each rider. The president of the Navajo Nation, Jonathan Nez, was also in attendance to encourage and wish us well.

Each rider had their own personal reasons for joining this year’s Navajo-Hopi Honor Ride. A few I imagined to honor a brother, sister or a grandfather who served in the military. Some to fellowship with other veterans about participating in past deployments. Still others, to feel the wind in their face or for the pure pleasure of riding with a group.

As for me, I took this trip for the experience. Little did I know, this was actually a spiritual journey.

As we rolled out of Window Rock, the likelihood of showers increased. I believe we had about 30 riders who were committed to riding for four days.

When we rolled into Ganado Chapter House, my hands were literally frozen because the rain and sleet had soaked my leather gloves into a useless icy mitten. It took a cup of hot coffee to warm my hands to where I could once again feel.

At this point, I felt like turning around and going home, but didn’t. Looking back now I realize the Air-Spirit People were in fact blessing each rider with their divine water droplets that morning.

Later on that day, we pulled up on the roadside at Beeshbito, Arizona, where a Gold Star Mother was honored. This was followed by a beautiful song and afterwards we were pounding the pavement again riding in a staggered formation.

I can see at the most six to seven motorcycles in front. In my rear-view mirror maybe three riders. In this pack, I felt humbled to be among this group of dedicated bikers.

Our next stop was at the Hopi Veterans Memorial Park, then on to Bird Springs Chapter. At these stops, after a brief ceremony, our host fed all the bikers.

Like before, after a few speeches and while loading up on some refreshments I suddenly heard, “Riders, five minutes.” This meant all riders start preparing to roll out.

Now the weather was a little more cooperative. Thus our road guards would have an easier task controlling the oncoming traffic and riders drifting apart.

Our last stop for this day was in Flagstaff. We slowly rolled into this city in a staggered pattern and as we got closer to the Piestewa home, a single column of bikers formed.

After parking our bikes, all of the riders got together in front of a beautiful home. The Piestewa family greeted us and after a beautiful song, someone said, “Look.”

We all turned around in time to see a magnificent bald eagle soaring in the sky. I saw a few tears and heard others say, “It’s a blessing.”

We were then all invited indoors. Inside a spacious living and dining room the riders all relaxed. Again our leader, Bobby Martin, reminded us that this ride is and will always be for the Gold Star Mothers.

After these inspiring words, an individual was given an opportunity to speak. This person looked shy, stoic and almost reluctant to speak. But after a few minutes he gathered his thoughts and slowly began.

“I recall one day a group of Rangers and Navy SEALs were tasked with a special mission,” he said. “It so happens I was among them that day.

“When we reached our target a few of us were led to a nearby soccer field. We then proceeded as best as we could to recover the remains of Lori Piestewa. Some even using their hands. Although difficult, the group accomplished this vital task.”

From across the room, I could see after all these years it’s still painful for the individual to talk about what had to be done.

I stood there in awe trying to process his terrible burden. After a while I concluded what a courageous individual this person was for stepping forward and sharing his experiences with the Piestewa family and riders. I now appreciate the phrase, “Leave no one behind.”

I also took away something that day, which was the meaning of honor. Personally, honor is paying homage to an individual with respect. It’s rare that we sometimes come full circle in our daily struggles to find inner peace. That day we all grew closer as fellow riders and Gold Star families from this person’s heroic feat.

I finished out the four-day bike run and among new acquaintances learned a great deal of praying together as a family was therapeutic. Also healing and shedding a tear together rejuvenated the soul by sharing stories.

But most of all, acknowledging the mission of the Navajo-Hopi Honor Riders is to bring dignity and recognition to local Gold Star Mothers.

From this entire endeavor, the highlight of my spiritual journey will always focus on Spc. Lori Piestewa, the first Native American female soldier to die in combat.

However, I shall always remember the gracious hospitality shown by the Piestewa family towards a group of modest bike riders.

Leslie Curley
Vanderwagen, N.M.

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