Monday, June 5, 2023

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Letters: Foreign workers causing problems

The unlawful hemp cultivation in Shiprock has brought an onslaught of foreigners working in hemp greenhouses. These people are of Asian descent who do not speak English, but converse among themselves in their language. Many of them appear in the public places more often than before. It appears the reason is that more and more of these people have come to live in Shiprock, making local citizens uneasy and leery.

The Navajo citizens are dismayed, but also fearful not knowing what to do when confronted by these people. The numerous foreigners in Shiprock are all due to Dineh Benally. He has unlawfully sub-leased farmlands and placed these foreigners to run the hemp farming.

These foreigners work all hours, especially during nighttime when they work the fields of what was once privately owned farmlands. Many of these workers have taken control and possession of the farmlands. They not only build greenhouses, but they control irrigation water leaving other private farms with not receiving their adequate share of irrigation water.

In addition, many of these foreigners have set up camps where they have created piles of trash that they left sitting there, never disposing of them properly. Many have disposed their bodily waste into the San Juan River without knowledge of any public official who enforces Navajo environmental laws, including proper disposition of human waste.

Many of them are not friendly, but are of combative nature. Some Shiprock citizens have confronted them about their behavior and their disrespect to Navajo citizens, and often they become belligerent and combative. They have presented fear in which they have the potential to bring violence by producing guns and other weapons they have.

Some witnesses report these people not only carry guns, but also what appear to be grenades. They also have capability to detonate weapons of mass destruction or even deploy weapons of biological warfare.

This is not what our lives should be in Shiprock, where we have once enjoyed peace, quiet, and camaraderie of ke’ relations. Who are these foreigners and where do they come from? Who invited them to Shiprock? If they are foreigners, how did they enter the United States? Do they possess passports? Does the U.S. Homeland Security have records of them?

These are many questions to which answers should rightfully be made to the Shiprock citizens. Do these foreigners have criminal records, involved in drug trade and perhaps involved in human trafficking? They could be potential terrorists. Who in the Navajo government is in charge with accountability of such matters?

For the time being, it appears there is no department/agency within the Navajo Nation government to account for such people. Again, we citizens of Shiprock raise questions about our local chapter leaders and our Council delegate. When will they act on our behalf in these times of such appearance of foreigners on our land?

It appears that our leaders are either afraid or do not know how to address these issues deriving from the illegal hemp growth. How does our Navajo Nation government account for them? Such situation and questions that arises with it brings home that we need our own version of Navajo Homeland Security. In these times of uncertainty, our Navajo land could become a safe haven for drug trade, gangs of other nationalities and countries, and some of these people may have an untold criminal records, are in the drug trade, and above all, are violent terrorists.

We can reach out to U.S. Homeland Security administration for help, but we know they will say that they cannot interfere in Native government because of tribal sovereignty. The Navajo Nation government can implement our own version of Homeland Security, in partnership with the U.S. Homeland Security administration.

All foreigners can be accounted for and deport those with criminal records and all who are affiliated with gangs and terrorist groups around the world. I hereby challenge our Shiprock Chapter leaders (president, vice president, secretary) and our Council delegate to immediately act by a passage of a chapter resolution to the Navajo Nation Council to remedy our problem with foreigners in our backyard.

Our borders are open with no accountability of who is coming in and going, and what contraband may be transported in. Please help our Shiprock Navajo citizens.

Bea Redfeather
Shiprock, N.M.

Forum neglected hemp’s bad side

This is in response to the Navajo Nation Council’s radio forum on Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020. I heard the honorable councilmen and honorable councilwomen discuss positive economic issues such as revenues, taxes and the Navajo preference laws about hemp farming. But I did not hear the negative social impact of hemp farming, which includes hemp’s atrocious smells that linger day and night in Gadii’ahi, Shiprock and Hogback communities.

I did not hear about the disrespectful foreigners who solicit on a daily basis whose incentives are cash payments for farmlands.

I did not hear about trash littering (plastic, shipment boxes, alcohol containers, half eaten food and used beverage containers) along our roadways in the Northern Agency communities.

I did not hear how these illegal hemp farmers are damaging our cattle guards and roadways without the repercussions. I request the officials to witness firsthand the negative social impact that illegal hemp farms have imported into the Northern Agency.

The Navajo Nation legislative, executive and judicial branches should work towards bringing harmony back to the people, not just working towards covering up for Dineh Benally’s mistakes. Dineh Benally broke the law and he expects the Council to make new laws to cover up for him. In conclusion, the Navajo Nation Council needs to work in the best interest of the people, not just the best interest of Dineh Benally’s personal goal.

Michael J. Roy
Gadii’ahi, N.M.

No confidence in Charles-Newton

I have been having a back and forth with Delegate Eugenia Charles-Newton for a couple of days now on her participation on the negotiation subcommittee for the completion of the Navajo Nation Indian Irrigation Project on the proposed Council agenda for Sept. 5.

I listened to most of the meeting and realized the reports were very important to the Northern Navajo Agency. The San Juan Chama Diversion Project and our NIIP/NAPI were planned to provide much-needed water for our irrigation and water for Albuquerque.

The project has been completed and yet areas 10 and 11 have not. The agreement was that it would be a trade. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation owes us the completion of NIIP and NAPI. All of this was in the report on Saturday, crucial information for the Shiprock area, Hogback and Ghadii’ahi.

There are millions of dollars owed us for this. Our water lawyers just give our water away and don’t really help us — it seems their palms are greased by the other side. A maintenance outfit that was working on NIIP/NAPI for the Bureau of Reclamation canceled their contract and will now be working on getting water to Gallup.

This meeting offered all kinds of ways to ask questions and to demand answers from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the BOR. Another report was about the industrial hemp and water usage.

This is a huge concern of us northern residents dealing with the hemp problem. The researcher reported that he had to have a federal background check, drug tests and a myriad of application processes completed.

He reported the amount of water hemp requires and I was expecting Charles-Newton to know this. He also stated that hemp does not emit a strong smell, but the greenhouse areas have a pungent marijuana odor that bothers neighbors.

Did Dineh Benally go through a federal background check investigation? Did he file an application process with the USDA? Are his plants being randomly tested for the minimum amount of THC in the oils? Is he destroying hemp that exceeds the THC amount? These are the kinds of questions our Council delegate should have been asking.

I listened to the comments made by the other delegates on the phone conference and they seemed very surprised at all this information. At the end of the meeting, the delegates were asked one by one about their acceptance of the report, red or green.

Charles-Newton’s name was called four times, twice at the beginning and twice at the end of the roll call. She never answered. I asked her why and was attacked. She told me she would “pray for me.”

That is spiritual abuse and I as an elderly understand that. I have no confidence in her to do a good job.

Barbara J. Morgan
Shiprock, N.M.

Code Talker beer dishonors veterans

I write with a concern over the recently released Code Talker American Pale Ale that supposedly honors the Navajo Code Talkers. In my research, and observation, it is clear that the product is a legal infringement and is subject to a legal lawsuit.

The name Navajo Code Talkers is a copyright of the Navajo Code Talkers Association as of 2001. I have read some of the expressed multiple concerns by Navajo tribal members.

Although the makers and owner, LT Goodluck, declare that is an effort to educate the public and honor the World War II Navajo veterans who are directly associated with the world-famous Navajo Code Talkers, the business, only after producing the alcoholic beverage, is considering donating some of its profit.

If you look closely at the photo of the product, you will see veteran John V. Goodluck is wearing the red hat closely associated with code talker members and features the word Navajo Code Talkers.

This is clearly a legal infringement upon the copyright and further, it would appear that there was little to no consultation with the copyright holders and any legal agreement for its use.

Frankly, this ill-contrived effort to honor tribal veterans who hold a great place in U.S. history hits a personal sore spot. My late father was a World War II veteran who left his homeland from the Klagetoh area and deployed to Germany. He was honorably discharged, a good husband, father, and provider with 22 years in the mining industry. However, he became an alcoholic and eventually passed on with diabetic complications.

It is understood that the intentions were honorable by the grandson of Navajo Code Talker Goodluck, however, there are many other alternatives and considerations to educate the public having utilized the legal process with expressed approval by the world-renowned organization. In short, this is a case of after-the-fact ignorance, which is all too common in our society.

Isaac Curley
Tempe, Ariz.

Comparing hemp and peyote

Might as well throw a monkey wrench into this issue. Has everyone forgotten the history of peyote? It used to be illegal on the reservation until recently. Now it is a sacred medicine used in ceremonies and has healing power, according to the beliefs.

Don’t know much about hemp. It is a derivative of marijuana, which is legal in several states and recognized as a medicinal remedy for pain, cancer and mental health problems.

The world is changing and no one can stop it. Adapting to the situation is all that can be done. Changing our perception of hemp is also a way of dealing with this. Educating ourselves is important. It may not be as harmful as we think. In our culture, our knowledge of marijuana is limited to the white man’s definition that it is a drug that is illegally transported from South America or Mexico.

If we were to ask a Native from those areas, I think we would get a different perspective. Just as we would if asked about peyote because it is seen as a drug by the white man’s culture, rather than a “medicine.”

Fortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court has legalized the use of peyote for religious purposes in 1974. It is still illegal for non-Natives or those without membership cards. There are risks whenever there is a controversial issue. We have to be mindful of those risks.

Sharon Manuelito
Window Rock, Ariz.

KC team’s turn to replace its name

Why not go out on top as National Football League champions, Kansas City? Keep it classy by chucking the “Chiefs” moniker and start the new football season with a brand new name. Native American team mascots are a thing of the past, whether most right-wing racist reactionaries realize it or not. It’s 2020 already. It’s not 1950, fools.

In case you never noticed, sports teams are usually named after wild, ferocious animals. However, many conservatives continue to justify blatant bigotry by falsely claiming the naming of sports teams after Native Americans is some sort of honor that Native Americans should be appreciative of. Honor? Seriously!

Don’t even get me started on the lack of honor and humanity that led to several centuries of unjustifiable, unimaginable genocide against Native Americans by European invaders who saw Native Americans as nothing more than wild, ferocious animals in the way of empire. So keep your fake outrage to yourselves, clueless conservatives, because no one cares about your crying and complaining.

This will be the final season for the “Chiefs” because next year Kansas City’s NFL franchise will henceforth be known as one of these following 10 names. Pick one: K.C. Kansas City Cheetahs, Kansas City Cheaters, Kansas City Chihuahuas, Kansas City Chinchillas, Kansas City Chickens, Kansas City Chupacabras, Kansas City Chewbaccas, Kansas City Cobras, Kansas City Kraken, or Kansas City Klingons.

Jacob Pickering
Arcata, Calif.

Condolences to Chee’s family

I saw on the internet where this young man, Carlton L. Chee, died while in military service. My tears and feelings go out to his family. I wish to say thank you, young man, for protecting my family and me. Excuse me for bothering you, the editor, but I knew no other way to try and express this to the family. God bless.

Vaughn Elliott
Murphy, N.C.


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