Sunday, October 1, 2023

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Letters | Fort Wingate name needs to be changed

Fort Wingate name needs to be changed

It is going to take a United States Congressional Act of Congress to change the course of a black era in Navajo history.

The first Native American athletic star competed in track and field at the top. Mr. Jim Thorpe had to fight to obtain after his death his proven hard-earned Olympic gold medals. His support of family, friends, and a strong supportive global petition drive was beneficial and successful.

I was very happy to sign his petition, a petition drive to approve a formal request of a federal name change for every existing former military encampment facility near or on the Navajo Nation starting with Fort Wingate Army Depot (I-40) and all other derogatory historical names. We never had a choice.

Our current Buu Nygren administration has a unique opportunity to pay thousands of the Navajo people’s money for a referendum. The representation and reflection of a name is very critical to promote resiliency for our youth. A positive, beautiful, and strong identity of an individual or a people moving forward is important.

My honored Diné name is “Glennabah.” I am a pro-active Navajo female minority registered voter. It is my choice to be a resident of Church Rock, New Mexico. I love and firmly believe in my rich beautiful Diné heritage and culture with honor, dignity, respect, and integrity. I dedicate my life to the true legacy of Navajo freedom to my precious ancestors – the Diné Long Walk descendants. It is their lives I volunteer and I have always taught to grow and embrace a healthy holistic lifestyle each day (emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually).

I can hear clearly and softly my beautiful grandmother as we traveled the grandeur of Montana and South Dakota for safety the Navajo Mountain song. She taught at Crystal Boarding School and taught me to read and write from her Navajo Bible. I speak and practice my Diné language on a daily basis — Yá’át’ééh Abíní (good morning), the utmost importance of our Diné clanship spoken by my elders.

I hear Navajo cowboys express gratitude Ahéhee’ (thank you). A mother’s love in Navajo Shí Awéé’ (my baby). Navajo chapter leaders with Navajo humor tease with Da’Se en’ (all rise). Yes, the Diné people are still here.

This dark haunting time of New Mexico history has been cruel to the Navajo people. They have truly suffered at the hands of the U.S. military in 1868. The suffering from exposure, starvation, and sickness took 1,500 Navajo lives. In 1865, 350 Mescalero Apache made their escape and returned to their sacred Sacramento Mountains. One thousand Diné also fled, but 7,000 remained imprisoned and held against their will. I was told by a local historian, a Caucasian man, “But you’re going to change history.” Maybe the Navajo people’s voices don’t want the name changed?
We are the only tribe in the Four Corners area. Our Navajo great-great-great-grandparents were forced to walk. Our fathers, mothers, and children gave their lives to be raped, murdered, and suffered from starvation.

Fort Wingate’s name will always have a negative tragic and traumatizing history and journey to Fort Sumner, Bosque Redondo (Hwéeldi), New Mexico. When I travel across I-40 and read a strong, resilient, beautiful name that inspires a positive, healthy Diné — Bi’ Zill Shash Bi’ Twoo (Navajo Strength Bear Springs). Wow! A grand celebration will ensure for our Navajo youth to sing, dance, and continue to speak Diné and to pay tribute to honor our heroes, the legacy of our famous Navajo Code Talkers.

Upon projected date of Treaty Day, June 1, 2026, a celebration of participation, speakers, gourd session, Four Directions A.I.M. run, and renowned Navajo singer will create a Navajo anthem and finally a U.S. Proclamation of a legal federally recognized name change to Diné Bi’ Zill Shash Bi’ Twoo.

The urgency and finalization of my project is sorely overdue. I have started this Bi’ Zill Shash Bi’ Twoo federal name change four years ago. Due to Covid-19, three of those four years has negatively impacted and hindered the progress.

I will start with Fort Wingate Army Depot first near or on our sovereign Navajo Nation.

In Fort Defiance, Kit Carson Road, I will also ask for positive support of a name change. We have the right to change and make history.

Nicole Walker
Church Rock, N.M.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial lacks Native representation

“Disremember one’s servicemen memorial” at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. The Native American Servicemen Memorial is unrecognizable and dishonored, which causes a “lack” of respect or reverence. American people should show respect for Native American servicemen who served in the Vietnam War.

I, Mr. Floyd Dawson, was disappointed that the Native Servicemen Memorial was not added to the bronze statue called “Three Servicemen Memorial.” Native American Vietnam veterans across the nation were left out of the statue figures at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the wall in Washington, DC. Yet many Americans are unaware of the exceptional military service performed by Native Americans.

Native Americans across the nation – Native Alaskans and Native Hawaiians – have a long, proud, and distinguished tradition of service in the armed forces of the United States.

Their treatment by many Americans was unfair and disrespectful. It seemed that everyone in the country – citizens and veterans alike – just wanted to forget about the Native American Servicemen Memorial.

After all, by serving Vietnam they had simply done what their government had ordered of them.

Our Tonalea Veterans Memorial Park is unrecognizable and dishonored.

Floyd Dawson
Founder, Forgotten Native American Servicemen
Tonalea, Ariz.


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