Letters: I offer space for a new jail
We are hearing traumatic tales from the Northern Agency, and we have now heard they don’t even have a jail.
I operated a business in Shiprock for 25 years. It is a community that holds a big place in my heart.
The Navajo Police are extremely admirable people, they do a whole lot for not a lot.
Over the years doing business in all corners of the great Navajo Nation, I have had the distinct pleasure of meeting many.
While in Dilkon, Arizona, running another business, I gained a distinct respect for the Navajo Police. Dilkon also does not have a jail. This makes Dilkon a dangerous place at times.
We, as a people, need to force our government to provide the basic government services, such as safety, sanitation, roads, etc.
I am very disappointed in the Nez administration. For as long as I can remember, the tribe has been telling us Shiprock will have a hotel. We cannot wait that long for a new jail. Law and order must be maintained.
I hereby offer the Navajo Police space and facilities to operate a jail in Shiprock. I will gift it to them if they agree to use it judiciously.
Make the rez a refuge from crises
The COVID-19 emergency is far from over. The new delta variant that is more contagious than the original COVID is on the rise.
The delta variant has been devastating in countries like India and Southeast Asia, where vaccinations have been slow. Tribal members should get both shots of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, if they have not done so.
Young adults are at risk of getting the delta variant of COVID and should get shots. While neither vaccine can provide 100% protection from the delta variant, it can help reduce the symptoms and the risk of catching the delta variant and possible hospitalization.
Families, individuals, the Navajo Nation, and other tribes should also be prepared for the possibility of another lockdown.
The recent COVID-19 epidemic, which is still affecting tribal members on the reservation and outside of the reservation, has shown several problems with the tribe’s emergency preparation for a large-scale crisis that could occur outside of the reservation. Such crisis could greatly impact the tribe and its members.
The tribe relies too heavily on state and federal resources to address a large crisis such as COVID. What the COVID epidemic has shown is that the tribe is woefully unprepared on its own to meet a large crisis that can occur. In fact, so are most other tribes.
If COVID had been more virulent or deadly with a higher death rate like the flu epidemic of 1917, the tribe would have been isolated for a prolong period of time and would not have be able to feed its own people and many tribal members would starve or engage in criminal acts or violence to feed themselves.
Tribal members depend on border towns to obtain food. If the trucks stop running to those border towns, the stock of food will be quickly depleted.
Other types of crises such as war, civil unrest, storms, and earthquakes could also cause a disruption of the food distribution chain. The Navajo Tribe and other tribes need to prepare for the possibility of a disruption of the food supply chain.
One way the tribe can overcome the problem is to have emergency reserves of food strategically stored in communities like Tuba City, Ganado, Kayenta, Chinle, Shiprock, and other places. Granaries should be built that can hold wheat, beans, corn, oats, and dried food that can be distributed in case of emergency when stores on and off the reservation have been depleted of their food.
During the period where no crisis exists the stored food can be rotated with the older food and sold to tribal members or given out as commodities to the elderly or to those requiring subsistence. The tribe could also turn stored wheat into bread that can be sold or distributed to schools and replace the used portion.
The tribe could store two to three years of emergency food reserves. Along with food, the tribe should look at storing medicine and vitamins.
The tribe needs to become overall self-sufficient in supplying their own food. The tribe being able to be self-sufficient would provide a way to re-supply emergency food reserves.
Purchases of food on the reservation will help keep money on the reservation; money that stays on the reservation can have a multiplying affect and help the tribe economically.
The tribe could lease land from chapters to raise livestock, chickens, hogs, or engage in egg production or milk production, or acquire more land for NAPI to increase food production.
In some cases, chapters and tribal members could be contracted to produce food items. Farm co-operatives could be formed to help with production.
Making the tribe food sustainable and to have emergency reserves will be a costly endeavor. The lives of tribal members may depend on ready store of food available, if a disaster occurs that shuts down the food supply chain.
The tribe should also look at the reservation as a refuge from crisis for tribal members living off the reservation. To fund this, the tribe should look at using some of the CARE Act money for implementing an emergency food reserve and look at funding from the Gates Foundation and other groups or pursue further federal funding.
Being self-sufficient will also validate tribal sovereignty.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Proposal: Livestock reduction to address drought
I read a story on the Navajo Nation Councils’ decision to assist the ranchers on the Navajo Nation with hay and other livestock feed. It sounds like a one-time help, which is not a long-term solution.
It is a waste of money and has no profit in return as an investment for the Navajo Nation. There are better ways to invest our money and to assist Navajo ranchers, which can sustain our way of life and teach our young on the benefits of raising animals.
My proposal will also have a positive effect on the drought and overgrazing problem by reducing livestock across the reservation.
The plan is to reduce livestock quickly and efficiently to prevent further overgrazing problems. This plan will help reduce the usage of water across the reservation by reducing the herds and the selling of stray horses and the extra horses people keep in their corrals.
The plan will also give the agencies a chance to review all grazing permits and define grazing areas for each rancher. There has to be a defined grazing area for each rancher permitholder plus Navajo Nation will be able to provide educational sessions on better animal care for healthier livestock.
It is imperative we address this dire situation right now and not wait another month or year to save our precious land. We are in an emergency status due to drought and we just survived a pandemic, which still lingers. It is time to stand up and take action immediately to begin to solve some of our problems before it gets any worse.
What Navajo Nation needs to do is set-up our own purchasing livestock business located right on the reservation. Navajo Nation can pay higher cattle prices than what the border town offers. For years, the border towns have been ripping off Navajo ranchers by paying pennies per pound on cattle.
When ranchers refuse to sell due to low prices it creates increased herd, which in turn causes overgrazing.
This unfair business practice by border businesses creates hardship for ranchers and all of Navajoland.
If Navajo Nation agrees to set-up a market for Navajo ranchers it can start an economy that will grow in years to come. Navajo Nation will need to construct a stockyard/feedlot site where the animals will be fed and kept temporarily. Once the site gets enough stock they will be transported to the Navajo-owned Wolf Creek Ranch in Colorado.
The cattle/livestock will be grazed and fattened up there on the ranch and when ready it will go on the national market to the highest bidder. Navajo Nation will be investing in a business totally Navajo-owned and Navajo grown. This business venture will employ all Navajo crew on the reservation and at the ranch in Colorado.
In time, this business will be successful for both reservation ranchers and the Navajo Nation economy. The Wolf Creek Ranch will no longer just sit there, plus it will provide a chance for the employees to live on the ranch with their families.
There will be many factors and logistics to be figured out, but it can be accomplished, it has to be done soon. We need to move forward by spending wisely on the best way to help our people to work their way out of poverty.
Our people had sheep, horses and cattle for over a hundred years, but we never had the opportunity to make a profit from our hard work. Navajo Nation has this opportunity now to create a way for the people that have been struggling for years.
This plan will assist the Nation by creating a better method of checking “ownership brands” to begin to address the rampant cattle theft across the reservation. A one-time distribution of feed for our animals will not help us in any way, but this is a permanent business plan that will always be in place. It is part of the many solutions our Navajo Nation needs today.
I am sending the draft proposal for you to read and share with other delegates. It’s hard to find email addresses to many delegates and I’m hoping it will be shared.
This proposal is one immediate solution to the dire Navajo Nation drought situation. I hope Navajo Nation will vote to proceed with this plan. The following are some of the advantages and benefits to be gained.
- Decrease water usage and slow overgrazing issues
- Decrease livestock reservation-wide
- Decrease wild horse herds
- Better and healthier cattle/livestock for national market
- Put money into Navajo ranchers’ pockets
- Make good use of the Colorado ranch
- Start up the first Navajo economy that will last
- Navajo Nation will participate on a national level in beef industry
- It will create long-term jobs for many
There are many more benefits for starting this Navajo Nation business that will actually assist Navajo people. Thank you.
Aspen Canyon, Ariz.