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Letters: Is roast mutton worth dying for?

I wanted to bring up an issue that has been bothering me.

As everyone knows, our Navajo Nation has been hit terribly by this virus (COVID-19). Many businesses have been impacted and had to close their doors to reduce the spread of this disease. All the vendor stands (food/jewelry/flea markets) have been included, which I understand, but I’ve seen one lady in Kirtland, New Mexico, that has defied orders and continues to serve roast mutton and other food items to the public.

Our governor has put in place an essential business only order back in March, and I find it unfair and unsanitary for this person to continue to sell her food from the roadside (along Highway 64) in Kirtland. She has a wooden shack stand at the Kirtland flea market that has a huge sign saying “Roast Mutton” and sells her food from there.

I have seen many cars and trucks parked in front of her food stand. Many people sit on a giant log that sits next to her stand. None are practicing the social distancing rule or wearing any kind of face protection. The people serving out the food don’t wear any PPE (personal protective equipment), facemasks, or gloves. Her shed has its doors wide open, allowing dust and other particles of bacteria in her serving area.

With so many people going to this stand, how many people could possibly be infected with COVID-19? As a nation, we should be looking out for one another and not try to make a fast buck because you see an opportunity.

All the other people in our community are complying with the state’s orders, so what makes them so special? I understand this might be their only way of making money. Nevertheless, what about the others who had to shut down? Aren’t they hurting as well?

And, yes, I’ve reached out to the New Mexico State Police (report a business), but never heard back from them (you have to send an email and they’re supposed to respond back). So far, I have not received word from them. I contacted them three times.

I have also contacted our local authorities, San Juan County Sheriff’s Office, but they can’t do anything because it falls under the state police. I’ve emailed the governor’s office, but haven’t heard from them either. Just an automated response, saying they are swamped with many different requests.

The New Mexico State Health Department isn’t picking up the phone either. Are they all furloughed? I have no clue. I can’t get any answers from anyone. I’ve done everything legally possible to get this food stand shut down, due to the spread of this virus. I am not picking on this food stand to be ugly. I want to see this stand closed, because of safety issues. Many of our Navajo people are getting sick and others are dying because of it.

So I ask, is selling roast mutton and other food items worth the risk of infection? Is it worth dying for?

Chris Pierce
Farmington, N.M.

Why we violate the lockdown

The community in Shiprock finally has a lockdown. It is peaceful and quiet from the normal daily frenzied search for essentials: toilet tissue, bleach, sanitizer, and food.

The COVID-19 virus is increasing in San Juan, McKinley, and Navajo Nation. San Juan is a hotspot now. The community and rural communities have turned a blind eye on defying the restrictions, regulations, and mandatory rules. The lockdown was bound to happen. If we do not comply, there may be more lockdowns (Farmington area).

I am complaining about essentials: toilet tissue, bleach, and sanitizers, which are not always available at City Market and perhaps at reservation stores. When I go to City Market these items are gone.

I do not want to go to Walmart or dollar stores, but I’m with the rest of the herds pouring into border towns to buy these items with the stimulus checks, paydays, and monthly paydays.

We Navajos have been traveling high and low day by day and weekly into Farmington, more so when the Gallup lockdown happened. We are told to not travel, stay home, and buy local, but it is a problem to do that. We are allowed one item per purchase to one person, per family.

That won’t last for a week or two or a month. We can’t have two or more to stock up to stay home. For those reasons we beeline to Walmart. It is a big box store where we buy everything we need. Also, when are we Navajos going to stop shopping in border towns?

We are shelling out thousands or millions of dollars every payday. We don’t need casinos, dollar stores, and liquor stores. We need big box stores (Super Walmart or Sam’s Club) where we can shop closer to home, shorter distances for rural communities, less wear and tear on vehicles, and more jobs for our Navajo people. That is very essential.

Perhaps our next elected president of the Navajo Nation will put this idea on the table for our Navajo people. The lockdown in Shiprock, and elsewhere was a good idea, but come Monday to Friday, it will be opening a can of worms to get our “essentials” we are out of again into border towns. I cook and wash at home, but these items need to be available at all stores on Navajoland all the time.

Mena Tsosie
Shiprock, N.M.

Township manager practicing nepotism

I would like to share my feelings or express my thoughts with issues related to our Kayenta Township management. I come from a large family in Kayenta, just about everyone is related to my family and me. My husband and I live in the Valley.

We had to come home because we both lost our jobs due to COVID-19. Neither of us have a college education, but we do understand how governments work. Kayenta Township is not a government. Recently, one of my family members passed from the virus. It was during this time we reached out to Kayenta Chapter, which was closed, and then went to Kayenta Township. There were vehicles parked outside and a notice to knock on the door. I knocked several times and no one answered.

I could see someone inside, but no one came to the door. My family and I needed just a little financial help to go to Phoenix, and visit the hospital where my family member was. This was the last week of March. We needed the money because we did not get our unemployment yet.

I started calling around to family members, asking just for a few dollars for fuel and lodging. It was during this time I learned how the Kayenta Township operated. I was told over and over not to waste my time with township even though my sister, who had the virus, lived within the township. Not one person I called or texted had a positive thing to say about township.

The manager was in quarantine, while his wife was at the public school with no mask or gloves. I wonder if the manager got his full pay while at home, not using sick leave.

I was told the township only care about themselves. Unless you are related to the town manager, you can’t get help. I made a list of all things that were said about the township, that the Kayenta Township only hires the town manager’s relatives.

I was told a lot of employees were laid off from the township, except the town manager’s brother-in-law who makes $80,000 to watch over two computers while everyone is off work.

People in Kayenta are afraid to complain because the town manager will do everything in his power to take away home sites if you complain about him. If employees complain, the manager will fire you. He does not give raises to employees who are not his friends or who speak up against him.

A lot of people in township who have mobile homes don’t have running water because of the township.

His employees are rude if you ask for a homesite. A few of my family members went to a township meeting and the manager gave himself a raise. He makes the most money in Kayenta. He makes more money than Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey! But you never see him out and about in Kayenta. If you try to see him on an issue, he is always on travel.

Some employees at the transfer station say that the manager comes over every Friday and fills his wife’s and his vehicle up with fuel. Then turns around and gets paid for mileage. The manager was walking around in April trying to give away masks, but only if he could get his picture taken doing it. He wants everyone to think he is charitable.

There were businesses giving out masks in March and no pictures were taken. It’s been said the manager gives his wife and family all the catering jobs in Kayenta. Every Christmas, the manager’s wife and family serves the Christmas and Thanksgiving meals.

His wife gets paid for it. And his brothers-in-law, Sacred Mountain Builders, get all the contracts. The manager has a brother who lives on the hill who does taxes, but doesn’t have to claim business taxes, while the manager gives everyone a hard time if they put up a business sign.

The manager has a brother-in-law on the commission who lives outside the township and runs a tour business, but during tax time he tells Navajo Nation he lives in township so he doesn’t have to pay taxes. Then runs back to the township saying he pays the Navajo Nation.

There is also talk that a township commissioner is being investigated for child molestation and the township manager is covering for this person because he is related to the manager. If this is true, the town manager needs to step down. Two months ago, the manager also would not allow a new commissioner to be elected.

Three people were nominated for a commissioner’s position. An individual was elected, the town manager and his two brothers-in-law did not like it so they got a lawyer to keep this new person out. They stated that the new nominated person lived outside the township boundaries. This is not fair because one of the commissioners lives outside the boundaries behind the old BIA outside the township fence.

I don’t know which is worse, the Navajo Nation president who was flying around the world without concerns for his own people and couldn’t pray to our four sacred mountains for help, or the Kayenta Township manager and his in-laws who are acting like dictators.

Last week, the township claimed to pay for all the food at the rodeo grounds. They did not. This was donated by St. Mary Church. The manager just wanted another photo taken of him. I know my words are harsh, but everyone who talks about the township is negative.

The town manager just does one little project a year, then he hides his family and in-laws under the table giving them a little something on the side. Maybe this is why our community of Kayenta is suffering. Each time we get people into leadership, they shake our hands and make promises, then once they are in office they get greedy. They get careless, it seems like most of the tribal employees who get into office are only worried about their stipend checks.

Just like the town manager is worried about his own wealth. President Jonathan Nez promised to work on Kayenta having one government. That is why my family and I voted for him.

What happened, Nez? Did you remember those promises while you were praying at the wall in Jerusalem, where they killed Jesus? Why couldn’t you pray on our sacred grounds? The virus ended up taking several of my extended family members. This would not have happened if our government was strong and we went back to our grassroots.

Prayers to keep our family at home and safe. Our leadership has failed us just like Trump has failed us. As for the town manager, I hope all the money you give yourself protects you from the virus.

Ruth Marie Todacheeny
Phoenix, Ariz.

Editor’s note: A copy of this letter was emailed on Monday to Gabriel Yazzie, Kayenta Township manager, asking for comment. He had not responded by press time Wednesday.

Change the name of the virus

The top Navajo Nation officials in Window Rock, with the IHS top officials have named COVID-19 in the Navajo language “Dikos Ntsaaígíí-19”, which is the same as “Pneumonia-19,” according to the Diné Medicine Men Association.

The medicine man, Larrison Manygoats, pointed out the proper name to COVID-19 in the Navajo language is “Doo Yit’iinii Naalniih Chosh.” Mr. Manygoats explained the name of the virus has to change. He further mentioned this virus is an intelligent being, and if we keep calling it “Pneumonia-19” it will continue to spread more uncontrollably.

I’m concerned and wondering like everybody else about this deadly virus that it’s losing all types of human beings across the globe. I’m just thinking maybe if the virus’s name is changed, it will automatically cease to a heartbeat. And if they are continually calling it “Pneumonia-19” its spiritual being will continue to spread.

Again, to make it clear to all the Navajos out there on the rez, including the top Navajo Nation officials, when the name is changed correctly, the virus might hear us through our prayers that it might leave all of a sudden for good from the face of the earth we live on.

Take care and be safe.

Dan Todachine
Mariano Lake, N.M.

Develop listening, speaking skills

Based on Common Core Standards, there are four domains in language arts: reading, writing, listening and speaking. Previously, I gave tips on reading and writing. The other two are listening and speaking. They are the simplest of the four to learn, it seems.

However, they could be the hardest to internalize (learn) for children. Innately, children have a beautiful gift of ears and mouths to hear and speak. To learn the Common Core Standards in listening and speaking, children must listen to the teacher and they must speak when the opportunity arises. They have plenty of excellent chances to do both throughout the various lessons during the school day.

Most lessons are designed for children to listen and speak. Also, children develop a lot of these skills at home. Children must listen to the instruction opening, introduction, and directions to each lesson of the day. All curriculum content is timed for a traditional 55 minutes or four blocks of 90 minutes.

So, it is crucial on the part of the learner to listen intently and ask questions at opportunities. For older students, take notes. Focus your ears and eyes on the teacher or speaker. Process and internalize the lesson. The beginning of the lesson is generally guided practice, and independent lesson will follow shortly after.

If you listened well you will work independently and unequivocally with precision. And raise your hand for any questions. Your teacher will be monitoring your work. Basically, listening and speaking are very important traits you can create as a student, which will last the rest of your learning career and into college.

You create these traits from home and enhance skills at school. You will have an opportunity for “one-on-one and one-to-group speaking” sessions during the lesson. Listen intently to others, this will refine and develop your skills to participate in the lesson.

My tips are very simple and basic: Listen and you will learn, focus your ears and eyes on the teacher or speaker, ask questions for clarification and understanding, and listen to your parents and grandparents at home. You cannot do something else during the lesson and expect to learn.

Listening and speaking are fundamental, which you can practice daily at home and school. Speak with distinction, clearly, use your mouth and tongue to make appropriate sounds of letters and words. Make slight pauses between conventions such as periods and commas and use appropriate pitch of your voice for such as exclamatory marks.

Practice standing at the mirror to practice speaking. This will carry into the classroom and major speeches you might perform later. Believe you are a good listener and speaker and practice it daily. As a Navajo educator, I want to extend the best to all children and students for the coming school year. Try and perform your best every school day. Recent graduate(s), congratulations and begin the process of pursuing higher education.

Eugene Charley
Kayenta, Ariz.



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