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Letters: It’s election time again

It’s election time again on the land of the code talkers.

I believe the key for Diné people’s vote will be to preserve and protect their rights, beautiful land, culture, and language on a sovereign nation, which allows honoring traditional ways of life for the tribe.

Diné (Navajo) people need to vote for a president who will recognize and respect the U.S. Constitution that recognize tribes as distinct governments with a few exceptions, the same power as federal and state government to regulate the tribe’s internal affairs.

The fact remains today that the current U.S. administration has rolled back policies that protect the rights of indigenous people and has failed to respect and honor tribal nations and their sovereignty.

Also, the sad part is the fact that during a pandemic the Navajo Nation, along with other tribes, had to sue the Trump administration in order to ensure that they receive the funds promised to their governments.

All Native Americans, including the Diné people, probably have had enough earfuls of the slogan that keeps wiggling around “take back our country” by the current administration. Does it mean that the country is less white? If it is so, then it is unsuitable to all Native Americans, because “our country” was stolen from Native Americans and it is their land.

“Our country” was once respected as the ecosystem of all living things, which is the “circle of life.” Instead, the words and wisdom of one late Native chief seems to fit what we are familiar with today: “The love of possession is a disease with them (Americans.) They take tithe from the poor and weak to support the rich who rule. They claim this mother of ours, the Earth, for their own and fence their neighbors away. If America had been twice the size it is there still would not have been enough” — Sitting Bull (Native American chief of the Sioux Tribe).

Obviously, Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer is a supporter of President Donald Trump and invited him to visit the Navajo Nation in Dinetah. The fact is the location of Dinetah is under supervision of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management; it is not within the present boundaries of the Navajo Nation. However, if there is ever a time of his arrival, Trump is expected to understand our ways of life, in the eyes of the Dineh people.

Finally, let’s vote remembering the words of our Navajo Chief Manuelito, a steady and visionary leader: “We have to fight the injustices of our people with education.” Many of us are well educated with cellular phones, able to read and write the English language.

Therefore, research for a true leader. Research tells me this by presidential candidate, Joe Biden, said he would uphold tribal sovereignty and would ensure the views and voices of Native Americans are heard when his administration makes decisions in their interest.

On the other hand, the Trump administration tried to strip the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of their sovereignty. However, a federal judge ordered Trump to reconsider, which he did. He is prone to making surprise announcements to benefit himself.

Let’s vote to move forward, past Donald Trump. We need a president who will serve all ethnic groups, because not everybody has a red hat, but all human beings have red blood and are equal.

Let’s make America beautiful again. Your vote is your voice, shi Diné’e. Don’t forget cheii, masani and nali, help them with transportation and language barrier.

Erma Yellowman-McCabe
Black Falls, Ariz.

How do Diné choose candidates?

Back in the day, how did the Navajo people select which party to vote for? According to an American history teacher, a Navajo, they chose by the mascots. Elephant or mule, being more familiar with the mule they chose Democrats.

I haven’t heard anything about how the election process works. All I hear is party loyalty “vote for this person,” which works for chapter house officials. Later on you hear all the wrongdoings by them. I don’t hear anything on traits, leadership abilities and selecting knowledgeable people is how the system works.

The presidential race, my opinion, is there’s not really a good choice. One lacks honesty and integrity and the other clarity of thinking. How do you lead if you lack these?

I think the choice should be the running mates, Pence or Harris. One is respectful and the other is full of arrogance and childish temper tantrum. Not much of a choice. One might get removed, the other steps down and civil disobedience arises, because of arrogance.

Ernest Jones
Chinle, Ariz.

‘Development disease’ in Native communities

The series on oversight hearings on Indian health-U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Washington, D.C., consistently reports unacceptable life conditions in Native homelands. The more recent oversight hearings on the virus epidemic are particularly noteworthy and atrocious given the federal government delay in allocation of funds and the releasing of the CARES Act funds.

The point of this letter is to address something called “development disease.” There is the argument that if the statistics of health issues such as alcoholism, domestic violence, non-organically based pathology, crime and mortality rates, child molestation, and other similar “development diseases” are disproportionately borne by the indigenous peoples, then these issues would suggest red flag “development disease” symptomatic of cultural, family and personal disintegration, the ground-level reality of a cultural occupation by another culture.

There comes a time in a culture then where the onslaught of a foreign predatory culture on an organic culture “annihilate(s) a people’s belief in their names, in their languages, in their environment, in their heritage of struggle, in their unity, in their capacities and ultimately in themselves.”

The devouring foreign culture redefines organic traditional cultural selfhood to where “It makes them see their past as one wasteland of non-achievement and it makes them want to distance themselves from that wasteland. It makes them want to identify with that which is furthest removed from themselves.”

These cultures in transition are characterized by cultural imbalance, disharmony, an exacting gearwheel setup for vulnerability to widespread devastating ill health, and the “development disease.”

The data on Native homeland economics, employment, education, and health conditions then reveals the usual widespread “underdevelopment” despite years of massive technical, material, and fiscal intervention to lessen stinging life conditions.

This reality reflects the classic case of a “distorted human capital investment pattern” whereby government in underdeveloped nations takes on investment for foreign human capital development.

This issue has been voiced before sometime backed by others at least in letter format to the Navajo Times (David L. John, “Others are enjoying our Navajo Trust Funds”, Navajo Times, April 19, 2018). To the point, investment in people for domestic human capital development within distressed socio-economic regions are considered as having little or no monetary value, a potentially low yield investment by wealthy corporations with time-worn ties to well-heeled politicians.

To multi-national corporations with their provincial wealth and politicized self-delegated powers, it matters little if they impose their vice and tyranny, their euphoric blurred vision of grandeur, something labeled “Straussian philosophy,” on the local Native populations.

Investment in local socioeconomic conditions to give even a glimmer of hope to local Native populations are of little or no interest. The consequence of this form capital monetary investment pattern is the “development disease,” not only in the public health sector, but across the spectrum in all facets of Native life conditions, thus the “list.”

Investment for cultural renaissance and renewal for a healthy cultural, social and economic order are again ignored.

The priority on investment for changing immediate social, economic, health, educational needs are generally given low priority in governmental budget or are generally left to financially distressed communities, or to nonprofit and voluntary organizations.

It should hardly surprise anyone then that demographic conditions for a substantial population of the American Indian people takes on the perennial challenging life conditions. As we look around our communities, the resulting dividends are that this huge distorted investment pattern with a massive high failure-rate return has morphed Native indigenous peoples’ lives to massive dependent state.

Where scarce funding resources are geared to leverage local healthy self-reliance often becomes guaranteed annual revenues to support huge bureaucracies far removed from the imperiled distressed communities, health care disparity, stagnant economic development, and struggling schools.

Tribal funds “earning interest” in high-end banks form the foundation for building great cities, towns, municipalities off Native homelands as hunger of hope continues to dot the landscape in Native homelands.

Substantial documentation points to life conditions of Native peoples having become mired in pipeline metaphor where cross-cultural blurriness grinds the “American Dream” for Native peoples into continual intergenerational crises.

We see this daily in monopolized outlets such as grocery stores, markets, banks, health care, education in Native reservation communities where the elderly, the parents, where in many cases are often too young to be parents, young children and our youth hunger for hope and the good life. It is imperative that questions be raised as to why many toil year-after-year off our homeland with that protective shield of tenure toward retirement on the backs of blighted and damaged lives of Native peoples.

It is long past time to replace the distorted investment pattern in our homeland with a trajectory toward enlightened investment in our people, our communities, and homeland economic development with rigorous quality education system and our heritage traditional teachings, values, and wisdom.

Harold G. Begay
To’Naneez’Dizi, Ariz.

Illegal black market continues

The crime of illegal black market marijuana/hemp farms continue to be operational even after the court injunction and the temporary restraining order, Navajo Environmental Protection Agency’s cease-and-desist order, Navajo Nation legislation signed into law by the Navajo Nation president making all of the cannabis plant illegal on the Navajo Nation.

These crimes are now being committed by the farmland lessees and permittees who all are aware of these farms being illegal and yet they knowingly allow the continued farming of these black market plants. They have shown no intention of complying with the laws of the Navajo government thus showing the need to proceed with the forfeiture of farm lease and permits back to the Navajo Tribe.

The talk of the BIA being just like the Navajo Nation on being all talk and no action should be refuted by the actual forfeiture of farmlands and the confiscation of the illegal plants for destruction.

There is also a need to forfeit home-site leases of those who knowingly are aiding and abetting these known felons along with actually harboring of the known felons.

One home site being located right across from Shiprock High School where the home site has black plastic hanging on the fence while an individual sits in a pickup where they open and close the gate for these black market workers who may now reside on the home site.

Black market marijuana plants may be used in lieu of payment and so when the school does open back to students this black market marijuana could be sold to the students.

These criminals could also be charged with being an accomplice to drug trafficking, possession, delivery, among other charges, from showing the black market marijuana workers the back roads of the Northern Agency to deliver their black trash bags filled with marijuana plants harvested from these illegal marijuana/hemp farms of local Navajo farmers. Black trash bags that were at one time piled high near the illegal greenhouses, but after many being delivered and sold since the injunction of the temporary restraining order, plus an order to cease and desist, have dwindled down much but are still being transported off site by these criminals who continually threaten anyone who may report their activities.

The locked gates on some of these fences could be removed by the state of New Mexico since the roadway fences are on New Mexico state property. The ongoing conspiracy of criminal acts are being committed by local people who at one time used to work for the health and well-being of our Navajo Nation.

We now find it very disappointing to see a self-proclaimed bishop, a so-called medicine man, chapter government workers, including a chapter president, a chapter secretary, a chapter coordinator, farm board members along with the instigator, the farm board president, even into the local law enforcement department, through one of the dispatchers whose continued refusal to take a report on calls from the Navajo public on the illegal farms activities because her aunt runs two of the black market marijuana farms, which should suffice her being fired.

The ethics and public corruption being committed by those in office should face severe consequences for violating the Navajo peoples trust should include removal from office, permanent disqualification from holding any Navajo public office, censure, restitution, fines, and jail time.

There are families who actually are aiding and abetting known felons by allowing the continued work on their illegal black market marijuana farms and warning the workers when a call goes out on the police radio to check on criminal violations being committed on these farms.

Some of these home sites have an NHA house, which is still under NHA ownership, not yet being paid off, on which the Navajo Housing Authority should be repossessed for the illegal activities being exercised from these homes. So as is being witnessed by the Shiprock Agency, the legalization of marijuana and farming of hemp should not be allowed on our sacred Navajo lands.

It will bring out the worst in those we once thought incapable of turning their backs on their own people and the Navajo teachings, culture, traditions, all for the lust of money, which they failed to achieve by an honest day’s work. These criminals should in no way be rewarded by allowing them to think their criminal lives would shape the future of our Navajo heritage and culture. Instead, let them now feel the disappointment of losing something their family had worked so hard to achieve, an honest traditional farm and Navajo farm life.

Norman Joe
Shiprock, N.M.


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