Letters: Leadership has become a Nez-Lizer campaign tool

It has become alarmingly obvious that the leadership in Window Rock has segued into a campaign run for President Nez and Veep Lizer.

All of these visits to the chapters/areas of need and the resulting photo ops are just a paid advertisement to support them in the next election. This is the time that they should be spending in a war room with phones connecting them to the Navajo Nation department heads, BIA, IHS, chapters and field reps.

They should also have constant contact with the COVID-19 relief groups in order to help coordinate an effective relief effort. Another obvious sign about the lack of maturity, wisdom, and seriousness about leading our Navajo Nation is the constant infighting within our tribal government. Important logistics issues should be discussed daily, using maps, briefings, and movement of donations.

Most importantly, a daily accounting of the donated funds being used towards helping our people should be made public. Logistics involves the movement of, the storage of, and the delivery of items with an accounting report. We have veterans and retired persons whose résumés include work in logistics. Handing out potatoes and toilet paper is not why we elected Jonathan Nez and Myron Lizer.

Every time I see their pictures in full PPE gear and police officers standing near them with only a mask, I get very worried. We should not be sacrificing Navajo Police officers just so the president and his entourage can look good on camera. Recalling this administration in the middle of a pandemic might fix the problem.

There are other people out there with the qualities of leadership, honesty and wisdom to effectively carry us through. Their love of our cultural history and traditions, their respect for our basic beliefs, their proven leadership qualities, work ethic and résumé must be considered now, before it’s too late. The fiasco in Window Rock must stop.

Barbara J. Morgan
Shiprock, N.M.

School board action a disservice to community

On May 22, 2020, the Veterinary Science Program here in Kayenta, was put up for adoption.

The Northeast Arizona Technological Institute of Vocational Education, or NATIVE, school board and superintendent, Ron Tsosie, abandoned their baby. In less than four years of this program, under the leadership of Dr. Jim Eubank, the development of over 2,500 clients has taken place.

For unknown reasons, Dr. Eubank’s position was eliminated, but why, since this program had benefited so many people in Kayenta and the surrounding areas? With this single act, a disservice has been done to our community, which has struggled for years to keep a veterinarian here.

The past two veterinarians were paid substandard salaries, but yet they stayed and were dedicated to providing much needed services to the Navajo people. The NATIVE board and superintendent did not respond to requests for public information and we don’t know why. The NATIVE board members are Eugene Kirk (Window Rock), Margaret Yazzie (Sanders), Theodore Allen (Chinle), Ambrose Shepard (Ganado), Lavina Smith (Kayenta), Mary Tom (Piñon), Wallace Todacheeny (Red Mesa), and Shannon Tooke (Tuba City). Community members, please contact them and ask them to correct their error and reinstate the NATIVE Program and Dr. Eubank.

Many people posted on Facebook the need to keep Dr. Eubank and the Agri-Science Center program alive.

A large number of letters and Facebook responses for community support for the program were sent to the Kayenta Unified School District, yet the KUSD board only allowed one short letter to be read during the public comment portion of their May 13, 2020, board meeting.

The KUSD board indicates that they support the program, but have been dragging their feet and giving lip service since then. The KUSD board placed the vet issue on their May 20 and May 22 work sessions, but took no action and they did not put the vet issue on the May 29, June 4, or June 10 agendas. Why? The Kayenta Governing Board members are Lita Dixon (president), Raymond Laughter (clerk), Patricia Parrish, Fern Benally, and Marion Todecheene. Again, please contact these members and indicate the need for the KUSD and NATIVE boards and administrations to re-consider these programs for the sake of the students, community, and to please act on it sooner than later.

This is one case where the students and community members need to align. In the past, students in the vet program were able to shadow an experienced veterinarian daily. The same students received hands-on experience in animal husbandry, while they were helping community members with their livestock and household pets.

This needs to continue! Without such services, especially the emergency cases, there is no place to go unless they travel a great distance with an un-surmountable cost, which is unacceptable. Another consideration: It is no secret that small stray animal control is an ongoing issue within our community as well as other nearby communities.

Without the Agri-Science facility and a veterinarian to continually conduct clinics, as well as educating our students on the care and responsibility of animal treatment, the on-going problem of these stray animals will continue to grow.

Schools are always complaining about low parent involvement. There is no better way to incorporate Navajo culture in an academic program and more fully engage students, their parents and the entire community, than having an actual vet program right in our own backyard. Programs offered here afford a fantastic opportunity for today’s youth, which is unsurpassed anywhere else on the Navajo Nation.

For many students, the experiences and knowledge learned here take students on to future veterinary areas upon graduation. This program is an educational gold mine. KUSD and NATIVE board members and administrators: Let us not do a disservice to the students or the community.

Please place the students’ and the community’s needs above political and/or personal agendas. This error needs to be corrected, for both entities now. It is imperative that we keep NATIVE, the Agri-Science Center and the Vet Program alive and issue Dr. Jim Eubank a contract for the 2020-21 school year.

Thank You!

Dee Bates
Kayenta, Ariz.

A ‘sad’ situation

Regarding resolutions CMY-44-20 and No. 0116-20, Naabik’iyati’ Committee, Navajo Nation Council, on June 15. Aoo’ … over a week ago while listening to the Navajo Nation Council and Office of the President and Vice President argue on how the $600 million federal COVID-19 relief funds should or must be spent by our Navajo Nation government, the following summarized thought by a former Navajo Nation tribal executive official summed up my exact same thought today.

Official: “Sad! Been listening to incoherent statements by CDs and a call for a merger and more needless debate while our Navajo people are being infected, suffering and dying from COVID-19. Depressing indeed!”

Ed Becenti
St. Michaels, Ariz.

All lives matter

“Black Lives Matter,” this is a misnomer, misunderstanding, and misleading.

I tend to believe “all lives matter.” I am a Native American, and the first indigenous people of North America. As a Native I am a Navajo. The protests and marches across the world recently for a black man being shot by white police, in my opinion, is misleading. The marches in protests are promoted as only “black lives matter.”

The protests are amid the coronavirus pandemic. Droves of people marched. The spike in the coronavirus escalated in 20 states, according to news reports. People forgot about “social distancing.” Some wore masks and others did not during the protest marches. Instead of marching and protesting the coronavirus, wiping out nearly half a million lives across the world, it was more just to the people to march for “black lives matter.”

What about the injustices by white policemen against Native Americans? Countless atrocities have been committed by them in border towns. You do not hear of people marching in protest for them. I believe this to be true across Native border towns. The Navajo “Long Walk” from captivity for four years at Fort Sumner, New Mexico, from 1864 to 1868, is an example of mistreatment by U.S. armies.

About 200 innocent Navajos died of starvation, exposure, or killed by soldiers. Who marched for them?

I am sure other Native Americans suffered as Navajos did. For example, the “Trail of Tears” by the Oklahoma Cherokee Indians in 1838, about 4,000 died, who marched for them? All Natives in North America are the first inhabitants of this great country who should be respected and appreciated. It seems like we are the forgotten people.

So, to me “all lives matter!” People across the world could march and protest this dreadful coronavirus and the thousands of lives it claimed. And mark it — “All Lives Matter.” Native American lives matter.

Eugene Charley
Kayenta, Ariz.

Gallup is a settler colonial town

As the city of Gallup protestors’ support for reform justice regarding George Floyd’s death, a black citizen and member of the Minneapolis community in police custody, many Native people showed solidarity.

In addition, this country is literally founded on stolen lands and conquering the many Native civilizations and local tribes that surround Gallup (known as the “Indian Capital of the World”).

Presence of a small population and don’t have a large representation in the corporate national media. Reasons to call for justice and end the systemic racism at the national, state and local Native American Indian reservation and urban Indian communities, including Gallup-McKinley County.

During the Gallup protest last Wednesday afternoon, I witnessed frustration, anger and compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, which illuminates inequity and disproportionately affects the Gallup community. The Indian Removal Act, the Navajo Long Walk is of the ethnic cleansing and genocide. No one deserves to die, whether being an indigenous woman, man, or child.

This adds to people having a right to protest, because riots do not work, looting does not work, however, protesting does work — people speak up. This is a sign of hope. While the newly elected mayor of Gallup stated there were no physical altercations or arrests, this may be the truth due to the armed camp of the white supremacy carrying automatic weapons, spearheaded by the director of the Gallup Cultural Center protecting his business and others downtown.

Armed snipers on buildings, state police, McKinley County sheriff and the new Arabs showed a force of war, several city staff stated they were disheartened to see armed white men lingering and hiding within the city. Other community people, Native people and visiting guests, stated why are they recruiting young Native men to intimidate the marchers, rally and the birth of a new movement — the criminal justice reform — Black Lives Matter and Native Lives Matter.

In closing, Gallup is a settler colonial town. Violence against indigenous people, against Native U.S. veterans, and LGBT are often called drunks, go back to the reservation, protect property, and sell liquor over the better quality of life. My recommendation is remove barriers, weapons of war, racism, and COVID-19.

Larry Foster
Gallup, N.M.

Were channels of approval followed?

In reference to previous opinions listed in the recent Navajo Times, I want to comment on the hemp growing in and around the Shiprock area, as well as other Shiprock Chapter concerns. The greenhouses and other structures are very visible along the river and on some farms, which makes me wonder how these buildings were approved.

Were the right channels of approval followed? To get a home-site lease usually takes about 10 years, as in my experience, so were the sites for these hemp structures and/or farms approved legally? Is the individual responsible for obtaining this enterprise using his position for personal gain? Other questions surrounding these activities also lead to additional issues of responsibility of chapter officials.

The chapter president, vice president, secretary, and chapter manager all live in the vicinity to notice the non-existence of food distribution or other assistance for the Shiprock residents. The Navajo radio station is constantly announcing what is happening in other local chapters about events of distribution of food, butane, and hay, but not Shiprock during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We have people in dire need in our community who need all these commodities, so how is Shiprock using the federal CARES Act monies? Wilford R. Joe Shiprock, N.M. I lost alfalfa crop due to no water I would like to express myself regarding the recent letter “Farm Board prez abusing position” (June 4, 2020).

I commend Mr. Hosteen Huskay for voicing his concerns and agree with him. I live next to a farm in the Hogback area where hemp/marijuana farming is taking place. There is much traffic every day of the week to said location, even semi-trucks hauling materials. The workers speed down dirt roads without regard for others. There has been drilling activities into the night. Isn’t there a possibility that the natural water tables could be contaminated by this drilling and a possibility of a shift in the earth’s surface by drilling? Where is the Navajo EPA with their regulations?

There are greenhouses being built and trailers being brought to the sites. Not only is the farm board prez abusing his position to farm hemp/marijuana on Navajo Nation lands, but he is also neglecting his duty to the farmers in that there is no water to farm with.

As a result, I have lost our alfalfa crop due to no irrigation water. Farm board president and local Hogback farm board person should be helping the local farmers to ensure that water is running in the ditches so that crops can be grown, but instead are focused on hemp/marijuana.

It’s disheartening to see the Hogback farm board person with her corn growing and with seeing her farm turned into a hemp farm. It’s sad that the San Juan River flows about three-fourths of a mile away and I cannot have water to irrigate my farmland. I am sure that other farmers will agree with me. Hogback irrigation system has three systems: main canal is run by natural gravity and is always in operation each year; system two is run by water pump system (A line); and system three is also run by a water pump as well (B line). The other two systems are run by water pumps, which are unreliable and always break down.

Such is the case this season again. I have contacted the local farm board member who informs that the irrigation worker is not responding to her request to have the pump system working. I was given a phone number to contact this person myself, which I have attempted with no response.

Therefore, I contacted the main office in Fort Defiance, and was informed that due to the Coronavirus workers cannot be compelled to perform any work activities. I considered this person (Shiprock irrigation staff) as an essential worker as he has little or no contact with people in the performance of his duties as far as the pump system is concerned. This situation is not new — every growing season we have problems with water for irrigating. It saddens me to not be able to plant crops.

The farm board president is not helping local farmers, but instead is focused on his hemp/marijuana farming. Local farmers are being ignored by someone who should be helping and advocating for them to ensure that water is available. There has been talk about farmers losing their farmlands if they are not using their land (farming).

How can anyone farm with no water for irrigating? People are elected to positions and staff is hired to perform tasks for the benefit of the Navajo people, but such is not the case. Instead people in positions are only in it for themselves. I agree that there are reasons why the Navajo Nation government should take notice and investigate this hemp/marijuana farming.

It would be appreciated if officials could address the irrigation needs of the farmers, anyone in the higher echelon of government need to respond to the dilapidated irrigation system. Help!

Mary Benally
Hogback, N.M.

Pandemic an ideal time for illegal business

It should be noted that as the Navajo Nation and the world are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, there are some who find this as an ideal time to build illegal businesses as we are witnessing here in Shiprock.

I am speaking of these marijuana-hemp farms operating in a Nation that continues to work to strengthen the Navajo culture, heritage, traditions and customs in our youth and the residents. Marijuana and hemp have no value in the livelihood of our people and our way of life.

Some may argue that our people have used these substances before, yet you don’t see it growing wildly on our lands. Nor do you see it being used in our sacred ceremonies by our medicine men. Marijuana and hemp were introduced to our people by the outside world and its visitors, just as alcohol and other intoxicants, which now plague our lives.

Some may argue that hemp is not marijuana. Both do contain the mind-altering ingredient, THC, at different levels, which would make it where hemp is to marijuana as mouthwash is to intoxicating alcohol.

What the argument here in Shiprock comes down to is how one person shows no regard to Navajo Nation laws. As his fields now yield hemp and his greenhouses are packed with marijuana, local government officials seem to be looking the other way.

Some are actually making excuses for his illegal activities while others just won’t get involved due to no gain for themselves. Now we are hearing of foreign entities buying unused farmlands from farmers who no longer can farm their fields and never taught the younger family members how to run the farm.

Makes one think, how did this person get funding from foreign entities to do business on the reservation without the knowledge of the Navajo Nation government? Did he claim to represent the Navajo Nation?

After all, he believes his position of being the local farm board president supersedes that of the Navajo government.

One of his Chinese funded marijuana-hemp farm, with a field already with budding plants and greenhouses filed with potted marijuana plants, is only 400 yards north of a school zone with a college, two high schools, an elementary school, and a preschool/day care center and is also literally in the backyards of a Navajo Housing Authority housing complex. What are the Navajo Nation zoning laws, if any?

The school boards, along with the NHA administration, should register complaints of the close proximity of this illegal substance farm to their property. If anything, Navajo Nation being federal land, this farm should face federal charges. This family has had experience with these types of charges before. It is a great relief that the Navajo Nation voted against this person becoming president, not once, but twice.

Also was disheartening hearing he even tried to run for New Mexico Senate. This is one politician who has shown many times how he only works for self gain and cares very little of the wellness of his own people.

Again, from past experiences, something that runs in the family. He now has placed trailers on this farm site showing no effort to obtain home-site leases, as all Navajos are required to do.

Then he re-routes part of San Juan River water to his holding pond he had made. Also his drilling for water after dark shows he most likely had no permit to drill. All this so he won’t have to pay water usage fees as all other local farmers are required to pay.

We now hear of how he allows some of his workers to take home potted marijuana plants for their use. His urging of his workers to harass neighboring traditional farmers with threatening gestures aimed towards those who complain of these illegal activities and the eyesores of greenhouses that litter the farmlands.

If he really feels the urge to farm marijuana-hemp, he should have it done off the reservation. Los Lunas has good farmland. The Navajo Nation is constantly working on strengthening our culture, heritage, customs, and traditions. It is sad to have our own people bringing in from the outside what would weaken and destroy what has made our people stand proud.

Our elected officials need to work to keep this substance off our farms and keep it to the farming of our original traditional foods and products. The Navajo farmlands should not be allowed to be purchased by foreign entities and also should not be sold by those with permits to farm these fields.

Unused farmland should go back to the tribe to be offered to other Navajo families who apply for farm permits. These illegal substance farms should be dug up and those involved should be fined and/or imprisoned for no intentions of following orders from the Navajo Nation Justice Department.

All this happening while the Navajo Nation works to keep its people, especially our elders and youth, safe during this COVID-19 pandemic by someone who continually, unethically uses his position for self gain to the point he believes his position as farm board president is above the Navajo Nation government and above the local chapter. What some people will do for self-gain.

Hosteen Huskay
Shiprock, N.M.


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