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Letters: Let’s do side-straddle hops – together

When will the Navajo Nation’s “in-house” fighting stop? When? We all on the Navajo Nation need to get out and exercise together. Let us all stand and do five side-straddle hops right now — all together.

Several will say “I can’t” and several will participate. Take this same picture when it comes to funds currently available and new funds coming in from the outside to the Navajo Nation government for the COVID-19 partial relief.

This written editorial centers on the $600 million from the U.S. government, which requires a template for the Navajo Nation to accept the COVID-19 funds, which will impact the local and central Navajo governmental services impacting direct services to our Navajo people.

My personal experiences with my government is that when we hear of or see money we all do not participate in doing the five side-straddle hops together. Instead we, as individuals or groups, begin to “wonder” and have an agenda of our own. Why? Our leaders, as well as us the general public, push the idea of working together.

Yet we do the opposite. So what happens? Do you have an answer? Well, let’s do five more side-straddle hops — all stand please and do five side-straddle hops. By now we lost a few more individuals in doing the five additional side-straddle hops. Right!

Well, the longer there are unjustified or justified delays in working together and erasing the “no more fighting in-house” in our Navajo Nation government there will be no solidarity in our submittal(s) of any plan(s). This template to make use of the $600 million is required to come from the Navajo Nation in order to make use of the actual funds when received.

This actual project plan by the Navajo Nation, which is not in place yet, may require us to do additional side-straddle hops in the future. Not to mention other thousands of dollars that has already been received by our Navajo Nation government — I wonder where those funds are going or have gone.

My understanding is that the monetary donations are just sitting and not being used while our Navajo population is affected. In conclusion, no more in-house fighting and expedite a compromised Navajo Nation template with a deadline of July 3 or sooner for a qualified future $600 million (COVID-19) use plan with copies to the general public.

There is a deadline of December for making use of all the funds. Stay as a unified Navajo Nation government from start to end during the allocation and the use of $600 million.

We, the Navajo citizens, wait for all of us to do the five side-straddle hops together at one time once a plan emerges and the plan begins to work. We wait for a qualified plan and as we wait many more of our Navajos die. Have you seen the new numbers?

A big shout out to all the first responders who sacrifice their lives each day going to work to take care of us. All of us from every corner of the Navajo Nation need to continue to minimize the spread of the virus — stay home, wear a mask and wear gloves. By doing so — lives lost will be less or none at all.

Harold Wauneka
Shush Bi’toh (Blue Canyon)/Tséhootsooí, Ariz.

Support Navajo-led relief groups

I read Percy Deal’s piece “Stop the Relief Infighting” in the June 11 edition of the Navajo Times. It saddens me to see such division among our leaders. I believe we need to recognize the value of Navajo-led relief groups.

In the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Navajo Nation government struggled to figure out how to respond to the challenges of dwindling supplies and applying the idea of social distancing among the people. They struggled to figure out the rules, the expertise, decision makers, and to locate funding to get resources out to our 110 communities.

Clearly, our government is not built for rapid responsiveness to emergency situations. Instead, it took the quick action and response of concerned Navajo citizens to create a GoFundMe page.

Our former attorney general, Ethel Branch, and her team from local Navajo communities stepped up as the first relief funded organization to supply resources to our most needy and vulnerable population — our elders, our immune-compromised, and our single parent homes.

They kicked off their first fundraising goal of a few thousand dollars and it has led into the millions with national and international supporters. I believe the grassroots movement must be recognized as an asset for the Navajo Nation. Grassroots movements such as the Navajo and Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund are powerful weapons to battle COVID-19 to get immediate relief to our Navajo people.

The Navajo and Hopi Families Relief Group helped save so many lives. They prevented families from driving into town in the early stages of the pandemic to prevent them from getting exposed to COVID-19.

Their quick thinking to fundraise online helped to alleviate the high cost of buying needed supplies, clean water, and hard-to-acquire cleaning supplies for Navajo families. They recognized that COVID-19 knows no boundaries and unified with our Hopi brothers and sisters. Their swift and decisive action promotes transparency and triggered other movements like the Navajo Seamstresses United.

We should praise the actions of our Navajo people for stepping up and organizing. One thing we all need to recognize is we still need more relief in our communities. Supplies are used. Food is eaten. Money is spent. It is clear that we need all types of support from all types of organizations. This will be a long battle against COVID-19.

We need to fight this together. Our Navajo Nation government does not have a monopoly on helping people. No one body owns the rights or the name to Navajo Nation government.

We, as the people, are the Navajo Nation government. We are a tribal democracy built on the idea of local community organizing and helping ourselves. The Navajo government must praise the actions of our people with the energy and courage to act. We need our leaders to unite and to unite grassroots action.

We cannot win as a people when legal minds are wasted on suing our own citizens. Our legal agents must be focused on fighting the big battles that will transform our nation. As a nation, we must recognize the strengths and limits of our government.

We must allow citizens to organize Navajo driven relief groups when needs are not being met. Do not punish Ethel Branch and her team for their fearless and courageous action. Dear Navajo leaders, unite us, don’t fight us.

Wendy S. Greyeyes, Ph.D.
Kayenta, Ariz.

Remove names of those who murdered

I’m a former student of Albuquerque Public Schools. I have lived off and on in the Albuquerque area throughout my 69 years.

I have worked for Albuquerque Public Schools and Santa Fe Public Schools and been on the parent advisory board in the past to advocate for Native American children.

With climate changing and finally doing away with some efforts of racism, which has been normalized for generations, it’s time to make changes. I ask that the board make changes and remove names of the past who have committed genocide and murdered, killing thousands of Navajo, Apache, ancestors of 19 pueblos in New Mexico, and other Native American people in North America. The board should no longer honor and remove their names from our schools:
• Kit Carson – murdered and killed thousands of children, women and men of the Navajo/Dine, Apaches from Dulce, and Mescalero communities.
• Onate, Coronado – murdered and killed by cutting off feet of children, women and men in the 19 Pueblos.
• Tony Hillerman – exploited the Navajo/Diné culture and exposed ceremonial secrets to a society that didn’t appreciate it. In our Diné sense of culture committed sacrilege.
• Grant – a man who drove, murdered and killed thousands of Native American people during and after the Civil War.
• Lew Wallace – a soldier during Civil War who killed and murdered thousands of Native American people.
• John Adams, Jefferson, Washington, Monroe, Taft, Harrison, Garfield, Cleveland, Polk – presidents who ordered to murder and kill thousands of Native American people on the East Coast and Southwest area.

I will not elaborate any further. I’m assuming you are educators and to some point read the U.S. history.

LaVerne Holtsoi Moreno
Albuquerque, N.M. (Hometown: Lukachukai, Ariz.)

Illegal hemp farms, Asian workers

I want to address the illegal hemp growing in Gadii’ahi, New Mexico. I live by an access road where Dineh Benally and foreign Asians are starting to build an illegal hemp farm facility on a local community member’s farm. My first encounter with them was on June 13.

I noticed trash being thrown on the road near my home on which they were using to bring in a semi-truck and several vans full of foreign Asians. I confronted these individuals not to throw trash or damage the road with their heavy equipment.

As I was delivering my message to these Asian foreigners who speak or understand little to no English, Mr. Dineh Benally drove up and I conveyed the same message to him along with my understanding that hemp farming is an illegal activity on the Navajo Nation.

He then said that hemp farming was not illegal and to do my research on it. Mr. Benally tried to give me $20 for my trouble for picking up after his Asian workers, which makes me think who else he pays off to operate his illegal hemp farming activities.

Mr. Benally’s rebuttal to my argument was that I was jealous of what he is trying to accomplish, which is viewed as an illegal drug dealer. He stated that he has authority to build hemp farms, because he is the farm board president. Although he is the Shiprock Farm Board president, he still has to follow the laws, both federal and Navajo Nation.

I contacted the Gadii’ahi Farm Board president to intervene in this illegal farming activity in which Mr. Benally and his community business partner were informed hemp farming is illegal and the consequences to this activity. They both continued to bring in their heavy equipment and Asian foreigners to begin building.

So every day the building of this hemp farm facility continues. Mr. Benally’s Asian workers blatantly disregard all laws, including the nightly and weekend curfews. They also drive erratically on the roads to our once quiet community by tailgating vehicles, passing vehicles in no passing zones and driving into the canal road at 10 p.m. at night causing a disturbance to those who are trying to rest.

I have contacted the Shiprock police department to report these activities, but to no avail, it is not on the priority list to address. I was informed that Mr. Benally’s Asian workers are allowed to disobey the weekend curfew law as they have an essential worker letter indicating hemp farming is defined as an essential work activity.

I don’t understand how hemp farming is essential. As a voting Navajo citizen, I would like to request for the Navajo Nation president, attorney general and other authorities to investigate Mr. Benally’s blatant disregard of the Navajo Nation business regulatory laws and hiring of foreign Asians to build and operate these illegal hemp farms on the Navajo Nation. No one else is above the law, including Mr. Dineh Benally.

Michael J. Roy
Gadii’ahi, N.M.

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