Letters: Name change doesn’t restore pride

For some people, we do not know which name to use anymore — Navajo, Diné, Na’beho, Jaan (slang for poor). And outsiders call us Navajo, a name that some reject as meaning “thief.”

Now, many other members of the Diné Nation have returned to the tribe’s ancient name: Diné, or The People of the Earth.

A leader said if we all use the rightful name, instead of the name other people imposed on us, perhaps it will be a new beginning for our children and grandchildren. Diné would restore pride and control over our own destiny.

On the other hand,s we thought that would restore pride. Poverty and deprivation remain unshakeable. It remains so because we, Diné, allow it to control us. Our youth would rather fill out food stamp applications instead of jobs and stealing is a career choice for them.

In recent months, thievery seems to become the norm to go shopping with a “five-finger discount” – Diné transients, neighbors, relatives stealing from their own people, from the places of businesses and even churches.

The homeowners’ valuables are main items – guns, jewelry, clothes, propane bottles, kettle bells, lawnmowers, stoves and wood.

The straggly backpack carrier scopes out the neighborhoods while the homeowners are at work. The thief re-sells the stolen goods at the flea market and door-to-door.

Of course, we file reports. We (the women) are frustrated that the Diné court system has no ordinance against bootlegging and drug-related restrictions.

They have speeding laws and DUI incarceration we see as a lost cause. Our laws do not even protect against those from the outside who come and take women who are still missing.

Who is going to protect our rights from the annoying Navajo and others?

Grace J. Tracy
Fort Defiance, Ariz.

NTEC misleading people re coal

Navajo Transitional Energy Company no doubt has a trust issue with the Navajos.

NTEC has clearly lost the trust of the Navajo people and the tribal government. Trust that will never come back to NTEC with this board and CEO in place.

NTEC propaganda machine just last week shows they will continue to falsely tell their story.

Everyone in the region knows that the speaker’s office has not played any role in delivering coal to the Navajo people. Not even NTEC itself since all the managers now operate out of Wyoming and Denver. It is Bisti Fuels and several delegates that have been instrumental in getting out the coal for the Navajo public and Hopis.

Yet the company continues to promote their propaganda that NTEC and the speaker’s office are the ones that made coal delivery happen. This is just plain outright false.

Why does NTEC continue to not tell the truth? We know they buy public officials and now they are using the Navajo public offices to spread false information. NTEC CEO (Clark) Moseley and its board of directors continue to support this kind of misleading behavior.

What are the CEO and managers afraid of these days? Our public tribal officials must not let NTEC take advantage of them and us.

NTEC has turned into another Peabody and BHP corporation. It moves its operations far from Navajo land along with precious Navajo revenue from the Navajo mine. NTEC now provides direct support to all those non-Navajo communities in Wyoming and Montana.

In turn, what do the Navajo people get – nothing? The BHP and Peabody model of operating far from Navajo with Navajo money is the same model NTEC now uses.

NTEC recently announced that they still have not gotten the bonds and permits for the Wyoming and Montana mines. Yet NTEC agreed to waive the company’s sovereign immunity and take on $100 million debt of back taxes to the states and counties in Wyoming and Montana. This deal clearly was to win over the lawmakers of those two states.

These two actions show that non-Navajo NTEC managers of the company will never have the best interest of the Navajo people in mind. The non-Navajos have sold Navajo’s precious sovereignty. It’s time for a major change within NTEC. It has to start with a new set of board members and then a new CEO.

Clyde Hanson
Montezuma Creek/Aneth, Utah

Disrespectful wood haulers

Good afternoon, I am yét dés wood (aka Alastair Young). I am a single father and have been for eight or so years. I am 4/4 Navajo and of the house of Israel through Joseph who was sold into Egypt, of the tribe Manasseh.

In the Navajo clans, I am of the Tsenabahilnii (Sleep Rock People), born for Red Forehead People Smoking Tobacco.

We live five miles east of the recently shut down Kayenta Mine J 28, what is known as NPL.

I am a current member of the Chilchinbeto Chapter. I was raised and worked off the reservation and most of my life. My parents taught me English as my first and only language, to reduce the challenges they faced in the real world. I’m grateful that they had made the sacrifices to raise me in that manner, and also in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

As I have come back to live and work at Black Mesa, I immediately recognized the backwards operation and didn’t fit well, according to my work ethic. I resigned and became self-employed, but donated most of my time and efforts serving in the church.

Two years ago, I was asked to run for grazing official. I knew there hadn’t been one in office for years. I also knew the challenges, especially not being totally fluent in the Navajo language.

I took up the challenge because I love my people and see change is needed, and I have the knowledge to teach and encourage. I was told that my audience is the younger generation and being fluent doesn’t make me Navajo. I resigned after two months because my families in the community were retaliating and being un-teachable.

I was and am totally for Peabody Mine and NGS closure, because workers abandoned homelands and livestock. Workers go to jobs to sleep off hangovers and put out least amount of production, yet cry for overtime hours. Now relieved of natural resource of coal gone from the area, we are attacked by wood haulers.

My encouragement as an official, and as a brother, is to be respectful and haul in nice summer weather. Plan ahead and ask residents where to cut and haul from, instead of dead of winter when roads are bad. They go off-roading with 4?4s tearing up ground and what little vegetation there is.

People come from all over the Western Agency: Coppermine, Coalmine Mesa, Shonto, Chinle, Dennehotso, Tuba City, Cameron, Kaibeto, Monument Valley, Kayenta, Chilchinbeto, Rough Rock, and Many Farms.

We were nice for a long time and respectfully allowed it because dead wood needed harvesting, but prime firewood is bypassed and live juniper trees that took hundreds of years to grow are cut for firewood.

People don’t care that we use the roads they tear up on a daily basis to take my daughter five miles at 5:15 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. I have been berming off roads and hear complaints that it’s Navajo trust land and I have no right.

I respond, “Yes, we are entrusted to manage land as farmers and ranchers, not destroy it with overgrazing and traffic off road. How did your great-grandparents survive in winter months? I’m sure they didn’t take their wagon up the Mesa empty-handed without introduction in the middle of winter. What is wrong with your teachings? What is your belief?”
I hope you treat your mothers with more respect than how you treat this land you call Mother Earth.

I have done personal investigations and know that people with problems with illegal substances are the main traffic on the mesa to sell wood for cash and target elderly for their monthly check. I would encourage all to please use alternative fuel, such as wood pellets. It’s cheaper and more economically safe.

I love all of God’s children and this great nation so I will do what it takes to protect the innocent, even with my 6-gun holstered on my hip.

I write in hopes that immediate change is made to the selling of wood hauling permits, and rights to protect residents and natural resources before greater chaos unfolds.

Alastair Young
Kayenta, Ariz.

Our votes are important!

I have been listening and watching the Democrat debates. After listening to the impeachment, I Googled two items, respectively: Why is the House of Representatives important and why is the Senate important?
These are the ones that interested me:

• “A crucial function in the House of Representatives is to make amendments or reforms to the national constitution in accordance with the legal framework of each country. It is a delicate function insofar as it relates to the very nature of the political regime of a society.”

• “The Senate is given important powers under the ‘advice and consent’ provisions (Article II, Section 2) of the Constitution: Ratification of treaties requires a two-thirds majority of all senators present and a simple majority for approval of important public appointments, such as those of cabinet members, ambassadors … a delicate function insofar as it relates to the very nature of the political regime of a society.”

I cannot express how important our votes are.

Hattie Lindell states, “… (T)he whole purpose of democracy is for every person to have a say in what goes on, and when less than half the country is voting, not everyone’s voice is being heard. And when not everyone is being heard, that’s not a democracy.”

Barack Obama said, “I am here to deliver a simple message, and that is that you need to vote because our democracy depends on it.”

So, please register if you have not registered and vote. I like this: “Act not react.”

Nancy Todea
Shiprock, N.M.

Yes, we need to reclaim our minds

Kindly permit me to respond to “Reclaim your mind”, an article (Navajo Times, Feb. 13, 2020), delineating several opinions of Hataalii Avery Denny. I believe I am entitled to both affirm and question several of his assertions.

My entitlement consists of 1) My father who was trained and served (I was hidden behind the rolled-up quilts on several of his sings) as a medicine man by 2) two uncles (brothers of his mother) who were well-known Tódích’íi’nii medicine men — Dagha Litsoi’ and Dagha Ni’t’saii’ in the Wildcat Peak area, northwest of Tonalea, as well as the north side of Navajo Mountain.

As a young boy in the mid-1940s to early 1950s, I accompanied each on their short treks up the north side of Navajo Mountain to collect herbs. I heard their prayers and saw the traditional corn pollen gestures before and after they collected the samples.

They visited my family often at Indian Camp, Navajo Ordinance Depot, 17 miles west of Flagstaff.

I was always intrigued by their quiet manners and the beautifully worded prayers in our Dineh language. They came to encourage my father and to share some fresh spiritual thinking and some recent experiences.

I totally affirm Hataalii Denny’s “Reclaim your mind” stance. However, I would openly question his “…philosophy of Sa’ah Naaghai Bik’eh Hozhoon encompass what is needed for well-being and the preservation of life” assertion.

He did not interpret the name of his philosophy — to me, a total no-brainer. The following is its interpretation: One Who Walks Around Old Age Sovereign Peacemaker.

This is not a philosophy — it is the traditional Dineh name for Creator — God, the Sovereign Peacemaker. The definition of the term Bik’eh is sovereign, which can be translated as either “according to” or “free to govern.”

The name I heard as a young boy was: A’s a’hoo Naaghai Bi’keh Hozhoon. A’s a’hoo Naaghai means One Who Walks Forever. As one who was trained by a Dineh medicine man-father I am absolutely certain that The Sovereign Peacemaker’s earliest real name is Jesus Christ.

The Bible openly states that Jesus is the Creator. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

During the 1920s, as my father was being trained by his uncles, he was told in very strong language that “there is something coming toward our reservation from the southeast. It is coming closer and closer and when it appears in our land it will become an acceptable way — the Dineh will say it has always been here so it has always been ours.”

As medicine men, we call it Aze di’shi,ii (“despicable medicine”) — do not ever get involved with it.

Today, we call the new arrival peyote. The Peyote Way calls itself the Native American Church and I understand they use the Sa’ah Naaghai — the same name Denny called a philosophy — in their prayers.

Yes, the Dineh religion is dying. Yes, the Dineh language is dying. Yes, the Internet is now our teacher — our people are becoming addicted to texting one another across the McDonald’s fast-food table. Yes, we need to reclaim our minds.

Tacheeni Scott
Flagstaff, Ariz.


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