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Letters: Nation committed wage theft

Letters: Nation committed wage theft

Your article in the Jan. 23 edition on New Mexico minimum wage by Pauly Denetclaw really struck a chord. As I read, alarms went off in my mind. You see, the article referred to wage theft and how Natives are the hardest hit. However, the article got one thing wrong, and that is that wage theft is predominantly in the restaurant industry.

I am writing to tell you that I am a victim of wage theft and I worked for the Navajo Nation for a number of years as a temporary employee. The wage theft happened in 2014. The office where I worked processed my Personnel Action Form that started on April 1, 2014, and ended June 30, 2014. After that, I was paid. Then, after June 11, I didn’t get a check. My last check was for the pay period ending May 30 and my PAF didn’t end until the end of June, which meant that at that time, I wasn’t getting paid for the time from June 1 to June 11, which was eight days. So I waited patiently and kept coming to work, even past my end date in the hopes that I would get paid. But I didn’t.

On Aug. 8, I was told that I could no longer work for the Navajo Nation. So I left. It wasn’t until Dec. 14, 2015, that they called and said that I would get paid, but only if I came in and worked an additional 20 days instead of just paying me outright. So I agreed. But going back to work wasn’t the same. I felt out of place because there was already someone else sitting at my desk (they were even using my Navajo Nation email account). I didn’t complain though, I worked the additional hours.

When my employment ended, I was done with that office. I haven’t worked for the Navajo Nation since, though I did submit applications here and there.

Over the years, I had developed a loyalty for the office I worked for and barely questioned anyone when I stopped getting paid and I also never thought to look for work elsewhere, even a year later. I still love what I do and always joked that that if I could, I would do it for free, only to realize how true that statement became.

I don’t want to make any trouble for the Navajo Nation. I just want people employed temporarily to be smart about their jobs. I would also strongly discourage you from getting extended. Either try to get on permanently or start looking for another job. I would also suggest getting letters of recommendation from your supervisor and co-workers while everyone is on good terms.

Germaine Martinez
Standing Rock, N.M.

Don’t buy counterfeit jewelry

The market is flooded with fake Navajo jewelry, mostly made in Asia for a few dollars a day. Unfortunately, some of the biggest consumers of fakes are Navajo themselves.

However cheap it seems, it’s still a rip-off that’ll likely end up in a landfill, and it’s undermining Navajo smiths. Please support our artists!

Better to have one pair of nice earrings than a box of fakes.

Liz Wallace
Santa Fe, N.M.

Saddened at Francisco’s passing

My family and I are saddened to learn of LeWanda C. Francisco’s passing on Jan. 19. Our deepest sympathy to the family. We knew her as “Wanda.” She was the nicest person anyone could meet.

My family worked with her on many rodeo and bull riding events. She performed as secretary and timer at our events. She was professional, knowledgeable, and respectful in doing her job.

We met her on the rodeo trail some years back performing her responsibilities. She could greet you and smile. She served the contestants in a cordial and professional manner. She was the last to leave the rodeo arena area. When she was not working at another rodeo, she was always glad to come to your event and help.

Some time back she became a radio personality at KTNN in Window Rock. My family and I were so proud and happy for her. We looked forward to the rodeo news and news broadcast she presented. We always enjoyed listening to her. She was one of the best at what she did.

She did a live remote once in Kayenta, and we made it a point to see and greet her. She was so happy to see us as we did her. We all chatted briefly and left. She was so nice in mentioning on the air that she saw us. That was her personality, and she was our friend.

We will truly miss her. Rodeo, radio and Navajo Nation have lost a true friend and pro personality.

Eugene Charley and family
Kayenta, Ariz.

‘Never forget’ … Oh, really?

Holocaust Remembrance Day, Jan. 27, 2020, marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps in 1945. One of the most horrific aspects of the Holocaust were the concentration camps that held not only Jewish people but dissenters of Adolf Hitler’s rise to power that set the Nazi war machine into motion.

We hear the chant of “Never Again!” to this day and are repulsed by the mass murders that ensued after Hitler’s subjugation of Germany and subsequently, other countries. The idea that this would ever happen again has many concerned about an individual who would allegedly sleep with a copy of Hitler’s first book “Mein Kampf” (“My Struggle”) beside his bed. Or initiate the roundup of an ethnic population or ban them at America’s borders and separate innocent children from their families and loved ones who were already in America.

Welcome to the time of Donald Trump, where concentration camps across America hold thousands of innocent children who were separated (some permanently) from their families in unsanitary conditions under Trump’s Zero Tolerance Immigration Policy.

Trump’s racist “Wall” on the southern border in Arizona has work crews bulldozing protected saguaro cacti at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument; indigenous burial and sacred sites are included in the destruction in spite of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (Public Law 101-601; 25 U.S.C. 3001-3013). Native Americans have lost much under Trump.

Trump, the Master of Bankruptcy (six) now plans to zero out Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare; it is a fact that he intends to do this if elected to a second term by winning the Electoral College, not the popular vote, as he did in 2016, even after Hillary Clinton won by over two million votes. Trump’s constant golf vacations to his private properties have cost U.S. taxpayers over $120 million.

With the U.S. Senate trial ongoing, it is not going to be an “impartial trial” because the GOP will not allow witnesses and documents that could prove beyond a shadow of a doubt the allegations that unfolded in the U.S. House impeachment hearings. Trump is now impeached forever.

In sheer dereliction of their constitutional duties, 21 Republicans walked out on the first day to give press conferences filled with propaganda that befits Russian sound bytes. Appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), has not ruled out accepting foreign aide.

Historically speaking, a “War Time President” is handed a second term, a convenient excuse to assassinate Qassem Soleimani, an Iraninan general who is now a martyr. Iran’s response was a call for “Harsh revenge!”

Meanwhile, U.S. troops are guarding Syrian oil fields after Trump abandoned our Kurdish allies. They also are doing the same thing in Saudi Arabia for $1 billion. This makes them mercenaries, no less.

Although a Fox News poll found him to be the “greatest threat to world peace,” Trump’s voting base is the Evangelical Christians who have abandoned the Great Commission of Jesus Christ and serve only Trump.

MAGA: “Many Abandoned God Almighty.”

Mervyn Tilden
Kin Litsoh Sinili (Church Rock), N.M.

Solar panels? Just say ‘Whoooa!’

Land on the Navajo Reservation is barren, overgrazed and topsoil erodes into the washes. Not much to offer — we think. There seems a rush to give away land to operate utility-scale photovoltaic solar farms for the Navajo enterprise, Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, to sell energy dedicated to city customers. The land and sun provide free energy, so this makes quite an investment return. The Navajo individual the sun shines on should get something out of it besides a sunburn.

I hope people will say, “Whoooa!” with me.

What Council delegate is pounding on the table advocating for their chapter constituents? Sometimes it’s best to have people hear an opinion through a newspaper outlet rather than speaking to a chapter audience to bring an issue to the forefront.

So far, numerous articles on Navajo Times have been about installing solar panels on thousands of acres to generate megawatts of electric energy, a potential money-maker, the same as it was with our mineral resource — coal. Most wish we still had it. We do, but it’s not economically feasible. Coal was making millions going into the coffers of our central government, now sorely missed. The money went to running huge budgets for administrative cost of the three branches, programs of all sorts, and the leftovers trickled down to local chapters.

The local government act was hyped up to be independent and allow businesses to flourish, but it didn’t work. The rundown chapters are still running on life support and our government hasn’t quite de-centralized, and don’t know how to stop spending.

I believe that’s what our Council delegates want and need: a little shaking. They haven’t voiced an opinion or support on our behalf: “With all this land, why not give an opportunity to make some money back to the people at the local chapter and grazing permit holders in creating their own solar farm as a profit share as not to be so dependent?”

The Kayenta solar farm is designed in such a way that land is lost forever to the grazing permit holder and chapter. In hindsight, I would say negotiation favoring some financial return for both was seriously overlooked, such as market average rate per acre to produce megawatt capacity, exchange for a dual land use for livestock and/or agriculture.

It comes down to this, how much is the tribe getting per year to produce renewable free energy from our Father Sun opposed to the community and people get? I presume — nothing.

How do we get out this Third World economic condition we can’t seem to shake?

Casinos are a good case in point. All of the revenue goes to Window Rock, or start saying “No” until local communities and permit holders get involved.

Land is too precious not to ever use again. Ranchers in other states have installed solar panels to allow livestock within a contained area for rotation of pasture use. New techniques were developed to drive poles into the soil with no disturbance to the ground. Feasibilities of growing field crops and pasture land under solar panels and without compromising natural habitats make profits are a win-win.

People should get more out of their delegates instead of allowing for “no shows”.

Teddy Begay
Kayenta, Ariz.

Thanks for thinking of inmates

I would like to take this time to thank you from the bottom of my heart for thinking of all the brothers and sisters across our nations who are incarcerated. I, for one, know there are many people from Naabeeho Diné and other tribes from different regions locked away.

I started doing time in Black Canyon, Arizona, in 2012. I lost my mother three years ago and to this day I have never been to her resting place. She passed away two days before she was going to visit me in prison.

I totally understand what you are saying about things are not the same. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her. I would always think when I’m done with my time that my mom would be standing on the other side of that fence holding a hot, homemade burrito made to my liking. Only she knew what that was.

Now, I can only think of the many things she would say back then, “You need to learn how to do everything. I will not be here forever,” she would say. So I understand where you are coming from with what you wrote.

Not many people out there talk about the incarcerated. I understand I have done wrong. As time goes by you see many things in a different way than Day One. Time changes everything, time changes you. Not only does it change you, it changes you for the better. Time shows you who you are deep down inside you. It gives you an open perspective of things you can give back to your people in your community and tribe. I can take the things I learned in here and reach out to my own people and friends and let them know this is not a place for them or anybody else.

I would like to thank all of your staff at Navajo Times for bringing us this great newspaper. It is read by many people from different nationalities after I am done with it, and everybody enjoys Diné Bi Naaltsoos.

Lonnie Ben
Black Canyon, Ariz.


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