Letters: Nation needs a paradigm shift
The Navajo Nation needs a paradigm shift (distinct concept or thought pattern) in that their language historically contributed to this country and the world, but its leadership to date has failed the nation on many local issues because it tends to keep out its best members who went outside the nation to get an education.
A survey would probably prove only a fraction of the population past age 50 even speaks the language “somewhat” fluently. In which as this situation shows, it limits the field for candidates which usually keeps the leadership limited to those who may know the language well, but lack the total education factor as this situation has exposed.
Situations such as this only hold a tribe back in the past. Not to negate its customs, but flexibility in this qualification needs to be addressed. There is no absolute to quantify the word “fluently.”
Let the people vote and let the people be heard. For a tribe to pass up a candidate such as this sends the wrong message to its educational system, youth, and the world outside the nation watching this election. It is time for a shift in thinking for all the Navajo members. Do you want more of the same, or a member that wants to put his knowledge and skills to use for the tribe’s future well-being?
There needs to be a starting point for the Navajo Nation to start to be in the present. It has been isolated to the past for too long. I am a member of another tribe, and I think the Creator has given this tribe a blessing for such a candidate to be available to vote for. I believe it will be a historical election and every member should not miss out to vote — to be heard!
The Navajo language will go on co-existing (within the membership and leadership accordingly to build a future) with the English language.
Lastly, as an outsider viewing the Navajo Nation election, I know who I would vote for — if I could.
Vice-presidential candidate is not qualified
As the field of candidates for Navajo Nation president has come down to two, I feel the Navajo voters should understand which candidate will work for the betterment and forward progress of our nation. While we have listened and heard what candidates promise our people we need to understand what their running mates claim.
Some history on the working of one vice-presidential candidate, I must state, I do not feel this person has the qualifications nor the background to be in office. The person of which I speak in the past has claimed to own property in Shiprock while requesting rent from programs wishing to use these buildings to provide much needed services for people who struggle with lack of services.
When brought to the attention of the local business commission, they replied that this individual has no rights to said property and should repay all they had collected on down payment — funds which were never returned.
On one property, the individual installed a septic tank system stating resistance to working with any tribal agency, including the utility department. This individual, on another endeavor, claims to utilize Navajo youth talent in the field of said endeavor. Also, uses a Navajo name for this program.
Looking into this program, we see the majority of youth being utilized are non-Navajo. When asked of this decision, the individual claimed Navajo Nation youth do not possess the talent needed for such an endeavor.
This individual, a few years back, was found to use youth over the age while doctoring paperwork. Still the individual became enraged at youth who did not produce to the level he wanted and started shoving these prospects. The overseeing committee found sufficient evidence to ban this individual from any further contact with this and all other programs under the supervision of said commission. The individual did state in front of witnesses his desire to move away from the reservation and never to return stating Navajo Nation has nothing they need.
These are a few of the deceitful actions this individual has been and still is involved within his tenure as a self-proclaimed business person. What will happen if voted into office?
I feel no need to reveal the individual’s name, but I must ask our voting youth to hear what these candidates present as their platform for taking our nation forward and work to better the lives of all Navajo, including youth who are tired of old politics full of broken promises.
Remember, what has been reiterated time and time again from the majority of the 17 candidates. Time is now to bring in new leadership with knowledge of what our nation is in need of. I ask of the other candidates who all have sincerity in their hearts of what they would like to see our nation become, back the individual who will bring new government to our nation. Why vote to go back to what we know does not work?
Vote ‘Dooda’ to moving backwards and the selling of our culture, heritage, traditions and health.
(Hometown: Beclabito, N.M.)
$1M for each tribal member
Yaateeh, Navajo Nation. I would like to propose to the Navajo tribal members a serious thought concerning the $554 million of mismanagement settlement from the Department of Interior and the United States government.
Most definitely, it is a subject to be looked at by the people than just the elected few who have proven to be less than honest characters without good morals and ethics. When have they acted in the best interest of the Diné? It’s time to wake up!
I lived here for 12 years and in my 29 years married to a Diné, nothing has changed for the better. I don’t see anything promising in the horizon to improve the quality of life for all the Navajo enrolled members.
— During Navajo Nation elections, candidates make all kinds of promises. Currently, one has already served eight years as Navajo Nation president. What did he show for his eight years in office?
Legislators are resigning and going to trials due to corruption, which is truly embarrassing and disgraceful to the Diné. How much more poverty will the Diné endure?
Should the people, without power, sit back and read about the disappearance of their money, watch officials buy more rings or disburse it to the tribal programs to mismanage without the people’s agreement?
— There is approximately 268,000 enrolled Diné. Each Diné could get $1 million in a per-capita payment using only about half of the $554 million of the trust settlement. The remaining $286 million settlement trust funds can directly be used into community development infrastructure, new water towers, water and sewer lines, rights-of-way, power lines, and to develop new open tribal lands for housing, economic and community development.
— Many Diné want to live good healthy lives and build homesteads for their future generations, especially since the government and the tribal government are not able to pull the Diné out of poverty. Generational poverty is the hardest conditioning our Indian people suffer and face.
Settlement for minor children should be put in a trust fund until they turn 18 and graduate from high school. If they drop out of school before age 18, then their trust settlement is withheld until they turn 21. The interest may be used for clothing allowance, educational saving or for insurance.
I am a tribal member from a tribe, which already practices this type of government and have seen improvement of the quality of life for my Indian people — As grant writer, compliance officer and economy planner and developer, I am refused employment with the Navajo Nation due to being over-qualified.
In thinking about this, you, the people, have the power to take control of your life with the power of your voice. The reasoning of rich tribes is, ‘Why let a select few (elected officials) abuse their elected power when we all could be foolish together as a nation and share in the riches,’ just this once.
Darren L. Snake
Fort Defiance, Ariz.
Use money for small business development
I extend my congratulations to the Shelly-Jim administration and all Navajo Nation leaders for their successful pursuit of the $554 million trust settlement with the federal government.
Every so often an opportunity emerges for our entrepreneurs, small business owners and prospective small business owners. I see this trust fund settlement as such an opportunity.
I have owned and operated my own small business since April 1982 and have worked closely teaching the new generation of Dineh the business-of-business and economics. I empathize with the Navajo small business community when they tell me they want to help grow the Navajo economy but find it difficult do so because the laws and policies that should help them do not.
Our leaders and the Navajo public at large have another opportunity to change this point of view.
There will be, as I understand, a series of town hall meetings throughout the Navajo Nation where our leaders will receive recommendations on how we want to spend $554 million. I encourage every Dineh who is a small business owner and those who are interested to register their support, by letter or testimony, to set aside a sizeable sum of this money for investment in small business startup, expansion and growth.
There are approximately 200 Navajo Nation business owners who are certified as Navajo preference contractors and we believe there are more Navajo business owners and entrepreneurs who are not registered that can easily total the number to 300. This is a healthy number to begin with to have the Navajo small business community start on a serious growth path to add value to the Navajo Nation economy beginning with revenue generation and jobs.
Are we cast aside for not speaking fluently?
Since I graduated from college, my mother asked me the same question repetitiously, “Would you ever come back to the reservation?” My response would always be, “It depends on what you mean by ‘come back’ and most likely the answer is no.” There are many reasons why my answer is no and one of them came to light by the actions of Dale E. Tsosie and Hank Whitethorne.
The longstanding Navajo teaching is ‘go get an education and return one day to help the Navajo people.’ I always thought I’d return to the Navajo Reservation and help my people with the education I received. The Navajo Nation funded part of my college education and so I thought I should give back by applying my talent somewhere on the Navajo Reservation.
After I graduated from college, I immediately began seeking employment within the Navajo Nation but I was unsuccessful. I received denial letters saying that I was either under-qualified or over-qualified. I then decided it was best to try in Tempe, Ariz., and to my surprise I was given a great opportunity without hesitation. I am quite sure this happens to not only me but many of our young educated Navajos.
I grew up around my grandparents who only speak Navajo. Sadly, my time away from the reservation has drastically lessened my ability to speak Navajo well. With the Navajo I am able to speak, I have a difficult time communicating with my grandparents.
Young Navajos like Chris Deschene leave the reservation to get an education. With all the education we receive, ideas come to mind that we want to use to help the Navajo Nation. We want to come back for one thing, to help our people. Yet, we are cast aside because we don’t speak fluent Navajo?
— The grievances filed against Chris show hatred, envy, and jealousy. A Navajo man is being told he can’t represent our people because he isn’t Navajo enough. If that’s the case, maybe I am not Navajo either.
— With various obstacles being placed on the young educated Navajos, maybe the young educated generation is never going to come back to the Navajo Nation. As it is, our current leaders throw the word sovereignty around not even knowing the meaning. The current state of the Navajo Nation shows we are not sovereign at all. We will never be with the current leaders because they all still rely heavily on the federal government. We have the resources and the knowledge to change that. Here is a young Navajo who has returned to the Navajo Nation and has said, “I am back to help my Navajo people.”
Give this young man the opportunity to run for Navajo Nation president. Let Chris Deschene help his people. Let the young Navajos lead. Let Chris lead!
Black Mesa, Ariz.
We must keep language in government
Like most Navajo students earning a higher education at an off-reservation school, my grandmother, who only spoke Navajo, was always the person to advocate for me to receive funding for my Western education. She has since passed on and I am greatly indebted to her and my community for bringing me this far in life.
I must commend the men and women who took a stand for our Navajo language in the Navajo Nation Supreme Court case against the legitimacy of Christopher Clark Deschene’s ability to speak and understand Navajo fluently. Most people will pass this issue off as petty but I feel it says a lot about our future as a nation.
We need to put into perspective that this issue is not about Dale E. Tsosie or Hank Whitethorne at all. It is fair to say Deschene falsified under oath meeting the requirements of president.
This new government we all hope for needs to stop making exceptions for what is written in black and white. We have an obligation to demand that our leaders follow Navajo laws, period. As Navajo, we have a unique position to be treated as a state by the federal government. Yes, that does require someone with Western knowledge to take our nation to this level but it also requires someone who can truly speak on our behalf as Navajos.
I do not speak Navajo fluently, but I strongly feel there is an esoteric knowledge written between the words and phrases of our language that truly define our people. My generation cannot yet fully comprehend this thought process because we are not fluent. If we do not uphold the requirement for language fluency, as defined by the Navajo Nation Supreme Court, then we lose out on its value and teachings.
Mr. Deschene is a remarkable candidate, but he also loses out on expressing his ideas within our local governance in the numerous rural primarily Navajo speaking communities. This will only create a one-way dialogue between our leaders and people. Though Mr. Deschene commits to learning the Navajo language in four years, what about years one, two and three where much of the work needs to be done?
We must keep our language in our government. The most concerning part about this matter is that it has polarized our Navajo people. It is now: educated vs. uneducated, Navajo-speaking vs. English-speaking, young vs. old, urban-Navajo vs. reservation-Navajo.
The discourse of this election has made me ashamed to say I have a college education. I don’t want to be pitted against my grandparents. My generation of educated and skilled individuals has the capacity to learn multiple languages and we should be more active in preserving our language within our government and daily lives.
We need to stop feeling discriminated against and start being active in the direction of our future as Diné. When our elders said to earn an education, they did not mean for us to forget our Navajo language and culture.
What about our rights as voters?
We submit this letter to express our concerns with how Chris Deschene’s voters are being discriminated against and how our voting rights are being taken away.
The undersigned are community members from all walks of life, of all ages, of all incomes, of all professions, some are retired, and some are veterans. We all feel strongly that the recent court proceedings and hearings are attempts to keep Deschene off the ballot. Decisions are not being rendered and we are now into week two of a decision getting passed around to different tribal entities.
Why is our leadership so fearful of Deschene’s qualifications, his accomplishments, his education, his desire to return home to help his people? Why has our Supreme Court failed us? Why has our tribal Council failed us? What is happening with our votes? What is wrong with our leadership and our government that they are standing against the Diné people?
As Diné voters exercising our constitutional rights, we believe our voting rights continue to be violated by our leaders. What law covers our rights when we vote? Who protects the voters’ rights?
Today, we have children of all races mixed with Diné blood, so don’t disenfranchise our future. Don’t prevent our people from the potential leadership we see in Deschene. He is a proven leader. We need his leadership and his wisdom.
As one of our elderly gentleman stated, “Chris Deschene is a role model for young people and old people.”
Our voting rights continue to be violated with the on-going court hearings. How many different ways will we continue to allow our leaders to try and disqualify our votes for Chris Deschene? How many Anglo lawyers will we allow to dictate to us our beliefs?
Because of the dysfunction in our leadership in the Supreme Court, the Navajo Council, and the Navajo Office of Hearing and Appeals, what are the solutions for our people? The only solution is K’é.
The Diné people need affective action, solidarity, compassion, kindness, friendliness, generosity, and peacefulness from our leaders. We need our rights as voters to be respected and honored.
Dave Nez (In addition to 20 others)
Many Farms, Ariz.