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Letters: NHA board stipends are obscene

I just read a newspaper article on the 16 meetings per month the Navajo Housing Authority Board has and how much they make a year (stipends).

We are in the middle of a pandemic. People are homeless! They are dying waiting for a house!

There are three or four families living in a two-bedroom house and they may or may not have running water and sanitation facilities. People are living in their vehicles or shabby tents. People are passing away. We are in mourning here!

Now, if these NHA Board members are employed elsewhere making upwards of $30,000 plus a possible $48,000 in stipends and they are justifying it, this is obscene!

The housing shortage on the Navajo Nation can’t wait while this grant money is being wasted on selfish, narrow-minded board members. They should resign and a group of wise, educated, and culturally sensitive people be put in place.

Hopi and Zuni housing authority stated that their members met once a month and are paid $150 per meeting. Ute Mountain board members get $0 for their monthly meetings.

The Navajo Nation should perform an audit of these stipends and travel allowances, and board meeting minutes should be posted on the NHA website for the past two years.

The feasibility study performed several years ago on the housing needs of the Navajo Nation should have been used to build houses. There is no need for more studies and planning should be based on the results in this study.

Barbara J. Morgan
Shiprock, N.M.

Think tank wants to hear about trespassing

The Indian Landowners Party is gathering information from allotment landowners on trespasses throughout Indian Country.

In some cases, people are building homes or other structures on the trust allotments without permission. Roads have been built across the allotment and pipelines have been built without the permission of the landowners. In all cases the Indian landowners are not receiving compensation.

What action is the trustee (Bureau of Indian Affairs) taking? Generally they take no action. Sometimes it is the BIA roads department that is trespassing or authorizing trespass on the client’s land.

“The BIA has double standards towards Indian people. Trespass is one of the BIA’s favorite words…yet they believe it does not apply to them.” This quote was from a landowner about the BIA Roads Department trespassing on her land and she could not get them off the land.

On another reservation, there is a trespass that has been ongoing for 49 years. The estimated damages several years ago were $150,000. The trustee has received letters on this trespass since the first year of the trespass. It just has not been that important.

Out of three generations of landowners, only one is living and is still fighting to get the opportunity to occupy her land. Her 94-year-old aunt told her it was up to her to continue fighting for the land that had been in her family since the 1870s.

The BIA knows about many of these trespasses, but has not taken action. Some of the landowners have given up on even reporting new trespass activity after years of failure on the part of the trustee to take action. The problem goes up the line to the solicitor’s office, the in-house attorney for the Department of Interior.

From the solicitor’s webpage: “With an emphasis on high ethical standards, excellence in public service and the delivery of superlative advice and counsel, our office performs the legal work for the United States Department of the Interior, and manages the Departmental Ethics Office and Departmental FOIA Office. With more than 500 total employees, more than 400 of which are licensed attorneys, the office strives to provide sound legal services to fulfill the department’s diverse and wide-ranging mission.

The allotment owner client may question the “high ethical standards,” the “excellence in public service,” and the “delivery of superlative advice and counsel.”

We want to hear from the landowners about trespass activity on their land. Contact us through the Indian Landowners Party Facebook page or emailing to iccindian@me.com.

Trespass on Allotted Lands Report will be submitted to the Secretary of Interior on Nov. 1, 2021.

The Indian Landowners Party is a think tank operating through social media sites, including Facebook and Zoom, which performs research and advocacy in the field of federal Indian land with the major focus on trust and restricted allotments.

Research includes the history of policy decisions by the federal government that have resulted in a loss of land and the devaluation of Indian land versus land owned by the general public.

The allotment land base is approximately 11 million acres, an area that would place allotted land between West Virginia and Maryland in size. The allotment land base has a value of over $100 billion. Assets of that size would rank it higher than some of the top 20 corporations in the Fortune 500.

Terry Beckwith
Berlin, N.H.


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