Letters: President disrespected by Council
The 24th Navajo Nation Council began its Monday, Jan. 28, 2019, session with lasting ramifications from the precedent the delegates set in such a disrespectful manner to the Navajo Nation president and vice president.
The two-and-a-half-day winter session, which ended on Wednesday, Jan. 30, was a complete disappointment as we seen them once again acting for their own selfish interests and having the nerve to congratulate themselves for accomplishing very little.
What a shame they are the first Navajo Nation Council to vote to not receive a verbal state of the nation address from a newly inaugurated president and vice president. Delegates Otto Tso and Edison Wauneka better remember what they have put into motion and show up for the next Navajo Nation Council session on time.
When the Council session is publically scheduled to begin at 10 a.m., they and the others who voted to receive a written report only from President Nez because of a 10-minute lapse in arrival better be ready to convene on time instead of establishing a quorum five hours later.
While the Navajo Nation emulates the three-branch government of the United States, the failure to communicate with us, their constituency, is unacceptable and being out of touch with the ongoing issues that impact our nation needs to be addressed immediately.
There is no transparency when the Council takes their lavish trips to Las Vegas, Nevada, during the Professional Bull Riders Rodeo.
There are three facilities owned by the Navajo Nation on the Eastern Navajo Agency alone within walking distance of each other (the Eastern Navajo Regional Business Development Office, Fire Rock Navajo Casino and the Church Rock Manufacturing Facility) that are available with room for public attendance and participation.
The very fact that during one session the Council knowingly put the sale of the Navajo Generating Station and Kayenta Mine to Navajo Transitional Energy Company on the agenda slated to be heard as the last item is not transparency.
When our elders and community members have to travel three hours or more just to get to Window Rock, this makes it more apparent there is no communication with the Navajo people. Is it any wonder one Navajo woman had to shout out from the audience recently to make everyone aware of the uncertainties?
For Navajos living in border towns there is absolutely no representation by the Council or any kind of outreach. Long-term wrong decisions make the overwhelming call for change nullified. If the Council is going to act like it is drunk on power, then perhaps a breathalyzer test should be mandatory before the Council sessions begin.
A cooperative working relationship begins when each party to a duly called meeting shows respect for the process and each other. When the president and vice president are disrespected as they have been, it is a shameful disgrace.
When a Navajo constituent approaches a Council delegate and that delegate sees him or her and turns and heads in the opposite direction…that is the shameful state of our nation.
Church Rock, N.M.
New leaders don’t qualify as elders
I have only one short assessment about all the recent hoopla surrounding the installation of the youngest Dineh Nation president at 42 and the youngest speaker of the Dineh Nation Council at 37 years of age. The Navajo Times, Jan. 31, 2019 (“24th Council elects Damon as speaker”) highlighted Seth Damon as the new speaker of the Council. Title Two — Doo Da Hey!
Personally, I (75) have lived almost as long as the combined ages (79) of the two heads of a so-called three-branched Dineh Nation government.
The Bible teaches that elders are to be listened to and respected. I am sorry, but these two men do not qualify as elders. Why not? Answer: Neither of them have had an abundance of life’s experiences to guide their thinking which comes with having a hand in raising adult children and grandchildren.
Accordingly, anything can happen as there is no Dineh Nation Constitution as Title Two is nothing more than a resolution voted on by the Council and not agreed-to and voted-in by the entire Dineh Nation electorate.
Remember the story I have reiterated often about my one-side conversation with then-Speaker Nelson Gorman following the passage of Title Two in 1988? I had asked him if Title Two now makes him to be the most forceful and important person in Dineh Nation government — even though he was not voted into office by the entire Dineh electorate.
So, Title Two makes Seth Damon to be a more potent — and influential — Dineh Nation governmental official than Mr. Jonathan Nez. Why, then, doesn’t the speaker travel to Washington to speak before the appropriate committees of both houses of the U.S. Congress on behalf of the Dineh Nation?
In 1970, I sat in on a course on Indian law offered at the University of Oregon School of Law. Of course, I had permission to audit the course taught by the honorable Charles Wilkinson who has written books on Indian law.
I was fortunate enough to have a number of one-on-one conversations with Dr. Wilkinson (doctorate of jurisprudence) who indicated to the class — several times — that the Congress of the United States can abrogate any and all Indian treaties whenever they wish.
What does that say about the Dineh Nation’s uppity-ness of self-governing via Title Two? Can the U.S. Congress use Title Two against the sovereign Dineh Nation? Absolutely, as the U.S. Constitution is above all and governs all.
‘Childish ad’ raises more questions
As the president of the board for Diné C.A.R.E., I am responding to the childish ad that appeared on page B-12 of this paper on Jan. 31, criticizing our organization (“The purchase of NGS and Kayenta Mine is good for the Navajo Nation”).
Your readers should know who this group, “Save Native American Families,” really is. Their webpage lists their treasurer, Gerges Scott, and a quick search reveals he is senior vice president of Agenda Global, a public relations firm headquartered in Washington, D.C.
According to the Agenda Global website, Mr. Scott “helps industry clients overcome challenges related to government, media, and community support.” All their clients’ logos are displayed, including corporations like BHP Billiton, Chevron Oil, Rio Tinto, and yes, the Navajo Nation.
We have four questions. First, how much is our own Navajo Nation paying to this Washington PR firm to publish a full-page ad in our own newspaper criticizing a mostly volunteer Diné peoples’ organization?
Second, will we let NTEC and SNAF get away with blaming a group of Diné land and water protectors for not solving the problems of transitioning away from coal (a toxic and dying industry), when that’s the very purpose NTEC was created for?
Third, do they really expect us to trust them, along with Peabody Coal, to protect Navajo water?
They cannot really think we’ve forgotten about all the Navajo water stolen and polluted since the 1970s by Black Mesa Mine, Kayenta Mine, NGS and Mohave Power Plant.
Fourth, why are NTEC and Navajo Nation not providing us with full financial disclosure, including the amount of money — reportedly up to $1 billion — they will need to deposit in surety bonds in order to buy NGS and Kayenta Mine? Where is that money going to come from?
We deserve to know what this deal is really going to cost, how risky it is and what their plan really is.
Energy Ventures Analysis has estimated decommissioning costs alone for NGS will range from $109 million to $151 million. That’s before we even begin talking about remediation.
Speaking of remediation, who will pay for remediation of the Kayenta Mine site when it finally closes, given that Peabody Coal declared bankruptcy in 2016, claiming it could not pay remediation costs for other mines it had closed?
Keep in mind, NTEC has released no business plan, no list of buyers for NGS electricity or Kayenta coal, no list of who has financial stake in the company and no plan or cost estimate for the safe remediation of these facilities, including NGS toxic coal ash ponds and pits.
Letter writer not entitled to his own facts
I feel compelled to respond to a letter to the editor published on Jan. 17, 2019, by Duane “Chili” Yazzie, president of Shiprock Chapter (“Looking to new Council for protection”).
Mr. Yazzie is entitled to his own opinion, but he is not entitled to his own facts on the issues surrounding NTEC’s efforts to pursue acquisition of the Navajo Generating Station and Kayenta Mine.
His main point that the purchase will not save jobs or continued revenue generation for the Navajo Nation is completely false. Despite any position on “coal” itself, the continued operation of NGS and the mine means saving jobs for Navajo workers and their families that depend on the paychecks, as well as revenue in the form of taxes and royalties for the Navajo general fund.
Mr. Yazzie’s other point that the acquisition and legislation for Section 17 are joined together is also false – they are separate issues. As either action can occur independently without the other, therefore, they are unrelated and independent actions. This has been pointed out by several newspaper reports, including the Navajo Times.
I would point out that the purchase of Navajo Mine generated nearly $140 million in revenue for the Navajo Nation and allowed more than 700 people to continue providing essential needs for hundreds of Navajo families by way of jobs at Navajo Mine and Four Corners Power Plant.
This was the reason for NTEC’s creation and the company’s positive growth led Navajo leadership to ask the company to explore options on saving NGS and Kayenta Mine.
NTEC is proving that they are very capable of being a successful energy company. They have a track record of helping Navajo communities, spurring small business development, helping educate Navajo students while being responsible and mindful to the needs of all Navajo people.
Let them continue to conduct the due diligence needed to acquire NGS and Kayenta Mine. There will be plenty of time for insightful questions that provide well-thought out answers.
Real news is EPA funds for cleanup
My view, from my conservative town in Colorado, is that the mainstream media targets the wrong news.
For me, the real news is the EPA funding to clean up pollution that was irresponsibly created and left on the Navajo Reservation by my society.
Compounding that is the greedy consumption of the Colorado River, along with people getting shafted on water rights, should be an overwhelming presence in the news — raised awareness will result in solutions.
I visited your reservation in 1978 and it influenced the rest of my life.
My own society tells me I’m just a physical body, and that all bodies suffer from brain chemicals being out of whack, resulting in the highest consumption of pills in the world.
But your beliefs empower the human spirit, and have been a far better guide for me. Your culture is my personal ideal of the best in humanity. I would like to be more like you.
I want to let you know I will step up my efforts towards making my society more responsible. I haven’t been able to travel for a long time, but the hospitality you showed 40 years ago is vivid in my memories and I think of you often with the very best wishes.
Grand Junction, Colo.
The 4 basic Diné languages
The spirit of white shell language (yoolgai saad), turquoise shell language (dootl’izh saad), abalone shell language (diichili saad) and black jet shell language (saad). We speak the spirit of white shell language to feel, think and discipline our mind intelligently.
It is in the east direction, dressed with the beauty of the electromagnetic particles of white shell dawn, according to traditional Diné belief.
We speak the spirit of turquoise language to gain and learn modern education to acquire traditional values and wisdom. It helps us to inherit courage and strength to have bright minds and it teaches us to respect everything that exists in nature, on earth and in the universe.
The spirit of turquoise language is in the south direction dressed with the beauty of electromagnetic waves, blue twilight with daytime and sunshine for our electromagnetic path.
We speak the spirit of abalone shell language to develop our minds and bodies from childbirth to old age. It helps us to learn to prepare for ourselves, because there is positively something good for us in our future. It is up to us to reach out to receive it. The spirit of abalone shell language is our social development.
The spirit of abalone shell language is in the west direction dressed with the beauty of electromagnetic energy, yellow evening twilight and unity of life, according to ancient ancestors’ belief.
We speak the spirit of black jet shell language to sense danger and to be aware of evil things. It teaches us to protect our physical, mental, spiritual and intellectual being from harm and from our enemies. This language is the power of electromagnetic rainbow, which is protection from the sun, according to ancient Diné belief, to go out in direct sunshine for bone strength.
The spirit of black jet shell language is in the north direction dressed with the spectral spirit of folding darkness and the power of electromagnetic rainbow, which is our powerful protection.
We speak sa’ah naaghei ashkii saad and bik’eh hozhoon at’eed saad. It is our identity as Diné.
You are a man, sa’ah naaghei ashkii is your body and soul; sa’ah naaghei ashkii is your body, flesh, blood and soul.
You are a woman, bik’eh hozhoon at’eed saad is your mind and spirit; bik’eh hozhoon at’eed saad is your mind, spirit, voice and feelings, according to ancient Diné belief.
Through these four basic Diné languages, an image of the sacred talking eagle feather exists in our Diné language as we speak. Our parents advise us not to speak negative language.
The sacred talking eagle feather is the power of our Diné language and our voice. It carries our voice into all the four directions and to sacred places and to the Holy People, according to ancient belief.
The power of the four basic Diné languages, the spirit of sacred teaching eagle feather, the four directions of the world and the spirit of the four parts of the day created by the Holy Spirit.
Edward J. Little Sr.
Tuba City, Ariz.