Tuesday, September 26, 2023

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Letters | Same old political promises

What I find appalling after reading this story (“Homeless woman dies in abandoned trailer after giving birth,” June 30, 2022) was the fact that none of the political candidates (presidential or chapter) offered condolences or an inkling of any solutions to address homelessness or mental health.

These candidates and those before them all give the same old political promises of changes for our people. They talk of k’e, which sounds good, yet in reality it’s just another word to get your vote.

I have yet to hear any of these candidates talk about the real issues facing our people today and every year since time immemorial.

Candidates always promise to get the economy of the Navajo Nation fixed by saying there will be more jobs (most of the people on the reservation are living below poverty standards. No jobs because Navajo Nation doesn’t have an economic base).

Then education, to help young people receive a higher education (the education system is horrible like everywhere else in America); new homes for veterans (going on 50-plus years although there has been some improvements but not much – 20%!); so many promises that won’t come to fruition because it’s unrealistic.

We all should be asking ourselves are they or will they be doing anything they promise for us for our best interest?

We know the answer…it’s always in their own interest, their own agendas.

We, as a people, never have a chance or a choice to even be considered in helping to make decisions for ourselves, our children, or future generations. A one-term presidency (chapter, government, etc.) can’t begin to solve any issues lest it be a miracle.

For once in the history of our Navajo Nation it would be a tremendous gift if any candidate running in a tribal election asked the people as a whole how they would help to solve realities we will be facing in the imminent future.

Water issues, the drought, food shortages, livestock and feed issues for farmers/ranchers, lack of housing, the list goes on and on.

Family members live off reservation because their education specialties do not exist here at home. I would love my sons, daughter, nieces, and nephews working here instead of out of state.

Education is a powerful gift, if only the jobs were here to sustain the education of those who specialize in certain trades. They are non-existent here.

Every candidate is starry eyed in their speeches of how life will be for all of us residents who live on this land if we give them our vote. The candidates need to listen to our voices instead of their own.

And on that note, I agree with Orlando Bowman’s letter dated June 9, 2022 (“Be realistic about your objectives”).

Read it, candidates, and you might learn a thing or two.

Maralyn Yazzie
Lok’aahnteel (Ganado), Ariz.

Voters, Bluff Road still not OK

My concern for the non-existent upkeep of the Bluff Road in Shiprock, continues.

To date, this road is still in the same bad condition as what I indicated from my last letter to the editor on May 8, 2022.

The ongoing problem of rough access dirt roads not graded regularly, but maybe once a year, is still very real. One is Bluff Road along the cliff, a road used many times daily by residents of the Mesa Farm area, as well by school buses and other service vehicles.

Time for buses to start running again is at hand with students going back to school in about one or two weeks. The rocks are sticking up and there is a washboard effect on the main two-mile stretch and all the five lanes of the Bluff Road.

The chapter house is not readily accessible for anyone to ask for a motor grader to grade the public Bluff Road.

The rabbit hole through which people are expected to communicate is not user friendly, which the Shiprock Chapter maintains.

With respect to the mask mandate on the Navajo Nation, the Shiprock Chapter is probably the one building in Shiprock restricting entry to people. The other public buildings allow people to buy their groceries, pick up their mail, attend classes, see their doctors, or pick up their medication. People wear their masks as they attend to their personal business.

Election time is also around the corner. Many administrations have changed hands as projects have lapsed, but the issue of the maintenance of the Bluff Road is not a project, it is a regular upkeep.

What is the community motor grader doing, just sitting, and not being used as was justified for its purchase? Bluff Road residents, who are you going to vote for?

Wilford R. Joe
Shiprock, N.M.

Criticism of enterprises misplaced, misunderstood

In the recent forums, there have been several candidates for president that have been very critical of Navajo Nation enterprises. I believe that most of the rhetoric has been misplaced and misunderstood.

These enterprises provided or protected jobs and revenue at a time when they were threatened by outside entities. And in some cases, an enterprise or tribal entity is necessary to advance the financial interests of the Navajo Nation.

Navajo Transitional Energy Company, Navajo Oil and Gas Company, and Navajo Agricultural Products Industry are great examples of tribal-backed investments that were necessary for the intentions of protecting, maintaining, or producing a Navajo resource in the best interest of the Navajo Nation.

This is sovereignty in motion, that means Navajo leadership took direct action with the establishment of the enterprise or entity. An act of self-determination.

The state of Arizona did it when it was necessary for the state to help the state progress. The Salt River Project is an example of a state-owned entity. This entity was created to bring water and electricity to the Valley for farmers, families and businesses in the early 1900s. Now, SRP is a multi-billion-dollar entity that works for the interests of Arizona and provides thousands of jobs for Arizonans.

The Navajo Nation enterprises and entities function in much the same way. NTEC and NNOGC were created to produce Navajo Nation’s natural resources, jobs and revenues.

In 1970, NAPI was created to use the Navajo Nation’s water allocation from the 1962 PL 87-493, which authorized the secretary of Interior to construct the Navajo Indian Irrigation Project as part of the participating projects of the Colorado River Storage Project. They all struggled at some point but are now generating revenues for the Navajo Nation.

According to the 2021 Navajo Nation controller’s office fourth quarter report, the royalty revenues from coal, oil and gas were $57 million. They are doing their job.

At the July 25 Teec Nos Pos candidates for president forum, former Chairman Peter MacDonald spoke about the need for the Navajo Nation leadership to step up and fight for the Nation against the states and the federal government. He said it was time for leadership to get off their knees and take off the knee pads.

I took this to mean that the Navajo Nation looks like a weakened nation that has to beg the federal government for assistance instead of demanding that the federal government or state government pay the Nation back for all those years of stealing our land and resources.

I agree with him wholeheartedly. The Navajo Nation should be protecting itself against those non-Navajo entities that wish to continue to take from the Nation (i.e., SRP, state of Arizona, NGOs, Arizona ranchers, Valley cities, Arizona tribes, state of Nevada, state of Colorado, state of New Mexico, etc.).

It’s like MacDonald said, “I bet the Arizona legislators are meeting right now discussing how to take more from the Navajo Nation.”

We should be thankful that Navajo Nation enterprises or entities like NTEC, NNOGC, NAPI, and NECA are out there doing their job to produce revenue and provide jobs for our Navajo folks while at the same time protecting the Nation’s interest.

So when you hear the candidates for president speaking negatively about Navajo Nation enterprises, you should remember that the candidates’ message is misplaced and mistaken because Navajo Nation enterprises are out there providing valuable jobs and revenue.

Now, we need to elect a president and a Navajo Council that will get off their knees, take off the knee pads and promote the message that the Navajo Nation is not going to stand for the state and federal governments taking advantage of the Nation anymore.

Navajo Nation has the best resources, the most hard-working, skilled and educated labor pool, abundant business zones and an available set of laws that can be amended to produce the best jobs and revenue.

Jarvis Williams
Kayenta, Ariz.

Hoping for fresh leadership

I really hope that Navajo voters select fresh leadership in the coming Aug. 2 primary.

One of the reasons Joe Shirley Jr. did so poorly in the last presidential election is that Jonathan Nez was able to cast himself as “new” compared to Shirley.

The truth is that Nez is as jaded as Joe Shirley. Mr. Shirley should have reminded voters that both he and Nez are old guard politicos. Nez was a Council delegate for 12 years and vice president for four. Joe Shirley failed to point that out.

During Nez’s 19-year tenure, the Navajoland population decreased because our young people have to seek off-reservation jobs. Why isn’t there a Wal-Mart or Home Depot on Navajo lands to help consumers save money and to provide jobs?

Probably Nez is looking out for his Trump supporting Vice President Lizer who would not like his True Value stores competing with Home Depot.

The U.S. movement to address the missing Native women problem did not begin with the Navajo Nation. Only recently did Nez quickly jump on the bandwagon. Where was his concern during his previous 19 years as Navajo leader?

Nez notoriously and opportunistically turned against President Russell Begaye because he would not condemn his daughter, Karis Begay, after she was caught drinking in a tribal vehicle.

Nez should have seen Karis’s problem as one that afflicts many Navajo women and that it is a big part of the problem of the missing women.

Nez has a DUI under his belt. He could have testified about the alcoholism problem.

The Navajo Times did not focus on it either. Now we have learned that the publisher was dealing with his own alcohol problem at the time, possibly partying with editor Duane Beyal, whose alcohol mishap is also public.

Another candidate selected for leadership by Russell Begaye is former attorney general, and now candidate, Ethel Branch. She, like Nez, just woke up to the missing Navajo women problem.

She could have assisted President Begaye to bring up the alcohol problems, which lead to missing women. Ms. Branch’s sleazy ethics include her opportunistic Go-Fund-Me epidemic project.

I heard she went around delivering supplies to Navajo homes, probably anticipating her candidacy. Peterson Zah, who was an executive assistant, also turned against President Begaye, is now supporting Branch.

The epidemic also helped Jonathan Nez. The federal stimulus funding helped him to avoid making a plan to say how the Nation would replace the tens of millions lost through the closure of coalmines and power plants.

Tribal workers especially need to be concerned about this.

On Aug. 2, let us vote for new people, not refried leaders who have had their turn.

Michael Benson
Window Rock, Ariz.

’93-638 doesn’t work, never will

Public Law 93-638 contracts should never have been allowed to happen on the Navajo Nation. This is my conversation today with the hospital in Fort Defiance.

Me: I’m calling to find out about where I can pick up Covid test kits for my family.

Hospital operator: Not at the hospital. I think you buy them at Walmart.

Me: But Gallup Indian Medical Center gives them away for free.

Hospital operator: Well then, go over there.

Me: But I live in St Michaels and I have to drive to Gallup?

Hospital operator: Click…dial tone.

This is why ’638 contracts do not work. Why does the hospital in Fort Defiance not provide free Covid test kits? It’s because they do not feel like they have to spend any extra money on a serious public health crisis service such as providing free Covid test kits.

In addition to that, ’638 contracts are outside of the federal trust responsibility to tribes. The federal government can choose not to fund ’638 contracts. But under the federal trust responsibility, non-’638 hospitals and clinics in Indian country must be funded every year.

The hospital in Fort Defiance does not provide free Covid test kits to our tribal members in the area. This is outrageous.

This is only two reasons why the Navajo Nation should never have entered into ’638 contracts for health care. There are myriad other reasons why ’638 contracts do not work for the Navajo Nation.

But if I list them here, they won’t print my letter to the editor because it would be too long!

Lydelle Davies
St Michaels, Ariz.


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