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Letters | Shaking sideways on rez roads

The Navajo Reservation dirt roads are getting really bad, they are not being maintained.

Back in the 70s and 80s, road maintenance were a lot better than today. Projects and equipment to grade the roads were available.

I guess the funds were plentiful back then, now there is none. Maybe the regulations are in the way, the chapter houses are closed, The pandemic.

Every time we drive on these roads we’re shaking like a leaf. Our personal vehicles are rattling, bouncing down the road, not to mention the dust covering all over our brand-new rides, which we purchased recently.

All the time we’re dodging washboards, pot holes, rocks, deep water puddles, standing water on roads.

There is one road that goes up to Graymountain that is completely damaged by recent heavy monsoon rains. It’s going to take a lot of work to fix that road. That was a scenic byway off the mountain, outdoor enthusiast uses it.

Navajo Nation Council has to approve the money, the equipment is needed to maintain the dirt roads.

We use these roads every day, some of us live far out of the beaten path. One time I got tired of the washboard road and decided to go fast to smooth out the ride. But I ended up blowing out a tire. Going slow is better and safer, even if you are shaking sideways.

Larry Smith
Graymountain, Ariz.

Democrats launch matriarch program

The Northeast Arizona Native Democrats launched the Family Votes Matriarch program to help more people become voters in 2022.

Family Votes trains Indigenous matriarchs to register their families and communities to vote, then get them to the polls. We know Native and rural voters are powerful blocs and we can elect candidates to office who care about our issues.

Family Votes Matriarchs also have a larger purpose – passing on important knowledge about the power of community organizing and voting to the next generation.

In addition to passing on important knowledge, it’s also about us, local community members, harnessing our collective power to make positive change. If there are needs to be met, issues to be addressed, Indigenous matriarchs have long been at the forefront, leading, advising, and using our voice.

We have fierce women who helped create the program and we want to connect with other women and girls to support one another. We are talking with our own families, extended relatives, and friends to get more women, of all ages, involved and showing them how families can vote to make the change they want to see.

Our younger generations face a lot of issues like water shortages, lack of housing, climate crisis, and protecting our rights. Even our right to vote and the right of women to make our own health care decisions.

To stand up for our communities, we need strong voting participation now and in the future. Through Family Votes we can prepare the generation of voters. The goal is to create a strong network where both matriarchs and young people can build a sustainable program that will continue to grow in the years to come.

Women who sign up to be Family Votes Matriarchs will receive training, a voter toolkit with all of the information they need to register family and community members, an opportunity to learn about all of the candidates and issues on the ballot, and more.

We are women from Navajo, Hopi, and White Mountain Apache communities who want our families to be voters and to use their voice and their vote to build power and make change.

Anyone interested in signing up to become a Family Votes Matriarch or learning more about the program, may contact Joanne Peshlakai, Navajo Nation, at or 928-551-7214, or Lorraine Coin, Hopi, at or 928-369-6616.

We are recruiting more Matriarch organizers and captains across Navajo, Hopi, and Apache communities.

Joanne Peshlakai, St. Michaels, Ariz.
Roz Whitehair, Window Rock, Ariz.
Lorraine Coin, Bacavi, Ariz.

Modern day forced assimilation

I read a story about the vaccine mandates in Hunter’s Point (“Parent airs concerns about vaccines at Hunter’s Point Boarding School,” July 7, 2022).

We, as Diné, have been through many hardships from the start of our forced assimilation into modern day society through the implementation of the boarding school system. A failing system that claims to provide an education suitable for sustaining the future of our Diné people.

Our children are our future. We have to do what is right for us, now. To protect their future.

It’s an unfortunate situation on the reservations across the country. Every reservation that confines tribal members within its imaginary boundaries, set by the U.S. government, is affected by whatever mandates and unconstitutional laws the “elected” officials try to enforce.

I have been through the boarding school system and it was not a very good memorable experience for me. I have also been through the Department of Corrections system. They are one in the same. Boarding school prepared me for prison.

Compliance. Once in their system, they think they have the authority to revoke any living, breathing man of his God given rights.

History repeats itself. All tribes within the confines of government established reservations, claim to be “sovereign,” yet still take directives from an entity that does not care about the well-being of tribal members. The U.S. government slaughtered millions of buffalo to tighten its grasp on the food supply of “non-compliant” people. Oral history is all we have – “he who wins the war, writes history.”

Fear. For fear of annihilation, tribal leaders agreed to “treaties” that to this day have been violated repeatedly without consequence. Intimidation, threats and always changing stipulations within the laws that govern our people leave us at their mercy.

The media. Televisions are constantly going on about the “numbers” and the “coronavirus”. They have instilled fear through television in people so much that cognitive reasoning is suppressed and replaced with fear.

Now people don’t think for themselves anymore. They just go with the flow. Nothing more dangerous than a wolf leading a flock of sheep.

Vaccines. Our creator has given each of us a unique physical form. A body that is capable of healing through prayer, ceremonial practices and natural herbal remedies. We, as free citizens of the land with God given rights, have the right to refuse vaccines.

If we don’t go along with the modern day forced assimilation that our ancestors warned us about, we are slowly being exiled by an entity “with our best interests” from society within what’s left of our homeland.

I pray that every home in every centimeter of this awesome country sets the remote control down and goes outside and enjoys life as free people while we still can.

Eventually, if we continue the current the current course, our freedom will be non-existent, due to a totalitarian dictatorship.

Coronavirus in the medical dictionary is listed under “common cold.”

Austin Vanwinkle
Navajo, N.M.


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