Wednesday, July 17, 2024

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Letters | Spelling bees help

At the age I am, at 72 years old, I can still spell words that most elders can’t spell.

In the middle of 1964 or 1965, at the age of 15, I was in the seventh grade at Tuba City Boarding School. I and two other individuals (Charlie McCabe and Eugene Yazzie) participated in the spelling bee, which left a huge mark.

Our instructor was one of the teachers. This female teacher taught us a lot. Most boarding schools didn’t have spelling bee competitors. For the spelling bee championship, we competed in Coconino County in a high school located in Flagstaff, where we competed against other schools. It was a lifetime experience. Competing in the spelling bee left a lifetime mark for me. As of today, I can still remember the fun I experienced and what it instilled in me.

It’s great reading the Navajo Times mentioning the spelling bee and who the students are. I’m proud of being who I am today, and the spelling bee being mentioned. Spelling bee gives you pride.

I want to encourage schools and their faculty to advise their students that they learn spelling. Learning at a young age on how to spell gives you a gift no one can take away, and students learn how to spell. It’ll stay with you for a lifetime.

Learning how to spell words teaches you how to write. You can write a sentence, a paragraph, a story, and poems. People that write are hard to come by. It’s not only English now. Our Indigenous, the people we come from, we are learning how to write in our own language. See the Navajo Times.

Education is great. I have an associate degree with a few years of college. I’m one of the first Diné that learned computers that Bill Gates brought in. It was Apple, MacIntosh, IBM, and Osborn, which leads into electronics. Computers and electronics go together.

Just for memories, I am ‘Áshįįhí (Salt People Clan), born for Naasht’ézhí Tábąąhá (Zuni/Water’s Edge Clan).

Thank you, Navajo Times. This goes to all your staff. Happy New Year of learning. Bless you all.

Dean Benally

Socioeconomic mobility

America I was told growing up is the land of opportunities, a place where you could apply for a job and there is competition. Unfortunately for the Navajo reservation, this is not the case. Nepotism is still a problem, but it was getting better under the last administration.

For instance, the Navajo Nation director of Veteran Affairs was advertised on the Navajo DPM (Department of Personnel Management), despite this nobody applied for it, but the fact is President Jonathan Nez and his administration abided by the Navajo hiring policies located on the DPM website. This administration is not following the law and two of its directors are hiring people without background checks are ensuring they are qualified for the jobs, but the biggest slap in the face to the Navajo people and Navajo veterans is there is no competition.

Veteran Director Bobbie Ann Baldwin (who is woefully unqualified by the way) and (Division of Human Resources executive) director Debbie-Nez Manuel are working together to fill jobs at the Navajo Nation Fort Defiance Veteran Agency by hiring people without posting the jobs on the Navajo DPM website. Furthermore, the veteran service officer they put in does not have the qualifications as a VSO, she is not certified.

While this may seem to be a non-issue with President Buu Nygren or his chummy buddy who was appointed as well, Olin Kieyoomia (who changed his name from Olin Lane Thompson for some reason) have no issue, this might be a violation of Navajo policies concerning IV. Recruitment and Selection in the personnel policies manual on the website.

What this does is denies job opportunities to the best candidates who might run the Veteran Agency better and they do not go through the regular hiring practices, such as background checks? Which a few years resulted in preschool shutdowns across the Navajo Nation.

This is not only a violation of polices but demonstrates a Navajo Nation veterans director who has a lack of ethics as well as the human resources director. While the Fort Defiance Agency may be up, but at what costs? According to section C in IV. Recruitment and Selection, advertising of vacant positions – all vacant positions must be advertised for a minimum of 10 working days.

They could be in-house, outside the Navajo Nation, or submitted to the DPM to be published. How many times it was advertised? Zero. These people just showed up and there was nothing on the DPM website announcing these positions. It only required 10 days. Just 10 days, how many of our people need jobs? Navajo people and Navajo veterans need to pay attention and have to hold this administration responsible.

The current president, Buu Nygren, made promises to the Navajo people. We the people expect to be treated with dignity and respect, we the Navajo people expect our leaders, all leaders to have ethics. If not me, then who? Who would speak out against these integrity violators who only hire their pals and people who were part of the problem for years.

I was told most people will not say anything because they feel nothing will change. But this does not have to be the case. Every single Navajo has their own power and each one deserves an opportunity, even if it’s just a job working for veterans.

Retired U.S. Army Capt. Sean A. Begaye
Fort Defiance, Ariz.

More accountability and transparency

Changes to the tribal enterprises and entity boards, including the CEOs/general managers is finally starting.

First, it’s not a bad thing. In fact, it is very healthy to shake up organizations, especially tribal entities. Organizations and corporations throughout the country change their boards and CEO all the time.

Here on Navajo, the practice of changing boards or CEOs is foreign, which is why we have abuse and fraud with boards, CEOs, general managers of tribal enterprises and entities. Once board members and CEOs get in and gain power, they rule like the organization belongs to them. What they forget is these entities belong to the Navajo people. They do not belong to CEOs, general managers, boards, or even the tribal government. These enterprises and entities belong to the Navajo people and the people have ultimate say to how they function.

Let us begin with oversight. The tribe needs to make it Navajo law that boards are changed out every four years. Board chairs should only be allowed to serve as a board chairman for two years. If the board violates that law, then the whole board will be replaced within 60 days. This new law should supersede any of the prior laws and operating agreements the tribal enterprises and entities operate under. This would start the beginning of some control over misuse.

These tribal enterprises and tribal entities will fight any oversight. Their tactic is to scare the leadership and people that any change to their boards or CEO/general managers will cause the entity to fail or crash.

Their second tactic is to threaten the tribal leadership with lawsuits. These entities and enterprises have the money and resources to hire the best law firms. These tribal entities are not afraid of tribal government lawyers, but the tribe makes the laws and has the people on their side, which gives them the upper hand. They just need to exercise that authority.

During the tribal campaign, many of the communities asked the candidates to change and fix the tribal enterprises and entities. They see the abuse and negligence of the entities every day. Some of the largest abusers are NTEC, NTUA, and NNOGC. The day of reckoning is slowly starting for these tribal entities. These entities belong to the Navajo people and the entities need to be more accountable to their owners, which is the Navajo people. With their legal tactics the tribal entities have been able to avoid letting the tribe see inside their organizations.

The people have clearly stated they want no more outrageous salaries, bonuses, travel expenses, and other perks. The people are demanding that all that misuse needs to stop now. The tribal president and Navajo Nation Council need to forge forward and continue to clean house. Fear and threats by the tribal entities and enterprises should not stop what the Navajo people want, which is more accountability and transparency.

David Tabaha


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