Letters: The people sent a message by choosing Aszhaanii’
As surprised as anyone else, I am quite shocked with the upsurge of COVID-19 virus infections around the country. Every state in the union has spikes of un-paralleled numbers as is the Navajo Nation in the upsurge.
From the months of August through October the Navajo Nation plateaued out the infection rate, but the fact that families living on the Nation must go to border towns for essentials, the infections continue to spread.
However, with a vaccine around the corner, it is likely that we stand at the threshold of defeating the virus, as are many of previous viruses in the past such as smallpox, measles, and many other contagious diseases. It is my hope that within not too long soon we will return to what we have always loved as our lifestyle as normal.
However, we must not forget the ravages of the COVID-19 virus that has drastically changed our lifestyle as it affected all phases of our lives. Although the virus is hanging over us, we, the people of the Navajo Nation, voted during the election.
I ran for the position of San Juan River Farm Board representing Shiprock Chapter and my votes were overwhelming as some considered a landslide. However, I am very humbled by the voters’ confidence in me, and I shall represent them to the fullest extent of my ability insuring that agricultural farming must return to our traditional means of growing and harvesting crops for our livelihood.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also taught us a lesson which we must never forget, and that is we, as members of the Shiprock community, must now grow to seriously new ideas to make our community prosperous by bringing in new businesses that will provide employment, businesses that will pay taxes to our community improvements, upgrade our health standards, improve our homes and streets, and more ke’ relations expression between all of us — the young and the elders.
As a duly elected San Juan River Farm Board member, I will be joining all women elected leaders in chapter president, vice president, secretary, and Council delegate. The people have sent a message choosing Aszhaanii’ as their leaders for change in government that will finally bring hope, happiness, and prosperity.
In turning the page of stalemate of yesterday, where our community and chapter did not progress at all, we must now reach out to new ideas, new grounds, and to establish a consensus that we will never again be in a stalemate phase where poverty, unemployment, drugs, and alcoholism enter into our society at will. We must stop that from happening again, and we must work together to rid of these vile and harmful wrongdoings using our traditional doctrines by being a holy people with five fingers.
I hereby readily invite discussion in improving our community and its people. I love my people, and I love Shiprock.
Coronavirus is devastating to the Nation
COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted minority communities and the Navajo Nation has been hit hard!
As a consequence of the social, political and economic inequalities, access to health care services has been scarce in the Navajo Nation. With the lack of equity and sufficient resources and funding for public health support, there is a high urgency and need for medical care in this community and COVID-19 has highlighted the dehumanizing conditions that the Navajo Nation has been forced to live in for decades.
The Navajo community has been largely impacted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and, while it is helpful for the community at large to adapt to the changes necessary to prevent further spread, it is equally important to acknowledge the systems in place that work against the community. For this reason, we feel that advocacy to implement policies that provide better resources to the Navajo community may be a better solution than focusing on individual behavior change.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed systemic challenges that the Navajo Nation has long faced. The Navajo Nation is a hotspot for the pandemic and has now surpassed New York for the city with the highest infection rate in the U.S. Despite this fact, the community has not received the federal and state government support it needs to fight the disease.
Furthermore, a lack of resources such as water has exacerbated the effects of the pandemic. According to the Navajo Water Project (2020), one in three Navajo homes does not have a working tap or toilet making it difficult for people to access safe water.
Although the Navajo Nation over time has learned to build resilience and adapt with innovation toward public health issues such as telehealth, provision of basic necessities to this group should be a priority for the government.
The lack of housing and running water to the minimal access to health care should not be the living conditions for any individual living in the U.S. In the wake and chaos of COVID-19, history is repeating itself with the mass devastation of illness and deaths like in past pandemics.
It’s time to do better! Equal opportunity housing and access to health services is the right solution and should be extended to everyone.
Lucynda Dahozy, Charissa Jennas, Nevin Kalaf, Thelma Okotie and Italia Trejo
Editor’s note: These students are studying for their master’s of public health at the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, University of Arizona.
This work is for forthcoming generations
A recent snapshot in time, as COVID-19 pandemic rampantly runs its course in the U.S. with its human toll of 13.4 million cases and over a quarter of a million dead.
We would think such statistics would wake up everybody, however, to no avail. And even with all we have experienced and will undergo within this pandemic what we, as indigenous people, could be working on today is the foundation of our own future instead of being so dependent on the ease of convenience.
Even though it seems we are caught in a time loop or not, as the present is the tomorrow of yesterday. Therefore today is the future. And with optimistic outlook someday soon the deadly viral infections will cease and a new day will dawn.
Through it all, what have we realized from this planetary cleansing through human harvest of nature?
Just like a sudden realization of some truth, nothing will ever be the same from hereafter. We should not go back to our former so-called “normal” life. A life where we continue to fool ourselves with proclamations we are better than everybody else through comparison and competition of information versus recall without an exercise for the common good.
Yet our only area of reference is our conditioning, which for some is to the addiction of indolence, or reacting with contradiction to basic survival.
Yes, without forethought or certainty, will we continue to choose comfort by deceit and be fed more lies by the conniving, the few with social authority? Once more will we find ourselves driven by fear, trusting a future fantasy of infantile madmen, as they further manipulate our gullibility?
If we close our eyes and refuse to listen to our inherent understanding of what our recent experience has revealed to us, then we have realized nothing. As for now, for some of us, there is anxiety of being alone, afraid of the silence and yearning to be with the herd.
Yet we endure and still others eagerly ready to seek a discount on materialism as they madly rush towards a willful cult suicide. It would be very tragic to continue down this same old path of self-destruction and show no comprehension nor remorse of how it later affects those we love.
Perhaps this is our own undoing for we may have overestimated our arrogance and neglected to enhance our communication skills.
As Indigenous people, will we be among the crowd when the day comes to help bring forth a new age? It could be an age where we understand how to use the working mechanism of equality, freedom of thought, communication, cooperation, coordination, sustainability, and self-reliance.
All this work is not about us, but for our forthcoming generations. Today provides an opportunity to build a brave new world with our creative energy and bold ingenuity, this time without major side effects or adverse reactions from the forces of nature, and to live in rhythm of the heartbeat of Mother Earth and to revere the laws of nature.
This would be a natural way to proceed onward. This is the hope that could be transformed into action. For sure, we are not all that lazy or crazy.
Robert L. Hosteen
America is not infallible
Through indigenous eyes: The first peoples of the Western Hemisphere continue to suffer the heavy tribulation of “different people hatred” and being the expendable in the enrichment of white imperialism that began in 1492.
Columbus and his successors came to our lands with the authorization of the pope to exterminate us and to take all our possessions. Throughout history, great civilizations, societies, empires, dynasties, and ideologies have fallen. America is not infallible.
The formidable and ever-present cause for empire collapse is abuse/oppression of humanity by the elite. Causes that would trigger the crumbling of American ideology are the exponential violence perpetrated by the elite, not only on humankind, but also on the life of the earth.
The notion of white supremacy and the scorched earth methods of America’s greedy elite has come to the precipice of implosion. White supremacy flies its flag high with the blessings and exhortations from the would-be-throne-on-high.
The attack to further ravage the earth has become extraordinary. The threat remains, making good on greater threats. The earth is alive. She suffers the abuse of the exploiter. The earth wants to live. She will defend herself. The virus must be her defense.
The killing virus metastasizes through the masses aided by the ignorance of the conceited ignorant. Its timeliness is meticulous, in time to reject the ideology of greed and abuse heralded by the exploiter-in-chief.
The promise of a new dawn is promising. We are wary of promises. We will await the clear averting of the attacks on our earth, de-escalation of abuse on humanity, and a regeneration of human dignity.
Then we will know that our voice and the power of the earth are understood. Then we will know it is not yet time for America to become history. Then we will celebrate the future that awaits our grandchildren.
Duane “Chili” Yazzie
Looking for Janice
We write this letter from across the country in hopes of finding a dear friend.
It all started with the program “Save the Children” and a little girl named Janice Francis. Janice was from Dennehotso, Arizona, and her birthday year is 1977. She lived at the boarding school and her sister did as well. In the summer months, she would go back to her reservation to help her family herd sheep.
Debra Binas, who lived in Oak Ridge, New Jersey, provided her sponsorship. Debra loved communicating with Janice through the mail. Debra’s children (Jaclyn, Michael and Ryan) were a little younger than Janice and enjoyed hearing stories and learning about her Navajo Tribe culture.
This would have been between the 1980s-1990s time period. If anyone has any knowledge of Janice Francis, please reach out to us. Please share this story and know we are patiently waiting from miles and miles away.
We can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and are looking forward to re-connecting.
Debra Binas and Jaclyn