Sunday, October 1, 2023

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Letters | The president’s nepotism

Several weeks ago in August 2023, during a Naa’bik’iyati’ and Law & Order Committee meeting, it was brought to the Navajo Nation Council and the public’s attention that President Dr. Buu Nygren’s administration is practicing nepotism.

According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, nepotism is defined as favoritism based on kinship, as in appointment to a job.

In the Navajo Nation Personnel Policies Manual under Section III., Employee Practices, Subsection E. Hiring of Relatives, “…to prevent the perception of favoritism, the Navajo Nation will not employ, in any position, the immediate relatives of current employees if: section b, there is potential for creating an adverse effect on supervision, security, or morale, or the potential for a conflict of interest.”

I did not campaign and vote for Dr. Nygren to have him or his administration inadvertently hire or create positions for relatives or friends. Nepotism is clearly happening. Those speeches of hiring qualified applicants for the jobs were lies.

President Dr. Nygren, you have an opportunity to stop nepotism or face the consequences of not being re-elected for a second term.

Michael J. Roy
Gadiiahi, N.M.

President’s broken promises

A new Navajo Nation president and administration took office in January 2023, with the promises to deliver broadband internet to thousands of Navajo residents who don’t have it. They promised to have internet to the Navajo people in 100 days after taking office. Where are we at now? Well, nothing has changed, and it’s taking steps back and going to get worse.

Although the Navajo Nation has received millions of dollars of ARPA funding from the federal Government and millions of this federal funding was earmarked for telecommunications buildout on the Navajo Nation, nothing has changed because the focus of the Navajo Government starting from the top is to put this money back into the bureaucracy of governmental entities and divisions.

There is no importance as to a sustainable strategically to investing these dollars into Navajo owned infrastructure to services or help the Navajo people.

The millions (of) dollars earmarked for telecommunication on Navajo Nation was intended to create, expand, and support a sustainable telecommunications infrastructure network on the Navajo Nation, to bring broad band to the people, extend coverage for public safety and increase access to health care and education. Bureaucracy, ignorance, and greed by this administration have become more important than the Diné people.

So how is the government proposing to make money from telecommunications on Navajo? The divisions directly under the Navajo Nation President, the Navajo Land department (NLD) and the Navajo Nation Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (NNTRC) are spearheading legislation to apply heavy regulation fees and Right-of-Way (ROW) cost to all current and future telecommunications development on the Navajo Nation.

The strategy is simple, give money to profit business and service providers to build telecommunications infrastructure on the Navajo Nation then the Navajo government will levy heavy fees and ROW costs on it. What’s more disturbing is that these costs and ROW fees are being planned and discussed behind closed doors without consideration or feedback from carriers, providers or businesses currently providing telecom services on the Navajo Nation.

The result of this plan is that these regulation fees and ROW costs will make building or operating and maintaining (O&M) any type of telecommunication infrastructure on the Navajo Nation Non-Sustainable. Meaning that the cost of doing business and providing telecommunication services on the Navajo Nation will be too excessive.

The result is that service providers, carriers, and business will simply not build on the Navajo Nation or may even take down telecommunication infrastructure that is currently in place because they cannot afford to pay these new telecom regulation fees or ROW costs. Once these regulation fees and ROW costs go into effect, the Navajo Nation government will truly be the enablers of the digital divide on the Navajo Nation and putting a stop to digital equity completely on the Navajo Nation.

Although the of the Navajo Nation executive administration and its departments are aggressively pushing their telecommunication legislative agenda and will not detour from it, there is hope that the Navajo Nation council, the council delegates will see something is not right here.

There is hope that the Navajo Nation council delegates whom represent the Navajo people directly in need will put a stop to this rush telecommunication regulatory legislation plan. There is hope that the council will not let bureaucracy, ignorance or greed by the executive branch be priority over the people and do the right thing. There is hope that the council will ensure government entities and telecom carriers, providers, and business work together to find win-win solutions for the benefit of the Navajo people.

If the executive branch gets its way and the council passes this telecommunication regulatory legislation brought by the Navajo Nation Telecommunication Regulation Commission (NNTRC) regarding fees and ROW cost, it is the Navajo people and families who will continue to suffer the digital divide imposed directly by our own Navajo Nation government.

Michael Day
Window Rock

Fighting corruption

This message is for grazing permittees, agriculture land use permittees, and Indian allotees who are impacted by BIA and tribal program corruption. BIA Navajo Region and Navajo Nation must improve grazing and farmland permit system. When we need morale boost, we count on affected community members. Changes may help one person, one decision at a time, to roll back program corruption and to revitalize our dignity.

Previous administration winning the tribal election in 2018 was based on election campaign promises to make changes. No changes. We expected the nation leadership to make administrative changes to overcome Navajo Nation Department of Agriculture and BIA program corruption.

This all resulted in the current effort by every day Diné sheepherders, ranchers, and farmers to improve transfer and probate of grazing and agricultural land use permits on the Navajo Nation. A group of concerned citizens formed a review team to focus on correcting corruption. The team arranged a fourth meeting on Aug. 22, 2023, in Window Rock, and invited BIA and tribal legislatures to hear our concerns. The Navajo Nation Museum conference room was packed with concerned citizens. We, permittees and land users, expected BIA and tribal leaders to hear and respond to our complaints, but none showed up.

Confronting corruption and charting a new course is not easy and will not come quickly. No amount of fact-finding, media coverage, and uncovering documents will not stop corruption on its own.

When challenges feel overwhelming the review team find it helpful by acknowledging the challenges. Example: How can one individual do anything meaningful to fight corruption? We know no one listens to one individual’s concern, but as a group of permittees and land users, the powers-to-be will listen and seek solutions.

The fact is, there are media readers. Another fact is there are eight grazing permittees that I know who can help grow big in our complaints. This is in Fort Defiance Agency alone. There are others from other agencies who are faced with similar complaints. In the past, I’ve submitted letters to the editor. I asked BIA and tribal bureaucrats for rebuttal to my complaints and received none. Others have sent complaints to bureaucrats and they also received no response, which means we right with my complaints.

I ask Times readers for support and seek ways to correct administrative corruption that affects our lives. There are ways to break down huge challenges into manageable pieces. One is to consult the Navajo Nation Council Resource Development Committee at the legislative level. They have the power and influence to recommend corrective action for officials on both sides (BIA and tribe). They are elected by the people, thus in positions to represent and influence to intertwine relationships between regulatory agencies and programs they oversee. We must dig into a positive relationship with RDC to assist where they will lead us to determine the how, when, and where investigations need to be done.

RDC alone may not end the corruption, but it’s the most important thing that can be done right now to resolve the alarming trends on our grazing permit and agricultural land use permit corruption. Example: On May 29, 2019, RDC legislation office authorized adding me to the RDC agenda to present my complaint case with my grazing permit. At the last minute, before my presentation, NNDA influenced NNDOJ to remove me off the agenda for litigation reasons. What litigation? No litigation document was presented with the email note to the RDC Committee. RDC has no proof of a formal letter by NNDA, Navajo Nation Legislative Office, and NNDOJ’s direction to remove me off of the RDC agenda.

My fellow permittees and land users, I ask you to join the review team to relay our concerns to RDC. One investigation, one story, and one RDC resolution would benefit us livestock producers, farmers, and land users. More importantly, it will most likely benefit our future generation.

That’s the how and what we can do to help the Nygren-Montoya administration make changes that the previous administration promised, but we didn’t see changes.

Nels Roanhorse
Oakridge, Ariz.

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