Letters: Times represents the 4th branch

Regarding “Corralling the press won’t stop us from doing our job” (July 27, 2017), the Navajo Times provides a Diné viewpoint of events and conditions in our Diné Nation. Granted, the news may not always be encouraging or uplifting, but we need to know.

There is good reason why the free press is the only business protected by constitutional right. There is good reason why it is the first of the amendment rights.
Freedom of the press allows citizens to know when their government is leading in the wrong direction or when elected servants are getting too big for their breeches and becoming lawless and uncaring.

A democratic republic form of government has three branches: executive, legislative and judicial. In the Navajo way there needs to be a fourth branch. The Navajo Times has faithfully filled that fourth branch, keeping us totally traditional.

As Diné, the Navajo Times and other media outlets have given us detailed accounts of what is on the minds and agenda of the elected delegates. We need such information come voting time on all issues and candidates.

The facts are: if it were not for the free press there would never have been a Treaty of 1868 and all of our Diné would have perished at Hweeldi. If it were not for the press our Diné would have never regained the lands we as the Navajo Nation now occupy. There would have been no Diné Nation.

It is the press that encourages us to hold dear the culture that makes us Diné. The press also helps us to be aware of the dangers that prey upon our Diné.
Our elected officials need to understand that their being in public office is a privilege granted to them by the voters. They have no special or specific rights in their political positions. They only have the same rights as any other Diné. If they think otherwise they don’t belong in an elected office.

Politicians have no right to ever make reporting difficult for any Diné reporter. Those journalists already have excessive challenges to get the full story or make their deadline.

Reporter journalists are our eyes, ears, nose and mouth in our Diné Nation’s political arena. They have that right as the fourth branch of our government and should always be allowed on the Council floor to be our representatives. We need to know.

Wally Brown
Page, Ariz.

Sloan’s retirement a sad change

The retirement of the Hon. Allen Sloan from the Navajo Nation judicial branch, where he served for over 28 years, marks a sad change in Navajo history and the life of the Navajo courts.

Chief Justice/Judge Sloan brought to the courts a real Navajo who had to deal with the challenges that most Navajos of his generation had to contend with and which many Navajos today still have to deal with.

Former Chairman Peter MacDonald Sr. used to say that no one ever promised Navajos that life would be easy and that to be a Navajo meant knowing how to survive and endure. MacDonald also pointed out that the coyote stories are not about maii but rather about the Diné.

Distinguished attorney Steve Boos used to say that, “The road to self-determination was not a paved road.” And from what I have been taught about Navajo culture and tradition, when the Hero Twins (Monster Slayer and Child of the Water) killed the monsters they left some alive, because for life to have meaning there must be challenges as well as reminders of the limitations of we five-fingered people.

So Justice/Judge Sloan who had many “monsters” to deal with grew in intellect and compassion from the challenges he faced (and faces) and was a better man and a better justice and judge for having done so.
He brought Navajo language and culture to the bench – not as something learned in an indigenous studies class or at a powwow, but as part of his essential being.
And all this enabled him to dispense justice not because he learned justice from a book, but rather because he practiced justice as an essential lifeway.
He has left the bench, we wish him well in retirement, and all those who know or knew him are better for the experience.

Lawrence A. Ruzow
Flagstaff, Ariz.

‘Gold’ can be found elsewhere

Who needs a coal-fired power plant when there is “gold” to be found elsewhere on the Navajo Reservation?

West Virginia coalmines are now going out of existence due to the low-demands for coal. Coal: it’s the thing of the past.

Now, there are large fields of solar panels on those once-ravaged lands to bring cheap electricity to the hills of West Virginia. It’s like making lemonade out of lemons.

The real “gold mine” for the Navajo Nation is dangling right before the very noses of Window Rock economic development by extending the railroad line from the Black Mesa coalmining loading zone to the town of Kayenta, and possibly beyond into other “points of interest” in places such as Monument Valley and Canyon De Chelly.

It’s not out of the question. The Grand Canyon Railway line in Williams, Arizona, has thousands waiting to buy a ticket and they are booked for two years in advance. The same with the Verde River Railroad in Clarkdale, Arizona, below Jerome. Railways are a boon to hundreds of towns across America.

A rail line from Page to Kayenta is a possibility and not out of the question for day trips and overnight stays originating from the town of Page, which attracts over 1 million visitors a year.

It beats the Escalade Project inside of the Grand Canyon that nobody wants except for a few money-hungry politicians.

Everybody loves riding on trains, especially if it’s connected with tourism, and Kayenta sits exactly at the gateway to Monument Valley.

It’s a win-win idea with many other benefits that include jobs for mechanics, new hotels, and ground transportation such as tour buses and train stops along the way and excursions close to the rail lines.

Extend the line into Canyon De Chelly and the Navajo Nation wins hands down. Coal is dead. Go with the futureÉall aboard!

Don Decker
Camp Verde, Ariz.

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Categories: Letters