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Letters: Treated like animals

The ineffective governance in Burnham Chapter has not changed since the most recent election and, in some ways, it has gotten worse than before.

The people are not allowed to voice their concerns or allowed to enter the chapter house when they should have access to participate in public meetings and use the emergency telephone.

Additionally, the chapter house workers are so rude and disrespectful to our elders. Most heinous is the chapter president, Leon Spencer, who has violated the code of conduct for chapter presidents.

We are now at a stage where community voters are treated like trash.

Furthermore, the secretary/treasurer cannot even make decisions on her own. Every time she encounters a problem, she starts saying, “Leon, Leon.” It is so embarrassing for us community voters.

The chapter has had two chapter meetings and both times the meetings were adjourned improperly by the chapter president.

On Aug. 6, 2021, a planning meeting was scheduled to validate two new CLUPC members. Unfortunately, Leon Spencer and Clara Pierce did not like the two selected CLUPC members because they are well-qualified individuals who would not act as lemurs to their self-interests.

In other words, they are assertive individuals who are more interested in performing their public duty instead of playing puppets to the currently elected masters.

Both the chapter president and secretary acted childish, violated their oaths, and improperly adjourned the planning meeting. The people were left unattended and the attending delegate, Ricky Nez, had to ask Vice President Smith to adjourn the meeting.

Additionally, throughout the meeting many of us were intentionally kicked off of the telephone conference by assumingly the office manager, Marlene Palmer, and Secretary/Treasurer, Clara Pierce.

Navajo Nation tribal officials are supposed to work under Title 26 and the Five Management System. These procedures were not followed and so the certified voters of Burnham Chapter are being treated like animals by the chapter president, secretary/treasurer, and office manager. Ultimately, the chapter president and secretary/treasurer logged off from the meeting without properly adjourning the meeting. Both told the community, “I don’t want to listen to this” and Clara Pierce further insulted the community voters as “jokers.”

The directors in Window Rock have all been notified and to this day, not one person has come forward to resolve any issues about the behavior of these two chapter employees. It is so bad that the people of TTS are scared to say anything.

Leon Spencer, Marlene Palmer and Clara Pierce record and document everything the community voters say to claim we are working against the chapter officials. Then on Aug. 13, 2021, a formal chapter meeting was scheduled.

Again, the chapter president, Leon Spencer, logged off without properly adjourning the meeting.

This is clearly an “I quit this position” attitude. Leon Spencer allowed his wife to submit a resolution to terminate the CLUPC president without a valid reason.

The chapter president, his wife, his wife’s sister, her husband, and Clara Pierce’s sister and her husband all tried to motion a resolution without probable cause against the current chapter CLUCP president.

This was handled secretly by the chapter president, office manager, and secretary/treasurer without informing the general community. This is wrong.

These chapter officials continue to violate their duties and obligations to serve the community.

Prior to this incident, the chapter manager is consistently rude with senior citizens in the community regarding various chapter facilities like the women’s restroom.

Marlene Palmer went out of her way to yell at a senior certified chapter voter of Burnham Chapter. This senior citizen was hurt emotionally, heartbroken, and deeply saddened by Marlene’s behavior.

On top of this, the vice president walked in on Marlene yelling at this senior citizen who was trying to remain calm. Ultimately, Marlene Palmer accused the vice president of slamming doors, scaring the people in the office, and documenting false allegations with the presence of the grazing official and the abused senior.

The community has had numerous complaints about Marlene Palmer and, to this day, Leon Spencer has allowed and favored her inappropriate behavior.

Currently, the elected chapter president and secretary/treasurer are both a danger to the public. Marlene Palmer is allowed to work in the chapter house when she violates the Navajo Nation’s code of conduct and policy and procedures.

This is bad for the community and I’m writing this to you to inform the broader general Navajo population regarding the ongoing behavior of one of our 25 LGA certified chapter houses.

I am hoping the leadership in Window Rock will be made aware of our qualms and help our community with these officials who are determined to destroy the community.

Marilyn Zhao
Rowland Heights, Calif.

Setting the record straight

Lies and misinformation about Tiis Tsoh Sikaad Chapter — the chapter is not in chaos.

In fact, the chapter is doing very well. We just received $100,000 from the state of New Mexico for bathroom additions; the chapter transferred $34,000 to septic tank and drainfield replacement, which is ready to proceed; and one of our washes needs a bridge, which is at 40 percent complete.

We also have a fencing project to enclose our chapter boundary for range management; we were able to assist a chapter member to get solar power; our ARPA requests are all in, thanks to the chapter administration; and chapter administration procured supplies and COVID-19 items, serving over 4,500 local members and surrounding chapter members and still giving out supplies (if you need water, give us a call).

Also, $18,000 for housing wiring; the chapter working on two cell towers; the chapter is receiving broadband connection in a month; and the chapter is working a remote toll station for their Navajo Route 5, which commercial vehicles use and damage.

The chapter is initiating the first-ever remote toll station using cameras and scanning to charge commercial vehicles, and have developed a MOA with BIA roads, so that the chapter can grade their own roads at will. Many more internal projects are in the process.

On our infrastructure Capital Improvement Project listing includes the following: east, west, south, north waterlines and powerlines; housing wiring; septic and drainfield replacement for everyone; two cell towers; individual solar street light for all community members; we got $689,000 for a community center; scattered waterlines and powerlines; 13-mile road project (design funds); $400,000 activity center — and all are in various stages of project development and we are all hard at work.

As for the chapter in chaos, it’s only eight community members that are constantly complaining are in “chaos” with their lives.

One is taking every opportunity to attack the chapter officials and chapter administration, because he failed to qualify for the chapter manager’s position, and he blames his failures in life on the Navajo Nation, chapters, and officials.

Of the eight community members, all are from one family. Fannie Lookinglass, former CLUPC president; Vice President Edison Smith (Fannie’s nephew and done nothing for the chapter in eight months); Marilyn Zhao, Navajo Times complainer (Edison’s sister and Fannie’s niece); Rita Begay (grazing member, mother and half-sister to Fannie); and Tanner Begay, grazing member (failed to provide service to community members in 4.8 years).

They complain because they do not understand the Navajo Nation laws and regulation; not understanding chapter policy and procedures for chapter assistance; and policy and procedure of meetings. They blame the chapter official and chapter manager for being denied services and then attack them on Navajo Times and on Facebook. Hate the system, not the chapter officials and chapter, please.

Meanwhile, the other 532 Tiis Tsoh Sikaad voters are happy and continue on with life on the reservation and not relying on chapter services to succeed in life. Basically, the chapter services are for people that are in need. They try to use them by saying “community members, our elders, etc.” to make it sound as the whole community is complaining. When in fact they are referring to only the eight themselves.

President Leon Spencer’s accomplishment for the Navajo Nation communities to date are reclamation of all abandoned mines within 23 years; implementation of over 100 waterline installations for over 15 years; Upper Fruitland Chapter and Senior Center; Beclabito Head Start Center; Cove Senior Center; Two Grey Hills parking lot; Newcomb Senior Center; Burnham Veterans Memorial building and arbor; Torren Senior Center; Eastern Cutter Lateral; Crownpoint Diné Youth Center; Whiterock powerline; Naschitti powerline; Sheepsprings Culture Center; Oak Springs waterline; Red Valley powerline; Sweetwater powerline and waterlines; Mexican Water Chapter building and Senior Center; Aneth water well and waterlines; Shiprock Veterans Center; Shiprock Infrastructure Project; Sanostee School powerline upgrade to Phase 3; Smith Lake Veterans Center and well project; Mariano Lake Waterline Project; Burnham Waterline Project; Huerfano Youth Center; Nageezi administration building and gymnasium upgrade; Counselor Navajo Technical University remote waterline station; White Horse Lake water lines; Teec Nos Pos bathroom additions; and other projects throughout the Navajo Nation.

This expertise is now being used to get all basic needs to all Tiis Tsoh Sikaad Chapter community members.

This letter is to set the record straight at Tiis Tsoh Sikaad Chapter. I also would like to thank the Tiis Tsoh Sikaad Chapter staff and secretary/treasurer for your hard work and support of the chapter vision and mission.

I never realized how hard the chapter administration and staff work to keep the chapters going day in and day out, so I also want to thank all 100 chapter administration and staff for the hard work daily and encounters with people like stated above. Very stressful, I encourage you all to double your efforts in helping your communities.

One last advice, if you ask for interpretation of Navajo Nation law, there is a legal analysis that takes place for over three months or more, so take a number and get in line.

An opinion is much faster, but most do not like it, it still takes long to get an answer, too. NNDOJ gets these types of requests daily, so they have limited resources to get to our requests. Very understandable and thank you, DOJ.

Leon Spencer
Chapter President
Tiis Tsoh Sikaad Chapter
Burnham, N.M.

Kayenta outlands man may not be missing Marine vet

I am Patricia Conger, twin sister to missing Marine veteran, Jesse Conger. Navajo Police Department called me on Aug. 30, 2021, to ask for an update on Jesse.

I relayed a few details about finding Jesse’s car in January 2020 on the San Carlos Apache Reservation and how we think Jesse had committed suicide in the area.

They explained that a white man was living in the wilderness in the Kayenta District and they believe he had been in that area for two years, so they were following up on anyone who went missing two years ago.

The sergeant who called explained to me that she would follow up when they locate this man. In my heart of hearts, I feel like I already know what happened to my twin brother, and I didn’t give this phone call much more thought.

Since then, I have received a steady stream of Facebook direct messages, texts, and calls. And I have spoken with both Navajo PD and the FBI much more extensively. The FBI and Navajo PD now believe this man is not Jesse, and the Navajo PD has expressed their regret in putting out the bulletin that all but named Jesse as this man.

There are no photos or videos of this man, only footprints, both shoed and un-shoed, and there is no possibility that this man has size 14 feet, which was Jesse’s shoe size.

I want to take a moment to address the Diné people in this trying time. In the last two years, I have learned a lot about a side of human nature that I don’t think I ever would have discovered otherwise.

People want to help, but when people want something, they are highly fallible no matter how selfless their desire. It’s in our nature to fit whatever we see into the narrative we want, however, I will never condemn someone for trying to help me find Jesse.

I truly appreciate everyone who has ever taken the time to reach out. There are times when I have been short with people and haven’t returned phone calls and texts, but I genuinely do feel fortunate to have all of you in my corner.

I have received thousands of tips from people all over the country claiming to have seen Jesse. Most tipsters claim they are 99 percent sure it was him. Of those several thousand, I have received several hundred that included pictures.

Or if they didn’t include the picture, I spent hours tracking down the person myself. If I didn’t feel like it was such an invasion of privacy, I would post these pictures publicly to illustrate this simple human fallacy.

Again, I don’t want anyone to feel bad for sending me these tips. I appreciate every text and call, and I want to call attention to how thoroughly extensive this search continues to be. I do not wish to critique the fallacy of human assumption, but rather appraise our deep-rooted desire to help others in need. No one can say any less for the Diné people.

Finally, I’d like to thank the Navajo Nation Police Department for their diligence and care in this matter. This man may not be my brother, but he is someone’s brother, and I hope he can find his way.

Patricia Conger
Salt Lake City, Utah


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