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Letters: Veterans still wondering where money went

I am writing this letter on behalf of the Fort Defiance Agency Veterans and their organizations.

Since Nov. 6, 2017, Navajo Nation President Begaye vetoed the Veterans Trust Fund Act, which was overridden by the 23rd Navajo Nation Council by a unanimous vote of 22-0.

In relation to that legislation, on Jan. 23, 2018, the 23rd Navajo Nation Council also unanimously passed Legislation No. 0191-17 by a vote of 21-0. The legislation was signed by Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye on Feb. 5, 2018, that refers to increasing 4 percent set aside by adding new language to Title 12 of the Navajo Nation Code, stating that 75 percent of the total annual income earned plus current projected set-aside of the trust fund would be used as a supplemental funding for programs and services to benefit Navajo veterans on an annual basis. The fund’s income earned at the end of the previous audited fiscal year plus the current fiscal year projected set aside will be used to determine the allowable expenditure. The excess of the fund income over expenditures shall be reinvested in the trust fund to cover the rate of inflation and to provide or reasonable fund growth, meaning the new language in the legislation would clearly define the amount of funding that would be available for veterans services each year, without overspending or having to use funding from the Veterans Trust Fund principal and the intent of this legislation was to provide additional services and benefits such as hardship, energy, VA medical and housing improvement assistance to the Navajo veterans.

So the first question by Fort Defiance Agency veterans is, “Where is the additional funding for fiscal year 2019 that was passed by 23rd Navajo Nation Council and signed into law by Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye?”

In addition, during a special session on May 17, 2018, the Navajo Nation Council approved Legislation No. 0147-18, aka Resolution No. CMY-50-18, a supplemental funding request in the amount of $1,094,784 for the five veterans agencies that went before Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye for approval.

On May 31, 2018, Resolution No. CMY-50-18 became law after President Begaye took no action on the resolution within the 10-day time frame as required by Navajo Law — Title II, Section 1005, of the Navajo Nation Code states, “The President’s authority to sign into law or veto legislation shall be deemed to be waived if not exercised within 10 calendar days after certification of the legislation by the Speaker or Speaker Pro Tem and the Legislation shall be deemed enacted and become effective pursuant to 2 NNC SS 221.”

So, Navajo veterans, you asked, “Where is our money in the amount of $1,094,784 and who broke the law? And where is the $1.2 million supplemental funding coming from?” Well, as mentioned above, in May 2018, the $1,094,784 was deemed unlawful by Navajo Nation Controller Pearline Kirk, which resulted in the Supplemental Funding Legislation No. 0149-18, which would have provided $1.5 million for Navajo veterans, but in consideration for Navajo chapter official stipends, Legislation 0149-18 was amended from $1.5 million to $1.2 million and approved by the Navajo Nation Council on July 31, 2018, and signed into law by Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye on Aug. 4, 2018.

So the second question is: “Why has there been no processing of requests/payments from Navajo veterans of the 110 chapter veterans organizations?”

On Aug. 30, 2018, a Navajo Times article quoted Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye indicating Klagetoh Veterans Organization received payment for their request, but as of today, there has been no such payment processed that is related to $1.2 million supplemental funding for Navajo veterans and/or organizations.

In conclusion, the state of Navajo Veteran Affairs in regards to funding, housing, services, and transparency has gone unanswered. The Navajo Nation Veterans Administration, under Navajo Nation President Russell Begay and Jonathan Nez, has gone through five veteran directors, countless chiefs of staff, and no meetings, consultation, interaction, or clarifications in relation to veterans affairs has been given by Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye or the administration. The following mention is Navajo law in relation to the Navajo Nation Veterans Act that the president of the Navajo Nation has to consult with the Navajo Veterans Advisory Council. To this day, nothing.

Other issues lingering is Navajo Housing Authority Resolution NHA 4816-2018 that would end the free rental program and home buyoff program, also the Navajo Veterans Housing Program with Southwest Indian Foundation payments and other agencies that still yet to have homes built in Western, Chinle, and Northern agencies. In addition, where is or did $10.4 million in housing money go?

Well Navajo veterans, there it is. I would just like to say thank you to the 23rd Navajo Nation Council and the speaker for advocating and listening to the issues and concerns of the Navajo veterans. Many thanks on behalf of the Fort Defiance Agency veterans.

Cmdr. Olin Kieyoomia
Fort Defiance Agency
Tohatchi, N.M.

Seeking my best grade school buddy

Hello, my name is Christopher Gathe. I was hoping that you could help me find an old friend. His name is Benjamin Shorthair. He was my best friend in elementary school. We went to school at 153rd Street School in Gardena, California. We probably met in 73 and both graduated from that school in 75.

After that I went on to junior high and Benjamin said he and his family were moving back to the Navajo Reservation in Farmington. I never heard from him again.

I do not know anyone in his family, just him, so I’m hoping someone knows him in your area. He would be the same age as me. We were both born in 1963 and I am 54 years old now.

Any info you have is much appreciated. Thank you.

Christopher Gathe
Cankton, La.

Navajo voters have short memories

One of the wisest men who ever lived once said, “It is impossible to feel right when you do wrong.” The teaching is simple, but a great challenge to live by in life.

The two gents who came out on top in the primary voting was really no surprise. Navajos like voting for people they think they know, and Navajos are a forgiving people with very short memories.

Real leaders don’t ask us to believe in them, rather to believe in proven ideals and in ourselves. Both gents want us to believe in them, yet they both have negative political history. What a bummer.

Each candidate selected running mates we are to accept as businessmen, but we forget we hate businessmen. After all, a businessman got elected as president of the United States of America and he is creating jobs and driving the stock market crazy while talking capitalism. Everyone knows capitalism is supposed to suck.

Most of our Diné leaders like democratic socialism, and not capitalism as an economic system in government. (Examples: NTUA, NECA, NAPI, NHA, and 13 others). They like big governments that will take care of us and give us everything needed. In other words, we, along with our leaders, don’t believe in capitalism. We prefer socialized programs in health care, education, housing, economy, and all the welfare benefits (free stuff) we can get. We trust our tribal government to get all the free lunches they can get for us.

At this point we don’t care if 75 percent of our Diné voters are purged off the Navajo voter registration and we don’t care that it is only legal to purge a voter when they are dead. We don’t care if 35 percent of our 110 chapters are to be eliminated. We don’t care if all grazing permits, home and business site leases are to be completely controlled and owned by the tribal and federal governments.

As one of our Diné leader idols said, “At this point what difference does it make?” And she was cleared of all her questionable activities and ran for president of the United States. As memory serves, our Diné leaders encouraged our Diné to vote for her so we could get more freebies.

As Diné do we really not care? What we do as voters determines the fate of our Diné. What we need to do is learn from our mistakes and the mistakes of our leaders. We need to be determined to do right so we can feel right and be right as the Holy People want us to be as the society of Diné.

This general election they can purge my vote, but I’m writing in the name of the only candidate businessman who spoke of justice, dividends, personal responsibility, self-reliance, and independence.

Wally Brown
Page, Ariz.

A proposal for Mr. and Mrs. Kawano

Once again Cindy Yurth shines. Her article (Sept. 6, 2018) on Hosteen Kenji Kawano was informative, insightful, and just plain Biigha (good) (“A story of luck, or chutzpah”).

Yes, Hosteen Kenji is a special dude and I have had the privilege of crossing paths with him several times when he was Chairman Peter MacDonald’s personal photographer in the late 1970s — and also during the summer of 1980 when I was campaigning for the presidency as a Dineh Rights Association candidate who wanted to instill a Dineh Nation constitution into our government’s framework so that the Dineh Nation Council could not pass a resolution to conduct appropriate business before lunchtime and then following lunch simply pass another resolution to cancel the pre-lunch resolution.

I called this technique “Government by helter-skelter resolutions” (helter = pre-lunch; skelter = post-lunch).

Guess what? That is still the way things are run in the Dineh Nation Council Chamber because there is not a Dineh Nation constitution to stabilize day-to-day governmental operations.

Back to non-Dineh marrying into the Dineh Nation, as is the case with Hosteen Kenji, and producing offspring who are one-half Dineh. I have a proposal for the Dineh Nation Council to consider.

I speak from a personal viewpoint: I have been married to a Scottish woman for over 50 years and we have three (two men, one woman) adult children each having a Dineh Nation census number, given shortly after their births in the 1970s. I only hope that Hosteen Kenji’s Dineh children have Dineh Nation census numbers.

My proposal is the following: Have Mrs. Kawano “share” her Dineh Nation census number with Hosteen Kenji for the sole purpose of facilitating his burial on Dineh Nation lands following “his spirit leaving his physical body.” If for no other reason, at least do it for the offspring.

My wife is the oldest of three. Their parents are deceased and both had elected to be cremated with their ashes spread over the Pacific Ocean west of Santa Monica.

My father-in-law fought the Japanese in the South Pacific in World War II as one of the original Navy FlyBoys (first to learn how to take off/land on primitive aircraft carrier flight decks). Our only grandchild, whose father is full-blooded Korean, is 11 and he and his mother (half Dineh, half Scot) buried his umbilical cord near Middle Mesa, 13 miles northeast of Tuba City.

Our daughter wanted him to be tied to Mother Earth near the burial sites of his great-great-great-grandmother and great-great grandmother. The Tacheeni family burial grounds are 100 yards from the umbilical burial site. My wife will be buried in the Tacheeni family burial grounds as her three children are half-Tacheeni Dineh.

Hosteen Kenji and his wife can do the same. Their children can then have a place they can return to whenever there is a family reunion.

My proposal is nothing but a helter resolution — no skelter resolution, please.

Tacheeni Scott
Flagstaff, Ariz.

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