Tuesday, May 30, 2023

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Letters | What happened to my elderly Hardship check?

On Thursday, June 9, 2022, I traveled to Window Rock to find out what happened to my elderly Hardship check.

I followed directions and went to the Civic Center to talk with the controller’s office staff. I was blatantly told that my check had been sent back to them, but it was now expired and there were no funds to pay me.

I sent updated information to ARPAHardship@nnooc.org both through email and fax. The form I filled out was the change of address form for Hardship Assistance.

On the form it asked for old address and new address, which I completed. I did it quickly as I was told that elderly would receive payments first. I am elderly and needed the assistance from others to help me get the information in.

I have proof that this information was sent in for me by staff from the Paiute Tribe in Cedar City, Utah. They have documentation that I submitted this information early. One email shows it was sent on Friday, Jan. 7, 2022, at 10:57 a.m.

Over the course of weeks when I did not receive it, I began to call the many phone numbers provided on various documents distributed by the president’s office, the controller’s office and were printed in the Navajo Times.

I talked to an individual who said it was on its way. Nothing came. I did finally receive the $2,000, but nothing pertaining to the elderly Hardship payment.

I would like to state that I did contract COVID-19. I survived it. It did cause a hardship for me. I live 400 miles away. I have been lied to by the controller’s office when they said the money was on its way.

I don’t understand why various phone lines were not designated specifically to assist the elderly as a priority. Instead, we were expected to stay on a phone line for hours.

On Thursday, June 9, 2022, I was shocked to just be turned away with no explanation. I cried. I couldn’t believe they lied. I then was upset.

To me, it is elderly abuse to promise you are going to do something and when I have made every effort to do what was required to just be turned away and told there is nothing for you.

So I asked for help to make a poster and went down to the president’s office to protest the unjust treatment and lack of explanation for how I was turned away.

I signed it and once there the front desk receptionist got a staff assistant to make sure someone at the controller’s office addressed my issue.

Once at the controller’s office, I met with Ella Howard. I explained my concerns. I also shared the expense I had incurred to travel here with the expectation that I could pick up my check.

She was dismissive at first until I explained I could prove the documents required were sent in from January by the Paiute Tribe. Ms. Howard told me to wait and she left to talk with the controller.

Ms. Howard came out and said a check would be run the next week and she would personally make sure it was Fed-Ex’ed overnight to me.

That did not happen. She lied. I wrote an email on Friday, June 17, 2022, to Ella Howard to remind her what she promised.

Ella Howard wrote an email on Friday, June 17, 2022, to me saying, “Good Morning, it’s in the process. It takes time. Your patience is appreciated. Thank you, Ella”.

I have not received any check this week. I think it is very disrespectful to make promises and not keep them.

On June 9, 2022, I had to borrow money to get home back to Cedar City. I know of other elders who are awaiting their checks because like me they sent in the paperwork, but they didn’t receive anything yet.

I also asked Ms. Howard to check on my son’s Hardship check (Bryan J. Wauneka). He also moved and turned in his documents, but he has not yet received a check.

Ms. Howard said she would have someone from her office call him. I gave her his phone number. He has not been called from the controller’s office or by anyone affiliated with the processing of Hardship checks.

I have appealed to the executive branch and am now asking the legislative branch for their assistance.

I am a member of the Oljato Chapter and included a copy of this email to my Council delegate, Herman Daniels Jr. My father was Calvin Holiday Sr. (Navajo Code Talker) from Monument Valley, Utah.

I went to the president’s office because he used to be my Council delegate. I voted for him. I won’t make that mistake again. I will share with my relatives my experience with his staff.

June Marie Wauneka
Cedar City, Utah

Do not deface campaign posters

It is that time of the year 2022 for the Navajo Nation election for the president and Council delegates. We will be seeing all kinds of candidate posters posted outside the chapter houses, communities, etc.

The first poster I saw in the Tse Si Ani community was Mr. Buu Nygren, who is running for the Navajo Nation president. His poster was adjacent to the Tse Si Ani Chapter House.

As I drove on the road from my house, I would see his colorful poster. I went by again a couple of days ago and someone had defaced his poster. His face was cut out from the front and back of the poster.

There are going to be a lot of candidate posters being put up everywhere on the Navajo Nation. These posters cost money, not to mention going all over the rez to put up posters, and you have seen the gas prices, $4.27 a gallon.

If one of the Tse Si Ani community members defaced Mr. Nygren’s poster, shame on you!

Please do not deface these posters. As I said it costs money, time, gas and each candidate wants their face to be recognized.

On behalf of the Tse Si Ani community members, I apologize to Mr. Nygren for his poster being defaced. I am not sure if he wants to put up another poster. Thank you.

Jackie Yazzie Jr.
Lupton, Ariz.

Very little progress in reusable shopping bag use

At the beginning of this year, I wrote a letter about using reusable shopping bags (“A resolution for Mother Earth,” Jan. 6, 2022).

We are now nearing the half mark for 2022 and I’ve seen very little progress.

I tried to be helpful, even offering tips to make the transition easier, but it seems futile to be nice about it.

So here is the cold hard truth. Plastic doesn’t degrade. It just becomes smaller pieces called micro plastic. Every week we have enough micro plastics inside us to make a plastic credit/debit card. And that estimate was a few years ago, it could be more now.

This is especially troubling if you eat mutton from locally grazed sheep with plastic bags on barbed wire fences nearby.

Think about that the next time you’re checking out at the store with your bank card ready because that’s also what’s inside you, too.

Germaine Martinez
Standing Rock, N.M.

Fix the temporary 3-branch system

The race for the Navajo tribal presidency for 2022 is in full swing and I wish to make a few comments about it.

There is one important issue that I have not heard from the candidates how they will fix the temporary government status.

I heard several presidential candidates on the air waves and Facebook and I’ve yet to hear any of them say anything about how they will fix the temporary three-branch government, which is now entering its 33rd year.

It’s a shame to see our government exist this long on a temporary status. The Navajo tribal government has always been strong and other tribes looked up to us in dealing with the federal government at the national level. How long is temporary?

The three-branch government was crafted by the Leonard Haskie administration with an eye towards checks and balances and adopted by the Navajo Nation Council in less than one year in 1989. And why is it taking more than 30 years to establish the permanent tribal government?

I’m sure his goal was to establish a permanent tribal government had he been re-elected the president in 1990.

Many people had opposed the three-branch government due to lack of involvement by the people. The reason the three-branch government was formed was in response to the tribal government that was severely corrupted in 1989 that created chaos and turmoil.

Our tribal government operated on a temporary status for too long and it’s embarrassing. The time has arrived to hire highly educated young people to make it happen without further due.

I would recommend Jarvis Williams, who writes weekly letters to the Navajo Times to spearhead the project. He seems to have a good head on his shoulders.

We need to elect a strong leader to fix the temporary three-branch government and establish a permanent tribal government that will be strong and accountable. It needs to happen as soon as possible in the next four years. Too much time has been wasted and it should be given a top priority this time around.

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to address this important matter and other related issues.

Vern Charlestonz
Farmington, N.M.

Look at leadership, performance, not status

Both Biden and Trump show delusion of grandeur. And also Harris has no interest in doing anything but showing status like a member of a sorority club … status, a self-importance.

I don’t believe Trump should run again. Now he is influence peddling. He’s intervening on who should be put in the government seating. Neither should Kamala Harris.

Biden is buying up people of color for votes by giving out freebies. I believe this is by design.

Cutting off jobs, a plan to put fossil fuel out by having the gas prices go sky high and have everything go eco-green. Green is not reliable no matter what is said.

He is causing American bankruptcy, illegal immigration and other mayhem. He’s on the verge of getting America to war. He already abandoned Americans and equipment in a war zone.

Now we’re into the tribal elections. Who should we elect as president of the Nation? Myself, I would not vote to re-elect someone who recommended to vote for Biden. He put us in a world of hurt.

I looked at past performance and voted accordingly, as one should. The people should look on leadership ability and performance, not status. There are those who are just filling a position.

Just like some doctors at Indian Health Service. Who just go through the motions for numbers on their resumé.

I’ll probably be told to get treatment elsewhere.

Ernest Jones
Chinle, Ariz.

Voters should not re-elect self-serving leaders

So tiresome are the blowing winds – scorching and relentless. Just as pigheaded and stubborn is the standstill between some members of Navajo Nation Council and President Jonathan Nez.

Not only is this standoff despicable, it’s inhumane. At stake are the communities that can find relief from these Covid relief funds which these leaders are holding hostage.

Try driving through the reservation heartland like Kitsillie, Tachee/Blue Gap south, Cottonwood, Forest Lake where livelihoods are based on raising sheep and cattle.

The drought, soaring gas prices and the amount of driving to get gas or groceries are utterly taxing. As rural animal-farming communities, we always had it tough but this summer is doubly cruel.

Is there a third party that can step in to get President Nez and the delegates to shuffle to a table to negotiate? Where is the Navajo Nation Supreme Court?

Right now, neither President Nez nor the feuding Council delegates will budge on their own. We are witnessing the worst masochism at play here. It is shameful these guys make decisions with their egos and not reason – how unfortunate for us voters.

Let this be a lesson to us voters as these prideful elected officials are running for re-election. Their re-elections cannot and must not happen. These guys, yes, including President Nez, have destroyed public trust in myriad ways.

Mind you, they are refusing to work out a solution at time when we are barely going forward after losing family members, neighbors and friends to the pandemic.

Before I get to main point, I must applaud the handful of leaders who did step up to help the citizens of the reservation. Their efforts and assistance will be long remembered and they are worthy of our respect and may they be re-elected.

Clearly, the other public officials have learned from Donald Trump, so we should not wait for them to come to their senses and restore respect. It will not happen. It is up to us voters to put an end to this. You have heard that radio ad to stop DWI in New Mexico? That message applies here, too – “Enough is enough.”

As voters, it’s critical to not re-elect these self-serving leaders. What more do we need to see? We have witnessed unstoppable greed and inflated egos many times over since they took office.

Even if we vote in a new Navajo president, these disgruntled delegates will continue their game to offend a new administration. Shouldn’t we learn from national politics?

Senate Republicans have held democratic legislations hostage since the 2020 election. Nothing is getting done in Congress, too. That’s a huge lesson to apply here. Let us not re-elect these marauding leaders within Navajo country.

Your heart would be sick and dispirited, too, if you had to drive through these rural chapter communities. There are no jobs whatsoever in these communities and families raise livestock to get by, but this year is especially difficult.

Chapter communities in these far-flung places, listed above, deserve bigger monetary allotment than communities that neighbor border towns. For instance, it takes 20 minutes to drive to Gallup from Fort Defiance but from Tachee, it’s three hours one way!

We are forgotten sheepherders until a public official wants to impress the national media by stating he hauls water and raises sheep. Stop masquerading as “us” unless you truly have some understanding of how tough farming and raising animals is out here.

Lastly, in campaign stump speeches, public officials swear how vital our traditions are. Presumably, they mean “living off the land,” but these very communities that are forced to ek out a living through farming because there are no jobs, are eventually pushed aside.

You, out there, the voters, you can support traditional culture by voting for new candidates.

Ele Vena Burbank aka Eve Little
Tachee/Blue Gap Chapter

Family asks Dineh Benally for apology

Navajo Nation Ethics regulations/rules, policies as a government candidate applies to only political issues not using or abusing people’s personal matters for political gain.

Regarding our son’s passing in August 2021, Dineh Benally stated he was causing drugs, overdose, publicity but he had no knowledge, was unfamiliar, his information was likely via gossip, hearsay that is false, untrue entirely, according to medical investigation/analysis.

We, the family are highly sensitive and heartbroken dealing with the lengthy recovery from our son’s sudden, unexpected occurrence. His educational and occupational background reveals positiveness.

We do not appreciate being humiliated by disrespectful, insulting statements by Dineh Benally. It just worsens our mental and emotional being.

We, the family are asking Dineh Benally for a written apology to us and to Navajo Technical University, where our son, Wacey Martin, graduated the spring of 2018 with an associate of applied science, and to President Elmer Guy, administrators and faculty.

Fact of the matter is, Benally is mischievous of his public service attempts as records show and the general public knows, primarily in 2020, he was heading an illegal black market marijuana drug industry on Northern Agency and Navajoland with dangerous people.

He said it’s a business but it was malpractice and self-gain overall. It’s a disease that is harmful to our health.

Currently there are pending lawsuits, with 30-plus farm permittees in Shiprock and neighboring communities.

The U.S. federal government, FBI, states, Navajo Law Enforcement are overlooking him as lives are lost in the process.

Leo Martin
Shiprock, N.M.



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