Monday, June 5, 2023

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Letters: Why not pump water from southeast U.S.?

I have a question that could be a possible solution to the drought we know is here. Why can’t we pump water into the Southwest from severely flooded areas in the eastern or southern United States?

I thought I might have been thinking something too outrageous years ago, then I saw someone raise the question on social media years ago and it was dismissed. I think it’s a viable question and worth examining and possibly implementing.

I have a hard time believing it can’t be done, not when oil is pumped by the Dakota Access Pipeline. Here’s relevant facts from what is pumped: DAPL runs for 1,172 miles; pumps 570,000 drums of oil per day; that is equal to 23,940,000 gallons a day.

Now take this engineering feat and imagine it’s water that could be pumped. Let’s use our beloved local area of Crownpoint, for example. It’s 1,269 miles from New Orleans to Crownpoint.

This distance is only 97 miles longer than DAPL. I’m just using New Orleans as an example area since it is an area prone to flooding, mostly through hurricanes and upper flooding conditions up the Mississippi River.

When excess water comes in, then the pumps could be activated. Understand that this would be like a network, like train track operations. Fayetteville, North Carolina, was also hard hit recently with rain. Turn on the pumps from that area, it would go to a distribution area further south (New Orleans or elsewhere).

It would go to Crownpoint Distribution, which could then be pumped to reservoirs in various areas in Fort Defiance, Tuba City, etc. Fort and Tuba do have empty or near empty reservoirs. All these communities would pump water into smaller areas in their vicinity.

It is true Gallup-McKinley water project taps into the San Juan River, but that river is already depleted, going into another depleted river, the Colorado. We’re sitting here doing nothing on our Navajo Nation and expect to see our land continue to dry even more.

Remember those 200 horses we were all so shocked about near Tuba City a few years ago? COVID-19 conditions could be alleviated to a lesser degree with access to more water. We’ve had two large wildfires in the last few years. You, the older people, remember what late November should look like? Cold and drizzly.

I was walking around yesterday in a T-shirt. This season came after a dry, hot summer and almost non-existent monsoon. This endeavor could also be a joint project. The Navajo Nation is not the only one suffering from the drought in the Southwest.

There are other tribes and other Americans going through this as well. And if this pipeline leaks, it’s only water.

Marc Hillis
Fort Defiance, Ariz.

It took 3 years for Nation to intervene

Illegal marijuana was found at Dineh Benally’s claimed hemp business operations in Gadii’ahi, Hogback, and Shiprock — over 60,000 pounds of it.

That does not include the other amount of marijuana seized in other apprehensions made outside the Navajo Nation by other local police authorities.

It took the Navajo Nation three years to intervene on behalf of the communities. Just imagine how much marijuana was grown on federal trust lands and the profit Dineh Benally and his illegal marijuana entourage made without paying any taxes.

None of this illegal marijuana operation boosted the Navajo Nation’s economic development or generated any funds for the Nation. It only profited Dineh Benally, the illegal marijuana entourage, and the Asian workers’ pockets. I like to thank all the community members for their persistency in bringing the illegal marijuana operation to a halt.

Without them, Dineh Benally and his entourage would have continued. Thank you to the Navajo Department of Justice, Doreen McPaul, and her staff members, Navajo Department of Public Safety Chief Phillip Francisco and police officers, Navajo Environmental Protection Agency Oliver Whaley and his staff, and other outside law enforcement agencies for the work you done in our communities to clean up the criminal activities and the abuse of the land. As community members, we still need to push for these greenhouses to be torn down.

Leaving them up gives people ideas to start up their operation again. We still see individuals coming on to the marijuana farms at night with flashlights and vehicles, so consistency from the police department in checking these farms during the day and night and asking nearby neighbors if they still witness activities going on is one way to completely stop the illegal marijuana operation.

There is still a long way to go in holding Dineh Benally and all individuals who participated in the illegal marijuana operation accountable for the disharmony they created in our communities. They need to be held financially and ethically responsible for all damages, land-use permits revoked and banned from running any political offices.

In the future, I anticipate the Navajo Nation executive, legislative, and judicial branches will do a far better job in keeping our communities safe from deceitful individuals who think about making a profit for themselves only.

Malinda Notah
Gadii’ahi, N.M.

Dark day may come sooner rather than later

On June 3, 2020, the Shiprock Traditional Farmers Cooperative submitted a proposal for CARES Act funding in the amount of $16.5 million. The proposal began with the preamble, “We face a future of immense uncertainty. With the intrusion of the coronavirus pandemic upon our beloved Dinétah and into the lives and homes of our people, the acquisition of life needs, including food, have become limited and are in jeopardy. We, nonetheless, have the ready opportunity to respond to our food needs that is caused in part by the pandemic.”

The proposal detailed a plan to revitalize the Diné farms along the San Juan River. We have 13,500 acres of farmland. We have been farming about 15% per year, which is only 2,025 acres with 11,475 acres, laying empty growing tumbleweeds and prairie dogs.

The proposal requested funds for assessments, organizing, education, equipment, facilities, labor, staffing for management, marketing, and distribution. Diné farmers know how to grow food. We envisioned large-scale food production, warehouses full of naas jizhe (dried steam corn). We did not get any feedback on our proposal. On Nov. 5, we recommended to Navajo leadership that the Navajo Nation “take advantage of what appears to be a tremendous opportunity.

With the hemp fiasco coming to a conclusion, we wonder what happens to the infrastructure that was put in place for the hemp operations. Specifically, the greenhouses, the drip irrigation systems, and all associated components. We propose that the Navajo Nation secure these infrastructure for the purpose of doing year-round agriculture.”

There has been no feedback. There was a time when the Navajo Nation could have seized all this infrastructure to “compensate” for the damage that was done to the Navajo Nation, but that opportunity has passed.

The land users that have these infrastructures on their farms have been told all the stuff is theirs. The infrastructure is now being traded off, sold, or otherwise disappearing.

Our closing statement has been “We must reinvigorate and reinforce the resilient capacity to feed ourselves. There is true sovereignty in feeding oneself. When we have food, we survive. “The life teachings of our elders must be honored, ‘Táá hwó’ají t’éego’ (through one’s own initiative and effort). This teaching encapsulates the concepts of self-determination and self-reliance. This is the way to our future and our survival.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the food supply chain and the supermarket food shelves empty out now and then, yet the food assistance boxes continue to arrive from somewhere. Is there an unending supply of Spam? No. It seems these food supplies will start to dwindle at some point and there may be hunger among the people. Unfortunately, that dark day may now come to the rez sooner than later.

Duane “Chili” Yazzie
Shiprock, N.M.

Say a prayer for To’hajiilee

The Holy People gave us our beautiful language to comfort each other and certainly it’s time for all of us to find words of comfort to tell the Diné people in the community of To’hajiilee.

Over the past months, and most recently, our Diné people in the small community have lost their loved ones. The loss was too many for a short time. To’hajiilee peoples’ hearts are broken and grieving their loss. The loss of their loved ones was sisters, brothers, uncles, cousins, fathers, friends, and co-workers.

In the past month and last few days, the To’hajiilee community has lost loved ones to COVID-19 and recently horrible car crashes. In this car crash three people lost their lives, it was a head-on two-car crash, two in one car and one in the other car.

It happened right in community. One young 27-year-old died. She was found dead behind a Laundromat on north Coors on Sunday, Nov. 15. Another female was found murdered somewhere in Albuquerque. Several people, possibly five, died of COVID-19, and one older veteran.

It’s a very sad time in the community. Please say a prayer or think of words of comfort and think of families in grief.

LaVerne Holtsoi Moreno
Albuquerque, N.M.


Weather & Road Conditions

Window Rock Weather

Partly Cloudy

69.0 F (20.6 C)
Dewpoint: 37.9 F (3.3 C)
Humidity: 32%
Wind: Variable at 5.8 MPH (5 KT)
Pressure: 30.10

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