Letters: With NGS, mine closures, new casino is an option

In 2013, the Navajo Generating Station owners and the Navajo Nation agreed to extend the lease to year 2044 and the agreement was not signed by the plant manager at Salt River Project.

So in early 2019 the shutdown became news, then there was a glimmer of hope that NGS might resume operations beyond 2019, and finally it was lights out by a simple majority vote of the 24th Navajo Nation Council which quashed the hopes of many for a continuation of power operations as Navajo transitions itself to renewable energy projects and at the same time softening the impact of sudden mass losses of careers.

It is no secret the consequences from the NGS and Kayenta Mine shutdowns will be devastating to the immediate economy and the negative ripple effects beyond northern Arizona. The displaced
workforce is a major concern. Are similar jobs readily available in the immediate vicinity of Lake Powell? Probably next to none.

Most of Salt River Project employees at NGS have been or will be deployed to other locations such as the Coronado Generating Station, Gila River Power Station, or metropolitan Phoenix. Some will retire and others will be compelled to seek employment elsewhere which requires traveling or moving their families, nonetheless, for many things will never be the same.

In nearby Page, the town government was proactive and prepared itself for the inevitable and constructed hotels and is still in construction mode with motels, hotels and diners to accommodate the arrival of a new and much sought year-round tourism industry.

There was a time when tourism only flourished during the summer and by late fall the tourists were gone and the waiting begins for next spring while NGS kept the vital economy afloat.

For the past four or so years busloads are coming in year-round and the majority are not coming in to see Page, they are coming to see attractions on Navajo. The problem is there are no places for the tourists to bed down or eat on Navajo.

Page is the next option and it’s become the benefactor of the tourist dollars. Where is Navajo and what are their strategic economic development plans?

In the mid-80s, the development of a marina at Antelope Point had finally started to bloom into reality with the Navajo Nation, the Department of the Interior’s National Park Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs, and a concessionaire teamed up to develop the marina project. Navajo’s accomplishment was to open a pathway for the NPS and the concessionaire to gain access to the lake from the Navajo side.

Needless to say, Navajo’s role was fulfilled and what we have is a freebie enjoyed by others while Navajo has yet to wallow in the money.

LeChee Chapter, back in the 80s, offered a suggestion to get Navajo to finance the entire project and construct their own casino and resort along with other amenities but the Navajo Nation turned a deaf ear.

Hindsight indicates this should have been the course of action taken from the get-go. Right now tourists are coming in by the busloads year-round and Navajo must do something to start capturing their dollars on a bigger scale. What to do?

Could there be a blessing in disguise since the NGS lease is still in effect? Why not extend or withdraw it for economic development?

The location is perfect and is big enough to accommodate a casino and resort with plenty of parking spaces, a police and emergency services facility, a fire station and a class visitor/welcome center with an atrium. The economic development opportunities are there and the essentially needed community services are vital and would provide jobs, businesses and career opportunities.

However, unlike past Navajo Nation administrations, this must never become just another political game. Allow this chance of a lifetime to become a reality very soon. Actions rather than words will be expected from our leaders at the chapter levels all the way to Window Rock.

I am optimistic Navajo will turn the corner one of these days.

Denny Tsosie
Navajo Voters Coalition Board Secretary
Western Navajo Voters Coalition President
LeChee, Ariz.

Thanks for re-inserting Diné language page

I would like to address a few issues in this letter.

First, I congratulate the Navajo Times for re-inserting the Navajo language page, which I am learning Navajo from.

I am Choctaw/Navajo (Táchii’nii). I worked for the Navajo Nation from 1971 to 2001 and retired in Albuquerque.

I also would like to congratulate Miss Navajo Nation, past and present, for advocating the Navajo language more than all the Navajo presidents put together.

The Diné College does not have a bachelor’s degree in Navajo language and culture after 50 years of existence.

Secondly, I would like to support Mark Charles for president of USA. America was great before the Mayflower ship came. Now it’s all polluted. Five hundred years of genocide and now language and culture genocide the education.

Third, I would like to congratulate the new Council members and caution them to participate in its green river.

Fourth, I would like to suggest to President Nez to have the Navajo people approve the executive branch by chapter or votes referendum. Then at least the Office of the President will be approved by the people and he will be legally the president of the Navajo people, not by the authority of the federal government like the Navajo Nation Council and will be re-elected a second term.

That is putting the people first on your campaign promise. Fifth, there is a dire need for a Navajo urban office. The urban Navajo voters are 6 percent of the vote, which is a swing vote in case of a tie.

More Navajos are moving off the reservation for whatever reason and the Navajo treaty says that whoever leaves the reservation loses their benefits.

The BIA Employment Assistance Program has spent millions of dollars and taken hundreds of Navajos off the reservation for training which was a one-way ticket, no return, but left in the cities to work in factories and shipyards, etc. The melting pot theory never to return home.

I am not going to write about this again. The opportunity and power is now, not yesterday or tomorrow – “now” – and the decision-makers get the credit.

Ralph U. Davis
Albuquerque, N.M.

Rest in peace, senator

Everyone respected him is a perfect fit in describing the late John Pinto, state senator of New Mexico, for more than four decades. He was my cheii and colleague when he was working with the transportation department in the early 1990s.

I was deeply saddened to hear about his passing on May 24, 2019, via KOAT television evening news. I would like to extend my condolences to his family and loved ones. Remembering him in the positive ways will bring you healing.

I tried to get the Navajo Nation Council to recognize and honor him for his dedication and devotion to his constituents of the Navajo Nation and the district he represented.

On July 12, 2015, I even wrote a column to the Navajo Times urging the tribal Council to officially recognize and honor him, but it fell on deaf ears of the Council members. They didn’t seem to care at all.

Instead, at the end of 2015 some good-hearted Hispanic legislators from New Mexico honored him for his untiring and hard work. They demonstrated how well they respected him. Why our own tribal Council did not see his accomplishments is a total mystery. Shame on them.

He was a very humble man, action oriented, polite, and outgoing. He also had foresight, was an educator, achiever, and a champion in securing funding for education, capital outlay projects, and the veterans statewide. The most visible accomplishment is the construction of U.S. Highway 491 from Gallup to Shiprock.

As an elected official he had a super clean record while serving as a state senator when others fall short of their goal and commit some degree of crime. There are very few good, honest and committed people and the late senator was one of them.

The late senator was a humorous person and some people teased him about how he managed to get re-elected every time and he would say it’s a secret with a laugh. He hardly ever campaigned and got reelected.

His record spoke for itself.

He was a loving husband, the best dad and the greatest grandpa. The legacy he left behind will be cherished and treasured for many years to come.
We will miss him dearly. He departed from this world for another called Heaven where there is beauty and harmony all around. Rest In peace, senator.

Vern Charleston
Farmington, N.M.

All relatives help with Ndaa

The squaw dance begins by the veteran with gratitude, who needs Ndaa by talking and working together with his relatives. The veteran asks his close relatives to help him with his Ndaa to get the ceremonial squaw dance ritual materials and herbs for his squaw dance.

Our grandparents’ ancestors believed the Ndaa ceremony heals physical illness and psychological illness of military veterans and any Diné.

The entire Navajo relatives, who host Ndaa, must think, help, appeal, plead and pray for the military veteran patient in a positive way to encourage him or her to have traditional faith to get well. The military veteran has to have traditional faith to get well, it’s up to him.

Respect everything that exists on earth, in nature, in universe to conduct the traditional Ndaa. Say thank you when people help you or say please if you want people to help you with the squaw dance.

It is our Navajo ancestors approach that examines how our clan, genes, hormones and nervous system interact with nature, universe, earth, our daily environments to influence learning, good personality, shared memory, explain motivation, interpret emotional coping techniques, sense spirituality and other traits and abilities.
It is important to respect everyone and everything during the ceremony. Think and speak positively of the traditional ceremony. Our grandparents and parents’ belief.
All the people at the squaw dance must think, help, appeal, plead and pray together and encourage the military veteran or patient to have traditional faith to heal herself or himself from mental illness from foreign military battle that caused mental illness and physical illness.

Originally, the Ndaa centered on spiritual ritual aimed at removing mental war stresses from veteran warriors returning from foreign country war. The association with foreigners, the exposure to actual death of fellow military veterans or being part of medical assistance to care for the dead military veterans, and the ultimate danger of actually having killed foreign enemies, placing returning veterans in an extremely dangerous position.

Such mental purification requires several days and nights of spiritual ritual overseen by a medicine man familiar with complex ceremonial chants, ash paintings, and other spiritual ceremonial rituals. It requires the patient to have spiritual belief, self-awareness, selfrespect, self-belief and traditional faith in healing himself or herself.

To get properly effective, it requires the participation of as many relatives and people as possible to lend their assistance to the medicine man and to increase the strength of the spiritual ritual through their presence, helping and encouragement that heals the military veteran patient or patients.

The decision to have Ndaa rests with the veteran patient, his or her parents must know first about the Ndaa, and his or her clan relatives are also notified, who can help with Ndaa experiences and suggestions how to go about the Ndaa ceremony, its ritual procedure, its functions of the ceremonial procedure, a particular way of doing Ndaa from the beginning to the completion of the Ndaa.

Once the decision is confirmed, approved among the veteran’s parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters and clan relatives, the family group of the military veteran patient begin making Ndaa procedural arrangements with clan relatives. It’s important to work together to prepare and get ready to start and complete the squaw dance for the military veteran patient to heal.

Two eagle feathers are used to decorate the sacred cane or gourd, which represents distinctive armed forces (eagle) to defeat, destroy and demolish mental illness and physical illnesses that cause psychiatric stress disorder that causes negative behavior of a military veteran.

A red felt cotton cloth approximately six inches wide by 20 inches long represents flashes of lightning seen in the rain when there is a discharge of atmospheric electricity in the clouds, between clouds and the earth, usually occurring during a thunderstorm depletes and destroys any mental illnesses and physical illness that cause distress disorders to a military veteran.

A red felt cotton cloth approximately 12 inches wide by 24 inches long represents atmospheric electricity, the lady (nit’es shiigii’) drags Pendleton blankets, red cotton cloth, deer skin and white cloth to erase the veteran’s footprints so the enemy spirit won’t find the military veteran.

Six turkey feathers represent turkey’s knowledge of water monsters, air monsters and space monsters by the use of turkey’s infrared radiant vision.

Three young deer hooves represent Pleiades, protections from the universe, nature and earth. It takes hunting to get three deer hooves.

Ideally the gourd receiver gets three sheep at Ndaa.

Deerskin represents protection from sacred mountains, earth, nature, universe and environment. All different colors of yarn represent order, balance, peace and
harmony from four directions. The white yarn represents Sisnaajiini (white shell, yoolgai saad), blue yarn represents Tsoodzil (turquoise shell, dootl’izh saad), yellow yarn represents Dook’o’oosliid (abalone shell, diichili saad) and black yarn represents Dibe’ Nitsaa (black jet shell, baashzhinii saad).

Different colors of yarn represent nitsahakees (mental strength), nahata (spiritual, planning), iina (life, physical health), sihasin (reverence, respect).

Ndaa drum represents the vibration sounds of the hot core of the earth. The electromagnetic energy from the north and south poles protect us from any harmful attack from outside of the sacred mountains. Drumming and singing is one of the oldest healing techniques known to Navajo. At the traditional ceremony the drumming
and singing are the healing sounds of nature, earth and universe.

Naayee Neezhani and To’ba’jishchini were Navajo veteran warriors. They had ceremonial Ndaa’ Naayee Neezhani represents male warrior, male veteran; to’ba’jischini represents female warrior, female veteran.

In 1946, grandparents “took a small bag of flour, potatoes, coffee and sugar to give it to the military veteran patient so that they could eat a Ndaa. Then when they ate food at the squaw dance they blessed themselves to renew their squaw dance blessing that they have received long time ago.”

When a person eats squaw dance food, he or she renews her Ndaa blessing from the Almighty, nature, earth, universe and natural environment.

When a person drinks gad ni’eeli at the squaw dance, it will cleanse his or her mind. Gad ni’neeli will clean all negative thinking and replace it with a positive thinking mind.

Ndaa is order, balance, peace and harmony for everyone who goes to Ndaa relief mental stress and have stronger traditional faith and healthy life in the future.

Navajo basket represents sa’ah naaghei ashkii (father universe), bik’eh hozhoon at’eed (mother earth), look at the ts’aa’ (basket) you are looking at the earth. When you turn it over, you are looking at the round father universe. The principles of sa’ah naaghei ashkii bik’eh hozhoon at’eed, hayoolkaal—father’s clan, paternal clan (selfidentity), nihodeetl’iizh—maternal grandfather’s clan (social-image), nihotssoi—mother’s clan, maternal clan (self-image), chahlheel—paternal grandfather’s clan (physical image).

To the relatives, who hosted, and the people who encouraged traditional faith to the military veteran to get him or her well, it takes the patient’s self-belief and traditional faith to get him or her well.

Edward J. Little Sr.
Tuba City, Ariz.

Criticism of district grazing committee

I support Justin D. Yazzie’s remarks in the May 2, 2019, Navajo Times about the Navajo Nation Department of Agriculture corruption (“Ranching program ‘making up laws’”).

NNDA mission statement emphasizes good relation with clients, not to work against them. NNDA program manager does not support the mission statement when he agrees with district grazing committee’s fallacious, unreasonable resolution.

The following is a list of inaccuracies in the Dec. 17, 2018, DGC resolution.

NNDA accepted DGC resolution for a grazing permit dispute that was requested for dismissal by the disputing party a month earlier on Nov. 7, 2018. DGC acted on a resolution without consulting appropriate tribal office for authorization to act on the dismissal of a dispute case.

The resolution has no reference to Navajo Nation Code that authorizes inter-district joint sub-committee meetings. The resolution is discriminatory, unprofessional and unethical.

There is no basis for DGC action on an outdated 1984 approved grazing permit. DGC dispute action is out of compliance with the five-year statute of limitation for grazing permit disputes.

DGC and NNDA accused disputing grazing permittee of not having records of 1984 seasonal grazing permit transaction. That is BIA’s responsibility, not permittees.
It is corruption when DGC made exception to its regulation that requires DGC members to obtain written consent by adjacent permit holders when the committee authorizes a grazing permit transfer from one use area to another grazing use area. It is corruption when DGC resolution demands fence removal in mid-winter at high elevation snowcovered grazing area. Now they are acting on grazing permit termination due to no fence removal in January.

DGC and NNDA accused the permittee of grazing trespass violation with seasonal grazing permit overlapping two grazing districts. They do not understand 25 CFR 167 (“Red Book”) authorizes seasonal grazing permits in District 17 and District 18.

DGC’s action is out of context with 25 CFR 167.13 Trespass that reads:

“first offense which cannot be settled by District Grazing Committee will be referred to the Central Grazing Committee (now NNC-RDC) for proper settlement out of court. Second written offense will be referred directly by District Grazing Committee to appropriate tribal court.”

BIA and NNDA technical advisors failed to advise DGC that its decision is not justified because there are no violation records.

It is an error for NNDA and DGC to identify seasonal grazing permit in two districts as deterioration of rangeland. They have no proof how seasonal permit will deteriorate two rangelands when used six months apart. Seasonal grazing permits are designed to promote rotational grazing practices, which is a scientifically proven grazing method design for land restoration.

DGC and NNDA accused permittee did not acquire permission by adjacent permit holders when permit was transferred in 1984. DGC grazing official have that responsibility, not the permittee. DGC and NNDA accused permittee was assigned a permit to use grazing land outside the area the permit originated. BIA and NNDA have that responsibility, not the permittee.

NNDA extension agent trains DGC members and serves as technical advisors at DGC meetings. He failed to advise at the Dec. 17, 2018, resolution meeting.

DGC accused permittee of encroaching onto scattered Indian allotments.

There are thousands of permittees assigned permits in Fort Defiance Agency within unfenced Indian allotments. The solution is to cancel all permits BIA approved between Arizona Highway 264 north and Interstate I-40 south because many of these permits are within unfenced scattered Indian allotments. Such action would result in more disputes for NNDA. Why pick on one permittee?

DGC action with NNDA manager approval does not support Division of Natural Resources mission statement that emphasizes “preserving Navajo Nation’s natural and cultural resources for the benefit of the Diné, providing accountable leadership, conducting business in an ethical manner being aware that decisions made are consistent and based on facts, and treating customers and associates honestly with respect.”

DGC action does not support “due process” legal obligation and civil rights entitlement by not inviting them to DGC meetings. This is violation of the 5th and 14th amendments of the U.S. Constitution. Due process supports civil rights of law-abiding citizens and must be given notice and opportunity for a hearing on the government’s action.

NNDA acceptance of DGC invalid resolution is contrary to DGC plan of operation that specifies primary responsibility of DGC members to assist, coordinate and help resolve people’s concern over resource management issues.

There is no honesty and respect by NNDA, DGC and BIA. They prove injustice with inaccuracies and inconsistencies, which are based on NNDA and BIA failure to work jointly as technical advisors. There were no objections by the technical advisors that would have resolved the dispute.

Taxpayers watch what goes on with NNDA and DGC. If there are disagreements to this complaint, Leo Watchman, Ray Castillo and Bill Spencer must submit rebuttal through the media.

Nels Roanhorse
Wildhorse Country Ranch
Oakridge, Ariz.


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