Council urged to oppose Grand Canyon Escalade

WINDOW ROCK, Aug. 28, 2014

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I urge you to oppose the Grand Canyon Escalade Project that has come to you for approval. Please consider the following reasons for my opposition in your deliberations.

On July 10, 2014, in an Internet message to a cabal he calls Grand Canyon Escalade, a "Kal" informs them it was a mistake to insist on secrecy in his "high level negotiations" with Navajo "leaders" in Window Rock.

He also reports that a final package of legislation for the Escalade project was delivered to the Navajo Nation Council Office of Legislative Affairs. If you read his report to his "Escalords" as I call them, you will find that he reports to anonymous bosses and there are no dates associated with the activities he describes. Why?

Kal takes aim at people who have questions about this proposed economic development project along our westernmost perimeter. He dismisses any questions as "misleading, false and derogatory." He is dismissing our cultural prerogative of advice and consent in governing ourselves. In fact, isn't it also an American tradition?

In his opinion traditional Hopis, Paiutes, Zunis and those of us who have respect for all beliefs and cultural traditions in this world, have no right to question anything he is doing for his "Escalords." Have you heard this refrain before? Does it stink of previous exploiters? It should.

Kal describes the Grand Canyon Escalade Project as being developed by something called the "Navajo Nation Hospitality Enterprises, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Navajo Nation."

However, the Confluence Partners will be allowed to control development of their site with a lease of indeterminate longevity, construct and operate a cultural center, recreational venues, a tram to the bottom of the canyon, necessary service facilities like water and sewer, and anything else they might think of to cram into their lease.

We should wonder who they are and how we will be represented by our own people and sit as equal partners with at least 51 percent ownership as Confluence Partners. Who created the NNHE and how does it fit into the project?

I'm thinking in the future, when the "Escalords" have exhausted their write-offs as taxable improvements to the land and they have become billionaires from their investments, we will still own the ruins of their desecration. Do they promise to tear it all down and return it to its pristine beauty? Hardly.

Kal explains to his "Escalords" that Bodaway/Gap Chapter voted in favor of the GCE. That happened Oct. 4, 2012. It doesn't ring true. People who attended the contentious chapter meeting disagree.

Note that water use and control of the proposed development belongs to the "Escalords" who are planning to build their enterprise at the juncture known as The Confluence, a sacred site to several tribes.

What scares me the most is the fundamental issue of water. Along with man-made climate change water is the greatest challenge of the future, not only for the Navajo Nation and the United States, but also for the world. With this project I say the "Escalords" and their bosses are planning to chip away at our sovereignty and rights to the Colorado River in the future. With your approval they will have it at the Confluence.

Here in a To'Nanees Dizi Chapter meeting we voted the "Escalord" project down. They had no specifics to offer and we respect the desire of our elders to preserve this sacred site and our future. All Colorado River tribes should be on their guard. The water fight is escalating.

Gertrude Multine
Tuba City, Ariz.

Thank you candidates!

Thank you to all seventeen the presidential candidates for your participation in the political process, including the
Navajo Times

and all those involved with the transmission of the messages by the candidates.

Thank you candidates for coming into our communities to speak with us of your hopes and dreams for the people. Even with the fire of criticism at your back you were all remarkable and reassuring in your delivery of ideas and concerns. Perhaps now you all have experienced and seen firsthand our society's present deplorable conditions and circumstances. More importantly, you have come to realize the profound task that is at hand and the actual untangling of ourselves from the web of immobility.

You may have come to understand that part of the social change will need to come from the relationship with oneself, towards others, and with a constructive reaction towards our surrounding, our Native World. From such a reawakening within a society emerges our potential, motivation, acknowledgement and compassion for others, and cooperation.

Such a process may in hope motivate us to work together for our very survival as a people and to further work on the mechanism for social progress.

To those who did not secured enough votes, do not be disappointed. Just think if you have won the election, you would somewhat become famous and be mentioned in gossip columns for some people to feed on. More people would shine their spotlight on you and watch your every move, day in day out. Yes, if you seek to be famous, you could be under their microscope.

Just think, the people you serve and protect will never be satisfied; they will constantly be reminding you or screaming at you of how, what, why, and when not to step over their imaginary red line. They may build walls (rules) around you to constrict you at their whim; thus you would have become a prisoner of your own device. It is not over yet; the social problems are still at hand.

They do not cease to be after the election. These struggles will continue as long as the people willfully or unknowingly generate them for themselves, as well as for others. So please continue your work; do it with heart, to be the forefront problem solvers within your community, working towards resolves for our people. Some may revert you back to being anonymous, which is good within itself, for the cause continues. If you are not well known, you can freely roam and by being anonymous, you are helping those in real need with fundamental change, which may makes you more human, free-spirited and humble.

Robert L. Hosteen
Beclabito, N.M.

Not in favor of Chinle '638 changeover

We, the patient base of the Chinle hospital and associated clinics in the communities of Pinon, Tsaile, Rock Point and Many Farms, are looking down the business end of a double-barreled shotgun.

In the left barrel we have a shell and in that shell is the Chinle Health Board and in the right barrel is the Navajo Nation Department of Health. The target they are both aiming at is taking the Chinle Service Unit under a PL 93-638 contract.

Both of these entities are trying and trying hard to get this contract and the only thing that stands in the middle is the community who make up the patient base of CSU. We do have a dog in this fight and that dog is our money that the hospital gets to collect for treating our illnesses.

I do know that a lot of us may feel that we have been wronged or treated unfairly by IHS but we have to weigh those agents of the unknown of these new groups that think they can do it better. One thing we need to look at are the '638 programs that are in place now and use those programs as a looking glass in to what we can expect from our local hospital going under '638.

For those of us that are not in favor of the CSU going under the '638 contract we have a few tools we can use to stop this endeavor. One of these critical tools is voting, making our voices heard in our chapter houses, and making the people that we send to Window Rock understand that we are not in favor of this change, that we will remember who stood with the people and who went like sheep.

Another advantage I see working in our favor is that fact that this year is an election year where we get to pick our new president, and we need to put them on the spot on this issue. Hopefully this letter makes the deadline for the
Navajo Times

so that you can read this and question these candidates right in the heart of the issue and when you ask them this question take advantage of social media and post their reply to one of the many social media websites with the hash tag #Chinle638. I really hope you guys get in the face of these candidates and hold them accountable.

Michael Tsosie
Chinle, Ariz.

How close are you to the needed leader?

Every four years we go through this voting process and the usual outcome is no or very little change in the Navajo Nation government. We hear the same old promises and see the same old faces. The only difference in those old faces is that vague spot of relief they are back, they made it again once more (term limit)?

Why is that?

I suppose most of us do not vote or if we voted it usually was for those people our parents voted for (younger generation lack of involvement in the Navajo Nation government). When are we going to recognize that our parent's needs and desires are different than ours?

For instance I'd like to have a home or business site lease so I can establish a decent home for my family now and not have to worry about fighting anyone for the right to live on the Navajo Reservation.

We need:

Someone who has the ability to inspire the Navajo people and achieve the unachievable.

Someone who is very self-critical and always seeks to improve.

Someone who has wisdom, courage, and integrity.

Someone who has livestock and yet understands the need to revitalize the land.

Someone who knows that water is the most precious commodity on earth.

Someone who can delegate authority and appreciates a job well done regardless of who did it.

Someone who appreciates the Navajo language and values traditional culture.

Most of all, someone who has not been in an elected position before with the Navajo Tribe. And the most important character is one that is willing to be different, recognize the trashing of the Navajo land (not just the junkyard landscapes around every hooghan), and make that his/her most important goal (contain it).

Someone not just concerned with the overpopulation of the suffering and hungry dogs and cats, but actually develop laws that will help the animals.

We need a leader that can recognize that the younger generation is looking for a place to make a life, which dictates we identify a space for them (home site leases). A true leader will recognize the now generation are mobile -- moving with jobs anywhere on the Navajo Reservation. The workers on the Navajo Reservation should not have to contend with the question of local person definition.

We need a leader the likes of Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela.

Someone who truly knows true leadership comes from influence and it has to be earned.

The question is, "How close are you to that someone?"

Thank you for your kind and timely response as to "How close you are to each of these someone?"

Loren Crank
Montezuma Creek, Utah

Anti-Zionist protest should not be in Window Rock

In response to your paper publishing a one-sided article of Navajos protesting Israel's sovereignty is disgusting that certain Navajo citizens would Judas this opportunity to politicize an unwelcome solicitation of Israel's defense.

First of all, the experience of World War II upon the Jews should never be forgotten. In no right should this unwelcome anti-Zionist protest be held in the United States and of all places Window Rock.

HaShem promised Abraham Israel, before there were Palestinians the people of Zion flourished in the land and through time Isaac and King David came. The land of Israel is the home of the Jews, walked upon by a wondering people later called the Palestinians.

Just like the Navajos who took the lands from the Pueblo Indians, Navajos and Palestinians share one thing in common, they both do not belong in the land they say is theirs. Palestinians (Arabs) came into Israel mainly from Northern Africa, and Navajos mainly from Northern Canada/Alaska.

Would Navajos today defend their sovereignty over lands not culturally theirs should someone attack their claim or culture? Yes, we see it in Navajos playing government everyday.

This raid and strike against Palestine is in reaction to Arab terrorist killing Naftali Fraenkel, 16, Gilad Shaer, 16, and Eual Yifrah, 19, as these innocent boys were walking home. Every day since Jews have returned home terrorist and anti-Zionist have a desire to kill and inflict hate on Jews and misuse the word colonizers.

Navajos are guilty just as European and so-called Jewish colonizers as the Southwest was colonized by Northern Athabaskans (Navajos). I was taught in my culture not to hate but to remember the times when people called out to HaShem for help when all we had were the questions and never the answers. Do what is good and try to be righteous, because judgment is always HaShem's.

Thank the current Navajo government for working with Israel, for in my heart I believe HaShem will bless those who bless Israel. Because of this I can say I am ashamed to be Navajo.

Tom Van Winkle
Navajo, N.M.

Charter school thanks Shiprock leadership

On behalf of the Dream Diné family, we wanted to take a moment to recognize the tremendous efforts of our local leaders. With so many projects, proposals, ideas and interests to manage, leaders often find it difficult to follow through on their promises to support local initiatives and to strengthen communities.

If you ever visit Shiprock Chapter House, take a few minutes to look at their project wall. You'll see projects ranging from farm revitalization to developing walking and running trails, from water harvesting/catchment to developing a skate park, from rebuilding housing to developing an AmeriCorps partnership to combat invasive trees.

And yet our Chapter President, Duane "Chili" Yazzie, and his team have provided Dream Diné Charter School tireless support over the past year, including providing us a space to host family gatherings, opportunities to present during chapter meetings, a temporary office location next to the chapter house, endless guidance and support in working with other tribal entities, and land to house the school. All they have asked in return is for us to provide a healthy education for these children.

We would like to offer our deepest gratitude to Chili Yazzie and his fellow leaders and staff for their incredible support, sacrifice and flexibility. Thanks to the generous commitment of these individuals, Dream Diné Charter School will open Sept. 2, and over the coming months and years we believe that this seedling will blossom into a beautiful tree of the desert.

Dream Diné Charter School will provide a unique dual-language, community-based experiential education program, in partnership with our parents and families. Our goal is to reintegrate children with their land, their language, their culture and their communities.

This kind of education requires healthy relationships across the community, and we are humbled to have found such a committed ally in the Shiprock Chapter leadership and staff. Without their help, Dream Diné would not be opening our doors next week.

In the midst of the incredible work required to open New Mexico's first charter school on the Navajo Nation, we offer our deepest gratitude, appreciation, and support to you -- our leaders. Ahee'hee!

Roselyn Begay, Principal
Gavin Sosa, Director of Operations
Dream Diné Charter School
Shiprock, N.M.

U.S. EPA should start cleanup with NGS

President Obama and his Environmental Protection Agency are pushing to clean up the oldest and dirtiest coal-fired power plants all across our nation. Unfortunately for Diné people this will be a long and winding road. Navajo Generating Station, the only coal plant in the nation where the U.S. government is an operator, would have been a good place to start.

Instead, the people of the Navajo Nation will be left breathing poisons and pollution for another three decades.

Located on the Navajo Reservation's 27,000 square miles at the rugged but beautiful intersection of Utah, New Mexico and Arizona, NGS is the largest coal-fired power plant on the Colorado Plateau and one of the 10 biggest polluters in the country. Now, after years of delay, rather than holding the federal owners to the requirements of the Clean Air Act, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy caved.

In a July 28 editorial, this newspaper lauded her decision for striking a balance "between cleaner air and economic good sense." But compromising the health and cultural integrity of the people whose homeland engulfs the power plant for the sake of coal jobs and cheap power to pump Colorado River water is not a just balance.

My people still eat the sheep and cattle that they raise as well as the corn and squash they grow. Our animals and crops are directly impacted by the pollution emitted by this ancient 40-year-old generating station. My people are not only breathing in the pollution but also ingesting the toxins that fall upon the vegetation, crops and animals.

EPA was supposed to clean up the plant's emissions within five years. Administrator McCarthy should have required the federal operator, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, to cut the smog-forming nitrogen oxide currently spewing from the stacks by 85 percent by 2020. Those improvements would have ended generations of disproportionate health impacts to my people from the plant's pollution and also helped clean up hazy vistas in Grand Canyon National Park.

Further, ending the U.S. government's interests in this dirty coal plant would have also served to jumpstart much needed investment in renewable energy on tribal lands and keep water flowing to ever thirsty metropolitan areas -- a win-win for Arizonans and my community.

But the EPA administrator did something else entirely. Because NGS is located on an Indian reservation, the EPA watered down the Clean Air Act requirements and instead adopted a plan to let the power plant keep polluting until 2044 -- holding out hope for an earlier deal.

To many of us who live here, and who know the history of this land, that seems like a terrible reason to continue polluting our air and lands, to continue a legacy of asthma and bronchitis and choking haze.

Fifty years ago, the Department of Interior leaned hard on the Navajo Nation and the Hopi to waive substantial water rights and allow the power plant to be built. They promised jobs and a steady flow of revenue.

Some of those jobs remain. But most of the revenue has flowed out along with the electricity. And the soot, smog, mercury and toxic coal combustion waste have stayed right here.

As the White House and EPA clean up dirty power plants, they should have started in their own house with the dirty fuel energy systems they directly control. Instead, they decided to make the families and children living in the shadow of these smokestacks wait the longest for clean air and a healthful environment.

(Editor's note: The
Navajo Times

did not publish any editorial regarding EPA and NGS, nor did it have a July 28 edition. There was, however, an article published in the July 31 edition announcing an emission reduction plan for NGS.)

Nicole Horseherder
Black Mesa, Ariz.

Shameful actions of Chinle school board

Again I have picked up my pen to publicize the selfish and shameful actions of the Chinle Unified School District governing board. But first I want to commend the author of a recent article on problematic school boards (see "Don't pick school board members who have been around for years" by Kern Collymore, Aug. 7, 2014, edition).

When I read Mr. Collymore's article on Sanders Unified School District I thought I was reading a misprinted article about Chinle -- our problems are virtually identical.

Some of our board members are only interested in where they can go on their next taxpayer funded trip. Those dollars should be going to the education of our students not luxury trips for apathetic board members.

At the Aug. 13, 2014, Chinle board meeting, I objected to the board approving a luxury trip for itself and the administrative team to Anchorage, Alaska, during the community response session of the meeting. If the board wants to go, they should pay for it themselves. Most of the board members have jobs, let them pay for it. They shouldn't expect our kids to get a substandard education because they want to vacation.

The only board member to question the four-day Alaskan "getaway" was Mark Little. He was concerned about the source of the funding and whether teachers and students had adequate supplies.

Quincy Natay (see "Board Dumbs Down Super Requirements," Nov. 7, 2013) told the board members that each board member gets $7,500 per year for travel and there is an additional fund of $20,000, which the board can use for conventions. That totals $57,500 and is more than $11,000 for each of the five members of the Chinle School board each year. That's about $20,000 more than a first year teacher makes in CUSD!

But what would a person expect from this place? Isn't this the same board that hired a superintendent for $195,000 (plus luxury benefits) who doesn't have a superintendent's license or experience in the field of education?

The Alaska trip will take place in October 2014 but that is not an isolated incident. Last month the Chinle school board took the administrative team (approximately 30 people) and held a "board retreat" at the Twin Arrows Casino. This extravaganza, supposedly open to the public, lasted three days and was held at taxpayer's expense.

I have made a public records request for the invoices and will be delighted to share with any parent or community member who wants to know how much the board took from their children last month. Ah, yes. It's Wayne's World -- party time for the board here in Chinle.

Community members need to get involved in making positive change in the Chinle community and vote these frequent flyers out of office in November. Your kids deserve better than what they are getting in CUSD.

Don Stryker
Chinle Education Association
Chinle, Ariz.

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