Capital Briefs | Flags at half-staff in honor of Cowboy, WWII vet
Navajo Nation flags were at half-staff on Wednesday in honor of Diné World War II veteran Bennie Cowboy, who passed away on Nov. 2 at the age of 95.
Cowboy was Tó’aheedlíinii, born for Bit’ahnii. He was born in Naalini, northwest of Pinedale.
Cowboy served in the U.S. Marine Corps with the 6th Marine Division, 22nd Marines, 3rd Platoon, C-Battery, during the World War II South Pacific campaign. He was as an accomplished marksman.
He was wounded in Okinawa in March 1945 and honorably discharged. He returned to the Navajo Nation to support his family.
Delegate Edmund Yazzie said, “Despite being wounded in battle, he persevered and built a legacy for his family while giving back to his community.”
President Jonathan Nez said, “As we mourn the loss of our Diné warrior, Bennie S. Cowboy, we also honor and remember all his great sacrifices for our Navajo people and the United States. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Rita, his children and grandchildren, and the Mariano Lake community.”
Surviving Cowboy are family members including his wife, Rita Cowboy; his children Gailene, Lorraine and Judy; and 14 grandchildren, 25 great grandchildren, and five great-great grandchildren.
The funeral was on Wednesday at Cope Memorial Chapel in Gallup.
Notice of uncontrolled spread sent to 56 chapters
WINDOW ROCK – On Monday, based on cases from Oct. 22 to Nov. 4, the Navajo Department of Health issued a health advisory notice to 56 chapters warning of the uncontrolled spread pf COVID-19.
The chapters include Baca/Prewitt, Bird Springs, Bodaway/Gap, Chichiltah, Chinle, Church Rock, Coppermine, Coyote Canyon, Crownpoint, Ganado, Hogback, Houck, Indian Wells, Inscription House; and
Kaibeto, Kayenta; Lake Valley, Lechee, Leupp, Littlewater, Low Mountain, Lukachukai, Manuelito, Many Farms, Nahatadzill, Naschitti, Nenahnezad, Newcomb, Oak Springs, Pinon; and
Ramah, Red Mesa, Red Valley, Rock Point, Rock Springs, Rough Rock, Round Rock, Sanostee, Sheepsprings, Shiprock, Shonto, St. Micheals, Sweetwater, Tachee/Blue Gap, Teecnospos; and
Teesto, Thoreau, Tohatchi, Tonalea, Tsaile/Wheatfields; and
Tsayatoh, Tselani/Cottonwood, Tuba City, Upper Fruitland and Whippoorwill.
Air is Life Act signed into law
On Nov. 6, President Jonathan Nez signed the Air is Life Act of 2021 resolution, which prohibits the use of commercial tobacco products in enclosed and indoor areas on the Navajo Nation.
Commercial tobacco products include cigarettes and pipes, cigars, e-cigarettes, and smokeless tobacco. The new law does not restrict tobacco use in private residences.
Most importantly, the act does not prohibit using tobacco or traditional smoke for ceremonial or cultural settings and purposes.
Nez said, “Public health professionals have concluded that the only way to protect nonsmokers and vulnerable populations from second hand smoke is to require smoke-free workplaces and public places. It is a fundamental right to protect our Navajo people’s right to breathe clean air.”
The Air is Life Coalition worked for over 13 years to educate the public on the dangers and risks of second hand smoke and helped in the development of this smoke-free bill.
Patricia Nez Henderson, a member of the coalition, said, “This historic law will have a positive impact on the health of the Navajo people and future generations to come.
“Air is Life is not only the essence of historic health policy, but it is the foundation of our Navajo teachings,” she said. “It is these teachings that created the path for this moment.”
Health, Education, and Human Services Committee Chairman Daniel Tso sponsored the resolution. Speaker Seth Damon and delegates Carl Slater, and Nathaniel Brown cosponsored the bill.
Tso said, “We commend the diligent work of the Air is Life Coalition for paving the way for us to be here today.
“The perseverance of Dr. Patricia Nez-Henderson and her team deserves recognition,” he said. “It is an honor to have been asked to sponsor this historic legislation.
“The Navajo Nation Council has spoken loudly that the health of the Navajo people is valuable and not to be gambled with,” Tso added.
The Council approved the act with a 20-0 vote in October.
Groundbreaking held for new Ganado hospital
GANADO – Sage Memorial Hospital officials and Navajo leaders held a groundbreaking ceremony Nov. 4 for a new hospital to serve the region, including Ganado, Steamboat, Klagetoh, Wide Ruins, Greasewood Springs, Cornfields, Kinlichee and Nazlini.
The project includes a two-story, 40-bed hospital, an office building and staff housing, the president’s office reports.
The construction phase will create jobs and, once completed, the hospital will hire 100 people. The new facility will be approximately 40% larger than the current hospital.
Alden Joe, interim CEO of the nonprofit hospital said, “This is all for you and the patients we serve.”
Delores Noble, chair of the Sage Memorial Hospital Board of Directors, thanked the leaders, residents and hospital employees for their commitment and dedication to prove health care services to the Navajo people.
President Jonathan Nez said, “We are building our Nation and helping to push back on COVID-19 and other health care issues and modern-day monsters that impact our people.”
Matthew Noble with Bethel Navajo Baptist Church and Ganado resident Fernando Jones provided the opening prayer and benediction.
Taylor named Haaland’s chief of staff
WASHINGTON —Rachael S. Taylor was named chief of staff for the U.S. Interior Department on Monday.
Her appointment is effective on Nov. 15, said Deb Haaland, secretary of Interior.
Taylor has served as principal deputy assistant secretary for policy, management and budget since January.
She will succeed Larry Roberts, who left to become attorney general for a tribe.
Taylor said, “Under Secretary Haaland’s historic leadership, the Department will continue to lead in this administration’s all-of-government approach to tackling the climate crisis and strengthening the nation-to-nation relationship with Indian tribes.”
Prior to joining the department, she worked on the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations for nearly 16 years, including as Democratic clerk for the Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies since 2012.
A West Virginia native, Taylor received a bachelor’s from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a master’s from American University in Washington, D.C.
Senate resolutions names November as Native American Heritage Month
WASHINTON – A bipartisan Senate resolution honors the heritages and cultures of Native Americans by designating November as Native American Heritage Month.
The resolution honors the heritages, cultures, achievements, and contributions of Native Americans and their ancestors to the United States. This resolution also designates the Friday after Thanksgiving as Native American Heritage Day.
In October, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema applauded the nomination of Shelly Lowe – a Navajo Nation citizen who grew up in the Navajo Nation in Ganado, Arizona – who, if confirmed, would be the first Native American to serve as chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities.