New officials still want action on missing Wheatfields funds

CHINLE

Eight months after an audit revealed $41,000 in missing funds and $95,000 in questionable expenditures, Tsaile-Wheatfields-Blackrock Chapter has yet to determine what happened to the money and there have been no consequences for those who let it happen, say the chapter’s vice president and secretary-treasurer, who took office in January.

Tsaile Wheatfields chapter locator map center of navajo nationInstead, the officials say, the chapter government and many Tsaile residents are placing the blame on the deceased accounts maintenance specialist and want to “move forward” without addressing the matter.

New secretary-treasurer Kuhyonre E. “Ken” Nata’ani said he has complained to the president’s office, the Navajo Nation Ethics and Rules Office, the FBI and U.S. Sen. John McCain and no one seems to want to pick up the ball. McCain referred Nata’ani to the FBI, whom he had already contacted, and in a March 30 letter, Ethics and Rules declined to prosecute the case based on former specialist LeAnne Thompson’s death.

But Nata’ani and Chapter Vice President Devon Begay both say Thompson was not solely responsible for the missing funds –Community Services Coordinator Paula Begay was supposed to be supervising her and the former secretary-treasurer, Margie R.S. Begay, although prohibited from direct involvement in the day-to-day operations of the chapter, should at least have been insisting on regular financial reports, which weren’t done.

To complicate matters, Devon Begay and Nata’ani are brother and sister and are related to Chapter President Zane James, Paula Begay and Council Delegate Nelson BeGaye, all of whom are in the camp of leaving things lie and moving forward. “People are saying, ‘Why are you doing this?’” said Devon Begay. “’You’re only creating a schism in the community and your own family.’”

“The mistake they make,” said Nata’ani, “is that our family is deeply rooted in Navajo tradition. They keep talking about k’e, but we know k’e was never intended to protect people who have been involved in wrongdoing.”


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Categories: News

About Author

Cindy Yurth

Cindy Yurth is the Tséyi’ Bureau reporter, covering the Central Agency of the Navajo Nation. Her other beats include agriculture and Arizona state politics. She holds a bachelor’s degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University with a cognate in geology. She has been in the news business since 1980 and with the Navajo Times since 2005, and is the author of “Exploring the Navajo Nation Chapter by Chapter.” She can be reached at editor@navajotimes.com.