Monthly Archives: April 2011

You are browsing the site archives by month.

4 12 2011 Navajo Nation Press Release: President Shelly Applauds First Delivery of Safe Drinking and Announces Water Development in Western Navajo

4 12 2011 Navajo Nation Press Release: President Shelly Applauds First Delivery of Safe Drinking Water and Announces Water Development in Western Navajo.  “I am excited to announce for the first time-ever a 4,000 gallon tanker truck delivered safe drinking water for use by about 155 Navajo homes in the western Leupp area,” said President Shelly.  4 12 2011 NN Press Release Pres.shelly Announces Water Development

The Navajo Nation
Ben Shelly President
Rex Lee Jim Vice President

Communications Director
Office: (928) 871-7884
Cell: (928) 637-5507
For Immediate Release
April 12, 2011

President Shelly Applauds First Delivery of Safe Drinking Water to Western Navajo: Window Rock, AZ— Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly today announced for the very first time a water tanker truck delivered safe drinking water to residents in Leupp, Black Falls, Grand Falls and Box Springs on Friday and applauded the Department of Water Resources (DWR) for their hard work.“I am excited to announce for the first time-ever a 4,000 gallon tanker truck delivered safe drinking waterfor use by about 155 Navajo homes in the western Leupp area,” said President Shelly. “The Nation is working with local chapters and residents to ensure their drinking water needs are continuously met. I recommend the Navajo Department of Water Resources and the Leupp Field Office for a job well done.”

According to DWR, currently residents do not have access to running water or safe drinking water and must drive anywhere from 15 to 40 miles to get drinking water and water for livestock. On Friday, the DWR set up a water point or designated area for residents to receive their s afe drinking water.“We appreciate the help of President Shelly to make sure the water hauling truck finally delivered safedrinking water to Black Falls, Box Springs and Grand Falls residents,” said Marsha Monestersky, Program Director, The Forgotten People.

“With the participation of the Forgotten People we can help develop aprototype water delivery schedule that will benefit water haulers in our region and throughout the Navaj oNation.”In addition to the drinking water delivery, the DWR plans to bring livestock water closer to the three communities by constructing storage tanks and water lines. In order to accomplish this, the DWR isconstructing two livestock waterline projects. DWR’s Director of Technical, Construction and Operations Branch (TCOB), DWR, Najam Tariq reported the first project is estimated at $351,000 for construction of seven miles of waterline extension from livestock well # 5T-529, and two, 24,000-gallon tanks. The well is located about 12 miles southwest of Tolani Lake. The waterline is designed to bring livestock water closer to Black Falls, Grand Falls and Box Springs residents.“One of the two, 24,000 gallon water tanks is operating now and the second tank is expected to be inoperation soon as the seven-mile waterline is finished, which is 60% completed right now,” stated President Shelly.

A second livestock waterline project starting from well #5M-104, located 16 miles west of Leupp, Arizona is estimated to cost about $312,000. This project consists of over five miles of waterline extension, two24,000-gallon water tanks and two, 4,000-gallon water tanks for livestock water needs for Leupp and theconcerned communities.“We have just started constructing the first Leupp livestock water storage tank at well # 5M-104,” statedNajam Tariq Director, TCOB, DWR. “This water tank is expected to be completed it in two weeks. So far we have received $39,000 from the Bureau of Indian Affairs to upgrade the existing livestock water facility.”


4/12/2011 Gallup Independent: Nation delivers drinking water to Box Springs

Nation delivers drinking water to Box Springs  By Kathy Helms, Dine Bureau, Gallup Independent, 4/12/2011 4 12 2011 Nation Delivers Drinking Water to Box Springs  On Friday, April 8, 2011, the Navajo Nation delivered the first load of safe drinking water to Black Falls/Box Springs/Grand Falls residents living under a historic state of public health emergency… BLACK FALLS, Ariz. — Battling winds gusting at more than 40 miles per hour and washboard roads so rough they made one’s teeth rattle, the first 4,000-gallon tanker of safe drinking water from the Navajo Nation arrived safely Friday morning in Box Springs, located a few miles out a well-worn dirt road near Black Falls.   It was a major milestone after more than two years of effort by the grassroots group the Forgotten People, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Navajo Nation EPA and former employee Deb Misra, Department of Water Resources, Emergency Management, two presidential administrations, Navajo Nation Council delegates and a host of others.

But the superstar Friday was Najam Tariq of Navajo Division of Water Resources, who put together a proposal in February 2009 which led to U.S. EPA awarding $2.64 million for the three-year Safe Drinking Water Hauling Feasibility Study and Pilot Project. The funds allowed the Nation to purchase five 4,000 gallon water-hauling tankers and an equipment service truck to transport safe drinking water to residents in Black Falls, Box Springs and Grand Falls who have been drinking uranium- and arsenic-contaminated water, as well as other portions of the reservation where similar conditions exist.

“I did make a promise that the first load of water would be delivered to the people over here,” Tariq said, as he was welcomed into the home of cancer victim Rolanda Tohannie, who is recovering from her 10th surgery, this time for tumors in her throat. When water delivery didn’t come fast enough, Forgotten People showed up on the doorstep of newly installed Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly, demanding action. Shelly asked them to give him two months to see what he could do.

“Ever since the last meeting that was held in Window Rock with President Shelly, I have been getting calls,” Tariq said. “I think he put two people on me to call me every week. … They got my home number, they got my office number, they got my cell phone number and they just called me. ‘Where do you stand? President Shelly said 60 days.’ I said tell Mr. Shelly we are working very hard. We will get there within 60 days – and I think we got there,” Tariq said.

A Declaration of Public Health Emergency was declared on Jan. 15, 2010, due to the number of cancer cases in the area and the fact that residents such as Tohannie were drinking contaminated water from livestock watering points without knowing the water was unsafe to drink.

“I’m very happy that I received the water that Tariq promised and happy that God approved it,” Tohannie said. “As for the roads, it would be great if the roads were fixed for the hauling of the water, because water is life.”

But the water hauling project is just a temporary fix, according to Tariq. Water Resources has submitted a proposal to U.S. EPA through Indian Health Services to drill two exploratory wells. EPA has approved $450,000 for drilling the first well, which is expected to be completed this year. If the water quality from that well is good for human consumption, the agency will consider funding $500,000 for a second exploratory well.

“Once this project becomes feasible it will provide water to 155 homes north-northwest of Leupp. That includes Box Springs, Black Falls and Grand Falls area,” Tariq said. But people still need livestock water, so they started two waterline extension projects and have completed two storage tanks. One is located near Box Springs and another near Grand Falls. “Our intentions are we want to have the water in the 24,000 gallon storage tanks within the next two months. That is the livestock water,” he said.

Navajo Nation Council Delegate Walter Phelps, who represents the area, said, “You don’t know how excited and how happy I am for you. Be grateful. Be thankful. This is not something that’s coming out of our pockets. This is special funds from EPA. It’s not coming from Indian Health Service. They have claimed infeasible $52 million worth of projects for the five chapters that I’m overseeing right now.”

Isabelle Walker from Shelly’s office reminded everyone that they are not the only ones who are suffering. “There are other people in dire need of assistance. They don’t have electricity, they don’t have running water to their home a distance from here. They’re also in need of help. This issue of addressing the water needs of the people has gone through many administrations, election after election,” she said. She encouraged them to keep pushing forward in trying to get the services to the people.

Marsha Monestersky, program manager for Forgotten People, said trying to solve access to safe drinking water problems on the Navajo Nation “is like trying to run in quicksand.” One thing Forgotten People wants to do is form a water and energy co-op.

“I believe the collaboration of Forgotten People, Black Falls/Box Springs/Grand Falls residents with the U.S. EPA Superfund and Navajo Department of Water Resources will create a prototype of a safe drinking water delivery system that begins to fulfill the intent of a January 2010 Navajo Nation Declaration of Public Health Emergency, supports people’s human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, and will benefit water haulers throughout the Navajo Nation,” she said.

Eleanor Peshlakai of Black Falls is very much in support of drilling wells, she said, because it is more reliable than water hauling, especially when it comes to weather conditions. “We get sudden rains, and that is going to be very tough on pursuing the method of hauling water and relying only on that.”

Elsie Tohannie of Black Falls said her family has to haul water from the west side of Leupp. The road is terrible and the trailer they use takes a beating, she said. “I’m looking forward to this change of lifestyle.”

4/9-4/10/2011 Gallup Independent: More than $3.5M missing? Forgotten People sue for accounting, Land commission wants NHLC books audited

4/9-4/10/2011 Gallup Independent article: More than $3.5M missing? Forgotten People sue for accounting, Land commission wants NHLC books audited By Shelley Smithson For the Independent  Please check out a scanned copy of the 4/8-4/10/2011, weekend edition of the Gallup Independent: More than 3.5 million missing 4 9 2011 More Than 3.5 Million Missing? Forgotten People sue for accounting, Land Commission wants N

TUBA CITY — Officials at the Navajo Hopi Land Commission Office do not know how much money is in a federal trust fund intended to help victims of the Navajo-Hopi land dispute.   Forgotten People, a grassroots advocacy group, is suing the tribal office, asking for an explanation of how the agency spent nearly $26 million. Although Congress authorized $60 million for the Navajo Rehabilitation Trust Fund, only $16.2 million was actually appropriated between 1990 and 1995; another $9.7 million was earned in interest, according to a 2010 Land Commission Office report. Denise Almeida going into her small trailer that serves as their home in the Bennett Freeze on the outskirts of Tuba City, AZ in this Nov. 27, 2009, file photo

According to the report and interviews with Land Commission Office officials, about $22.4 million was spent between 1990 and 2010. That should put the balance in the trust fund account at $3.5 million. However, the most recent figures provided to the Land Commission Office by the Navajo controller’s office says the fund is in the red by more       than $206,000.

“I don’t agree with that,” Navajo Hopi Land Commission Office Deputy Director Thomas Benally said. His records indicate there should be a total of $2.9 million in the trust fund, he said.

Land Commission Office Director Raymond Maxx said the office has not regularly provided financial information to the Navajo Hopi Land Commission. The Commission is composed of Tribal Council delegates who are charged with overseeing the Land Commission Office and with deciding how federal funds will be spent.

In addition, Maxx said some of the trust fund money was co-mingled with general fund accounts. The Land Commission Office is trying to recoup the money, he said.

“We are not getting consistent numbers from the controller’s office,” Maxx said. “This office will start keeping track of our own numbers rather than relying on other offices.

This confusion has been going on for a long time.”

Navajo Controller Mark Grant did not return a call seeking comment. Maxx, who began the director job in late January, said he has asked the Navajo Office of the Auditor General to audit the Land Commission Office.

“We want to be more transparent,” Maxx said. He said the office is working to reconcile two decades of accounting records in response to the lawsuit, which was filed last August.

Marsha Monestersky, program director for Forgotten People, said an accounting lawsuit should not be necessary to find out how money has been spent and how much money remains in the trust fund.

“There is a continuing history of mismanagement and a lack of accountability to the people,” she said of the Navajo Hopi Land Commission Office. “In the outside world, if any agency did that, there would be heads that roll. The standard shouldn’t be less (for Navajo government), especially when the rehabilitation trust fund is using federal money.”

Benally said he believes there is about $650,000 in the trust fund account that is earmarked for land purchases and another $1.3 to $1.5 million is in an interest-bearing account for future projects. He said he believes another $800,000 remains in an account to repair homes in the Hopi Partitioned Lands in Arizona. The money was never spent because the Commission did not go through the proper process for approving the money in 2005, he said.

The 2010 report prepared for the Tribal Council’s Government Services Committee states that $16 million from the fund was allocated between 1990 and 2009.  Most of the money was spent on home repairs and community construction projects in the western part of the reservation.

Benally said another $6.3 million was used to buy property with economic development potential, including a $3.7 million loan to the Navajo Gaming Enterprise to buy property on Interstate Highway 40 east of Flagstaff, Ariz., for a casino.

Forgotten People objects to trust-fund money being used for the planned Twin Arrows Casino, even though some families affected by the land dispute will benefit from casino lease and loan payments during the next 75 years. Opponents say the trust fund money should be used to improve desperate living conditions now.

Congress created the trust fund in 1988 to aid families impacted by the land dispute.

In addition to helping those Navajo families who were forced to move from Hopi land in Arizona, the trust fund also was supposed to help those living in nearby communities where construction restrictions were imposed because of lawsuits that dragged on for 40 years.

Thousands of people living in the western part of the reservation still do not have electricity or indoor plumbing as a result of the land dispute, and many water sources are contaminated with uranium.

In January, a Navajo tribal judge gave the Land Commission Office and the Forgotten People until April 8 to resolve the matter through mediation. Jim Zion, attorney for Forgotten People, said he has agreed to a one-month extension to give the Navajo Hopi Land Commission Office more time to reconcile its accounting.

How much money was actually distributed, and to whom, is still unclear, Benally said. “The record keeping wasn’t the greatest back then,” he said.

Asked whether the figures presented in the 2010 report were accurate, Benally said the report was “accurate with what we had at the time.”

Monestersky, whose organization advocates for people affected by the land dispute, said she was unaware of the Land Commission report until the Gallup Independent forwarded the document to her organization in March. The Independent requested the report from the federal Office of Navajo and Hopi Indian Relocation in Flagstaff. That office  oversees the relocation of families forced to move from Hopi and Navajo land.

According to the report, nearly $1 million from the trust fund was spent on planning consultants, lobbyists and administrative office space, furniture and equipment.

About $6 million, or 37 percent of total expenditures, went to communities in Navajo Partitioned Land. That is the part of the disputed area that was partitioned for Navajos after Congress passed the 1974 settlement act.

Another $3.2 million, or 20 percent, went to communities in Hopi Partitioned Land, where some Navajos have remained either illegally or through accommodation agreements with the Hopi tribe. Nearly all of that money was earmarked between 1998 and 2009 to build 48 homes that were later deemed substandard.

A Navajo auditor general report blamed the Navajo Housing Services Department for shoddy workmanship and the Navajo Hopi Land Commission for failing to correct deficiencies. Even though the auditor general sanctioned the Land Commission Office in 2005 for its failure to finish constructing homes in the HPL, 14 homes still are incomplete. Monestersky said she knows of at least seven families who were promised homes that were never built.

About $1 million was spent in new communities near Sanders, Ariz., which were established for refugees forced to leave Hopi land. Though the federal government built homes for people who relocated to the new lands, residents say promised services were never delivered.

According to the report, nearly $5 million went to communities in the former Bennett Freeze area, about 1.5 million acres spanning from Tuba City to northeast of Flagstaff. Development in that area was stymied by litigation with the Hopis until 2006 when a compact was officially adopted. The money funded home repairs and community buildings such as senior centers.

“They funded things like Head Start, which is a federally funded program, and has nothing to do with rehabilitation,” Monestersky said. “I don’t see how a Head Start building or a senior center qualifies for rehabilitation money when you have people freezing to death (because of inadequate housing.)”

She said many of the expenditures that were categorized as being in the Bennett Freeze actually occurred in other areas. She said she was frustrated by the lack of specific information in the report, especially concerning who received assistance. She contends that some who have received money did not need it, or did not even live in the affected area.

“There is not a drop of water for people to drink in the HPL. People in the Bennett Freeze are drinking uranium-contaminated water,” Monestersky said. “The wisest investment they could make is to hire development planners who can plan for infrastructure and prioritize needs.”

The trust fund money was never allocated according to need, Monestersky said. “They don’t have any prioritization of needs, for handicapped, for disabled, for people with major health conditions, elderly, people who are homeless,” she said. “That means the friends and relatives and people who yell the loudest get the money, and then the money is gone.”

Navajo Hopi Land Commission has spent more than $6 million to buy land with economic-development potential

• Congress appropriated $16.2 million for the Navajo Rehabilitation Trust Fund to improve the “economic, educational and social condition” of Navajo families and communities affected by the Navajo-Hopi land dispute. Amendments to the 1974 Navajo Hopi Settlement Act allowed the Navajo Nation to buy up to 150,000 acres of private land within 18 miles of the reservation.

•  The Land Commission loaned  $3.7 million to the Navajo Gaming Enterprise to buy land on I-40 near Flagstaff, Ariz., for a casino.

•  The trust fund also was used to buy 36 acres on Paseo del Vulcan, a thoroughfare between Albuquerque and the Canoncito Navajo Indian Reservation for $1.8 million.

•  The tribe also 13 acres in Sanders near I-40 and 1,599 acres north of Winslow., at Rincon Ranch, which might become a gravel pit, said Thomas Benally, deputy director of the Navajo Hopi Land Commission Office

•  Lease and loan payments from the Twin Arrows Casino will benefit families who lived on Hopi land in 1974, whether they have moved or not, said Land Commission Office Director Raymond Maxx.

•  Congress established the trust fund with the intention that the Navajo Nation would repay it from coal revenues generated in New Mexico.

—Shelley Smithson

Please take action now to stop Dirty Air Deals

Please take action now! Last week the House, including Paul A. Gosar voted to allow the nation’s biggest polluters to dump UNLIMITED amounts of carbon pollution into our air. How did your rep vote? Find out & send them a message. Please share this if you care about clean air and take action now! NRDC: Take Action: Don’t let Congress block health and environmental protections  Several senators are still trying to push forward dirty air deals that would restrict the Environmental Protection Agency and block it from reducing pollution. House Republican leaders are vowing to try to force these dirty air deals into the spending bill that the White House and Congress must pass.

4/8/2011 Box Springs Safe Drinking Water meeting photos

On Friday, 4/8/2011, Forgotten People held a meeting in Box Springs to implement a prototype safe drinking water delivery plan now that the US EPA funded water hauling trucks has arrived.  The Navajo Nation purchased 5 trucks, 1 for each of the 5 agencies.  The Black Falls communities are working with the Navajo Department of Water Resources and other agencies to develop a prototype delivery system for a 3 year feasibility pilot project.

Forgotten People purchased a 500 gallon water hauling trailer to  ensure delivery of safe drinking water to people under a Navajo Nation State of Public Health Emergency.

4/3/2011 AZ Daily Sun articles about Stella Peshlakai, Wupatki National Park

Please check out Sunday, 4/3/2011 AZ Daily Sun articles about Stella Peshlakai, lone holdout living in Wupatki National Park resisting relocation, civil, human rights violations and elderly abuse at the hands of Wupatki National Park Rangers. 4 3 2011 Stella Peshlakai Wuptaki Series

4 3 2011 Stella Peshlakai Wuptaki

4/4/2011 CENSORED NEWS Navajo President Ben Shelly: Another sellout politician for coal fired power plants

CENSORED NEWS Monday, April 4, 2011: Navajo President Ben Shelly: Another sellout politician for coal fired power plants, Mr. Shelly goes to ‘Washindon’ Gives Mixed Messages in Bizarre Testimony By Dine’ Care. Dine’ Citizens Against Ruining our Environment. On April Fool’s Day, 2011, Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly testified at an oversight hearing held by the U.S. House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs in Washington, D.C. on “Tribal Development of Energy and the Creation of Energy Jobs on Indian Lands.”

In a rambling, inconsistent, and grammatically challenged seven-page statement, Shelly claims to favor a “multi-prong” approach to energy development as the answer to Navajo poverty and unemployment. He takes a passing sniff at wind and solar potential, but then circles back to the familiar poisoned trough of good ol’ dirty coal, even raising the ghost of Desert Rock.

This is where Shelly’s script really gets mixed up, starting with plagiarism and going downhill from there. He begins by cutting and pasting language from the San Juan Citizens Alliance web site, including the fact that most of the electricity that would have come out of the Desert Rock Energy Project, was “slated for Tucson/Phoenix and the Las Vegas markets. [Only] a small percentage, up to 5%, of the proposed power from Desert Rock would stay on the Navajo Nation, where many citizens continue to live without electricity.”

This was just one of the many compelling arguments against Desert Rock, but in Shelly’s nonsensical cut and paste world, who cares? He tosses in a reference to “Clean Coal Technology” and thousands of jobs, both of which are pure fantasy, and calls it good.

First of all, it is troubling that an elected leader and spokesman of America’s largest Indian nation would stoop to such a low, unprofessional level of plagiarism and intellectual property theft while testifying before an official Congressional body. Secondly, it confirms up-until-now whispered rumors that the Navajo tribal president hasn’t had an original thought since Jesus was a little boy. And third and most distressing is the fact that his public testimony was recklessly conceived in nature and wildly inaccurate upon delivery in a number of highly important policy areas as regards critical Navajo energy and water futures.

During his vice presidency, Shelly supported Desert Rock until he announced his presidential candidacy. Then he said he opposed it. And now that he is president he is supporting it again, or at least that’s what he told the congressional subcommittee under oath. What about all the Navajo people who voted for him last year because he said that he opposed DR? The truth is that he lied to them–the Navajo voting majority—and that’s no April Fool’s joke.

“Clean Coal Technology” (CCT) is a technological myth. There is no such thing as clean coal–just like there is no such thing as clean uranium. In fact, strip mining and burning coal activates and releases as much if not more deadly radioactive materials into the environment than mining and milling uranium. So if he supports the continuation of the Navajo Nation uranium ban because of its radioactive dangers–as he testified–then he should also support a Navajo Nation-wide ban on coal for the same reason.

We, Diné CARE, have the renewable energy plan that would actually fulfill Ben Shelly’s campaign promise to bring clean renewable solar and wind power to our energy- deprived and suffering people, who are forced to burn dirty and dangerous coal in their woodstoves. In order to make that happen we would be more than willing to work in true partnership with the Silly and Shim administration. But first, he needs to stop sending out people like Steven Etsitty to openly blame the innocent Navajo victim for “causing” indoor air pollution before all those white people in the EN3 farce.

Speaking of shameful acts, Shelly should be ashamed for approving the recent Four Corners Power Plant lease extension for a mere $7 million a year until 2041 (or is it 2064–the year he quoted to Congress?). The CEO of Arizona Public Service Company makes over $5 million a year alone, yet our tribal leaders, who are working furiously to bargain their way out of corruption charges, betrayed us and sold out our precious future generations for a box of beads and trinkets.

Equally shameful is our government’s and Mr. Shelly’s rejection of SCR pollution control at Four Corners Power Plant and Navajo Generating Station. Instead he spoke of “a phased approach to emissions reductions for the plants, in coordination with the glide path from 2004 to 2064.” A sixty year soft landing for our leaders’ industry friends. Meanwhile, how many hundreds or thousands of our Diné people will sicken and die from sixty years of nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, mercury, and the other poisons coming out of those stacks?

The Navajo Nation has no energy policy because of tribal leadership failure. APS controls our energy future. All the off-reservation, non-Indian power company had to do was threaten to close the Four Corners Power Plant if the tribe did not renew its lease. And because of the threat, it got its way. That’s not tribal sovereignty. That’s economic blackmail. Salt River project is threatening to do the same thing with the Navajo Generating Station lease. That too is extortion by a non-Navajo energy corporation, but we can probably count on our President going to bat for these SRP thugs too.

Mr. President, during your presidential campaign, you and your running mate said that both of you opposed the proposed Northeastern Arizona Indian Water Rights Settlement Agreement, and its NGS Water Provisions. Those provisions install forever the illegal waiver of Navajo water rights to the Arizona portion of the Upper Colorado River Basin. But now that you are both in office, you haven’t acted to rescind the agreement that you said you opposed. What’s the matter, cat got your tongue? A copy-cat, perhaps?

Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment

Note: Please send an e-mail for a pdf copy of President Shelly’s 8-page testimony: Censored News, Brenda Norrell,

3/26/2011 Stop Uranium Mining concert a great success

Thank you to everyone that helped organize the 3/26/2011 Benefit Concert to Stop Uranium mining at the Orpheum Theatre in Flagstaff AZ. We were fortunate to bring 20 students from La Sierra University Project Pueblo students to a great event. Their awareness of the issues will help spread the word about uranium mining permits that were approved in the wetlands of the Grand Canyon.
3 26 2011 Benefit Concert to Stop Uranium Mining