Tag Archives: Peter Macdonald

10/20/2011 Navajo Times: Former MacDonald prosecutors replace Balaran

10/20/2011 Navajo Times: Former MacDonald prosecutors replace Balaran By Bill Donovan, Special to the Times: The Special Division of the Window Rock District Court has decided to go with experience in replacing Alan Balaran as special prosecutor. The division last week approved hiring Santa Fe law firm of Rothstein, Donatelli, Hughes, Dahlstrom & Schoenburg as the new special prosecutor. “The Rothstein law firm, led by attorneys Eric Dahlstrom and Richard Hughes, will continue the investigations into alleged misuse of discretionary funds by high ranking officials of the Navajo Nation,” a press release from the attorney general’s office stated.

The firm will also look into allegations of mismanagement of funds in the OnSat, BCDS and Tribal Ranch Program and other matters assigned by the special division, which is composed of three judges.

Balaran, according to the press release, has agreed to assist with the transition.

The law firm was instrumental in the late 1980s in the prosecution of then chairman Peter MacDonald Sr., his son Rocky and others in MacDonald’s administration for a variety of crimes while in office.

Dahlstrom, who has been a member of the Navajo Nation Bar Association for at least 30 years, was deputy attorney general of the Navajo Nation from 1987 through 1991.

Hughes has also been a member of the Navajo bar for at least 30 years and was one of the lead prosecutors in the MacDonald case.

In the press release, the attorney general’s office said it was “fully supportive” of the appointment. Both the current attorney general, Harrison Tsosie, and his predecessor, Louis Denetsosie, are named defendants in the civil suit filed by Balaran.

The attorney general’s office stated that it “is fully committed to the resolution of these matters pursuant to Navajo laws, principals and cultural values.”

Dahlstrom, interviewed by phone at his Phoenix office, said Wednesday that the firm is not making any statements at this time about how it plans to proceed in the investigation and the prosecution of those who have already been named in civil suits filed by Balaran.

5/7/2011 Gallup Independent: Government damage control? 'Geronimo no bin Laden' Furor grows over use of code name for stealth operation

Government damage control? ‘Geronimo no bin Laden’ Furor grows over use of code name for stealth operation 5/7/2011 By Kathy Helms, Dine Bureau Gallup Independent: WINDOW ROCK – Whether the name “Geronimo” was given to the covert operation to take down Osama bin Laden or was used for America’s No. 1 enemy himself is of little significance to most Native Americans. The fact that the link was used at all in the operation to kill the al-Qaida leader undermines the military service of Native Americans, many say. “Geronimo is no bin Laden,” White Mountain Apache Chairman Ronnie Lupe said. “Geronimo was a well-trained medicine man, and he was a kind man. But when we were invaded by terrorists back in the 1800s here in our country in the state of Arizona, he stood his ground against terrorists for a very long time. He was the first one to be recognized as a terrorist fighter across the United States.” Lupe believes Geronimo is “the greatest man that ever lived in the Southwest.” Lupe was born and raised in Cibecue, Ariz., where Geronimo once visited back in the early 1800s. During the Korean conflict, Lupe ended up on the front line with Item Company, 3rd Batallion, 1st Marine Regiment, he said. Native Americans from many other Indian tribes across the country fought also.

“They stood and defended the United States American flag, the American people, on foreign shores in many countries throughout the world. Still today, some of our kids and grandkids are over there, wearing the uniform proudly of the United States of America in various armed forces.”

Lupe said they do not appreciate Geronimo’s name being connected to bin Laden. “However it was used, we feel that we have been disgraced as an Indian nation.”

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., chaired a hearing Thursday afternoon before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs regarding “Stolen Identities: The Impact of Racist Stereotypes on Indigenous People.” Udall substituted for Sen. Daniel Aakaka, D-Hawaii, who had a minor accident at home and could not attend.

“In the last couple of days most of us in this room have heard the news reports on the association of ‘Geronimo’ being used as a code word associated with the successful mission to kill Osama bin Laden. It goes without saying that all of us feel a tremendous sense of relief and pride toward our military personnel, intelligence community, and commander in chief – both past and present – for accomplishing this mission,” Udall said.

Native Americans historically have the highest per capita rate of military service of any ethnic group. “Tens of thousands of Native Americans serve in our military today, defending their homeland, just as Geronimo did,” Udall said. He recognized Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly, who attended the hearing. “Ben and I both know that 11 Navajos have died in military service since 9/11.”

Udall said his office has tried to get clarification about the code name from the Department of Defense, but that protocol prohibits the release of information regarding operation names. “As a result, the details of how Geronimo’s name was used are unclear,” he said. “I find the association of Geronimo with bin Laden to be highly inappropriate and culturally insensitive.”

Former Navajo Nation Chairman Peter MacDonald, a Navajo Code Talker during World War II, said his wife Wanda received a call from Udall’s office Tuesday. “They told her they read the Gallup Independent article and they were concerned about that, and they were doing some of their own investigation,” MacDonald said.

The Independent ran an article in which MacDonald demanded an apology from the United States for what he considered a major affront to First Americans everywhere.

“What they told her was that bin Laden was not called Geronimo; he was called ‘Jackpot,’ and the mission was ‘Geronimo.’ So they said media messed up and they started referring to bin Laden as Geronimo. But I noticed that in a lot of the other media, ABC came out with another explanation. The UK Telegraph said the code word apparently was used because of Geronimo’s ability to avoid capture.” Regardless, MacDonald said, “A lot of Native Americans across the country now are outraged and saying everything I said.”

Shelly issued a statement saying that as the leader of the largest Indian nation in America, “I am appalled and disappointed that United States military leaders would dishonor the legacy of war leader Geronimo and the Apache tribes,” as well as all Native American servicemen and women and the Nation’s own code talkers.

To assign the operation code name “Geronimo” to America’s most wanted terrorist, Osama bin Laden, is “dehumanizing, unethical and perpetrates international ignorance toward every Native American living in the United States today,” Shelly said. “The Navajo Nation respects the Apache tribes as having some of the fiercest warriors and the finest light cavalry the world has ever known.” He called on President Obama and the Pentagon to change the operation code name immediately.

Suzan Shown Harjo, president of The Morning Star Institute – a national Native rights organization – and a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes of Oklahoma, said that as Native Americans were absorbing the news about bin Laden, they also learned of the code name.

“Shortly thereafter, various spin cycles began, attempting to convince us that we hadn’t heard or read what we heard and read – Geronimo stood for the operation to get bin Laden, not for the terrorist himself; Geronimo was used because he was hard to track or capture; Geronimo was the code name because the military picks obscure things the enemy would not know,” Harjo said. But, she added, “Geronimo was picked for the same reason that the term ‘Indian Country’ is still used to mean ‘enemy territory.’

“My father was a World War II hero in the storied Thunderbird Division, the 45th Infantry Division. … My dad was not an enemy when he helped win World War II or when his legs were almost shot off at Monte Cassino (Italy). He was not an enemy when he served in Allied Forces Southern Europe with NATO. He was an ally. … Our history is very complicated, but this is our country in a way that it is no one else’s country, because no one brought any land here with them. This will always be our country, and so when we’re slurred in public in this way, we all take offense.”

Charlene Teters of the Spokane Tribe who works at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, said her two nephews fought in Iraq and in Afghanistan. “Is it possible at this moment of national triumph, that the deepest insult was not delivered upon al-Qaida abroad, but to a small population here at home? … When the United States uses these terms and symbols, it goes against its greatest honor.”

Arizona Sen. Albert Hale, D-2nd District, sent a letter May 4 to Obama, stating that the use of Geronimo’s name “is an outrage. … I implore you to immediately apologize on national television to the Native American nations and their peoples. Your words have been of unity and healing past wrongs. This is a wrong that demands immediate words of healing.”