Tag Archives: President Ben Shelly

10/7/2011 Navajo Nation Council – Office of the Speaker FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Speaker attempting to solve issues stemming from line item vetoes:

10/7/2011 Navajo Nation Council – Office of the Speaker FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Speaker attempting to solve issues stemming from line item vetoes: WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – A week and half after President Ben Shelly line item vetoed portions of the FY2012 Tribal Operating Budget, the Speaker is left with the task of solving the problems that have ensued as a result of Shelly’s contradictory action.  In addition to the line item vetoing of funding for the Little Folks Day Care Program, five Navajo Area Agency on Aging offices, the Navajo Green Commission, the Resources Committee, and the Legislative District Assistants for the 24 Council Delegates, the President vetoed personal travel and operating supplies from both the Office of the Speaker and the Office of Legislative Services.

In total, the Legislative Branch lost $2.8 million. Included in that amount, $397 thousand was vetoed from the Office of the Speaker and $1.9 million from the Office of Legislative Services.

The line-item veto of the Speaker’s travel budget directly impedes on essential roles and responsibilities of the Speaker. It disavows the Speaker of his ability to connect with Diné people on matters that are most important to them; to represent the people on issues that affect their daily life; and to attend to relationships at the state and federal level.

Earlier this week, Council was able to offer key testimony to the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (AIRC) and shortly after the testimony, the commission moved to adopt a proposed congressional map that was consistent with the Navajo Nation’s position.

Without the travel budget, travel to vital meetings such the AIRC hearing are not possible.

The vetoing of operating supplies further impedes on necessary daily operations by eliminating the budget for supplies such as postage, paper, software, printing, binding, and photocopying. In his memo to the Speaker, the President stated that the vetoes were necessary because they were “excessive.”

In addition, Council Delegates are left wondering about the Legislative District Assistants who were intended to assist with such tasks as tracking resolutions; compiling and analyzing data for special projects; serving as liaisons and addressing individual inquiries; attending and reporting on chapter meetings; composing correspondence; preparing written reports; and preparing information for presentations. For the time being, Council Delegates will have to continue with their hectic work and travel schedules.

It has been previously argued that US senators typically cover more land and serve more people in their daily work so Council Delegates should also be able to do the same. But, the needs of Diné people are different because communication between Diné elected leaders and community members are more complex and K’e based than elected leaders outside of the Navajo Nation.

The effect of the line item vetoes were detailed in a memo by Marcelino R. Gomez, Assistant Attorney General, “As a result of the line item vetoes by the President on September 22, 2011, a portion of the annual revenue projection is left unappropriated for Fiscal Year 2012. This portion is available for appropriation for Fiscal Year 2012.

“In addition, it is available for appropriation for recurring expenses because it is based on a recurring revenue projection. As a result, it is not limited by the limitations on supplemental appropriations as stated in 12 N.N.N §820(L). These amounts may be appropriated either by amendments to the 2012 Navajo Nation Fiscal Year Budget of by Supplemental Appropriations under 12 N.N.C §820(L).”

The Speaker is now tasked with alleviating the problems introduced by President Shelly’s line item vetoes, which were initially intended as a ‘checks and balances’ and not as a device for crippling necessary daily operations.

Before further actions are taken, the Speaker is patiently waiting for a productive response, from the President, to his inquiries to resolve the matter. Without prior communication, there is still substantial risk the President will veto any actions taken by Council to restore full operation.


Contact: Jerome Clark, Communications Director
Phone: (928) 871-7160
Cell: (928) 637-5603
Fax: (928) 871-7255

Confused Signals Come from President Shelly on FY2012 Budget – President’s Shelly’s vetoes target green initiatives, resource development, young people and the elderly

9/23/2011 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Confused Signals Come from President Shelly on FY2012 Budget – President’s Shelly’s vetoes target green initiatives, resource development, young people and the elderly: WINDOW ROCK: The Navajo Nation Council voiced anger at Navajo President Shelly’s line-item vetoes of portions of the FY2012 Tribal Operating Budget on Friday. Among the cuts in the $556.6 million budget included $111 thousand for the Little Folks Day Care Program, $161 thousand for five Navajo Area Agency on Aging offices in Shiprock, Chinle, Tuba City, Fort Defiance and Crownpoint, $352 thousand from the Navajo Green Commission, $130 thousand from the Resources Committee, and $838 thousand for legislative district staff for the 24 Council Delegates.

“The Council is very concerned for President Shelly’s lack of cohesive management on the direction he wants to take the Navajo People,” said Navajo Nation Council Speaker Johnny Naize. “The President says not to forget the elders but it appears he has.  He has also said we need to nurture the youth because they are our future but instead has yanked funding that would do just that.”

“Additionally, at a time when other governments are looking for ways to build a green economy to reduce waste and become environmentally aware, President Shelly has decided that the Navajo people will not.”

“These vetoes were unnecessary after all the discussions we held in June between the three Branches and during the recent Budget Sessions which produced this budget,” continued Naize.  “I unfortunately believe the President has suddenly decided on himself to rewrite all the work the Branches have done during the past three months.”

In the FY2012 operating budget, the Executive Branch was appropriated the bulk of the $556.6 million at a little more than $505 million for programs and set asides such as for Higher Education and Veterans.  Next, the Legislative Branch was appropriated $16.6 million with the Judicial Branch receiving $15.4 million for their programs and set asides.  Also included in the budget are $25.4 million for fixed costs and $4 million for chapter spending.

“These cuts are concerning because they appear to be made as a vendetta against certain programs, council members and committees,” said Naize.  “But in the process of doing that he vetoed funds for Summer Youth Employment, and an elderly group home in Blue Gap.  Our people are in need and even though the President says his Branch provides direct services to the people, these vetoes prove they won’t.  That is not how a Natani leads his people.”

Earlier this month President Shelley vetoed $2.2 million for Youth Employment, $286,000 for the Hoosh Doo Dii To’ Home and $1 million for the Navajo Department of Transportation.

Also in these latest round of vetoes was funding for 24 Legislative District Staff for the 24 Council Delegates.

“In the past, the Legislative Branch has worked with a little more than 8 percent of the total Navajo Nation Operating Budget, said Navajo Nation Council Speaker Johnny Naize.  “Not only do we need to remain at that level but we’ll also need some additional funds to address the increased workload for the 24 Council Delegates.”

At the district level there is a growing feeling of isolation as Council Delegates juggle up to 8 chapters and their work on their committees in Window Rock.  The Legislative District Staff would assist the Delegates by attending meetings that otherwise may have been missed due to other commitments.

Although some thought a smaller Council would mean a smaller budget, the opposite has happened.  The increase in Chapter representation has lead to an increase of meeting and on-reservation travel expenses.  Speaker Naize and the Council are resolved in making sure the people don’t lose their voice just because President Shelly wants to ration and silence the Delegates ability to serve community needs and concerns.”

“Again, the Navajo People are becoming confused where President Shelly is taking us,” concluded Naize.  “All these programs are for the people yet he refuses to acknowledge the need out there.  For the last couple of months he has held numerous town halls to get community input yet for all the people’s efforts, he has decided to ignore them.”

“I want the people to know that the Council will not ignore them and will continue to work and make sure the business of the people gets done no matter how President Shelly tries to silence them.”

# # #

Michael Wero, Communications Director

Navajo Nation Council – Office of the Speaker

PO Box 3390, Window Rock, AZ 86515

928-871-7160 – phone  928-255-3428 – cell

8/21/2011 Att'y letter to UN CERD & Right to Water and Free Assembly

James Zion Letter to Patrick Thorn Berry UN CERD Committee Member“>JAMES W. ZION, Attorney at Law, Admitted in the Navajo Nation, Connecticut and the United States Supreme Court, 3808 Ladera Drive N.W., Albuquerque, NM 87120, (505) 839-9549, August 21,2011 TO: Professor Patrick Thornberry CMG, Professor of International Law, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Keele University, Keele, Staffordshire, UNITED KINGDOM ST5 5BG

Re: Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute Issues and CERD: Dear Professor Thornberry: I was privileged to be in the audience on 22 February 2008 when you had a closing discussion with the United States Mission to the United Nations on the U.S. periodic report to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. You specifically asked that the United States mention the status of Big Mountain and Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute issues in its next periodic report to CERD. It is due on 20 November of this year.

I am the attorney for The Forgotten People, a non-governmental organization that serves the Navajo survivors of the Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute, including individuals who still live on Hopi lands on Black Mesa. One of the issues they face is getting potable water, and it must be hauled to homes by truck. The dirt roads in the area are poor and require frequent maintenance. The Forgotten People has projects with attempts to obtain funding and logistical support so it can get water carried to people in affected areas in the western part of the Navajo Nation. That includes those who live in areas where the ground water is contaminated with uranium waste from mining and remote communities of Navajos without water who are ignored by both the Navajo and the Hopi tribes.

The specific problem I write about is that The Forgotten People announced a meeting to be held at the residence of Pauline White singer at Big Mountain within the area partitioned to the Hopi Tribe on Monday, August 22, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. to “discuss a request for safe drinking water delivery and impassable dirt road repair.” The purpose of the meeting is to ask for assistance from the Navajo and Hopi tribes to get water hauled to homes at Big Mountain and to get the roads in and out of the area graded.

The news of the meeting came to the attention of Mr. LeRoy N. Shingoitewa, the Chairman of the Hopi Tribe, and on August 19, 2011 he wrote to Marsha Monestersky and Ed Becenti of The Forgotten People to inform them, among other things, that “the meeting would be in violation of the Hopi Tribe’s rules and regulations.” He added that Ms. Monestersky is the subject of an order excluding her from the Hopi Reservation (because of her advocacy for Navajo rights). He also noted that one had requested a permit to hold a meeting, when permits are not required by Hopi law and are prohibited by the Indian Civil Rights Act.

We have a situation where the chief executive of the Hopi Tribe, on learning of a meeting to discuss access to water as a human right and to petition for road repairs, has prohibited the meeting in violation of freedom of speech and assembly and the right to petition government provisions of the federal Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968.

I have been asked to bring this situation to your attention and to additionally advise that there are recurring problems of violations of the rights of the refugees of the Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute.

They include a Navajo-Hopi compact that violates individual rights and a situation whereby monies and resources held in trust by the Navajo Nation for the benefit of survivors of the Navajo-Hopi land dispute are unaccounted for and likely wasted. I will bring those matters to your attention and that of CERD as the time for the filing of the next United States CERD periodic report approaches.

I therefore bring these facts to your attention so that you will know that your February 2008 request for new information was prescient in its assessment of emerging events.

Your attention to these matters and communication to the full Committee will be appreciated. A copy of the August 19, 2011 letter signed for Chairman Shingoitewa is enclosed.

James W. Zion


LeRoy N. Shingoitewa
August 19, 2011
Herman G. Honanie
Vice Chairman

Ms. Marsha Monestersky, Program Director
Mr. Ed Becenti
The Forgotten People
Tuba City, Arizona 86045

Dear Ms. Monestersky & Mr. Ed Becenti:

It has come to my attention and the attention of the Hopi Tribal Council that you intend to hold a meeting for the HPL Navajo families on Monday, August 22, 2011, to “discuss a request for safe drinking water delivery and impassable dirt road repair,” as quoted directly from your press release. As we understand your press release, the meeting will take place on HPL, at Pauline Whitesinger’s residence in Big Mountain and will be led by Ms. Marsha Monestersky, Program Director of the Forgotten People. You have requested Hopi Tribal officials participation, as well as other directors and executive officers from the Navajo and Hopi Nations.

At this time, the Hopi Tribe will not be supporting or attending the meeting. To begin, the issues being raised – water and transportation issues – are Government-to-Government issues. Thus, a request for this type ofmeeting must come from the Navajo Nation, not the “Forgotten People.” Additionally, you should be advised that no one has requested a permit from the Hopi Nation to hold this event. As such, the meeting would be in violation of the Hopi Tribe’s rules and regulations. Finally, there is a valid and binding exclusion order for Ms. Monestersky. Thus, Ms. Monestersky is not welcome on Hopi land. Her attendance would clearly violate her exclusion order, which is currently in force.

I hope the above clarifies the Hopi Tribe’s position and we respectfully request that you abide by all Hopi rules, regulation and orders. If you have any questions regarding the Hopi Tribe’s response, please contact Mr. Clayton Honyumptewa, Director, Department of Natural Resources at (928) 734-3641 or my office at (928) 734-3100.

LeRoy N. Shingoitewa, Chairman
The Hopi Tribe
P.O. BOX 123 KYKOTSMOVI. AZ.. 86039
(928) 734-3000

Ltr. to Monestersky & Becenti
RE: Hopi Tribal Resp.

xc. Vice Chairman Honanie
Clayton Honyumptewa, DNR
Robert Lyttle, Interim Gen. Counsel
Norberto Cisneros, Asst. Gen. Counsel
Hon. President Ben Shelley NN
Raymond Maxx, NHLCO, NN

8/2/2011 Forgotten People HPL residents request Safe Drinking Water

Re: Forgotten People and Hopi Partition Land (HPL) residents request for Safe Drinking Water Delivery on top of Black Mesa, in Black Mesa, Cactus Valley, Big Mountain, Star Mountain, Jeddito Island and throughout HPL: From: Caroline Tohannie, Board of Director, Norris Nez, Board of Director, Lucy Knorr, Sec’y/Treasurer, Rena Babbitt Lane, Pauline Whitesinger, Leonard Benally, Carlos Begay, Sr., Hopi Partition Land, Navajo Nation, AZ: Via Email To: Ed Becenti: rezztone@yahoo.com For: President Ben Shelly, The Navajo Nation Venue: Forest Lake Chapter Town Hall Meeting Dated: August 2, 2011: Dear President Shelly: We are blessed that last night as the Board of Directors met to discuss how Hopi Partition Land residents can get access to safe drinking water, Pauline Whitesinger, an elderly matriarch from Big Mountain joined Caroline Tohannie, Rena Babbitt Lane, Carlos W. Begay, Sr. and Leonard Benally to compel the Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly to work with Ed Becenti, Forgotten People’s Window Rock liaison, Forgotten People, the US Environmental Protection Agency, Navajo Department of Water Resources to include safe drinking water delivery on HPL to the US EPA Navajo Nation Pilot Project Feasibility Study and compel the Hopi Tribe to sign off so the Navajo Nation can implement their fiduciary trust responsibility and provide HPL residents with access to safe drinking water and impassable dirt road repair.

Forgotten People is a nonprofit grassroots organization active within the former Bennett Freeze and Hopi Partition Land. We represent communities that span over 2 million acres of remote desert terrain in the northeastern part of Arizona including Hopi Partition Land communities impacted by forced relocation by the US government and Peabody Coal Company’s mining operations. Most of the members practice a subsistence lifestyle of herding sheep. Many elderly community members speak only Dine’.

Pauline Whitesinger, Big Mountain speaks: We want to participate in a water hauling project. The wells throughout HPL have been capped off, fenced off, bulldozed and the natural water source near me is contaminated and unregulated. When I drink the water it hurts my throat and I have a reaction when I swallow it and get sick. I have no vehicle and have no access to safe drinking water. My livestock are thirsty. We are living under a State of Emergency! We are endangered, denied access to water, forced to travel over unpassable dirt roads and endure violations during our ceremonies that the Hopi Tribe says requires a permit to conduct. There are other water sources near me and they are all denied to me for my use. When I was offering a sacrament to the water the Hopi told me to leave the water alone, it does not belong to me. I speak on behalf of my people. We have brought our case and our words (as attached) to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner (see link for UN OHCHR website), Congressional, federal, and tribal forums advocating for our human right to water and sanitation.

Caroline Tohannie, Black Mesa speaks: Our springs were our wetlands with cat tails and other wetlands growth. But they are no longer here. This is where we make offerings and get our healing medicine like cat tails or wreaths for ceremonial purposes. These are our sacred sites. The BIA made wells that had concrete covers and manual pumps. But BIA Rangers came around and disassembled them, taking the pumps out, unscrewing parts, taking off pipes. All the windmills in our region were capped off by the BIA. At first one windmill was capped off but we could reopen it at first but then found the BIA welded the cover shut with dirt over the well opening. There was no longer any way to get water from the well. At another windmill in the area, the BIA disassembled the windmill pump so it would not work. We have been fenced and capped off from access to water. This has created many problems for living things, even insects that need water, animals, birds and people. These tactics are being done to force us off our land so Peabody Coal Company can expand their mining operations.

Caroline and Bert Tohannie and Rena Babbitt Lane live on top of Black Mesa along the route of Peabody Coal Company’s coal slurry pipeline. Billions of gallons of pristine Navajo Aquifer water flowed under their homes but they have no access to water, no emergency access and their vehicles break down traveling long distances over un-passable dirt roads.

Hosteen Nez Begay in Cactus Valley lives 1/8 mile from a water well that has been dismantled for since the 1980’s when the US Bureau of Indian Affiars started dismantling, bulldozing, fencing off water wells. Hosteen has to travel 30 miles each way over rough dirt roads from Cactus Valley to Peabody’s public drinking water stand observing chunks of coal in their drinking water.

Carlos W. Begay in Black Mesa says: In the summer of 1998, on Glenna Begay’s land, Peabody Coal Company installed a sediment pond for contaminated runoff a few yards away from sacred Sagebrush spring planted there by Medicine people. This spring contains a year-round drinking water resource. Bitter Spring in the area, containing a source of water for our animals was bulldozed and Peabody installed a water pump there for the slurry line and a dam to flush the water pipeline. The people and the livestock are thirsty.

These Forgotten People are suffering great hardship and request replication of the Black Falls/Box Springs project to prioritize HPL safe drinking water delivery points and grading of dirt roads and investigate capped off, bulldozed and fenced off water wells throughout HPL.

Forgotten People prays the Navajo Nation President and central government will receive guidance from James W. Zion, Esq.’s application of Fundamental Laws upheld by the Navajo Nation Supreme Court that the land, property, resources and income generated from them are the property of the Navajo People.

Forgotten People compels the Navajo Nation President to work with the Hopi Tribe so they will allow the Navajo Nation to provide HPL residents safe drinking water, livestock water sources and road repair.

On May 6, 2009, President Obama signed legislation HR 956 and S531 to repeal the portion of Public Law 93-531 (The Relocation Act) to lift the Freeze on all Navajo and Hopi lands (including HPL). Unfortunately, this did not address the extensive impact this law had on our people. While the Freeze has halted essential construction, including power line extensions, waterline extensions, and improvements to roads and community facilities, no rehabilitation program was developed to address the effects of the Freeze including access to water and sanitation for water haulers.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) is involved in a major effort to improve access to safe water on the Navajo Nation and redress problems resulting from the legacy of uranium mining in the 1950s and 60’s as a result of two pressures. The EPA made a commitment at the 2002 United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg, South Africa, pledging to reduce the number of its citizens lacking access to safe drinking water and sanitation by 50% by 2015. The largest concentration of people without piped water and sanitation is on the Navajo Nation, especially in the HPL communities.

Forgotten People believes reaching our goals will require collaboration with the Navajo Nation President and the central government using a human rights centered approach to development. Forgotten People believes this collaboration will provide tangible improvements for our communities.

Wars of the future will be fought over water, as they are over oil today, as our ‘Blue Gold’, the source of human survival, enters the global marketplace. We pray, you will understand that here, water is the most precious of all resources and our water rights must not be waived and minimized in a Water Rights Settlement when our local water sources have been capped off, fenced off, bulldozed by the US government’s Bureau of Indian Affairs. Without water we cannot survive and our livestock cannot survive and we must for our future generations and our continued way of life.

We need immediate action to stop corporate favoritism. While the Navajo Nation allows corporations to export energy, HPL residents are hauling water by small barrels, drinking contaminated water and have not a drop of water to drink.

The Dinè people do not get power from the NGS. It goes to Phoenix and Tucson and other cities. There is a fundamental unfairness and lack of information on the Navajo Nation. The issues addressed by Forgotten People’s highlight the need for strengthening and implementing cross-cutting principles in international human rights law. This is needed by the Navajo Nation in considering a draft Energy policy.

As members of civil society, Forgotten People affirms the right to development and transparency and enforcement of the Navajo Nation’s fiduciary trust responsibility to provide goods and services to HPL residents. Public health is threatened. To implement ‘Water Without Boarders” for endangered water haulers, we pray you will work with Ed Becenti and Forgotten People so we can sustain our lives.

Respectfully submitted,

Norris Nez, Hathalie, Board of Director, Coal Mine
Caroline Tohannie, Board of Director, Black Mesa
Pauline Whitesinger, Big Mountain
Rena Babbitt Lane, Black Mesa
Carlos W. Begay, Sr., Black Mesa
Leonard Benally, Big Mountain
Lucy Knorr, Sec’y/Treasurer
Marsha Monesterky, Program Director
On behalf of Forgotten People with the Support of Black Falls/Box Springs/Grand Falls residents

Copy: Clancy Tenley, Assistant Director, US EPA Superfund: tenley.clancy@epamail.epa.gov
Najam Tariq, Navajo Department of Water Resources: najamhtariq1@hotmail.com
James W. Zion, Esq., Attorney for Forgotten People JZion@aol.com

8/1/2011 US EPA News Release: EPA enters into agreement with Chevron to investigate soil contamination at uranium mine on the Navajo Reservation

8/1/2011 US EPA News Release: EPA enters into agreement with Chevron to investigate soil contamination at uranium mine on the Navajo Reservation: Contact Information: Margot Perez-Sullivan, (415) 947-4149, perezsullivan.margot@epa.gov: SAN FRANCISCO — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reached an agreement with Chevron USA Inc. to investigate radium-contaminated soil at the Mariano Lake Mine site, a former uranium mine located on the Navajo Nation near Gallup, New Mexico. The agreement is the latest result of an ongoing effort by EPA and Navajo Nation to address contamination from the legacy of uranium mining in the Navajo Nation.

Under the agreement, Chevron will conduct a radiological survey and sample radium-contaminated soil throughout the 31-acre Mariano Lake Mine site and surrounding area, including 10 residences and two nearby water wells. Chevron also agreed to pay EPA’s oversight costs.

“This investigation is part of EPA’s commitment to help the Navajo Nation deal with the significant impacts of historic uranium mining,” said Jared Blumenfeld, Administrator for the Pacific Southwest Region. “We are working to make sure that every responsible party takes the steps needed to protect Navajo families from radioactive contamination.”

Ben Shelly, Navajo Nation President, said, “On behalf of the communities in and around Mariano Lake, I extend my sincere appreciation for the agreement today between the U.S. EPA and Chevron. I look forward to the data that will be generated in this investigation, and I respectfully request U.S. EPA to understand our desires for the most protective clean up plans that will help restore harmony in our communities and homes. This type of agreement will continue to help us as we work to correct the harmful legacy of past uranium mining and milling on the Navajo Nation.”

EPA and the Navajo EPA will oversee field work, which will include construction of a fence and application of a sealant to contaminated soils where people live, work and play while the investigation is carried out. The order also requires Chevron to post signs, lock gates and prevent livestock from getting into areas of known contamination prior to cleanup.

The Mariano Lake Mine site operated as a uranium ore mine from approximately 1977 to 1982, and includes one 500-foot deep shaft, waste piles, and several surface ponds. Exposure to elevated levels of radium over a long period of time can result in anemia, cataracts, fractured teeth, and cancer, especially bone cancer.

Chevron is the fifth responsible party that EPA has required to take actions at former uranium mines on the Navajo Nation. EPA’s work with Navajo Nation to identify and enforce against responsible parties is part of a 5-year plan to address the problem, which can be found at http://www.epa.gov/region9/superfund/navajo-nation/

7/7/2011 Navajo Times Census: Navajo enrollment tops 300,000

7/7/2011 Navajo Times: Census: Navajo enrollment tops 300,000 By Bill Donovan Special to the Times: WINDOW ROCK: It’s official. There are more than 300,000 enrolled members of the Navajo Nation. The tribe’s census office last week pegged tribal enrollment at 300,048, said Sherrick Roanhorse, chief of staff for President Ben Shelly. Tribal officials have been saying for most of the past decade that the tribe’s enrollment has been in the area of 300,000. This still doesn’t give the Navajos bragging rights as the largest Indian nation in the United States, however. That remains with the Cherokee. In August 2010, the Cherokee Nation gave its enrollment as 288,749, not including the Eastern Band, which accounted for another 13,000 plus members, for a total of about 302,000.

It should be pointed out that the two tribes figure membership differently. For Navajo Nation membership, a person must have one-quarter or more Navajo blood. The Cherokees require only that members be able to trace their ancestry back to someone listed on the Dawes Roll of 1907 – a membership list created by the Dawes Commission so the Cherokee reservation could be parceled out in individual allotments. The Cherokee tribe has no blood quantum requirement for membership.

The big question within the Navajo universe is how many tribal members live on the reservation and how many can be considered urban Navajos.

Roanhorse said the tribe will have a better grasp of that once the U.S. Census Office releases its 2010 population figures for the Navajo Reservation. Those figures are expected soon. The U.S. Census Bureau has said it will release population figures for Arizona on July 17 and they will include an ethnic breakdown. New Mexico and Utah figures are expected to follow shortly thereafter.

The expectation is that federal census figures will show for the first time that more Navajos live off the reservation than on it. But even these figures, said Roanhorse, would be misleading because many Navajos who live in cities still have a presence on the reservation, coming back regularly to take care of family matters or to participate in ceremonies and family gatherings.

The new enrollment figure, however, also indicates that Navajo Nation officials have a daunting task to carry out plans to provide every tribal member with an identity card within the next 18 to 24 months.

The tribe has been talking about this for the past several years and is planning to embark on a program similar to the one established by the Pascua Yaqui, who have a small reservation southwest of Tucson.

Thanks to a 2009 memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Customs Office, the Pascua Yaqui ID card serves as a passport for tribal members crossing the border between the U.S. and Mexico, where most tribal members live.

Roanhorse said the Navajo tribal card would be used in the same way. Besides having information coded on a bar strip giving medical history and some personal background, the card will have enough data to allow its use as a passport to countries like Mexico and Canada.

Another advantage of the card, he said, is that it will enable the tribal government to learn whenever a tribal member gets in trouble with the law and may need tribal assistance, such as help finding a lawyer or contacting family members.

The tribe is now in the final stages of developing the card. When it is ready, it will be made available to tribal members at no cost.

7/29/2011 Gallup Independent: 'Brazzenness' Navajo officials charged with misusing millions

7/29/2011 Gallup Independent: ‘Brazzenness’ Navajo officials charged with misusing millions By Kathy Helms, Dine Bureau: WINDOW ROCK – A lawsuit charging current and former top-level officials of the Navajo Nation – including former President Joe Shirley Jr. – with breach of fiduciary responsibility was filed Thursday with Window Rock District Court by Special Prosecutor Alan L. Balaran. The complaint alleges the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal and state grant and contract funds and the associated loss or drastic curtailing of programs vital to children, the elderly, and the indigent. “I filed a complaint against almost every delegate – except for the three or four that settled – against the ex-president, against the current and former attorneys general, against the controller and against the speaker,” Balaran said late Thursday. He also requested that those still in office “be removed from their jobs, do a full accounting, give up their salaries for those times that they were stealing from the people, and return everything.”

Fifteen of the 16 delegates from the 21st Navajo Nation Council who are now part of the 22nd Council, including Speaker Johnny Naize, are being sued solely in their individual capacity as having acted outside the scope of their authority. Charges also were filed against former Speaker Lawrence T. Morgan, former Attorney General Louis Denetsosie, current Attorney General Harrison Tsosie, Controller Mark Grant, and John Does 1-50.

Last October, weeks before the General Election, criminal charges alleging conspiracy, fraud, theft, forgery and abuse of office – relating to how the Speaker’s Office managed its discretionary fund program – were filed against 78 delegates of the 21st Council. Balaran withdrew those earlier this year in anticipation of Thursday’s filing.

Each person charged “has a fiduciary duty to protect the Nation and to do everything in their best interest,” he said. “Clearly their actions were antagonist to those of the Nation and instead were simply selfish moves to further their own personal gain.”

According to Title 2, anyone who violates ethical rules can be incarcerated, forced to pay restitution, and removed from their job, he said.

President Ben Shelly and Vice President Rex Lee Jim settled their cases earlier this year. Also not named in the new complaint are 22nd Council Delegate Roscoe Smith and 21st Council Delegates Jerry Bodie, Herman Daniels Sr. (deceased), Tom LaPahe (deceased), Lawrence Platero, and Harold Wauneka. Delegates not charged last year but whose names appear in the new complaint include LoRenzo Bates, Katherine Benally, Naize, Jonathan Nez and Leonard Tsosie.

Balaran alleges that the senior officials acted in concert and that the “brazenness” demonstrated by them demands not only monetary redress but the appointment of a Financial Receiver to assume the responsibilities of the controller, as well as the immediate removal and replacement of those delegates still occupying positions of authority.

Between 2005 and 2010, each delegate was given $250,000 in discretionary funds which they are alleged to have unlawfully appropriated to themselves, their families, friends, and other delegates and their families, “resulting in a total unlawful expenditure of tens of millions of dollars of the Navajo Nation.”

Balaran claims that those unlawful appropriations and expenditures by delegates could not have been carried out without the assistance of the other named defendants, “either acting in concert with the delegates or recklessly refusing to exercise their own powers to stop the delegates’ massive fraud upon the Navajo Nation.”

Supplemental appropriations were unlawfully approved by using two strategies, according to Balaran, including falsely casting the appropriations as “related to an emergency,” or by waiving all Navajo Nation laws which might have impeded the appropriations or expenditures.

Those charged Thursday include: Alice W. Benally, Amos F. Johnson, Andy R. Ayze, Benjamin Curley, Bobby Robbins Sr., Cecil Frank Eriacho, Charles Damon II, Curran Hannon, Danny Simpson, David B. Rico, David Shondee, David L. Tom, Davis Filfred, Edmund E. Yazzie, Edward V. Jim Sr., Elbert R. Wheeler, Elmer P. Begay, Elmer L. Milford, Ernest D. Yazzie Jr., Ervin M. Keeswood Sr., Evelyn Actothley, Francis Redhouse, George Apachito, George Arthur, Gloria Jean Todacheene, Harriett K. Becenti, Harry H. Clark, Harry Claw, Harry Hubbard, Harry J. Willeto, Harry Williams Sr., Herman R. Morris, Hope MacDonald Lone Tree, Hoskie Kee, Ida M. Nelson, Jack Colorado, Jerry Freddie, Joe M. Lee, Johnny Naize, Jonathan Nez, Katherine Benally, Kee Allen Begay Jr., Kee Yazzie Mann, Kenneth Maryboy, Larry Anderson Sr., Larry Noble, Lee Jack Sr., Lena Manheimer, Leonard Anthony, Leonard Chee, Leonard Teller, Leonard Tsosie, Leslie Dele, Lorenzo Bedonie, LoRenzo C. Bates, Lorenzo Curley, Mel R. Begay, Nelson BeGaye, Nelson Gorman Jr., Norman John II, Omer Begay Jr., Orlanda Smith-Hodge, Pete Ken Atcitty, Peterson B. Yazzie, Phillip Harrison Jr., Preston McCabe Sr., Ralph Bennett, Ray Berchman, Raymond Joe, Raymond Maxx, Roy B. Dempsey, Roy Laughter, Sampson Begay, Thomas Walker Jr., Tim Goodluck, Tommy Tsosie, Willie Begay, Willie Tracey Jr., Woody Lee, Young Jeff Tom, Louis Denetsosie, Harrison Tsosie, Joe Shirley Jr., Mark Grant, Lawrence T. Morgan, and John Does 1-50.

7/1/2011 Gallup Independent: Navajo energy vision 'a beginning,' But is it short-sighted? First in a two-part series

7/1/2011 Gallup Independent: Navajo energy vision ‘a beginning,’ But is it short-sighted? First in a two-part series By Kathy Helms, Dine Bureau: GALLUP – The Navajo Nation’s draft energy policy, or “vision statement,” does not dwell on past mistakes. The forward-looking document focuses on a balanced, multi-pronged approach to shape the Nation’s energy future, according to President Ben Shelly’s energy team, which presented the draft Wednesday evening at a public meeting in Gallup. While audience members hailed the policy was “a beginning” and commended the team for its hard work, they also were quick to point out where the policy appeared to be short-sighted. For starters, the grassroots Navajo people were not consulted, according to Teddy Nez of Churchrock. “Also, as a matrilineal society, it’s shocking that there’s no women” on the Energy Advisory Committee, Nikki Alex of Dilkon, an independent researcher and policy analyst, said. The committee is made up of division directors and program managers from within the Executive Branch.

“The Navajo people have the right to incorporate Dine Fundamental Law into the Navajo Nation’s Energy Policy, yet in all documentation there is no mention of it. This is an outrage since our elected officials use the Dine Fundamental Law as a defense for their decisions that are often detrimental to our Navajo Life Way or to undermine our laws for their own gain or defense,” Mervyn Tilden of Gallup said.

Audience members were given three minutes each to present their remarks and were cautioned to address what was in the policy, not events of the past, as they could spend days talking about past wrongs. Many members of the audience disagreed, however, including George Arthur, former Navajo Nation Council delegate.

“I think we need to keep an open mind about what happened in the past. The past is what develops the future. I’ve been at the negotiating table with Mr. (Louis) Denetsosie and others here. It’s very difficult to be at the negotiation table when the rules are already developed by your counterparts that are sitting across from you,” he said.

“There was a statement made early on about looking to the future. … Ladies and gentlemen, the only thing that’s in the future that’s on the table that can be talked about is Peabody and Navajo Generating Station. Everything else has been negotiated.”

Former Navajo Nation President Milton Bluehouse Sr. said the Indian Mineral Leasing Act allows Navajo to name its price, rather than settling for the 12.5 percent coal royalty discussed in the Peabody Energy Co. lease reopener which is expected to come up during Council’s summer session.

“It’s got to be a lot more,” he said. “People that are affected out there, like Black Mesa, they were promised roads, houses, water, electricity and all of this. At the onset they were lied to. … Let’s do something about it and let’s put something in this policy so people get advantage of it.”

Ed Becenti of St. Michaels agreed. “The act of 1938, the Indian Minerals Leasing Act, gave Indian tribes the ability and power to negotiate their own lease. Why not go back and ask for retro payments from all of these energy companies. We have some leases that are coming up for renewal. This is the time for the energy policy task team to address them – not to rush into them and make some bad choices again.”

Others such as Alex noted the lack of language in regard to transitioning from finite resources such as fossil fuels to a green economy. “I really want to emphasize that nuclear is not the future. Clean coal is not the future. Why are we going to put ourselves as guinea pigs again for this new industry? … I understand the importance of economic development, but social aspects, economic aspects, health aspects and environmental aspects are important as well. It’s not just about money.”

Anna Rondon, chair of the Green Economy Commission, disagree with Attorney General Harrison Tsosie that the policy did not need to go out for a formal public hearing as is done in rulemaking hearings.

“I believe any public policy that impacts people, especially Dine people, should be given out as a public hearing campaign to be recorded by a court reporter because this might come back in the future and there may be lawsuits because it wasn’t adhered to. If this policy is going to the Navajo Nation Council, it goes into the Legislative Branch, so the play on the words kind of gets to me. Is this another ploy?”

Rondon said she also would like to dispel the myth that they are environmentalists who want to shut down the coal-fired power plants. “We want to help balance the dirty-based economy that we have with a green, clean economy for future generations. I would like to know what are your guiding principles? Ours, as a commission, is the Dine Fundamental Law. We just had a prayer talking about our sacred elements. There is a lack of sacredness, there’s an absence of holiness” in the policy, she said.

Amber Crotty of Sheepsprings, a policy analyst at Dine Policy Institute, said, “Now that we know that some of these leases are far into the future, how do we get this equal or greater fair market value when a majority of the leases now are in the hopper for the next 25 years?”

Dana Eldridge of Cornfields, also a researcher at Dine Policy Institute, said she believes it is very critical for the Navajo Nation to transition its energy economy.

“We need to be diversifying our energy sources. Part of the transitioning needs to support the coal mine workers we care so much about. We hear that as a justification to continue coal mining, but I really, firmly believe that we need to be transitioning to renewable sources and in that process have a support system for those workers. We need to be moving at a rate faster than the U.S., because they’re not moving fast enough and their scientists predict catastrophic energy issues for the U.S. as a whole, so we really should be at the forefront of a transitioning economy.”

Eldridge said the commitment to renewables within the energy policy is very weak when compared to the economic goals, and if the Nation is moving toward energy sovereignty, it needs to take out the middle man. In addition, there needs to be a holistic analysis on the cost of coal.

“What are the health care costs that our communities are facing? What are the environmental costs going to be? What are the cost of tourism dollars that we’re losing from people who don’t want to visit our states any more because they’re so hazy?

“I was in Shiprock just yesterday, and it’s such a big indicator of the environmental racism that we have put on our own people. These people don’t benefit from the energy development; they just suffer from the environmental consequences. Let’s not continue this legacy of environmental racism in our own lands.”

7/1/2011 Navajo Nation Public Hearing on Energy Policy

Public comments on the Navajo Nation Energy policy are welcome through July 31st, and should be sent in writing to Michelle — michelle@navajonationmuseum.org. Navajo Nation Public Hearing on Energy Policy By Anthony Fleg, Native Health Initiative: The location for last night’s public hearing on the Navajo Nation’s proposed energy policy was fitting for political theatrics – held at the UNM Student Union Building’s theater, the stage was set for Navajo Nation officials to make their case for the energy policy as currently drafted. The document at the center of discussion was the draft of the Navajo Nation Energy Policy, completed June 20th, 2011 (see copy of draft here). The UNM meeting was the last of the public hearings on the policy, meetings meant to gather public input on the draft. The Attorney General for the Navajo Nation, Harrison Tsosie, reminded the audience that this document was not a law, regulation or statute. “Instead, this policy is to serve as a vision statement for Navajo leaders and for the outside world, to then guide future decisions and laws and to ensure that in the future the Federal Government is not deciding the direction of our Dine’ people.”

There have been four prior attempts to develop such an energy policy by the Navajo Nation, with the only document that made it past draft stage being the 1980 policy. The current administration, under President Ben Shelly has made energy policy a priority.

The document supports development of renewable energy, with Navajo Nation officials admitting that in the past years there has been no clear direction, and therefore, no significant strides in this realm.

Coal and uranium appear to be the biggest points of contention in the draft policy, judging from the audience members who spoke during the public response section of the hearing.

In terms of coal, the current draft supports a coal-driven energy future for the Navajo Nation, stating, “The Nation will plan for a future that includes coal as a key component of the Nation’s energy mix…[and] will seek to shape federal fossil fuel regulation.” (Section 7)

Mario Atencio of Dine’ CARE (Coalition Against Ruining our Environment) stated that coal has no place in the energy future of the Navajo Nation, adding that he was concerned that the Navajo Green Energy Commission was not included in the drafting of the policy.

Juan Reynosa of the Sierra Club, following Mario to the microphone, seconded the opinion. “This is our opportunity to transition away from coal, switching to renewable resources. Juan talked about his work to push for tighter regulations on the Four Corners Power Plant, pointing out the un-tapped potential that wind and solar energy have in this region.

Nuclear energy and uranium is also addressed in the document with a recognition of the current ban on uranium mining that the Navajo Nation has adopted. “The Navajo Nation, nonetheless will continue to monitor uranium mining technologies and techniques…to assess the safety, viability, and potential of these activities for the future.” (Section 9).

Norman Patrick Brown of the Dine’ Bidziil (The People’s Strength) stated simply, “I don’t trust this policy. Our past shows us that energy infrastructure has been devastating to our land, our health and our way of life.” He said that from a traditional perspective, talking to Medicine Men, “I have yet to meet one person who supports any extraction from our Mother Earth of these materials.”

Additionally, there was obvious concern about those who spoke from the audience about the transparency of the process to create the draft, and at this point, the process of allowing public input to affect the final version of the document. A writer from the Navajo Times asked a pointed question to this later point – “How do you plan to share the public’s thoughts from these meetings that have been held?” Translating the answer from politico speak, it appears that the comments and written testimony will be compiled and made available on the Navajo Nation website. I could not find the policy or comments on the Navajo Nation website at the time of this article.

Public comments on the policy are welcome through July 31st, and should be sent in writing to Michelle — michelle@navajonationmuseum.org.