Tag Archives: President Shelly

10/13/2011 Gallup Independent: President Shelly pushes for water settlements

10/13/2011 President Shelly pushes for water settlements By Kathy Helms, Dine Bureau, Gallup Independent: WINDOW ROCK – Navajo President Ben Shelly was in Washington Wednesday to advocate for the Navajo Generating Station, Arizona and Utah water rights settlements, and the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project. Congress has funded $24 million for pre-construction and construction activities for the Navajo-Gallup pipeline. An additional $60 million will be made available for the next three years from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, according to the Navajo Nation Washington Office.

In a meeting with Assistant Secretary of the Interior Larry Echo Hawk, Shelly said, “We are working to keep the Navajo Generating Station open. The loss of the power plant will impact both Navajo and Hopi, other Arizona tribes, and the state.”

In contrast, when Deputy Assistant Secretary David Hayes visited Navajo in September, Resources and Development Committee member Leonard Tsosie told him that NGS and Peabody were “bad deals made by the federal government on behalf of the Navajo people.”

Resources Chair Katherine Benally said continued support of NGS, given its history with Navajo, did not look very favorable. “They took our water, they took our land and did not bother to come back and see if we were properly compensated,” she said.

During his meeting with Echo Hawk, Shelly said Navajo is in the final stages of a water rights settlement with Utah and needs for the administration “to lay the foundation for a complete settlement of our water claims on the Colorado River and to ensure water for Window Rock.”

The Navajo Nation also has been a co-participant in Tribal Unity Impact Week with nine other tribes and the National Congress of American Indians.

During a leadership meeting Tuesday, Shelly told tribal leaders, “Be united as one. I’m talking about uniting right now. We’re not on the same page. We need to get serious. We are going to build a United Nation of Indians.”

He referred to proposed twin office towers planned for Window Rock with a price tag of around $45 million. “If you want to work with us, that’s where we’re going to be,” he said.

He addressed sovereignty and self-sufficiency as part of his vision of economic prosperity, including needed changes to federal laws and policies which will reduce bureaucratic red tape to allow tribes to develop their resources, take control of land, and expand business opportunities.

“We can’t sit here every day and say ‘trust responsibility,’” he said.

Meeting with the Nation’s congressional leaders on proposed funding reductions for tribal programs, Shelly said, “Reducing funding for tribes would cruelly punish a vulnerable segment of the U.S. population.”

The president spoke with congressmen on funding concerns for Navajo Housing Authority, transportation, Navajo Abandoned Mines Lands, the proposed Arizona water rights settlement, Head Start, the Utah Navajo Trust Fund, and uranium cleanup on Navajo land.

Later, Shelly and a delegation from Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency met with U.S. EPA.

9/30/2011 Gallup Independent: No k'e for Shelly after veto

9/30/2011 Gallup Independent: No k’e for Shelly after veto By Kathy Helms, Dine Bureau: WINDOW ROCK – When it comes to money, even among the closest of kin, relationships can become strained. Nowhere was that more evident than Thursday’s Nabiki’yati’ Committee when delegates basically threw k’e out the window and hammered Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly at length for slashing their budget. Exercising line-item veto authority, Shelly cut more than $2 million from the Legislative Branch budget for Fiscal Year 2012. He whittled $130,050 from the travel budget for the Resources and Development Committee chaired by Delegate Katherine Benally after she gutted $433,988 from the Executive Branch budget.

The money intended for Executive salary adjustments and consultant fees Benally gave to a private day-care facility and the Navajo Area Agency on Aging – before Shelly’s line-item veto wiped out her good intentions.

“Anyone wanting to fight the elders, they need to go through me first. Anybody wanting to fight the kids, I’ll take them on. Bring it on, Mr. President!” Benally said.

When it was proposed they invite the president to Nabiki’yati’ and try to talk through their differences, she said, “I will not beg him for a penny.” Then, addressing Shelly in absentia, added, “You practiced your prerogative to veto our committee’s travel line-item. Thank you. We just will not meet.”

Council is in the midst of trying to do a bond initiative for capital improvement projects. Benally said Shelly has been invited to her committee numerous times to discuss his plan for prosperity, but has not come.

“Where’s this pitch that he gives to us about prosperity?” Salaries for the president’s staff range from approximately $70,000 to $93,000, she said. “That’s where the prosperity is, just in his office. I don’t want us going over there and meeting with him. He used and abused that veto power. I say our staff needs to challenge that.”

Lorenzo Curley said this year was the worst budget experience of his eight years on the Navajo Nation Council. “There’s too much exercise of patronage in our budget system and I think that’s what we’re talking about here. We know every year that the Executive budget is padded. Some of us talk about trimming those padded monies in Executive Branch,” he said.

“We kind of give the Executive Branch the respect, the k’e, and so we let it go, and we expect the same reciprocal treatment from the president. It didn’t happen. He double-crossed us,” Curley said.

Alton Shepherd reminded delegates, “ ‘The pen is mightier than the sword.’ That’s what the people have given him, and that’s what I, too, have given him as a president” as a result of the line-item veto initiative. “I had to also dread the day when it becomes as painful as using a sword. I think that’s what happened,” he said.

Leonard Tsosie, who represents eight chapters, said it was unfair for the president to have staff assistants and Council not have any. “Because what we were going to work with has been vetoed, maybe we should reexamine the amount of assistants we give him. He’s telling us to make do with nothing, no assistants. Maybe we should limit the number of assistants he has.”

Tsosie said he sent a letter to the president which Shelly said he was going to make public. “I said, ‘So be it. I don’t mind.’ My letter indicated that some of us supported the line-item veto power and we campaigned for it. When we were out there, we didn’t tell the people that it would be used to target political adversaries.”

The recent sequence of events is “like walking on thin ice,” according to Delegate Leonard Pete. He said that when Shelly was a Council delegate he nearly got into a fist fight over an issue that arose on the Council floor. “He was taken out for disorderly conduct. … That kind of a leader, that kind of a person, that kind of a background, I hate to see something started. I hate to see his true colors.”

LoRenzo Bates said later that the president didn’t go back on his word. “They could have had their assistants. But when they went and put in their own personal feelings and agendas and went against the stream, we brought it on ourselves – and my colleagues better realize that.

“If Council chooses to go to war against the president’s office based on his action, and that includes going to court, and the court makes a decision in favor of the president’s office, you have given more authority to the chief justice to make determinations that could give more power to the chief justice to legislate,” Bates said. “If they’re willing to do that, then go for it.”

Walter Phelps told delegates he did not agree with all the sentiments. “I am concerned that we are taking this down the wrong path. I think, in my mind, it’s just a matter of a need to improve areas of communication between Executive and Legislative, and setting down guidelines for future appropriations.”

Speaker Johnny Naize said he was told by the president to bring some more numbers. “I have the numbers available for him. We can negotiate on those numbers.”

He said he would provide a memo to delegates explaining the action they are going to pursue.

9/23/2011 CENSORED NEWS: A dark shadow in Geneva: Human rights and coal-fired power plants

9/23/2011 CENSORED NEWS: A dark shadow in Geneva: Human rights and coal-fired power plants: When it comes to protecting human rights, you can’t pick and choose. When it comes to Mother Earth, that’s like saying ‘I only raped her a little.’ By Brenda Norrell: Navajo President Ben Shelly plans to be in Geneva for the UN Human Rights Council report on sacred places. Hopefully President Shelly will say that he will no longer push for another coal-fired power plant on Navajoland, and bring to an end those that are there. Coal-fired power plants in the US are a primary reason for the melting of Arctic ice. The result is that Native villages are dropping into the sea and polar bears and other wildlife are dying due to the loss of habitat. President Shelly recently pushed for the building of another coal-fired power plant, Desert Rock, which would be the third on Navajoland in the Farmington, N.M., area, with another power plant at Page, Ariz. Peabody coal mines on Black Mesa have long desecrated the sacred places of Big Mountain and elsewhere on Black Mesa, poisoning the land, depleting the aquifer, poisoning and drying up the springs, polluting the air and causing respiratory diseases.

President Shelly, according to the news, will be at Special Rapporteur James Anaya’s report on human rights and sacred places in Geneva. So hopefully someone will point out, as they usually do, that when it comes to protecting human rights, you can’t pick and choose. When it comes to Mother Earth, that’s like saying ‘I only raped her a little.’

8/12/2011 EPA allows Chevron access to sensitive data on Navajo Nation – Chevron gains access to sensitive data on Navajo soil and water

8/12/2011 CENSORED NEWS: EPA allows Chevron access to sensitive data on Navajo Nation – Chevron gains access to sensitive data on Navajo soil and water: By Brenda Norrell: MARIANO LAKE, N.M. — The US EPA is allowing Chevron USA Inc., access to sensitive data on the Navajo Nation, by allowing Chevron to investigate uranium contamination. Chevron is one of the world’s primary exploiters and spoilers of Indigenous lands. Navajo President Ben Shelly, however, said allowing Chevron to carry out the investigation on the Navajo Nation is a good thing. President Shelly 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.”

While the EPA purports to be cleaning up uranium contamination, at the same time, corporations are targeting the Navajo Nation for more uranium mining. By giving Chevron access to geological data, soil and water data, the Navajo Nation is giving away sensitive information used by corporations for future destructive industries, including mining and oil and gas drilling.

Corporations such as Chevron have a long history of gaining access to Indian lands under the guise of cleanup or research.

The US EPA selected Chevron to investigate radium-contaminated soil at the Mariano Lake Mine site, a former uranium mine located on the Navajo Nation near Gallup, N.M. The EPA said in a statement that the agreement is the result of an effort by the EPA and Navajo Nation to address contamination of uranium mining in the Navajo Nation.

The EPA was persuaded by Chevron’s offer of dollars.

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, the EPA said in a statement.

Chevron’s fencing also concerns local Navajos.

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 EPA said.

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.

The EPA said that Chevron is the fifth “responsible party” that the EPA has required to take actions at former uranium mines on the Navajo Nation.

Indigenous Peoples, however, have plenty of proof that Chevron is not a responsible party.

The EPA said the work with Navajo Nation is 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/