Are Navajo Council delegates continuing work of late Gen. Pratt?

Navajo Nation Councll chambers in Window Rock, Ariz., where Council and standing committees meet. Photo by Marley Shebala

Navajo Nation Councll chambers in Window Rock, Ariz., where Council and standing committees meet. Photo by Marley Shebala

For some unknown reason, several Navajo Nation Council delegates, are willing to continue and finish the work of the late U.S. General Richard Pratt, whose motto was “To civilize the Indians…immerse them in our civilization, and when we get them under…hold them there until they are thoroughly soaked.”

Pratt, who established Carlisle Indian School, the first federally funded and operated boarding school, had another motto: “Kill the Indian, save the man.”

And what does history tell about Carlisle Indian School, which was in Pennsylvania?

The following is a Carlisle Indian School commencement speech, “Let all that is Indian within you die.”

Or maybe some of our Council delegates have decided to support the work of the late Lord Macaulay, who promoted this Indian education policy: “We must at present do our best to form…a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour…but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, in intellect.”

These Council delegates, who include Lorenzo Curley, Danny Simpson, Jonathan Hale and Leonard Tsosie, have decided to weaken their language, which is the Navajo language, instead of strengthening so that disqualified presidential candidate Chris Deschene can be on the ballot for the Nov. 4, 2014, general election.

Well, actually, Deschene, an educated Navajo attorney, is on the ballot even though an established Navajo Nation government administrative hearing body disqualified him on Oct. 9, 2014.

Shortly after the Office of Hearings and Appeals decision to disqualify him, Deschene issued a written press release that immediately accused Chief Hearing Officer Richie Nez of using a “biased test” that “was designed to disqualify me, not to test my fluency.”

He explained that when he was asked a series of question in the Navajo language about government processes, “I responded, in Navajo, with a message consistent with what I have been saying all along: I am Navajo. Let the people decide. I spend each and every day speaking to our people in our Navajo language, Diné Bizaad.

“This decision transcends the presidential election,” Deschene stated. “It’s bigger than just me. The collective rights of our people must be respected. Our voices must be heard. If this decision stands, it sends a message to our youth that most aren’t Navajo enough to lead. This is not okay.

As I was reading proposed Navajo Nation Council emergency legislation 0298-14, which is sponsored by Delegates Simpson, Hale and Tsosie, I thought that the language in 0298 sounded awfully, and I do mean awfully, familiar.

Legislation 0298 states, “Diyin Bits’aadee’ Beehaz’aanii declares and teaches it is the right and freedom of the Dine’ to choose leaders of their choice…”

But proposed legislation 0289-14, which Council Delegate Lorenzo Curley is sponsoring, simply removes the Navajo language fluency requirement for presidential candidates– retroactively.

I did an audio taped interview with Deschene after the OHA disqualified him and I asked him what he thought about the Navajo language. He said he had total respect for it. I also asked him what he thought about proposed Council actions to remove the Navajo language fluency requirement for presidential candidates. Deschene said he opposed its removal.

As I was reading 0289-14, which I’ll dub the “Curley bill”, and 0298-14, which I’ll dub the “Three Amigos Bill”, and I dub them so there is no confusion, I noticed that the Curley bill and Three Amigos Bills both addressed “confusion” among the Navajo people.

It appears that the Curley bill and Three Amigos bill are to remove the “confusion” among us.

Cool! Because I’m confused about why the Council, who are the law makers, didn’t amend election laws to protect us from candidates charged with bribery and conspiracy. And what about candidates that have domestic violence protection orders against them, like one of the Three Amigos, Council Delegate Jonathan Hale.

Just recently, the small Navajo community of Toh la kai gathered Navajo Reservation, national and international support to block a liquor license transfer to a local convenience store and gas station. The testimonies of the local people pretty much focused on Driving While Intoxicated fatalities.

But we have a Council Delegate, Duane Tsinigine, convicted of DWI, who remains on the Council because our lawmakers allow it because they have not sponsored legislation to prohibit such behavior by our lawmakers.

And how is it that a Council Delegate, David Tom, pleads guilty to a criminal charge of conspiracy and the Election Office and Election Board don’t immediately disqualify him and declare his position vacant. But it happened. The Council issued a press release – nine days after Tom pleaded guilty – and announced that Tom was resigning because he was guilty.

Yup, I’m confused.

But I’m not confused about current Navajo law. And I’m not confused about how this confusion over the Nov. 4 general election occurred.

When the Navajo Board of Election Supervisors was discussing when to have voting ballots printed for the Nov. 4 general election, which was Sept. 30, 2-14, legislative attorney Ron Haven advised them that the legal issues over the qualifications of one of the presidential candidates, Deschene, were not resolved.

The election board also knew that on Sept. 26, the Navajo Nation Supreme Court ordered the Office of Hearings and Appeals to hold a hearing on the election complaints against Deschene by Oct. 3.

They also knew that the OHA decision on Oct. 3 could be appealed to the Supreme Court and that there was ten days to make the appeal.

It was very clear to me on Sept. 30 that the election board should have postponed the Nov. 4 general election for the presidency only and continued with the Nov. 4 general election for all other political candidates, which included the Council.

But the election board decided against a special election for the presidential candidates and they directed Election Office Director Edison Wauneka to notify the printers to start printing the voting ballots for the absentee voting, which started on Oct. 6.

And three days later, Oct. 9, the OHA disqualifies Deschene.

On Oct. 13, Chief Legislative Counsel Levon Henry and Justice Department attorney Paul Spruhan advised the election board about the OHA disqualification of Deschene. The election board responded with the same rhetoric that Deschene used in his Oct. 9 press release and is found in the Curley bill and Three Amigos bill – let the people decide.

Well, okay then…if it’s about letting we, the People, decide, then let us have a referendum – without Council approval – on the Curley bill, the Three Amigos bill, the $554 million, government reform, purchasing coal mines, approving Water Rights Settlements, renewal of coal leases, funding Navajo language classes, funding Navajo immersion schools, funding Navajo government classes, confirmation of political appointees, allowing media with video cameras and tape recorders into court rooms, making the travel and compensation of elected officials and political appointees public, making Council committees do voting tallies, publicize meetings of all tribal enterprises, prohibit Navajo government meetings in Las Vegas during National Rodeo Finals, and making the qualifications of political candidates equal to Miss Navajo’s qualifications, which includes no affairs.

Miss Navajo is prohibited from having a boyfriend during her reign and so it’s only fair to apply that to our public servants, and that includes ALL elected officials and political appointees. I’m saying that married public servants and political appointees will be automatically removed if found guilty of infidelity.

And we, the People, definitely need to vote on disqualifying candidates and removing elected officials and political appointees if they are found guilty of being “deadbeat” dads and moms, who don’t pay their child support.

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