I’m here at the Navajo Nation Division of Natural Resources Department of Agriculture “Navajo Horse Project: Past, Present, Future” two-day conference at the Twin Arrows Casino & Resort, which is located between Flagstaff and Winslow, Ariz.
Today’s (Aug. 15, 2014) session started at 7:30 a.m. with registration, which is free. Registration is the same time tomorrow (Aug. 16, 2014). There was an Opening Prayer at 8:30 a.m., which will also happen tomorrow at the same time. At 8:45 am today, NDNR Director Fred White was scheduled to give the opening remarks, which I missed and so I don’t know if he gave his speech. I arrived about noon. But Navajo Nation Broadcast Services was here and they are doing LIVE STREAMING at www.usteam.tv/channel/nnobs and also archiving of the two-day Horse conference. And so you’ll be able to hear White’s speech.
According to the agenda, after White’s speech, Katherine Minthorn Good Luck, who is a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla, and a regional technical assistance specialist with the Intertribal Council, and Jason Smith, who is also a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla, and president of the National Tribal Horse Coalition, Range & Agriculture manager for the Branch of Natural Resources, and an Obama appointee to the Oregon Farm Service Agency State Committee did a workshop on “Horses in Indian Country.”
According to agenda, the Horses in Indian Country focused on the “support of tribal nations in the protection of their sovereign rights to administer and manage natural resources on their tribal homelands, to advocate for for national and tribal laws for the protection and humane treatment of livstock and other animals on tribal lands, to protect or enhance our culturally significant foods and medicines, to be a unified tribal voice that will be heard across the nation.”
The next presentation, “Bearer of the Sun and Moon”, was by Tony H. Joe Jr. Timothy Begay and Melinda Arviso-Ciocco of the Navajo Nation Historic Preservation Department. This panel was about the past and present history of the Navajo people.
The next presentation, which was right before lunch break, was the “Navajo Horse Project, Human Alternatives for Long Term Management, the Foundation to Protect New Mexico Wildlife.”
Lunch is over and now Department of Agriculture Manager Leo Watch Jr. is talking about the pros and cons of tribal horse roundups. He said that an individual stated that ferral horses is an owner’s responsibility and that horses need to be taken care of, which includes land management.
Watchman said that one of the solutions from a public survey is for the Navajo people to be responsible.
Another survey response was to oppose the horse roundup because of traditional Navajo teachings and the solution was “to leave the horses alone.”
Watchman said that the two-day conference was not to listen to views points but to hear solutions, especially from individuals who oppose horse roundups. He added that he’s instructed his staff to limit the time for individuals expressing “opinions” and that individuals should ask questions, not opinions. “I respectfully ask that of you,” Watchman said. “The purpose of this meeting is not to point at anyone but to provide solutions.”
The next presentation is the “Navajo Nation Horse Round Up” which will be presented by the Navajo Nation Department of Agriculture.