LETTER - Residents' decision should be respected

To the editor:

As of the date of this publication, the residents in the proposed Leupp Casino site have not approved nor agreed to the casino idea. I have personally met with the families and heard their reasons to oppose the casino site. Their decision should be highly respected, for their justifications have been well thought out, weighed and rationalized.

Yes, we, ourselves, can weigh all the pros and cons, but the cons outweigh the pros. One of those cons are the benefits that the casinos are predicted to distribute to the Navajo people through scholarships and jobs. However, there is no way all the Dine people will benefit from these casinos, which the Navajo Nation Shirley Administration and Leupp Chapter officials state. After all, they are basing these decisions on a non-public "marketing study," not an economic study. For any sovereign nation that is an example of a third world country, a true self-sustaining economic study is far more critical than a self-promoting marketing study. Furthermore, they are not reflecting on the other cons that follow:

• The residents who are being directly impacted do not approve. For a government who prides themselves on modeling the democracy that is used by the United States, only continues to contradict itself and play the oppressor as well as violate its own traditions that they claim to protect.

• Sacred sites - The Southwest Corner of the Dine Nation is a highly sacred place that includes herbal plant collections and is close to the San Francisco Peaks. Construction of the casino will only desecrate these holy sites. Furthermore, since officials have already been driving all over the area in preparation for the casino, there can be assumption that these sacred grounds have already been disturbed and disrespected.

• Homes - The residents in the area have grown up in the area raising sheep, goats, and cattle. They have a long history dating back six generations and counting. It is their decision and they feel it is in their best interest to continue with this way of life.

• Negative impacts - These impacts will affect present and future generations, which includes the following- gambling addiction, drinking, drugs, depression, debt, health, and environment.

• No Benefits - Dine people individually will not benefit because of the so-called revenue that the casino is only "predicted" to generate. The revenue will go to pay back the loans and then what's left over will go into the general fund and chapter funds. From there it will go pay for more administration and council fringe benefits, travel expenses (such as Hawaii or Las Vegas), and into the discretionary funds of delegates, legislative, executive and judicial branches.

Furthermore, the revenue will be disbursed to others who will be getting restitution, such as the banks, I-40, and the state of Arizona.

I strongly support the residents' decision. Since the residents have made a strong decision, I am again calling for our leaders from the Leupp Chapter and the Office of the President of the Navajo Nation to respect their decision.

If this plea cannot be met, I would like the leaders to consider putting the casino in their own backyard with no room for negotiations, compensation, and agreements or even input, instead of doing this to their own people.

Calvin Johnson

Leupp

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