Letter to the editor: Navajo Nation leaders’ protests should start on the Nation

To the editor:

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez spend a lot of time traveling and speaking on various aspects of Navajo Nation needs, maybe in a different world and with different challenges facing the Navajo Nation that could be one strategy to drive the largest Indian tribe to success. At the end of the day, it is not that difficult for Navajo people to find out if our Nation’s leaders are getting things done or they’re not. So far, most Navajo people will agree our leaders have failed to develop a winning team and fallen short addressing some of the most urgent needs Navajo people want addressed.

Let’s take, for example, President Begaye and Vice President Nez traveled to Standing Rock Nation to voice their concerns to the masses and have written letters to President Barack Obama requesting that he intervene and put a stop to the brutalizing and terrorizing of tribal water protectors. Make no mistake, this is the right thing to do at a time when there are serious roadblocks to tribal economic self-determination and tribal leaders alike across Indian county fighting similar battles.

The question I have for President Begaye, Vice President Nez, the Dineh Nation Council, and all elected Navajo officials, with the exception of leaders such as Chili Yazzie (who has been fighting such battles in the Four Corners), why aren’t you protesting the brutal and dreadful events going on right here on the Dineh Nation, including the damages being done to our water by the companies polluting the Four Corners, in the Page area, the devestation of Mother Earth from uranium mines, the suffering of our people that are affected by the Navajo-Hopi Land relocation, and others, including violation of Navajo people’s rights?

I am sure people have commended you for taking a stand with our brothers and sisters in Standing Rock, but shouldn’t you set a higher example by standing on the front lines protesting similar violations affecting Navajo lands and Navajo people’s rights? After all, your political rhetoric has been about breaking a new dawn, so far it is business as usual and no new dawn to point to.

We have our own NoDAPL issues, but neither of you have demonstrated real leadership to demand the very same rights you are requesting on behalf of the Standing Rock people. I hope, however, that you and other elected Navajo officials will see a broader and longer-lasting shared interest and step-up your leadership by demonstrating what could be a much better planned leadership effort, if you could, that there are needs here that require your attention, including issues needing immediate attention.

Wallace Hanley

Window Rock, Arizona

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