To the editor:
It is said that women had been separated from men when some children were conceived, in the Third World. Brought into the world without both parents, they were unnatural children, who became evil monsters and killed the People. They were Déélgééd (The Horned Monster), Tsé Nináhálééh (Monster Eagle), Tsé dah Hódziiłtáłii (The Monster Who Kicks People Down the Cliff), Binááʼ yee Aghání (the Monsters That Kill with Their Eyes), and Yéʼiitsoh (Big Giant who drank all the water).
Today, our People face monsters of the modern world. The Diné face the evil of hopelessness, and take their own lives in suicide. They are attacked by the monster of addiction, and lose their lives to chemicals that draw them into a trap of irresistible cravings, where they are poisoned and die. And they succumb to the monster of frustration and its twin brother pain, and they lash out at children and loved ones in violence.
These modern-day monsters are as deadly and evil as the monsters faced by First Man and First Woman. The teachings of the Holy People, embedded in our culture and our lore, give us the tools to defeat our modern monsters.
To conquer these Nayéé’, we must work together. The three Branches of Government all have a role. Many agencies and programs, both Navajo and in federal and other governments, must come together to understand each other’s skills and perspective in the Navajo model of N7tsáhákéés, which is thinking and understanding. They must work together in Nahat’á, which is planning. In this stage, we plan solutions that incorporate positive aspects, and ameliorate negative impacts. Iin1, life, is when we implement solutions and monitor outcomes to assure they are positive for the community. We are also mindful that our programs do not change into something that no longer have the benefits we planned to create. Sihasin is measuring and evaluating. We can modify plans or actions that are not bringing the results we desire, and strengthen those aspects that are most successful.
Most of all, we must work as a community that lives according to our values and teachings. We know how to teach and nurture our children and care for our elders. We know how to be kind and generous. We know how to Walk in Beauty.
But knowing isn’t enough. What we are doing now isn’t working. Our people are suffering and dying too young. There is no greater responsibility than the responsibility we have to help each other.
This is a story that is being shared with people in our criminal justice system as well as social services, health, education, and others, as we make plans to address these pressing issues among our people. I encourage each of us to come together to ensure that together we will slay these modern-day monsters.
It is imperative that we give our people the resources that they need to help to slay the monsters. We must also ensure that the service providers who work for our people are able to work together, and that they have the resources necessary to help our people. Service providers essential to solving these problems have begun to work together developing the Diné Action Plan, which is forthcoming. It addresses violence, substance abuse and suicide in a collaborative effort. The Plan includes goals and objectives that were set at the Navajo Nation Public Safety Summit earlier this year.
We ask that our people and our leaders to join us in implementing our plans, goals and objectives. Together, we can slay the monsters and help our people. Ahe’hee’.
Roman Bitsuie, Peacemaking Program coordinator