Letter to the editor: Cameron community vendors speak out

To the editor:

Ya’a’teeh’. My name is Jacqueline Huskie, a Cameron Chapter community member, and an official for the LCR/Cameron Vendor Association. We have been in a dispute with the local Little Colorado River Tribal Park (LCRTP) management since March 2006. From the beginning of the LCRTP, the community vendors didn’t know why they were unable to manage the park. We tried asking how this situation came about. We didn’t get any answers until February 2014, when the tribal park manager announced at the local chapter meeting that she took over a project that was handed down to her by a former a chapter coordinator. The project was planned by the local vendors and she took advantage of this project without the consent of the local community.

I support most of my fellow vendors because I have experienced their tragic stories. It has caused the weekends to be closed and the business hours to be very short. Vendors have only a little time to set up. Losing business toward the evenings is a big problem. It’s a disaster for visitors to visit the site when it closes early and it affects the vendors and how they run their businesses — they enjoy their job as an artisan entrepreneur. What more do they want? Please give the people justice or transfer a new crew of Navajo Nation employees who will work with the community, who will understand the effect of the Bennett Freeze Era.

The artisans are wholesalers who bring their goods to the vendors who keep the local economic process going throughout their chapter communities or their neighboring chapters. It includes local grocery retailers, restaurant businesses, gas stations and propane retailers. It’s like a chain reaction that keeps all business in progress.

I just want to add my experience about my life growing up being a vendor in my community. I started selling at the Little Colorado River Gorge first viewpoint. (The local park has changed that name to the Shadow Mountain viewpoint without the community’s consent). I was harassed for my young age and I was able to endure. My enjoyment as vendor is probably one reason why I’m devoted to stand beside my fellow vendors. They have dreams of becoming successful in their spiritual way as an economic business person. I hope people of our own Diné government will understand it’s very meaningful of the cultural and traditional way of life that we all hold on to, which we truthfully want to make happen. It’s resourceful for livelihood and education. It’s not all about getting wealthy, but to keep the people’s cycle of life in balance. That includes health and harmony.

Yesterday will always be a history — stories that we all learn from to succeed today or tomorrow. I hope that our government leaders and our community services will understand the suffering in the Bennett Freeze Era has been a major historic downside. We need major help because our community couldn’t improve or renovate their homes for so long that their homes were ready to fall apart. People experienced those things here. For some people, by owning a manufactured mobile home that has accumulated debts, they are not considered as a foundation for homesite leases. These conditions are a big problem caused by the legislation of the Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation Department. Why so much hardship and intolerance?

The department needs to be regulated in its jurisdiction that they claim, and how it represents its genuine integrity as a service to its people.

The local people of Cameron Chapter service area have been deprived of their park service, they want justice. The people want an investigation of their services.

Jh ee,

Jacqueline Huskie, president, Little Colorado River/Cameron Vendor Association

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