By downsizing Dine council we'll have a more effective government
Ya'at'eeh'shi'k'e doo shi'Dine 'e! Wussup? Hope you all are walking in beauty and that peace and harmony be with you always! Shie'Peter June Corbell da'shi'jini.'
Although I'm an adult, I still have the heart of a youth! I still have concerns for our Dine's future, my future and the future of my children. I still get discouraged with the conditions on the reservation. So do my elders.
Whenever I return to the Rez, my elders turn to me and ask me what's going to happen to our Navajoland and our Navajo Way? Then I sit back and listen about how our oral traditions and our way of life are being lost and the message is not getting to our youth.
For the most part, it's true, but there are a few youth, and, I can only hope that it's growing, that are concerned about our culture and our oral traditions. Thank goodness for our elders that remained at the sheep camps and for the kids that go back to the sheep camps and visit or are raised by our elders, for it will be they that keep our traditions from fading into assimilation.
During my recent visit after putting in several hours of job searching at Page, I returned to Kaibeto in search of a home for my children and myself when I noticed a young couple with a child not more than 3 years old hitching a ride. I stopped and offered a ride. They were headed for Chinle.
It was cold and my two little ones were asleep so I decided to take them all the way to the junction of Hwy 69--some 30 miles out of the way. But, this was my chance to visit with the youth of our nation and get their thoughts. They didn't offer besso, nor did I ask for besso; that's the Navajo way!
Hastiin was quiet, but asdzaan was very articulate and had a lot to say. I was really impressed with her knowledge and she possessed a good understanding of the situation on the Rez. She had been raised traditionally and knew her language well. She also grew up in urban America in the surrounding border towns.
As we discussed the social problems with our nation--the alcohol addiction, the meth usage and the violence that result from these addictions as well as the feeling of boredom and hopelessness, she paused for a moment and she made a statement that really surprised me. She stated, the problem with our nation and our people is that we have no leader.
"We haven't had a real leader since Peter MacDonald."
I thought, my sentiments exactly! She talked about how her grandmother used to talk about how great a leader he was. The problem with our government is that we have no government!
I thought about what she said after I dropped them off and headed back to Kaibeto. As I pondered her statements, I couldn't help but to get fresh hope! Therein lies the problem--we have no distinguishable leader.
We have an ad-hoc three-branch system that was plagiarized by lawyers and gave powers to the Council through some governmental regulation committee that shifted the brunt of the powers in government to a top-heavy council.
Well, it's the beginning of a new year and another new government election year. We the people have the power to reform our government, to decide upon a neo-form of government that will recognize one leader with 12 or 24 council members.
This current form of council controlled government without harmony with one true leader of the people is not our Navajo way. We need a government made up of a council small enough to be effective. Out of these council members, the council and people should elect a leader.
Our original government consisted of 12 peace chiefs or 12 war chiefs that met during times of the fall harvest. Whether it was a time of peace or war determined who controlled the council. Out of these group of leaders arose one or two outstanding leaders, but it was a consensus type council that resulted in the best solution and course of action for the people.
Why can't we use this form of government? Reduce the size of the council to just 12 or 24, and eliminate this three-branch white man's government system, which will save our nation more than $3 million annually. It would be more cost effective and will result in a better quality of decisions reached that are best for the people.
We do not need a rubberstamp council. We need leaders; the time is now! Our elders voted for reform. This current form of council has violated our laws and used white man's lawyers and way of thinking to ignore our elders.
Time and time again, this form of council has violated Navajo law and ignored our elders, our youth and our ancestors. What has sustained us throughout our genocide and termination policies that are still going on today is our belief in what our ancestors fought for and preserved throughout our oral traditions?
Don't just think about it--react! Get registered and vote, not just for one president, but also for government reform! How? Ask! The time is now or soon it will be too late! Ha'goo'nee!
(Peter June Corbell resides in Kaibeto, Ariz.)