My grandson's short life gave us so many insights

We did not know how to take care of a disabled child. We did know what disabled child's thoughts or feelings were when being taught how to survive until Brandon Keith Sherman was born in May 16, 1982.

Our oldest daughter, Marilyn J. White, gave birth to our first grandson, whom we didn't know was blind and disabled. We were very happy about our first baby grandson who came into our world. We started to take care of him when he was six months old.

To be honest, we did not know what to do when the doctor told us that Brandon was a blind and disabled child. We didn't know where to go to get help. We didn't know who could teach us how to take care of him.

Setting the record straight

The board of directors of Dine Bii Association for Disabled Citizens Inc. informed the community that they actually built the Tuba City, Kerley Valley Dine Bii Association for Handicapped Citizens Inc. in 1974.

It actually was the Little family and Sue Manuelito who established the Dine Bii Association for Handicapped Citizens Inc. in 1992. We agreed in the document to end the Dine Bii Association for Disabled Citizens Inc. in 2016. The documents are filed in the Arizona State Corporation. The Dine Bii Association for Disabled Citizens Inc. Board of Directors needs to get their story straight about who established Dine Bii Association for Disabled Citizens Inc.

We want to inform the community that the board did not built the Dine Bii Association for Disabled Citizens Inc. in 1974.

Early Intervention

Before the Dine Bii Association for Handicapped Citizens Inc. was built in Kerley, the Early Intervention was the service provider for the Native American disabled children on the Navajo and Hopi reservation. The Early Intervention was founded in 1974 through the efforts of Arizona, federal and Navajo Nation service providers, parents and concerned local community citizens.

The main office was at St. Michael. There were other Early Interventions' service providers in Kayenta and Tuba City residential areas. It was funded by the Public Law 638 from the federal, Arizona state fund and Navajo Nation general assistant program for Disabled Navajo children.

From June 1989 to June 16, 1992, while we were taking care of Brandon, my sister, Sue Manulito, met many times at our house to talk about building Dine Bii Association for Handicapped Citizens Inc. for disabled children in Kerley Valley. We discussed and questioned the research, complied and completed legal documents from the state of Arizona and the Bureau of Land Management real property manager, Edmund Store to build the Dine Bii Association for Handicapped Citizens. Edward Johnson Little Sr. signed a Memorandum of Agreement regarding this home on June 16, 1992, which extends until to June 16, 2016. Most of the present funding comes from the state of Arizona and Public Law 638 funds.

Years later, the Dine Bii Association for Handicapped Citizens, Inc. Board changed the name to Dine Bii Association for Disabled Citizens Inc.

Even though Brandon was blind and disabled, he was overwhelmed with great pleasure when we told him a home for the Native American disabled citizens' legal documents were completed.

Thankful for assistance

We are thankful to all the people who gave their professional advice to Sue Manuelito and the Little family to build and establish this home for the disabled Native American children who did not have a place to live. Now they receive special services, special training and care and hot meals there.

We want to thank Art Manuelito and Sue Manuelito for the free use of their heavy equipment to dig and move dirt and other heavy material so that the water pipes could be placed underground.

What Brandon taught us

Brandon who was blind and disabled, taught us how to respect, understand and take care of disabled citizens. He also taught us:

• We didn't want disabled children to be sent off the reservation to a strange place away from their family and clan family relatives.

• To stress to the Navajo Nation community people to be informed that we have the ability to learn to take care our disabled children here on Navajo land.

• We believed that we have the knowledge to be trained, train our people and learn to care for disabled children here.

• We believed that we could create jobs for whoever wants to be trained to learn to care for disabled children at the Dine Bii Association for Disabled Citizens Inc.

• We hoped that those who were trained and learned to care for the disabled could learn to respect, understand and communicate with disabled children, other disabled people and also could have jobs to support their family.

• That the Early Intervention tried to house disabled children in rented houses at a NHA housing and that the rented houses cost much more than the children living at Dine Bii Association for Disabled Citizens Inc.

• To advise everyone who is involved with disabled children to work together to operate Dine Bii Association for Disabled Citizens, Inc. We believe experienced teamwork is vital in every social work area especially when disabled children are involved with medical care attention, doctors and client relationships.

• We had a way to respect, understand and be friendly with people in order to communicate with each other to find out what kind of care needed to be acquired for disabled children.

• We wanted the board of directors to meet with Dine Bii Association for Disabled Citizens Inc. director to respect, understand and communicate what disabled children needed at Dine Bii Association for Disabled Citizens Inc. so that we could make improvement for them.

• We wanted to get the parents to be involved to learn what it takes to help disabled children. We wanted the parents of disabled to help Dine Bii Association for Disabled Citizens Inc. director Sue Manueito and the board of directors to plan any improvement for disabled children at Dine Bii Association for Disabled Citizens Inc.

Public funding

We sought community involvement to help us get services for disabled children. We had Brandon with us when we went before the Western Agency Chapter meetings several times and Navajo Nation Council meetings in Window Rock to make reports that we wanted to help the disabled children on the Navajo land.

We asked the Navajo Nation Council to appropriate Public Law 638 funds for Dine Bii Association for Disabled Citizens Inc. We requested and received the Arizona state funds, Arizona state firstaid training and EMT training for Dine Bii Association for Disabled Citizens Inc. employees.

Spiritual mission

Disabled people who are helpless, elderly, mentally challenged, poor, disabled and so on are all part of Sa'ah Naagh'I Bek'eh Ho'zo'n Almighty Creator's perfection of His Creation. They, too, have a spiritual purpose, mission on Earth, in Nature, in the Universe and since all of us are connected to the Almighty Creator, their purpose and mission are connected to Earth, Nature, Universe and each of us. We always communicated respectful understanding and showed people how to be kind to disabled.

Brandon Keith Sherman taught us that when we're kind to disabled children, we receive kindness in return. He taught us that being unkind to disabled children makes them want to get unhelpful rather than help us out.

Kindness given to disabled children is kindness returned. Brandon taught us how to care, respect, understand and treat disabled people with dignity. He taught us our inner selfawareness to respect our selfidentity.

He taught us to never neglect or have someone take care of our baby when we find out from the doctor that our baby is disabled.

Brandon taught us to practice kindness toward all disabled people. He taught us to be kind to all living species on Earth such as the forest, the deserts, the mountains, environment, all that has the essence of life within it. He taught us that without Mother Nature, Mother Earth, and Father Universe we are disabled people.

Before Brandon went back to his Mother Nature, with his action and emotional feeling he taught us that we are connected to all disabled citizens, people, mountains, species, Earth, Nature, Universe, and environment. All of us have a certain kind of disability that we are not aware of it. We are disabled without environment. To be able to live we have environment. Without gravity, we can't walk. Without the water, we can't live a day, a week. Without the forest, the mountains, the atmosphere, the vegetation, the minerals, all of it, our desire to reveal and reach our mission on Earth, in Nature, in Universe is meaningless according to our great grandparents.

Brandon was born for a purpose. He had a mission and he accomplished his mission on Earth, in Nature, and in Universe before he went back to Mother Nature. He touched our inner awareness to respect, understand and care for him when he was with us. We initiated, planned, and focused our vision to establish a home, special services, special training, care for the disabled children in Kerley Valley.

We always think that the Almighty Creator brought Brandon to the Little family to teach us to respect and understand disabled children and other disabled people whom we didn't understand and be aware of their needing a place to live. He taught us what kindness, awareness, respect, and helping disabled children meant to us.

Through his special teachings, we understand our precious ancient Navajo cultural teachings.

When Brandon Keith went back to Mother Nature. He knew disabled children have a place to live. He is the spirit of Sa'ah Naagh‡I Bek'eh H-z-On Almighty Creator, who appreciates the world and everything in it. The very special teachings he taught us that brought connection that we experience with Nature we feel toward all beings, all species, including those who lived before and those who have yet to arrive on Earth. We are always in a state of gratitude. We are thankful for everything, even things that might seem to be obstacles.

Brandon is with his Almighty Creator. His spirit is very healthy and happy. In spirit, he can run, jump and be playful. Through his action, feeling, and teachings, we are thankful for our vision, planning, building and establishing the Dine Bii Association for Disabled Citizens, Inc. on a 3.7 acres, where disabled children live, receive special services, special training, care, and hot meals. Disabled children have a very special mission to teach us to respect, understand and care for all disabled people.

(Edward Johnson Little is a longtime Tuba City Resident.)

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