January 12, 2007
I had the opportunity to talk with the journalism class at Hopi High School on January 9, 2007. I felt that this group of students would share what the pulse of their peers was telling all of us. Sadly, it seems that our youth has lost faith and confidence in us that things could get better. These students identified problems with alcohol, drugs, and teen pregnancy as major issues.
They also expressed disappointment of their observation that opportunities for employment and future professional development are sorely lacking.
Among the hopes for the future of our young people is that there would be improved schools in our villages. As a consequence of these feelings, these students are looking forward to graduation and the opportunity to leave home. I think that these kinds of feelings speak volumes about us and where we have not done enough to address the concerns of our youth. We are not giving the best chances to our youth for a majority of them to become successful citizens.
One student even expressed disappointment at how village ceremonies were declining and how the adults fuss among themselves about the continuation of ceremonies.
Clearly, when we ignore the messages of our youth, we are not being responsible for their welfare today and into the future. When we elect the next Chairman, there will not be a lot of time in which to take effective actions on different issues. The next chairman will need to become very familiar with what has been on the Tribal Council's agenda.
One of the current and pressing issues is the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) from the Office of Surface Mining (OSM) on the Black Mesa Project. One of the alternatives in this DEIS and probably the preferred alternative is to continue the use of aquifer water to transport coal. Many of us have repeatedly expressed the stupidity of using groundwater in a desert region to slurry coal. The most common sense thing to do is to build a railroad. After all, the coal mining operators have realized tons of money from the operation.
I hope that the turnout of the number of candidates for the chairmanship will encourage many to run for village representatives. We simply cannot keep putting the same people in office year after year if we want things to change. I wish all candidates good luck and I thank everyone for your participation.
Hopi Chairman candidate