Letter: Why not me?
To the editor:
Ya'at'eeh shi'k'e doo shi'Diné. Recently my relatives stopped by to visit me. We talked about family news, about work, about the next ceremony, and finally our conversations turned to politics with the local government and our Nation. I was asked when I was coming home to do something about the apathy of our elected officials and the disenchantment that our people are feeling.
I tried to laugh off their concerns and make jokes about the council and local chapter officials and the millions of dollars being wasted by our elected officials.
With each satirical comment I made, they would answer with an oral tradition of the greatness of our past leaders and how as Diné patriots, our past leaders ensured that crops were plentiful and that our livestock were great in number. They told of how our leaders acted as stewards of our sacred water and land and ensured a future for their children.
I began to realize that there is genuine concern about where we are headed as a people and Nation. I began to reflect upon the economic situation with America. I began to realize that a Nation such as ours that is too dependent upon America for economic handouts cannot survive.
But why come to me? I am not even accepted by my fellow Diné! I can't even speak Diné Bizaad. While in college I took courses in Navajo Politics and two years of Navajo language and can read and write in Navajo, but I cannot converse in Diné. I worked for NHA for three years, but discovered that whenever I tried to make a difference, I was rejected and outcast by my fellow executive peers simply because I could not speak my language fluently. It didn't matter that board meetings and meetings with the biligaanas were all spoken in English.
I came to discover that it wasn't really my lack of Dine Bizaad, but because I was a perceived threat. I realized that a majority of our leaders in business and government are not educationally qualified or experienced for the positions they hold. They asked the same question of me in every interview: Why can't you speak your language?
I was taken when I was around six-years-old and forcibly relocated to a BIA boarding school. From there, I was adopted by a biligaana family from Baytown, Texas. I was discouraged from speaking my own language. Ironically, when I was first taken from the Navajo Nation Reservation, I spoke broken English, now I speak broken Navajo.
When I returned some 15 years later, I reunited with my Aunt Irene. "I knew you would complete the circle. You're home now," she said in Navajo. "Your blood will always flow with the blood of a Navajo."
I wonder. While my blood may flow with the blood of a Navajo, I wonder. Do my people want and accept this dual identity?
Whenever I see the city of Phoenix with a population over three million being managed by a small number of council members, and how a nation of a few thousand is being mismanaged by 88 council members and a government with thousands of unqualified employees, I have to wonder, yes, why not me?
Living in Kinlani
Hailing from Kaibeto