Navajo-Hopi Nations,Flagstaff & Winslow News
Wed, Jan. 27

Letter: Dineh Nation needs to better groom future leaders for future success

To the editor,

It is obvious a major reason our Dineh Nation government cannot avoid internal crisis is the inability to groom our leaders to ensure a problem-free succession. We are witness to this lack of training for prospective leaders thus hurting Navajo's ability to make progress in key areas.

The recent special election to reduce the Council to 24 members, and approving a line-item veto for the President is a beginning. It does not, however, solve the real problem of identifying and recruiting genuine leaders for top posts in our Nation's government.

My father used to say, "If a man wants to have good cattle, he should have good bulls to breed." In the same vein, if we want our government to improve and go on, we must have a pool of leaders to manage affairs. And it is the Dineh Nation leaders that must provide that pool of leaders if only it can establish workable training programs to begin grooming them.

We have for too long counted on "luck" If you go back in history, I believe everyone will agree that for the most part, we tended to elect people who were more of a showpiece than someone with an executive background to run the government. So far, our government is barely surviving. As the situation stands now, we have no opportunity for grooming leaders and it is only at the pre-election activities that people jostling for positions emerge. From hindsight, I can confidently say that this kind of free-for-all situation has not worked well for Navajo people and for our business partners, generally.

Our problem is that we talk too much about good things, but do little to get them achieved. If the Executive and Legislative branches dream of moving mountains tomorrow, they musts start by lifting small stones today. Democracy is expensive and once we've chosen it, we must ensure that we build the proper structures to sustain it.

Unfortunately, the bad blood between the Executive and Legislative leadership does not ensure any lasting relationship to provide for any major advancement in our government structure. What is sad is we (Navajo voters) have stood back and watched and allowed that relationship to sink into political darkness and we have done so by continuing to elect people into offices that they know nothing about or have a desire to get better at once elected.

There are some mechanisms through which we can begin strengthening possible future leaders through internal training programs. First and foremost, we must make investments - pecuniary, facility and human resource - so that potential leaders could be supported in all ways possible in their development.

We need both our tribal colleges, Dineh College and Navajo Technical College, to step up to the plate. Navajo leaders need to call for a restructuring of standards (and perhaps outdated principles) that guide decision-making at both colleges to focus on Navajo leadership needs. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to refer to them as "Navajo Higher Learning Institutions" if we do not ensure their focus includes an area of tribal leadership and management development.

One only needs to look at the curriculum and missing are degree programs Navajo needs for the future. We need programs tied explicitly to post 21st century needs - green jobs, technology and bio-development, economic development and sustainability, tribal leadership and management and government development. Instead, we see too many outdated programs that contribute less to Navajo development and plans for the future.

Considering the haphazard manner in which these decisions get made at each turn, one can say that they lack adequate provisions to encourage grooming. A consistent line of succession should be developed through this kind of training facility. Navajo voters will save themselves the trouble of having to deal with hitherto unknown but powerful elements who emerge from obscurity to buy Navajo peoples' conscience to become the leader, especially at election time.

Wallace Hanley

Window Rock, Ariz.

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