Navajo-Hopi Nations,Flagstaff & Winslow News
Tue, Sept. 22

To the editor: Elected officials still have a lot to learn

To the editor:

I fear that the Diné Nation President Shelly and Vice President Jim are either not grasping the state of the Navajo Nation, or they truly lack the ability to fully understand the situation of what it is faced with given the hard economic times and to comprehend the impact it has on the larger Navajo communities.

I hope I am wrong, but it is my understanding that the purpose of the Presidential Forums that the President and Vice President seemed so preoccupied with are intended to educate them about the needs of the Navajo people?

It makes sense for the President and Vice President to be out there talking with Navajo people and allowing people to address them directly, but to be learning of their needs appears shortsighted. Didn't we elect them because we believed they knew best the Navajo people's needs and have thought carefully about them before they decided to seek the office they currently hold.

I would not put it to the Chapters, for they clearly already understand the challenges facing the Navajo Nation. First, we have an non competitive economy that is greatly dependent on federal monies, making it nearly impossible to generate growth; second, our labor force is under trained and our education system does not work well for preparing our future work-force; third, we really have not done much to develop a market for our wares especially overseas; fourth, Navajo people lack wealth to power an economic expansion mainly in creating good paying jobs; and fifth, a governmental political system that has a long history of being unaccountable primarily from not working well together, and utterly notorious for putting the wrong people into elected offices.

What is distressing is these are not problems that have just exploded in our face overnight. Navajo has not been an economic dynamo, and for our leaders to not understand this speaks loudly to their blindness and to our leaders' inability to do what is right, and needed at this point in time.

If I could recommend, what could help our leaders is advice from some knowledgeable people made up of experts in tribal-nation building regarding what they could be doing in the short term. For starters, convene a series of special, practical, intense training in targeted areas regarding how to create jobs in reservation settings, advice on proven ideas regarding how to increase and steady tribal revenues, leadership thoughts on how to stabilize the tribal government, instruction on how to work together, and most importantly guidance and support regarding how to be politically savvy and a power-broker in working with state and federal officials.

Believe me, Navajo people will have more confidence in our leaders if we were told are leaders are teaching themselves and learning from top-notch people so they can be much more dynamic in finding real solutions to fixing these long-standing problems and put the Diné Nation on the right path. Our leaders need to understand that the lack of passion they inflict upon themselves and unquestionably pass on to Navajo people come from inside their heads.

A crash-course in learning how to be real leaders with real solutions would be much more productive rather than going chapter to chapter, or community to community and being told how and where to spend money, money that the Tribe does not have.

The great truth facing the Diné Nation is not that we lack solutions to our problems, but that our government and political system seems unable to do anything. With unemployment as high as it is and an infrastructure in need of major repair, it should be clear that we cannot be spending our time listening to ourselves talk, but to be actively learning how to address those needs.


Wallace Hanley

Window Rock

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