To the editor:
What is the worth of water? Water is Sacred. It is worth more than gold, uranium and coal. The Holy People gave us water for long life. We were instructed to take care of our Mother Earth and the water. Everything uses water, the plants and everything that grows - the little ants, the sheep, the horses, the cows, the mountains, even us.
Today, we are killing our earth and our children are fighting, drinking and committing suicide. Let us return to the teachings of the Holy People and learn to love one another and listen to each other.
We, the Navajo people know how to use water. The US government's Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the corporations just messed it all up. They are just wasting water that belongs to the future generations of Navajo people. Water is sacred and we need it to survive.
When I was growing up, if I dug a hole, water would come up, and we would use a bucket to bring water down from the mountain. The mountain used to have clean drinking water. The water has gone away because of the coal mining. There is no water up on the Mesa. Everything is dry. I always think about how I will get my next load of water to drink, and for my animals. My truck breaks down on the bad roads, and I don't have a vehicle to haul water many miles each way to the closest drinking water station.
The BIA made wells but BIA Rangers came around and dismantled our water wells, taking the pumps out, unscrewing parts and taking off pipes. Lately, the BIA and Hopi Tribe said they dismantled our wells because the water is contaminated with uranium and arsenic but they will not show us the results and will not drill wells so we can have access to water.
I think Mother Earth is tired of us and the BIA and the corporations just digging, digging our water and mineral resources. We are experiencing climate change from the burning of coal and prolonged drought.
Our ancestors sacrificed to give back to Mother. We must show appreciation. Mother Earth will not sustain us without our prayers. People used to go out early in the morning and pray for what they want and make offerings with Todadiin. All those things vanished in the air because it is not used properly and we no longer believe in it.
Wake up counselors before it is too late. We are living a day at a time and our youth are confused, don't believe the teachings of the elderly and don't care. That is the reason the elderly do not talk any more about our teachings.
The old people are thinking about this. Our leaders and our youth must take the time to listen and talk with the people to make sure we have water for future generations before giving away water for free to the corporations while we live in poverty without a drop of water to drink.
Please take advantage of offers of help by Harvard University, Brandeis University and other institutions to work with Navajo water rights experts so we can draft a water rights agreement that is good for the people and the future generations. The people must rise up to the challenge. If we can listen to one another and work together, the old and the young, things will change. But it is up to us to act guided by our traditional values and culture the Holy People give us.
Caroline M. Tohannie
Board of Director