Trip to New Mexico for Native American Program
It seemed like Leonard’s role was to mediate between the senior center (Joe’s day job is to run the senior center) and the head start people. A number of times he said something to the effect of, “If you guys can work it out between you, that’s great.” Joe asked him to “be on my side” a few times, but kind of with a twinkle in his eye. There was a lot of teasing during the meeting, particularly between the two men (who were the main people talking). At the beginning of the meeting Leonard was asking Joe why they hadn’t gotten the chapter house cleaned up yet. You wanted to take a longer holiday, didn’t you? You didn’t want to clean up because you were taking a longer holiday. He said this with a straight face, and Joe started defending himself, but Leonard turned to me and grinned or winked or something, to indicate that he was just giving Joe a hard time. Joe said, “We tease each other a lot.”
[I also met with Kialo, who works at the Torreon Day School.] It’s really hard to get business leases in the Navajo Nation. They have to go to Window Rock and there are lots of requirements. It all bottlenecks in one office. It is also really hard to get approval for home site leases; even if you have all your papers in order and meet all the requirements it is still a 3-4 year process. There is no guarantee that you will have plumbing or electricity. Kialo and his wife aren’t on the grid – they can see the main power line from their house, but to get a line to their house (which is wired and ready) would cost $30,000.
1/7/10: [The next day I drove to Crownpoint, 1 1/2 hours away, to visit the Navajo Technical College there. I spoke with Dr. Becenti, Dean of Outreach and Engagement.] Regarding the Tribal Law & Order Act: Having more access to criminal databases would be really good, as would more training. The area is currently lacking in basic databases and systems. The level of training of police is very low. Often if someone is pulled over for speeding or is arrested, nothing comes of it because the officers don’t write up reports. Dr. Becenti says this is often because they can’t read or write well enough to write up an intelligible report. Education is a really big problem. He has tried to start a class on police report writing at the college for the nearby police station, but they have so far declined the offer.
1/9/10: [On my last full day in Torreon, I went to Chaco Canyon with Leo Charley, who is very involved in the community and very knowledgeable.] Today I went with Leo Charley toChaco Canyon, which used to have all these villages of the ancestors of the Pueblo. Now it’s this big amazing canyon with lots of super cool ruins. He told me names for lots of things in Navajo – for Chaco Canyon, Pueblo Bonito (one of the ruins), rabbit, sister, and brother. Also he told me the word for American Indian. I don’t remember the word, but he explained all of the parts of it to me – it means “a seed that becomes a living thing and comes up out of the ground and walks around.”