Navajo County Delivers Food, Hay, Water By Helicopter

HOLBROOK, AZ – a scheduled air mission for isolated areas around the Kayenta and Black Mesa area was conducted by the National Guard yesterday delivering emergency food and water supplies to residents in the far remote areas in northern Navajo County.  These residents have been severely affected by the stormthat hit Northeastern Arizona nearly one week ago.  “It is amazing to see how hard the people were hit by the storm, because the farther we flew the more snow there was.  The vastness of the land is very apparent,”  Navajo County’s Sheriff, KC Clark stated in reflection.

The National Guard piloted the Blackhawk that Sheriff Clark and Navajo County District I Supervisor Jonathan Nez rode in during the mission.  The mission was successful as supplies were successfully dropped to families in several isolated areas along and around the Black Mesa ridge.  Black Mesa is approximately 30 miles north of Pinon.  Supervisor Nez pointed out the last 18 miles to Black Mesa is dirt road.  They were able to view the impact of the large amount of precipitation along with the snow has saturated the clay infused dirt roads causing worsening roadway conditions.  Nez explained the only way to get supplies and medical help to the residents is by air or in the early morning hours when the clay mud is frozen. 

Both Sheriff Clar and Supervisor Nez were inspired at the people’s ability to be resourceful in spite of the severe snow storm.  “We were flying and then the pilot saw a reflection signal coming from a mirror, as we turned back, we then saw a family with children waving their arms in the universal sign of distress.”  The pilot located a safe place to land the plane so we could inquire about their needs.  The family was housebound from the high levels of snow and had run out of food and water with one adult family member was on home dialysis. 

From the start of Operation Winter Storm, all agencies involved raised concern for dialysis patients since the storm grounds many families from being able to attend their Wednesday appointment.  Failing to receive treatment can cause a person to go into shock and could lead to death.  Sheriff Clark stressed, “Time is of the essence.  They are already nearly a week overdue with their dialysis treatments.  If we do not get supplies and medicine to the people now the mission will be more costly and may have devastating results.”

“I am proud of my people as they are resourceful in finding ways to provide assistance for  themselves and their neighbors,” Supervisor Nez stated when telling of a family they came upon during this air mission who had dug through approximately one mile of snow in an attempt to get help; unfortunately, they still had about three more miles to go before getting to a main road.  Supervisor Nez, along with Board of Supervisors Chairman Jesse Thompson request that any need for assistance as a result of  this storm and the upcoming storm sould be relayed to the Navajo Nation Emergency Management at 928 871-6892 or -6894.

The entire region is thankful for the State assistance, including the incident management team and the National Guard, being provided during this emergency, as a result of the recent State of Emergency declared by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.

Sheriff Clark said residents can get the latest information about emegency efforts by calling the Emergency Management Hotline at 928 524-4200, Option 3.  Weather and other emergency services information is also available on the Navajo County website at www.navajocountyaz.gov or on the Arizona Emergency Information Network at www.azein.gov.

Navajo Nation Sets Up Central Command To Address Severe Weather Conditions, Sets Priorities

Window Rock, Az, January 26, 2010, 2:00 PM – The Navajo Nation Emergency Operation Center continues to coordinate the work of providing emergency assistance to people on the Navajo Nation and are affected by the recent heavy winter snowfall. Responders began addressing the needs of those persons identified as at risk or medically needy this morning. Supplies are being gathered at central locations in advance of these efforts to reach those persons that have been identified as being most at risk. 

 

As of this morning, the information being provided to the Navajo Nation EOC, has indicated that two of the most adversely affected areas are the Sawmill and Ramah areas. Some roads are still impassable, but crews from NDOT, BIA Roads, and Apache County Roads are working long hours to get assessment teams into these areas.

 

The areas of Grey Mountain, Gap Bodaway, Coppermine, Kaibeto, Inscription House, Navajo Mountain, Shonto, Black Mesa, Blue Gap, Tahchee, Forest Lakes, Pinon, Hard Rock, Whipporwill, Tselani, Steamboat, Jeddito, White Cone, Lukachukai, Tsaile, Wheatfields, Rock Point, Beclabito, Red Valley, Cove, Sheep Springs, Sanostee and Nakaibito have all received heavy snowfall leaving many roads completely impassable. The Navajo Nation EOC relies on the local chapters from these areas to forward their assessments in order to most efficiently deploy resources.

 

The Navajo Nation Emergency Operations Command and the Arizona State Incident Management Team (IMT) have established regional incident command/coordination centers at Window Rock, Chinle, Dilkon, Tuba City, and Kayenta. These sites have been set up to facilitate the efforts of the emergency responders in meeting the needs of the various communities.

 

As the assessments are relayed back to the chapters, the chapter staff will identify and prioritize the needs for their areas. The chapters will attempt to meet the needs locally. If they are unable to meet the need locally, they will relay the request through an established procedure to the organization that can fill the request. The Navajo Nation Emergency Operations Center and its staff coordinate these activities with the state Incident Management Team and other relief organizations to address the needs of the affected areas all across the Navajo Nation.

Shonto Preparatory School Gymnasium Ceiling Collapses, No One Is Hurt

Shonto Gymnasium Ceiling Collapses from Snow Accumulation

SHONTO, AZ – As of Tuesday, January 26, 2010, the Shonto Preparatory School Kindergarten through Eighth Grade building is still closed while the gym ceiling that has collapsed in undergoing assessment and repairs.  Due to an announcement and call for snow shoveling laborers on Monday, the work to repair the school gymnasium has begun.

On Thursday, January 21st, at approximately 10:15 PM, the roof on the K-8 School large gym totally collapsed and fell to the floor. No one was in that space at the time, and no one was injured. The destruction is total. This gymnasium and its beautiful Navajo wall murals and large rug cannot be used again. This is a terrible cultural loss to our community. We have already notified the BIE, and we fully expect that they will authorize and fund the construction of a new and larger gymnasium with their emergency funding reserve.

School will be closed on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of next week and will reopen on Thursday, January 28, 2010. No K-8 child will be entering the K-8 School. We are temporarily relocating all K-8 students to the administration building, dorms 3 and 4, and possibly to the board meeting room.

Based on a press release, the School Administration had a meeting on Monday, January 25, 2010 to discuss normal school days.  They issued a statement, “We expect to have a certified structural engineer arrive Friday night to thoroughly examine every facility – K-8 School, High School, Dorms, Cafeteria, Administration Building, Grizzly Den, and others to make certain that these buildings are safe and in no danger of collapse. Once certified as safe, our Maintenance crew will then go on top of the buildings to take care of the snow that has accumulated during this extended stretch of bad weather. Even if the remainder of the K-8 School is determined to be safe, we will not allow our students into the building until we have dealt with that snow accumulation and have 100% assurance that we can at least use parts of that school.”

PARKER MAN SENTENCED TO FEDERAL PRISON FOR ASSAULTING ESTRANGED WIFE

PHOENIX– Francisco Cuadras, 27, of Parker, Ariz., was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow to 53 months in federal prison for committing Aggravated Assault causing serious bodily injury to the victim.  The victim was his estranged wife, a member of the Colorado River Indian Tribes.  The defendant and the victim also have a 16-month-old child together.

        On July 19, 2009, Cuadras was intoxicated and angry, and pounded on the door to the victim’s home late at night with his brother.  The defendant demanded to know who was inside.  The victim, who was at her home with a girlfriend and the girlfriend’s young child, let the defendant inside.  The defendant and victim started arguing, and the defendant kicked the victim in the face at least three times.  The defendant’s brother came in and tried to stop the assaults by restraining the defendant.  Cuadras was too strong for his brother, freed himself from his brother’s grasp, and continued assaulting the victim by kicking her anywhere he could.  The victim was screaming “Stop Frankie! Stop Frankie!”  The victim’s girlfriend was afraid of the defendant, and called police.  Police found the victim laying face down covered in blood.  The victim was flown by helicopter to a hospital in Las Vegas, where she had to have surgery for her broken nose.  During an FBI interview of defendant about what happened, Cuadras claimed he only had a few beers and was sober, but answered “I don’t know” to questions about the assault.           

        The investigation in this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and  the Colorado River Indian Tribes Police Department.  The prosecution was handled by Jennifer E. Green, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Phoenix.

 

CASE NUMBER:    CR-09-927-PHX-GMS      

RELEASE NUMBER: 2010-012(Cuadras)

Applications Available for Tribal Heritage Research Fellowship

Published January 11, 2010 12:15 am – Applications are available to award up to 20 fellowships in the Tribal Heritage Research Project, a 26-month program sponsored by the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries and Museums.

“There is a growing interest on the part of American Indian Nations to research, write and present accurate portrayals of their history,” according to Susan Feller, development officer at the Oklahoma Department of Libraries, the coordinating agency for the national initiative.
 
Applications are available to award up to 20 fellowships in the Tribal Heritage Research Project, a 26-month program sponsored by the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries and Museums.
 
“There is a growing interest on the part of American Indian Nations to research, write and present accurate portrayals of their history,” according to Susan Feller, development officer at the Oklahoma Department of Libraries, the coordinating agency for the national initiative.
 
Feller said the project’s goals are to provide a greater understanding of indigenous cultures, contribute valuable materials to tribal archives and provide a tribal interpretation of historical events.
 
The project will introduce selected research fellows to methods and strategies for designing research projects, identifying sources, and accessing American Indian materials in local, regional and national collections. Participants will also produce a short video documentary using the information collected.
 
The fellowship opportunity is open to tribal organizations from throughout the nation. Other partnering organizations are the Library of Congress, the National Anthropological Archives, the National Archives and Records Administration and the National Museum of the American Indian.
 
Application guidelines, forms, and a sample application are available at the Oklahoma Department of Libraries Web site at www.odl.state. ok.us.
 
Applications are due 5 p.m. Central Standard Time Feb. 1.
For more information, call 405-522-3515 or e-mail tribal@otln.odl.state.ok.us

Navajo President Joe Shirley, Jr., reports establishment of command posts to deal with weather-related emergency

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – Navajo President Joe Shirley, Jr., told the Navajo Nation Council that eight emergency command posts have been set up to coordinate with chapters to deal with the current weather-related state of emergency.

 

During his quarterly State of the Navajo Nation address today, President Shirley said the Navajo Nation Commission on Emergency Management is working in coordination with county, state and federal entities to bring needed relief to Navajos affected by deep snow, especially in remote areas.

 

“I’ve called upon each of our divisions within the Executive Branch to identify resources and personnel, even with our limited budgets, to help with the emergency efforts,” the President said. “We are in the process of identifying all available 4×4 trucks and SUVs, and I’ve authorized special assignment of general funded staff who are willing to assist by sorting, packaging and delivering provisions to our elders and others who are snowed in. “

The President said he was grateful to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer for dedicating six National Guard helicopters to the Navajo Nation to conduct emergency evacuations and to provide relief to stranded individuals. He also thanked Classic Aviation of Page, Ariz., which conducted a volunteer flyover of Central and Fort Defiance agencies.

 

The President said Navajo Agricultural Products Industry has made 2,400 tons of feed and other products such as beans, flour and potatoes available for the emergency at significantly reduced prices. He said NAPI has allocated $100,000 to transport these emergency relief items. He said Bashas’ and Lowes supermarkets donated food items to the central command center to keep the emergency staff and volunteers fed as they perform critical communication and coordination functions.

He said the Nation should expect the aftermath of flooding and mud to create more challenges to the relief effort. 

 

The President reported that the Nation has received notice from the U.S. Department of Justice that the Navajo Nation was awarded $74 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds for the construction of three judicial facilities. 

 

He said the Navajo Nation Department of Corrections will use $38.5 million to build a 64-bed, multi-purpose correctional facility in Tuba City, a $31 million, 64-bed detention facility in Kayenta, and $3.8 million to construct a new adult correctional facility in Ramah. 

 

He said the facilities will provide a deterrent to crime by removing dangerous criminals from Navajo communities and provide space for a range of culturally-appropriate services to inmates from pre-trial services, intervention and treatment, alternatives to incarceration, and services while individuals are serving their sentences.

 

He said the funds will help address the breakdown in the Navajo criminal justice system because of the lack of adequate facilities.

 

“These centers will provide an actual deterrent to crime instead of the current revolving door,” he said. “It is our hope that once fully operating, criminals will actually serve time for the crimes they commit, and we’ll see a reduction in the recidivism rate because of access to onsite rehabilitation services.”

 

Regarding energy development, he reported that on Sept. 25 the U.S. Environmental Appeals Board remanded the Desert Rock Energy Project’s air permit to Region 9 for reconsideration but that it was not unexpected and certainly does not mean the project has been cancelled.

“Desert Rock remains the most important economic development project in our Nation’s history,” he said. “It will provide thousands of good jobs for our people and fund almost one-third of the Navajo Nation’s annual operating budget. It is a key to our saving self, to ending our dependence on the federal government, and to regaining our independence as a Nation and a people.”

 

He said the recently-announced Big Boquillas Wind Project involves the Navajo Nation, the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, Edison Mission Energy, and Foresight Energy. NTUA negotiated arrangements with Edison Mission Energy and Foresight Energy so that NTUA, through the use of a for-profit affiliate, will be a 51 percent owner of the project, he said.

 

“Communities throughout the states of Arizona and New Mexico, such as Farmington, Flagstaff, Gallup, and Page, will purchase wind generation energy from the Navajo Nation,” he said. “These sales will directly benefit the Navajo Nation by reducing dependency on third parties and increasing the Nation’s self-sufficiency.”

 

After 40 years of inactivity and neglect, he said work has started to systematically address the rehabilitation and recovery of the 1.5 million acres of land known as the former Bennett Freeze Area in the Western Navajo Agency.

 

“The adverse impacts of the Bennett Freeze are tangible and certainly felt by everyone in the area,” he said. “The effects resulted in extensive substandard and deteriorated housing, deficiencies in infrastructure and public safety and health services.  Deteriorating living conditions forced many Navajos to leave their traditional homeland and all opportunities for economic development were abandoned.”

 

In December 2006, the freeze was abolished by U.S. District Court Judge Earl Carroll. On April 21, 2009, Congress officially repealed the language that created the freeze.

 

The President said the Navajo Nation immediately began to address its recovery by planning for development and mitigation. To facilitate this process, he said, the Former Bennett Freeze Area Task Force was established to develop a strategic plan for the region.

 

The plan incorporates a physical survey of the entire area with a focus on housing, health facilities and schools, an analysis of needs based on current conditions and future population growth, a survey of residents’ priorities in the nine chapters within the area, and updates of each of the chapters’ land use plans, he said.

 

The President also expressed appreciation to Overstock.com CEO and founder Patrick Byrne for again donating $25,000 to the Navajo Nation to purchase turkeys this past Christmas. He also thanked Dr. Dale Tingey of American Indian Services of Provo, Utah, for his donation to the Navajo Nation of knit hats, toys and Christmas candy.

 

He said Navajo Nation First Lady Vikki Shirley and staff of OPVP traveled across Navajoland to deliver the turkeys and toys to families in remote areas. The charitable undertaking was coordinated with the Community Health Representatives Program within the Division of Health, and the Navajo Division of Public Safety and the several officers volunteered time and resources to collect toys for the annual Toys for Tots activities.

 

“It is through selfless volunteer deeds like these that many needy Navajo children can experience the joy of receiving a gift at Christmastime, and many Navajo families can know the delight of a shared holiday meal. Caring for others in this way demonstrates the true meaning of the holiday season.”