Editor's Note: Today, June 1, is Navajo Treaty Day on the Navajo Nation. This Guest Commentary deals with treaties the Navajo Nation signed with the United States government and provides commentary on how pending legislation in the US Senate, the Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement, known as S 2109 will impact previous treaties between the Navajo Nation and the federal government.
Ron Milford in Native Condition. Discussion »
This week, many questions have been asked regarding our treaties with the United States government, what they stand for, and why they are not being applied in our fight for our rights. To clarify, the Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Agreement, known as S 2109, in essence, are what some refer to as a modern day treaty and its ratification document.
Ron Milford - Navajo
What this newer treaty version together with the ratifying Agreement, will collectively do through the new Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River settlement, if approved, is permanently shelve the Treaties of 1849 and 1868. This will also be the way the Navajo Nation's water rights attorney Stan Pollack and the Navajo Nation Water Rights Commission will continue to minimize our rights if they are allowed to do so, by our nation's leadership.
What will also place another nail in the coffin for us, with respect to our treaty rights, if approved and ratified, is the almost completely secret Utah Settlement, which is nearly 100 percent complete. Here again, the Navajo People at large have never seen and know nothing about this settlement.
The continuing Utah secrecy is an ongoing outrage to our people, and is completely in violation of the "informed consent" requirements of the United Nations and the rules for lawyer conduct of the Navajo Bar Association, the state Bar Associations, and the American Bar Association. Stan Pollack and other US Department of Justice staff lawyers, as well as Attorney General Tsosie, should all be disbarred for their betrayals of the people and the oaths they took.
The Diné People continue to wonder, how this Navajo Nation Department of Justice lawyer, through his obvious conspiracies with US Senators Jon Kyle and John McCain; and his deceptive and misrepresentative ways, is still employed here. It is incredible and beyond comprehension that we're still paying him to betray us, our families, and our future. Because our leaders would allow this, is also an incredible failure by our leadership, who we the people should seriously begin plans for replacing.
The contents of our two treaties were written in acknowledgement of two sovereign nations honoring each other, with the treaties' conditions written to protect and support our rights, in one way or another, and that we employ them the way they were meant to be. Together with the Winters Doctrine we can make an appropriate stand for new and fair negotiations in the Little Colorado River Settlement.
Kyl and McCain who oppose our full rights and compensation for any lost rights are telling the people, over and over again, another big falsehood-just to get at our sacred water. These "bad men" including traitors from within, the current Navajo Nation administration, say that if we reject S 2109 we'll immediately be thrown upon the mercy of the Apache County adjudication court. They know and we know, that's not how it works. Unfortunately, if we use the correct word to describe these statements, the word "lies" cannot be avoided. If we reject S 2109, like other tribes have rejected settlements (e.g., the Pyramid Lake Paiutes), then negotiations continue.
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Ron Milford is a tribal citizen of the Navajo Nation, who is a spokesperson for the grassroots group called Diné Water Rights. He resides in Fort Defiance, Arizona.
posted June 1, 2012 10:10 am edt