Geronimo, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Manuelito put their lives on the line fighting the U.S. Calvary in the face of modern weapons like the Gatlin Gun, Canons, repeating rifles, Winchesters, and they faced certain death using mainly bows and arrows at first. To me, the reason these warriors fought and put their lives on the line against improbable odds – is because every man wants to be free. Back then, no one wanted to be cloistered on an Indian Reservation. These warriors wanted to master their own destiny. They wanted to be masters of their own lands.
Today, most jobs on the reservation are government jobs. You can work for NTUA, the public school system, reservation community schools, NHA, at the dialysis center, the Navajo Police Department or for the Indian Health Services. All these jobs are provided by the U.S. government. If these offices shut down, the clients, the administration, and the employees; they would all suffer and it would affect daily Navajo life. I can guarantee that this scenario wouldn’t even make a single dent in Arizona’s economy. Life would go on.
Whether you are a hard working employee or not the government makes Indians in all sectors of the Reservation economy dependent on Federal dollars. Yet, it seems the simple rule here in America is that freedom comes to you only from private land ownership. The hard truth is, the Navajo reservation breeds dependency because the Indians don’t own the land they live on.
Indian Law says that a “trusteeship” basically means that Indians do not own the land.
The Kayenta Township concept gives us a shot at freedom. And freedom is not cheap. Freedom means that you have to pay your own way. You have to make really hard decisions that affect your home, your children, the Tribe, panhandlers at the grocery store, paying for your own education, health, and well-being.
If we can get a 99-year lease from the Navajo Nation Council, then we can get some of our freedom back. I ran for Commissioner because I want to fight for this shot at freedom that we were given.
I’ve been fortunate to have deep learning experiences when I travel abroad. Britain obtained a 99-year lease from the Chinese government over a hundred years ago. With that 99-year lease, Hong Kong and its surrounding areas has become a multi-billion dollar commerce. In Banff, Canada the Canadian National Park Service owns all the land. The City of Banff has home site leases and business site leases like we do on the Navajo reservation. The town is about half the size of Flagstaff, AZ, and it has a multi-billion dollar commerce. The City of Banff leases the land from the Canadian National Park Service.
In about five more years, I can see the Kayenta Township start assigning a Possessory Interest Tax (PIT) giving value to Navajo home site leases similar to the small Canadian town of Banff. Right now, a home site in Kayenta is worth one dollar a year for 65-years. And as it is right now, when there is a school bond election, the Navajo people always vote “yes” because Peabody Coal Company will have to pay for it. With a home site possessory interest tax, the people of Kayenta will have to pay for the school bond. Now, the people of Kayenta will have to think long and hard before every school bond election because they will have to pay for it.
Life is actually different when the average citizen of Kayenta is responsible for waste management in Kayenta, crime in Kayenta, pan-handlers bothering the tourists, the direction of their children’s education, and they will have access to many more choices like in other prosperous town in a free society.
The government cannot make real economic development because real development happens in the minds of ordinary people. It happens by them and with them. Governments on the other hand, have to set the social structures, institutions, incentives systems which are able to produce developmental attitudes, which when supplemented with aptitudes, such as literacy, technical skills, knowledge and training; this can produce true economic development.
Being unemployed is hard on people. Studies show that problems like suicides, teen pregnancy, alcoholism, child abuse, drugs, is tied to unemployment. Unemployment on the reservation is not a big concern of the Navajo Nation Council. Getting more federal funds is. We don’t have to live off of government hand outs. That’s why the people of Kayenta need their own local government. The Navajo Nation Council is not going to lead the people of Kayenta to self-sufficiency.
The Kayenta Township and its citizens, we need the freedom to make our own rules within the city limits of Kayenta. I think once we’re given the freedom to control our own town and our local resources, mainly with the ability to give 99-year business site leases. I believe that we can start tackling city problems before they emerge. Furthermore, I think Kayenta will have the largest and best Vocational Education School in the State of Arizona. We’ll have a huge Adult and Juvenile Detention Center, and perhaps we can even rent out land in the middle of nowhere for a Federal Prison. Our Kayenta Courts will be the first ever on an Indian reservation to enforce property laws.