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  • Navajos largely unscathed by recession

    Found this article on MSN's website and found it really interesting.

    TONALEA, Ariz. - Talk at the community center in this small Navajo town isn't as focused on the economy as it is in many places off the reservation.

    That's because the people living on the largest American Indian reservation have been largely unscathed by the recession.

    Most Navajos own their own homes, tend not to invest in the stock market and have long had difficulties borrowing money, distinguishing them from millions of other Americans who've suffered from rising mortgage payments, sinking 401(k) retirement accounts and stricter terms from lenders.

    And with half of the Navajo Nation's work force unemployed long before this latest recession hit, there's not much fear the job situation could get much worse on the reservation.

    "They're freaking out out there, but to us, we've always had 50 percent unemployment," said John C. Whiterock, a Navajo youth pastor. "To us, that's just part of life."

    That's not to say the 200,000 people who live on the largest American Indian reservation, which extends into Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, have escaped untouched. Tribal officials are wrangling over how to address a $25 million budget shortfall and requests for social services have prompted newspaper ads for more employees to handle them.

    'You're rich'
    The key has been the ability of Navajos who maintain traditional beliefs to cope, and the attitude that allows them to persevere. The culture teaches that wealth isn't measured by dollars and that the language, the land and kinship are the greatest survival tools.

    For reservation resident Delores Claw, that means leaning on traditional practices such as keeping livestock and growing corn to offset the rising cost of food. Claw lost her job at a day school after enrollment dropped, and the construction work for her husband has slowed. As money got tight, Claw's family butchered 10 of their lambs.

    "They always say if you have livestock, you're rich," she said.

    Other Navajos still sell hand-woven rugs at trading posts or jewelry and food at roadside stands and at flea markets usually bustling with buyers. It's an industry that contributes about $6 million a year to a $1.3 billion economy, though the jobs aren't counted in the tribe's employment statistics.

    "In many ways, we have the means to sustain ourselves," said Navajo President Joe Shirley Jr.

    Balance and harmony
    Among traditional Navajos, those who most closely cling to the beliefs and practices handed down through generations, there's a strong emphasis on self-sufficiency, and balance and harmony. The tradition is deep-rooted among elderly Navajos, though some argue it has tapered off with the younger generation.

    Wilson Aronlith Jr., a 76-year-old instructor of Navajo culture, philosophy and history at Dine College, said his health, following his ancestors' teachings and passing along the language and stories of the Navajo people mean more to him than money ever could.

    "If you have all the good capabilities, that's wealth," he said. "What else would you ask for?"

    Ivan Gamble, a Navajo man from the community of LeChee, said tradition is not so much sticking strictly to the ways of his ancestors but blending the best of Navajo culture and Western society.

    The 31-year-old Gamble lives in a home without water and electricity, and grows crops and raises animals by choice, but he still has a cell phone and Internet access and numerous jobs to earn money.

    "That's what our ancestors taught us, to adapt, to survive," he said.

    By most measurements, the Navajo Nation fits the definition of poor. But despite the 38.5 percent poverty rate among families, an unemployment rate that consistently hovers around 50 percent, a per capita income of about $7,500 and the lack of unemployment benefits, there's a sense of contentment with the simple life on the reservation characterized by its rugged landscape and remoteness.

    'We are happy'
    Many Navajos still haul water from long distances to cook and for their livestock. Navajo children in the more remote areas must do their homework by the light of a kerosene lamp and daily chores include chopping wood or gathering coal to heat the home.

    The cost of living on the reservation is low, and the income derived from arts and crafts along with public assistance is enough to sustain some people, said Trib Choudhary, an economic development specialist for the tribe. Aside from basic needs, he said, there's not much more that is desired.

    "I usually say that you cannot dye a black rug into any other color. That's what the Navajo Nation is," he said. "If there is a downturn, it doesn't matter. If there is an upswing, it doesn't matter. We are happy."

    What Navajos hope for, along with better roads, running water and electricity, is an improved economy, one that will allow their children to return to the reservation, help their people and maintain the language and culture.

    Economic opportunities
    The tribe has made small strides toward improving the economy, opening up the first of six planned casinos on the reservation last year. There's a push for green jobs that would reflect the traditional life, and a coal-fired power plant is in the works.

    Still, many tribal members are forced off the reservation to look for jobs.

    Economic development has long failed to keep up with population growth. To keep the unemployment rate stable, some 3,500 jobs must be created each year, but Choudhary said only about 200 are.

    The situation on the Navajo Nation tends to reflect what is occurring on other American Indian reservations, where unemployment rates are twice that of the rest of the country and real per-capital income is less than half the national average, said Dante Desiderio, an economic development policy specialist for the National Congress of American Indians.

    The group has called on the federal government to respond to what it says has essentially been a decades-old depression on tribal lands.

    Desiderio notes that many tribes don't have the tax base that cities or states do and are looking to federal stimulus money to help build infrastructure and spur economic development. Of the $787 billion economic stimulus package, $2.5 million was set aside for tribal programs.

    "If you read the papers and you see what the rest of America is struggling with, it matches what tribes have been struggling with," Desiderio said. "If we're going to fix it, this is the chance."

  • #2
    great article, like it up until they started comparing us to the outside world. lol were never gonna be rich.

    the nice part about the elder folks they talked to *im sure* would rather spend their cash on their animals and children. hmm? maybe in that order too. haha

    i gots mee a nice state job, the income is nice but im never gonna attain rich status. and i guess choose to live here and live without running water or electric. the families are still real tradish and cant think of any better way to raise children.
    thanks dad for showing me the way, teaching me the language, and not leaving my mother...*L*

    *RoUg3 MoD sTaTuS*

    Comment


    • #3
      My folks still live that way...no electricity, no running water.......living a hard knock life...*L*........seriously though, I sold my house in Flagataff to move back to the rez.......yeah the drive sucks because the nearest place is like 40 miles away but you know, I would much rather live in the open, not worry about zoning issues or neighbor giving me shyt cuz my dog dumped on his driveway (he deserves it too, baztard)........back to the simplicity of life that I grew up with......I didn't have electricity till I joined the Marines!!!!.......first time I seen a flushable toilet......LMAO!!!!!.............not really but it sounded good.............
      sigpic

      ...And shephards we shall be. For thee my lord, for thee. Power hath descended forth from thy hand. That our feet may swiftly carry out thy command. So we shall flow a river forth to thee. And teeming with souls shall it ever be. E Nomini Patri, E Fili, E Spiritu Sancti.

      Comment


      • #4
        'The culture teaches that wealth isn't measured by dollars and that the language, the land and kinship are the greatest survival tools.'

        I wonder if those guys who argue about being 'successful' actually understand this sentence?

        I'd go be a Navajo and live off the land...but it's too damned hot out there!!!

        This SoCal weather has me spoiled.


        Why must I feel like that..why must I chase the cat?


        "When I was young man I did some dumb things and the elders would talk to me. Sometimes I listened. Time went by and as I looked around...I was the elder".

        Mr. Rossie Freeman

        Comment


        • #5
          I should have written the article,cuz I said the same thing when Wallstreet was tanking.....

          This article was lead story for today's Farmingotn Daily Times.

          Comment


          • #6
            opps im sorry i got running water, i just have to run outside and get it!! suckers

            actually the chapter said.... *dont laugh* but they said they are going to run water and electric towards our little place in the woods. yeah we shall see on the one. i aint holdin my breath. oh yesss we gettin a cell tower too. man! it aint even election season yet
            thanks dad for showing me the way, teaching me the language, and not leaving my mother...*L*

            *RoUg3 MoD sTaTuS*

            Comment


            • #7
              The only thing this article truly shows is how far removed Federal Reserve Land is from the actual universe.

              It's very much akin to saying that, post-nuclear holocaust, only the cockroaches will survive. It's because they had nothing to lose, anyway.

              Or, what occurred when the United States first got its hands on a MIG-25 and was astounded to see that it was entirely tube electronics. Instead of realizing how far behind the Soviet Union was -- and that they weren't a threat to our global superiority so we didn't need to scare humans or run a HUGE deficit for the military -- we manufactured that into a strength (of theirs) by, correctly but manipulatively, reporting that their tubes would work after nuclear detonation but our transistors would not...

              Similarly, claiming Rez life as a strength is pandering, at best.

              The point is that squatters on Federal Reserve Land (as all tribes are) are not to be praised for being so far removed that what impacts the rest of humanity doesn't affect them.

              This merely indicates that you've allowed yourself to become dehumanized.

              To wit, I bet stray cats don't worry about the economy, either. Lord knows they've developed, "language, the land and kinship" as their, "greatest survival tools,." That's fine: if you desire to remain a stray cat.

              We should be better.

              BAH.
              Last edited by Zeke; 05-20-2009, 06:33 PM. Reason: Troglodyte spelling.

              Comment


              • #8
                you dont know nothing about dine so shut tha zeke. haha prolly cant even say it right.
                thanks dad for showing me the way, teaching me the language, and not leaving my mother...*L*

                *RoUg3 MoD sTaTuS*

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by injunboy View Post
                  you dont know nothing about dine so shut tha zeke. haha prolly cant even say it right.
                  Wow, I must have struck a threatened, little, nerve...

                  Can you spell?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    weak!
                    thanks dad for showing me the way, teaching me the language, and not leaving my mother...*L*

                    *RoUg3 MoD sTaTuS*

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      You know, the point of my posting this article wasn't for it to be source of contention. I posted it because I admired a lot of the qualities that were being outlined here.

                      What's wrong with a culture that measures success in terms of happiness, contentment in circumstances, and strength of the family unit - rather than how many "toys" one might have or how many dollars are in the bank?

                      I'd rather be living on a rez than in the "burbs" where my family finds itself now. I'd rather be surrounded by people who have a culture of respect of elders and placing family above self. Assimilation isn't the rosy prospect that some make it out to be. When the values of one's people are replaced by those of "me first" and pursuing material gain is that really "progress?"

                      Zeke - you seem to think rez life is too dependent on the Feds. What happens to the guy with electricity when the grid crashes like it did a few years back? You're still in the dark. We're all dependent on the gov't to one degree or another whether we like it or not. Having a city sewer and water system, electricity, electric or gas heating - we pay for that - making us dependent on the utilities and at their mercy when rates go up.

                      In case you were wondering I have a college education, both undergraduate and graduate, and if I could trade what I have now for living in simplicity among people who share a common culture, language, values, and heritage I would do it in a heartbeat.

                      Further Note: A couple of years back there was an episode of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" where a home was built for a Dine family which generated its own power via wind and solar generation. It had running water and was about as "green" as you can get. The builders used the Dine tradition of not wasting and of living in harmony with the land as their blueprint when planning the residence. I don't call that backward at all.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Zeke View Post
                        The only thing this article truly shows is how far removed Federal Reserve Land is from the actual universe.

                        It's very much akin to saying that, post-nuclear holocaust, only the cockroaches will survive. It's because they had nothing to lose, anyway.

                        Or, what occurred when the United States first got its hands on a MIG-25 and was astounded to see that it was entirely tube electronics. Instead of realizing how far behind the Soviet Union was -- and that they weren't a threat to our global superiority so we didn't need to scare humans or run a HUGE deficit for the military -- we manufactured that into a strength (of theirs) by, correctly but manipulatively, reporting that their tubes would work after nuclear detonation but our transistors would not...

                        Similarly, claiming Rez life as a strength is pandering, at best.

                        The point is that squatters on Federal Reserve Land (as all tribes are) are not to be praised for being so far removed that what impacts the rest of humanity doesn't affect them.

                        This merely indicates that you've allowed yourself to become dehumanized.

                        To wit, I bet stray cats don't worry about the economy, either. Lord knows they've developed, "language, the land and kinship" as their, "greatest survival tools,." That's fine: if you desire to remain a stray cat.

                        We should be better.

                        BAH.
                        Dude...you're worse that a case of the clap!

                        I bet you wear a blonde wig to bed.


                        Why must I feel like that..why must I chase the cat?


                        "When I was young man I did some dumb things and the elders would talk to me. Sometimes I listened. Time went by and as I looked around...I was the elder".

                        Mr. Rossie Freeman

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Come on.

                          You've got to admit that this is a lot like praising Ethiopia because it doesn't harm them if everything else tanks, globally.

                          That's NOT an, "advantage."

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Zeke - It is like trying to explain to a teenager that "baggy clothes" will always be in style because there will always be a large population of poor people who give hand-me-downs to their kids....
                            Younger smaller brother gets his older brother's clothes...thus, the constant existance of kids with baggy clothes.

                            Why does this not seem to penetrate skulls ?

                            Because... people.. especially NDNs.... love to hold onto anything that makes them feel unique, special, or superior...

                            .. hell, even I'm guilty of that sometimes...

                            ... thus, anything will be viewed as "half-full".. even if it is currently LEAKING out of the bottom..

                            "Oh hell... it ain't leaking... it is still half full."

                            Hey, our Rez is surviving the Economic Crisis.

                            Yea... because it was Third World to start with.

                            It is all backwards.. we are suppose to take the low seat because it makes us humble...

                            ... but most of us take the low seat because, somehow, we get a sense of egotisical pride from it.

                            It is like... we forgot the low seat was the b***h seat.. .and we took mistaken value from sitting in it...


                            I have never been to the Dine lands--- so I can't comment on that directly.

                            However... if they are experiencing no change, then that is proof that they are off of the map--- no water or elecricity... sorry, but that places you as a Third World location. No arguements or feelings--- that is just sheer paperwork-logic there.

                            Am I knocking the rez--- actually, no... I am not in this post.

                            Is the rez a place to learn your culture, language..etc.etc...

                            YES. (and please do it, by the way)


                            All I am saying is to BE HONEST.

                            Reserves are Ghettos... HUD...etc.etc...

                            If you love your rez--- fine. Just don't bulls**t yourself into believing that it is not Third world.

                            If you are fine with that--- cool. I, personally, don't mind it. But, I'm not gonna sit there and say that my reserve has an advantage over the global economy --- that is bullsh**....

                            My rez is floating the crisis because it was BROKE to begin with.

                            It is about being honest and not twisting the facts to try to get off on your identity.
                            Last edited by IlnuSoldier; 05-21-2009, 02:41 PM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by IlnuSoldier View Post
                              Zeke - It is like trying to explain to a teenager that "baggy clothes" will always be in style because there will always be a large population of poor people who give hand-me-downs to their kids....
                              Younger smaller brother gets his older brother's clothes...thus, the constant existance of kids with baggy clothes.

                              Why does this not seem to penetrate skulls ?

                              Because... people.. especially NDNs.... love to hold onto anything that makes them feel unique, special, or superior...

                              .. hell, even I'm guilty of that sometimes...

                              ... thus, anything will be viewed as "half-full".. even if it is currently LEAKING out of the bottom..

                              "Oh hell... it ain't leaking... it is still half full."

                              Hey, our Rez is surviving the Economic Crisis.

                              Yea... because it was Third World to start with.

                              It is all backwards.. we are suppose to take the low seat because it makes us humble...

                              ... but most of us take the low seat because, somehow, we get a sense of egotisical pride from it.

                              It is like... we forgot the low seat was the b***h seat.. .and we took mistaken value from sitting in it...


                              I have never been to the Dine lands--- so I can't comment on that directly.

                              However... if they are experiencing no change, then that is proof that they are off of the map--- no water or elecricity... sorry, but that places you as a Third World location. No arguements or feelings--- that is just sheer paperwork-logic there.

                              Am I knocking the rez--- actually, no... I am not in this post.

                              Is the rez a place to learn your culture, language..etc.etc...

                              YES. (and please do it, by the way)


                              All I am saying is to BE HONEST.

                              Reserves are Ghettos... HUD...etc.etc...

                              If you love your rez--- fine. Just don't bulls**t yourself into believing that it is not Third world.

                              If you are fine with that--- cool. I, personally, don't mind it. But, I'm not gonna sit there and say that my reserve has an advantage over the global economy --- that is bullsh**....

                              My rez is floating the crisis because it was BROKE to begin with.

                              It is about being honest and not twisting the facts to try to get off on your identity.
                              I'll be back to answer this one.

                              Ilnu and Zeke...not to be rude...but both of you have your head stuck up your a$$!

                              But that's just an old man's opinion.


                              Why must I feel like that..why must I chase the cat?


                              "When I was young man I did some dumb things and the elders would talk to me. Sometimes I listened. Time went by and as I looked around...I was the elder".

                              Mr. Rossie Freeman

                              Comment

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