Helms On Horseback With Navajo Council - Part 1 -Victory For Cherokee Freedmen
Part 1 Of 6 Articles
By Kathy Helms
WINDOW ROCK - I’m notorious for doing things at the last minute “ just ask my boss “ so when Navajo Nation Council Delegate Jerry Bodie told me last Thursday that he had had room to take me on the 12th annual Council horse ride, it sounded like a good idea.
Plus, I’ve never seen Tohajiilee, where we will start from today, or Mount Taylor, where we will camp tonight.
So Friday morning I went down to Griswold’s in Tse Bonito and pawned my extra saddle so I could pitch in with some gas money. Bush’s economy and over-inflated gas prices promise to make this year’s ride the most expensive yet.
Before 8 a.m. Saturday, I was calling Resource Enforcement to see where I could hook up with a Navajo Nation Ranger and get a hauling permit. If you’re going to haul livestock, you need a permit. Unfortunately, the only nearby ranger station open was in Rock Springs.
Since I don’t own a horse trailer, and even if I did, couldn’t pull it with my four-cylinder excuse for a truck, that was a problem.
Riding my horse Chaps down to get him inspected for the permit was the only logical choice. Of course, by the time I got there, the station would be closed.
I was still pondering the situation when Delegate Curran Hannon showed up later Saturday evening to trim Chaps’ hooves. Hannon also issues permits, so that worked out fine.
I hate hoof-trimming, because Chaps isn’t exactly a cooperative horse. Curran was sweating up a storm by the time he got the front hooves done. Of course, I had been rewarding Chaps with horse candy all along, thinking that maybe if he were eating, he wouldn’t pay so much attention to Curran.
Horse candy makes horses hyper. Not only was Chaps skittish, suspicious and just plain ornery, the last thing he wanted to do was stand still.
“We’re going to have to ‘twitch’ him,” Curran said.
I hate twitching. It involves taking something that looked like an oversize pair of pliers, and holding the end of Chaps’ nose tightly between the handles. Curran said it makes his other muscles tighten up so that he isn’t so prone to kick or try to run off.
Needless to say, we never made it to the filing portion of the procedure. And I’m kind of worried about that look Chaps was giving me when I was holding those pliers. It was one of those, “Just wait. I’m going to remember this,” stares.
I woke up at 7 a.m. Sunday, thinking that if it were Monday, I’d already be two hours behind because you can bet your sweet dreams that Bodie is going to be up at 5 a.m. yelling, “Wake up, people. We’re burning daylight.”
I took a nice long shower, because I know they’re in short supply on the ride, unless you count the monsoon we’re probably going to encounter this year. By the time I had finished packing, I was thinking that if I was real lucky, maybe Bodie would forget me.
But no. He’s on his way, and I’m hoping Chaps won’t be a pain in the rear when it comes time to load up.
In 2005, it was more than 120 degrees when we passed through Tuba City. In 2006, it was 105 as we rode toward Mexican Water. Fortunately, I missed 2007.
Riding in the rain is going to be a challenge. At least we won’t have to worry about the horses dehydrating.
It really makes you wonder how the former Navajo Nation leaders survived when they used to ride to the Council session on horseback. Obviously they had some tough hides!
A TALE OF DONKEYS, FRYBREAD
This is the second in a series chronicling one chapter delegate’s ride to the 2008 Navajo Council Summer Session.
By Kathy Helms
TOHAJIILEE - Pardon me if this isn’t glowing prose, but it’s now barely 6 a.m., I’m sitting on top of a cabinet with my legs crossed to prop up the laptop and missing my usual quart of Starbucks.
Camping out under the stars is not as romantic as it sounds. Last night, for example, was like being trapped in a “Shrek” movie from which there was no escape.
Tohajiilee Chapter comes with roaming donkeys, one in particular which was after a midnight snack. That wouldn’t have been so bad except that I was guardian of the hay wagon - stretched out across three bales in my sleeping bag.
Just as I was about to drift off to sleep, the hay wagon started rocking. Sure enough, there was a donkey. For the first few hours we compromised on him eating the flake surrounding the wagon.
Then there were the horses. About five of them. At first, I thought some of the ones with us got loose, but no, they were just passing through. It was like trying to sleep at an all-night diner.
When we arrived Sunday evening at Navajo Nation Council Delegate Lawrence Platero’s Chapter of Tohajiilee, there were several people on hand to greet us. They had whipped up a feast, for which we were very appreciative. I had two bowls of lamb stew and nearly two pieces of frybread before I came up for air - and I wasn’t by myself.
The one thing I noticed immediately is that the frybread here is different than in Window Rock. It was light and fluffy with three long slits - easier for tearing apart, I guess. Orlene Delgarito, who made it, said it cooks much better that way.
After four hours of riding in a horse trailer, Heide Little’s horse, Bud, appeared to be a little colicky, wouldn’t drink and wanted to lie down. Delegate Jerry Bodie, who is leading this ride, sent us on a search for Alka-Seltzer, which Lolita Largo just happened to have.
Bodie mixed it with water, and around 10 p.m., we were holding Bud’s head while Bodie forced him to drink the mixture. It seemed like Bud liked the plop, plop, fizz, fizz. In the morning, he was fine.
We were 14 riders strong as we left Tohajiilee after a big breakfast served by Ruth and Donovan Secatero and Delgarito. They even gave us the leftover frybread, juice, water - all kinds of goodies for later.
Later is right now, as I stand here with the laptop on a hay bale in the middle of the Wal-Mart parking lot in Grants trying to type real fast so I can get this to my editor.
O.J. Castillo, 12, of Crownpoint, is our youngest rider. He’s a pro, having ridden for most of his life. Like the rest of us, he’s starting to feel a little sore.
We will leave the parking lot here in a few minutes after four more riders from Window Rock join us and Bodie and his sons repair one of the trucks.
The rain is starting and it’s looking like a wet evening on Mount Taylor.
ANOTHER CRACK IN THE SOVEREIGNITY DAM! VICTORY FOR CHEROKEE FREEDMEN
Submitted by Original Perchanga
Bad intentions by the Cherokee Nations Council including Chad Smith has now come back to bite them.
The descendants of former slaves owned by some Cherokees can sue Cherokee Nation officers for disenfranchising them from tribal elections, a federal appeals court here ruled today.
The ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit was a victory for the so-called "freedmen,'' who filed suit after being prevented from voting in two tribal elections in 2003.
The tribe argued that it had sovereign immunity and couldn't be sued. The appeals court ruled today that the Cherokee Nation does have sovereign immunity in the case but that the tribal leaders do not.
"Faced with allegations of ongoing constitutional and treaty violations, and a prospective request for injunctive relief, officers of the Cherokee Nation cannot seek shelter in the tribe’s sovereign immunity,'' the court's opinion says. The case will now go back to U.S. district court here, where it was filed.
The Cherokee Nation voted last year to amend its constitution to remove all freedmen descendants from the tribal rolls who do not have Cherokee blood. The change is being challenged in a Cherokee court.
Angered by the Cherokee Nation's action, many members of Congress are trying to strip the tribe of some of its federal funding, and the tribe has been fighting a public relations and lobbying battle here to prevent it.
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