108 Year-Old Nellie Rose, A Living Treasure - Navajo Casino Director Resigns - Falmouth Institute News
By Kathy Helms
BLACK MESA — Lifelong Black Mesa resident Nellie Rose celebrated her 108th birthday Nov. 15 at Black Mesa Community School surrounded by six generations of family members and a host of friends.
“I’m privileged and honored to have celebrated our grandmother,” said Navajo Nation Council Delegate Amos Johnson, who represents Black Mesa. “We’ve learned a lot from her and have learned some of the secrets of longevity.”
Johnson took the moment to remind the audience to take care of their parents and grandparents. “Give them a lot of love,” he said.
“I just want to thank all the grandchildren who were kind enough to share their grandmother with us, where some people become real protective of their grandparents,” he said.
Johnson presented Nellie Rose with a coral necklace with a small heart pendant. A white Pendleton shawl was presented to Nellie Rose on behalf of Council Speaker Lawrence T. Morgan.
“Nellie Rose is a living treasure,” Morgan said. “It is an amazing thing that she is still with us today. She has led a good life and has worked hard for her family.”
Navajo President Joe Shirley Jr. also attended and presented Nellie Rose with a Pendleton shawl. He said he was thankful to be invited and that clanwise, she was his grandmother as well.
Nellie Rose can still walk and can carry on conversations with her family. Her eyesight has dwindled over the years, but she can still recognize the voices of her family.
“We just really appreciate her,” said Rosie Bitsui, 50, who is a paternal granddaughter to Nellie Rose. The day was emotional for family and friends who cried tears of joy and thankfulness for Nellie Rose.
Rose was born in Kitsili and attended boarding school as a child. She has had livestock and sheep throughout her life and was a foster grandparent at the Black Mesa Community School, where she taught students about weaving, traditional recipes and Navajo philosophy.
Many of the children she taught are now adults with their own children, and they still remember the stories she told when she was working at the school.
Her family said she is very active in her old age, and walked several miles every day when she was 98 years old. Being active and living by teachings of the Navajo philosophy are what the family credit to her longevity.
“It’s a blessing to have her at this age,” said Larry Whitehair, 38, grandson to Nellie Rose. Many said her birthday served as an informal family reunion and allowed them to reflect on “k’e,” which fosters within a Navajo person a respect for all living things and promotes peace in the home and between family and clan members.
“This is really special to have our Navajo Nation leaders here to celebrate her birthday,” said Frank White, 58, grandson to Nellie Rose.
Radmilla Cody, award-winning recording artist, also attended the event. She, too, is a granddaughter to Nellie Rose.
“Come bless yourselves with grandma,” Cody advised the young children in both Navajo and English. Cody also sang “Happy Birthday” in the Navajo language before the cake was presented. Nellie Rose blew out her own candles.
“Ahe’hee,” she said. “Thank you everybody for being here.”
“It was really an honor to have Radmilla Cody sing,” Johnson said. “The whole community was just happy to see her there singing the 'Happy Birthday' song to her.”
Nellie Rose was presented gifts from family and friends, and then she hit a piñata with a bat. Her great grandchildren and great, great grandchildren followed their grandma in hitting the piñata.
“Everybody looks happy for her because she’s 108 years old,” said Melanie Yellowhair, 16, great-great granddaughter.
Speaker Morgan said he hopes the young grandchildren of Nellie Rose will seek the traditional knowledge their grandmother has — the knowledge once passed on to her by her own grandparents.
“I pray they will see what a special blessing their grandmother is and I pray they will actively seek out the knowledge that has helped their grandmother lead a long and honorable life,” he said.
Navajo Nation Gaming Oversight Director Resigns
By Kathy Helms
WINDOW ROCK - Edward Lockett Jr., the first executive director of the Navajo Nation Gaming Regulatory Office, has resigned, and no one in an official capacity is saying why.
“It”s a personnel issue,” George Hardeen, communications director for the Office of the President/Vice President, said Tuesday. Lockett did not respond to phone calls from the Independent last week or again on Tuesday.
“Lisa Tom is the licensing manager at the Gaming Regulatory Office and she is on special assignment, filling in for Eddie, until Eddie�s replacement can be found, and that may be a bit of a process,” Hardeen said.
Steve Hart, an attorney with Lewis and Roca law firm in Phoenix, who has worked for many years on Navajo Nation Gaming issues along with Lockett, also is helping out. Hart is the former director of the Arizona Department of Gaming.
“He was asked to come in and make sure everything was going good so that the casino could open, which it did,” Hardeen said.
Lockett reportedly resigned Monday after the Sunday, Nov. 16, VIP tour of the Navajo Nation’s Fire Rock Casino - just two days before its Nov. 19 grand opening.
The Economic Development Committee, expressing concerned that they were without a regulatory director, met in executive session the same day as the casino opening and passed a resolution to have Lockett reinstated.
Hardeen said the committee met again Tuesday in executive session - and I think it’s all resolved. The committee reportedly accepted Lockett’s resignation per his request.
“Eddie’s departure in no way will have a negative influence on the operation of the casino or the regulatory office. He trained his staff and they are in place now and they’re doing what they’re supposed to do. It’s just unfortunate that he’s not here to see what a fine job that they are doing,” Hardeen said.
Lockett was selected by Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr. and confirmed, 69-4, by the Navajo Nation Council as director of Gaming Regulatory on Sept. 20, 2005.
“He has my 100 percent support and, with that, I hope he has yours, too,” Shirley told Council. “He was ranked as the top person to get to the position.”
Lockett, who worked tirelessly to ensure Navajo met all regulatory requirements to begin its foray into gaming, previously worked as executive director of the Ak-Chin Tribal Gaming Agency in Maricopa, Ariz., and also at the Hon Dah Casino for the White Mountain Apache Tribe.
“I am committed to truth, honesty, strong moral character and integrity,” he told the Council. “When one speaks of the Navajo Nation, it will be spoken with integrity.”
FALMOUTH INSTITUTE NEWS -
Friday, November 28th. 2008
First Native American Heritage Day Marked
Though few events were organized, because there was so little time to plan, today — and from here on every Friday after Thanksgiving — is Native American Heritage Day, a day to honor the contributions that Native American people have made to the country.
The bill designating this day of recognition was signed into law by President Bush in mid-October. "The Indians kept the pilgrims alive with turkeys and wild game. That's the reason it was attached to the Thanksgiving weekend," The Associated Press quoted Frank Suniga as saying.
Suniga, of Mescalero Apache descent, helped spearhead the movement to establish this commemorative day.
Six Native Americans On Obama Transition Team
With less than two months to go before his inauguration and a heap of issues to tackle once he takes his place in the Oval Office, President-elect Barack Obama has wasted no time putting together his transition team. As reported last week by the Missoulian, the team currently includes six Native Americans. John Echohawk, Keith Harper and Robert Anderson were appointed to the Interior Department Review Team.
Echohawk is executive director of the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), a non-profit organization that provides legal representation to tribes and Native American organizations and individuals. Harper is a former NARF attorney, as is Anderson.The other three are Mary Smith, Mary McNeil and Yvette Robideaux, who were appointed to work on justice, agriculture and health issues.To learn more about the Obama transition team, go to http://change.gov/.
NCAI Statement on Daschle Nomination to HHS
National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) President Joe A. Garcia released the following statement in response to news reports that President-Elect Barack Obama intends to select former Senator Tom Daschle as Secretary of Health and Human Services.
"Given the severity of the health care crisis in Indian Country we are very encouraged to hear that President-Elect Barack Obama is likely to nominate someone like Sen. Tom Daschle as Secretary of Health and Human Services, who has a strong background on tribal issues and understands the realities of the Indian health care system.
His past experience and profound expertise on Indian issues will be a tremendous benefit to Indian Country. Sen. Daschle was a strong advocate for Native Americans as the Senate Majority Leader and has always advocated strongly for Native people as a representative from South Dakota. We look forward to working with him to bring the Indian Health Service into the 21st century and address the profound health disparities in tribal communities."
Daschle Tapped for HHS
President-elect Barack Obama has chosen former senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota as Secretary of Health and Human Services, which includes the Indian Health Service.
Daschle, who served on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs for 18 years, has long been an advocate for Indian tribes and supported increased spending on health care for Native Americans when he was in the Senate. He advised Obama on Indian issues during the campaign and appeared on his behalf at rallies in Indian Country.
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