Billionaire's Cattle Donation Questioned - Time To Look A 'Gift Longhorn' In The Eye! - Native Disunity
WINDOW ROCK – Texas billionaire B.J. “Red” McCombs, who is aspiring to do business with the Navajo Nation, donated 10 Texas longhorn cattle valued at $10,000 to the Nation in 2007, prompting some to question why such news never made headlines.
The cattle were delivered Nov. 14, 2007, to Fort Wingate High School, along with pertinent veterinary health documentation submitted by Larry Foster, according to a Dec. 18, 2007, letter from McCombs to Navajo Nation Council Speaker Lawrence T. Morgan.
The donation reaffirmed a commitment made at a meeting and discussions held May 4, 2007, in Johnson City, Texas, McCombs said.
In a Dec. 17, 2007, letter to Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr., Morgan notified the president that 10 longhorn cattle were delivered Nov. 30, 2007, and were penned at the Fort Wingate High School rodeo ground.
“As you may know, cattle are an important part of advancements in agriculture. One aspect is animal husbandry, which is simply breeding and raising livestock. The cattle could be given to BIA operated schools that have agriculture programs for use in veterinary science,” Morgan said.
The longhorns now are reported to be at one of the Navajo Nation ranches, referred to as Slash B, and managed by John Berry, according to the Speaker's Office, which provided documents on the donation.
Acceptance of the cattle did not need to go through the Ethics and Rules Office, according to Joshua Lavar Butler, communications director for the Office of the Speaker, because it wasn't a gift to an individual. “It was a gift and a donation to the Nation. If it was given to Speaker Morgan as a gift, anything given to him has to be under $100.”
Butler said the Nation already was starting a program for longhorns and McCombs knew that, so that's why he gave the cattle to the Nation. “We didn't do a press release for it because it was just a gift,” he said.
The Government Services Committee, chaired by Delegate Ervin Keeswood, concurred in the acceptance of the gift on Dec. 20, 2007, about a month after the cattle were delivered, according to a resolution approved 7-0 on a motion from Roy Laughter and a second from Orlanda Smith-Hodge.
A May 14, 2008, issue of E-Trails, an electronic publication of the Texas Longhorn Trails, displays photos from the 30th Anniversary Red McCombs Fiesta Sale held May 3, 2008, at McCombs' ranch in Johnson City, Texas.
The article shows a photo of McCombs presenting a plaque to Speaker Morgan, and states:
“Before the sale, Red McCombs introduced representatives from the Navajo Nation. McCombs had arranged for several Texas Longhorns to be donated to the Navajo Nation from many prominent breeding programs. He also presented the Navajo representatives with an exact replica of the gavel used in the Texas legislature and two plaques commemorating the event. Lawrence Morgan, speaker for the Navajo Council, thanked McCombs and each of the contributors for their generous donations.”
A 2007 Fiesta Sale photo shows McCombs, Navajo Enterprises President and CEO Bob Honts – a business partner of McCombs – and special guests from the Navajo Nation, including Morgan, Keeswood, and Larry Foster of Native Energy Development.
Honts said Wednesday evening that McCombs donated the cattle with legislative approval because he wanted to encourage Navajos to get involved with the longhorn breed. “He is very much an advocate for the longhorn herd. He's kind of built the entire breed up because of the fact that he is.”
Fritz Roanhorse with Navajo Department of Agriculture said Wednesday that the cattle were delivered to Fort Wingate, “but Fort Wingate has failed to upkeep and care for the animals.” He said they were transferred to the tribal ranch a couple years ago.
“We're taking care of them, they're on the tribal ranches, they're reproducing and will be a part of the tribal enterprise. We'll probably register them and start a good herd. Right now we're just taking care of them for the Speaker's Office,” he said.
In a November presentation to the Resources Committee, Honts said Navajo Enterprises entered into a non-binding agreement with the Nation in May 2007 – the same month McCombs committed to donate the cattle -- which gave them the right to do full feasibility studies on many trust and fee properties.
“Those studies, and the results of those will come back to you soon in this committee, with recommended plans of action for major developments for large resorts, for co-development plans around gaming facilities which we've been working with the Navajo Gaming Enterprise on, and for a number of other projects,” he said.
“And I wasn't shot between the eyes by Mr. McCombs when I told him I just had a plan for him to guarantee a loan for $76 million. He's very interested. We believe that if Big Bo Ranch can be pledged as security to the loan on a long-term basis, it would be perfectly secure, but it will make a loan package that will allow this to happen.”
Edison Mission Energy and Foresight Wind Energy, a venture partner with Edison, are seeking a modification to the Big Bo master lease for a three-phase wind project. If they get the modification, construction of Phase I, Aubrey Cliffs, is expected to begin by Fourth Quarter 2009 and generate 70 to 99 megawatts of renewable energy.
Honts said that he, McCombs and Foster hoped to prepare modifications to the Big Bo master lease agreement after which “Red and I would start on some of the most lucrative, promising ways for Big Bo to make money in other ways, like proving out a water development on that ranch which could be even bigger than wind if we could find the right amount of water.”
LeChee Chapter recently gave unanimous approval to a resolution denouncing the potential development by Navajo Enterprises of 50,000 acres along Navajo Canyon in LeChee, Kaibeto and Inscription House chapters for private home sites, hotels, casinos, and possibly other business ventures. LeChee Chapter is located adjacent to Lake Powell.
“We, the people of the LeChee Chapter, adopt this resolution to put the central government on notice that we will resist any move to take our land. The chapter calls upon the central government of the Navajo Nation, specifically Speaker Lawrence Morgan and Delegate Ervin Keeswood to disclose any discussions on such a venture before proceeding further,” the resolution states.
LeChee resident Ivan Gamble has questioned McCombs' cattle donation as well as legislation sponsored by Morgan and approved by Council to rescind a 1970 memorandum of agreement regarding the Glen Canyon Recreation Area. Morgan has said that the agreement limited development of the Navajo side of Lake Powell.
There has been no presentation to LeChee Chapter members regarding the proposed Navajo Canyon development and possible long-term leasing of home sites to non-Navajos, according to Gamble. “In the Dine' way, even when the 'hataalii' (medicine man) need suds to wash their patient, they must ask the permission of the yucca bush before they remove one spindle,” he said.
Navajo Canyon development plans have not progressed beyond the “conversation over coffee” stage, according to Resources Chairman George Arthur.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Original Pechanga Blog
Indians don't need to receive full Due Process Says Judge
Judge rules Indian Housing Agency does not have to provide full due process in eviction of disenrolled IndianValley Center, CA-
The judge for the Intertribal Court of Southern California granted a request by the All Mission Indian Housing Authority (AMIHA), a tribal housing consortium in Southern California, to evict a disenrolled member of the Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians from here home on the Santa Rosa Indian Reservation.
The AMIHA instituted the eviction of the disenrolled member based on a January 9, 2008 request by the Santa Rosa Tribal Council seeking action against the disenrolled member and other occupants of her home. Based on an investigation by the AMIHA, the disenrolled member was served with a Notice of Termination on January 23, 2008. Subsequently, the AMIHA instituted an eviction proceeding against the disenrolled member.
In the Answer to the AMIHA's Complaint for Eviction, the disenrolled member denied the grounds listed for eviction and further claimed that the AMIHA violated the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 and the Mutual Help and Occupancy Agreement (MHOA) which governs the lease agreement between herself and AMIHA.
The Answer specifically pointed to procedural requirements contained in the MHOA which a housing authority must comply with before issuing a notice of termination. The procedural requirements at issue specifically protect lessees from arbitrary and unjust termination actions by requiring Indian housing authorities to follow certain steps prior to issuing a notice of eviction.
In spite of the AMIHA's failure to comply with the stated procedural requirements and case law from other tribal courts which state that a housing authority must comply with the procedural requirements set forth in the MHOA, the judge stated that it was not necessary for the AMIHA to provide due process and equal protection under all aspects of the MHOA as long as they did so after the termination.
The ruling and the judge's reasoning could have far reaching affects on all AMIHA lessees and other HUD program beneficiaries as it clears the way for tribal housing agencies to violate specific procedural requirements, without fear of legal consequences, meant to protect lessees from arbitrary termination actions.
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