Suit To Be Filed Against Navajo Nation Over Bennett Freeze Recovery Plan - Native Students in U Of A Med-Start Program
By Kathy Helms
WINDOW ROCK – Forty-three years to the day the Bennett Freeze first was imposed, the Forgotten People Community Development Corp., announced Wednesday that it plans to file suit against the Navajo Nation for public disclosure of the “Former Bennett Freeze Area Recovery Plan.”
U.S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs Robert Bennett imposed the Bennett Freeze on July 8, 1966. The freeze, which blocked home and property improvements on disputed land between the Navajo and Hopi tribes, made poverty a way of life for thousands of people living on 1.5 million acres in the western portion of the Navajo Nation. Countless more were displaced.
The freeze made it illegal for Navajo people living in the disputed area to repair their homes, build new homes, have access to running water, electricity, infrastructure and development. Elderly people whose wells ran dry could not drill a new well and, in many cases, were forced to drink uranium- and arsenic-contaminated water.
The ban on construction and high unemployment rate forced the area's young people to work away from their homes and families. It also had a devastating effect on a traditional Navajo socio-economic systems centered around raising livestock and farming.
On May 8, President Obama signed legislation to end the freeze. Though an Albuquerque consulting firm, WHPacific Inc., held public meetings in 2008 to develop a recovery plan for chapters impacted by the former freeze, no plan for rehabilitation has been made public.
Attorney James W. Zion of Albuquerque, who represents the Forgotten People, sent a notice Monday by registered mail to Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr. and Attorney General Louis Denetsosie, notifying them of the group's intent to file suit against Scott House, manager of the Former Bennett Freeze Area Recovery Plan Task Force, the Navajo Nation, and WHPacific Inc. for production and public disclosure of the Former Bennett Freeze Area Recovery Plan.
There was no immediate response from the president's office.
“There's been the complaint over the decades that the people themselves are not listened to by their own government, the feds or anybody else, and what's going on with the Bennett Freeze is extremely important,” Zion said Wednesday.
“I was excited when there was an announcement that an engineering firm out of Albuquerque was going to be putting together a report. I watched the deadlines over the past year and I noticed President Shirley mentioning it in his address to the Council, but the reports haven't been released.
“What's frustrating is a number of months ago I was at a meeting at Navajo Housing Authority, and there was a stack of the Bennett Freeze reports. I asked for one and I was told they were confidential. So, basically, I told the Forgotten People that they ought to make a formal demand for a copy under the Privacy Act and that if there was no reply in the three-month time period that I would bring a suit for them,” Zion said.
The Forgotten People made a formal demand March 31 for a copy of the plan under the Navajo Nation Privacy Act. Because there has been no response, the group intends to bring suit and to make the plan public when a copy is obtained.
“We're actually giving notice of the possibility of bringing a couple of claims – one under the Free Speech provision under the Navajo Nation Bill of Rights to attempt to establish a right of access to government information, and the other is the right of access to information under the Fundamental Laws,” Zion said.
Despite WHPacific's promise that the “final project deadline” would be Sept. 15, 2008, and despite President Shirley's Jan. 26 announcement to Council that he would produce the plan, it has not been made public so it can be reviewed by the victims of the Bennett Freeze, the group said.
“We now have legislation in place that formally terminated the freeze,” the group said in a press release. “What we do not have is either a plan or a program of rehabilitation to deal with the freeze, or effective involvement of the victims of the freeze to address its severe impacts.”
Native Students Participate In UA College Of Medicine's Med-Start Program In Tucson
Submitted by Jean Spinelli,
U of A Information Specialist Coordinator
July 08, 2009
Most people remember the summer of 1969 as the time when man first walked on the moon and Woodstock happened. But a group of high school students from rural areas of Arizona, the reservations, South Tucson and South Phoenix remember it as the first time a world of opportunity in health care was opened up for them, changing the direction of their lives.
Forty years ago -- just two years after The University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson opened its doors to its first class of medical students -- the College opened its doors to a group of about 20 high school students who came to the campus to attend the first Med-Start summer program and learn firsthand what it takes to be a health-care professional.
“The Med-Start program is an intensive experience in which the students acquire basic medical knowledge while learning about health-care careers,” says Linda K. Don, assistant dean with the UA College of Medicine’s Office of Outreach and Multicultural Affairs, which administers the program. “In addition, they’re introduced to college life, which is vital to students entering health professions.”
“The real magic of Med-Start is revealed in the personal stories of career success,” she notes. “Whether the youth who have benefited from Med-Start became direct-care providers or chose career paths outside of the health professions, many have had a tremendous impact on the lives of others.”
As examples, she cites:
- Mariana Amaya, MD, a 1992 participant who graduated from the UA College of Medicine in 2001 and practices obstetrics and gynecology in Phoenix. Dr. Amaya also participated in the UA Minority Medical Education Program (MMEP) in 1994.
- Ernestine Bustamante, MD, a 1988 participant who graduated from the UA College of Medicine in 1997 and practices obstetrics and gynecology in Phoenix.
- Carlos R. Gonzales, MD, a 1970 participant who graduated from the UA College of Medicine in 1981 and is an associate professor with the UA College of Medicine Department of Family and Community Medicine. An award-winning family practice physician, he is a leader in addressing the challenges of border health issues.
- Evelinda Gonzales, a 2002 participant and daughter of Dr. Carlos Gonzales (see above) who is a member of the UA College of Medicine class of 2011.
- Larry Oñate, MD, a 1978 participant who graduated from the UA College of Medicine in 1989, is a psychiatrist in Tucson who also is medical director of the Southern Arizona Mental Health Corp.
- Celida Rangel, MD, a 1990 participant who graduated from the UA College of Medicine in 2002 and is a pediatrician in Phoenix.
Dr. Gonzales, one of the original Med-Start students, recalls that as a student at Pueblo High School, “I had an inclination to dream about going into medicine, but it was just a major dream.
“Med-Start motivated me,” he added, explaining that he became the first in his family to go on to college. “Without Med-Start, it wouldn’t have happened. I would have worked in the mines or gone into construction.”
The program was developed to improve health care in rural and economically disadvantaged areas and to increase the number of minority health-care professionals in Arizona. UA College of Medicine Founding Dean Merlin K. “Monte” DuVal, MD, who helped shape the College, from choosing its site and designing the original facility to recruiting faculty and raising funds, lent his support in 1968 to a group of idealistic and innovative minority medical students who championed the Med-Start cause.
Those students included Marcos Duarte, Ruth Smothers and Yuel Tom, all of whom later completed their medical degrees at the UA. After Dr. DuVal’s death in 2006, generous gifts from family and friends established The Merlin K. “Monte” DuVal Memorial Med-Start Endowment, which pays tribute to the founding dean while supporting this vital program.
Today, in addition to the summer program, Med-Start promotes youth exploration of health careers year-round -- through tours of the Arizona Health Sciences Center, high school career days, student health events and other activities.
Several thousand students have participated in Med-Start since it was launched in 1969. In 2004, Med-Start grew to include a second program in Phoenix (then called Maricopa Med-Start or M2, now Med-Start PHOENIX), which initially accepted only Maricopa-area high school students. Med-Start is held on The University of Arizona campus in Tucson and at The University of Arizona College of Medicine - Phoenix in partnership with Arizona State University in Phoenix.
The five-week academic summer program is for Arizona students who will be entering their senior year of high school and who are interested in careers in the health professions, are of underrepresented or diverse backgrounds, are living in rural areas or are economically disadvantaged. The program encourages them to pursue health-care careers by helping them prepare for college life, introducing them to health-career opportunities and informing them about educational pathways.
Med-Start participants explore a variety of health professions, engage in hands-on presentations, and take college-level coursework in chemistry, composition and study skills.
Med-Start TUCSON participants live on campus in a UA residence hall; this year, Med-Start PHOENIX is a day-only program.
This summer, 61 high school students from across the state are participating in Med-Start: 39 in Med-Start TUCSON and 22 in Med-Start PHOENIX. Both programs are being held through July 11.
Native American Med-Start TUCSON participants include:
- Victoria Cannon, Pascua Yaqui, of Tucson, a student at Cholla Magnet High School.
- Jonathan Credo, Navajo, of Flagstaff, a student at Coconino High School.
- Sky Fimbres, Pascua Yaqui, of Tucson, a student at Rincon High School.
- Chanse Foster, Navajo, of Tuba City, a student at Tuba City High School.
- Samantha Nez, Navajo, of Mesa, a student at East Valley Academy.
- Natasha Yazzie, Navajo, of Mesa, a student at East Valley Academy.
For more information about the Dr. Merlin K. “Monte” DuVal Endowment, or to contribute to this important effort, call the UA College of Medicine Development Office, (520) 626-2827, or e-mail email@example.com
TO SUBMIT an ARTICLE, OPINION PIECE, COMMENTS to the Native Unity Digest, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
NATIVE UNITY - A place for Native American Peoples to solidify their tribes to make a positive impact on the cultural, social, economic and political fabric of American society and a place for non-Natives to better understand the ways of the American Indian.
ATT: NEW - News Blog - American Indian Report - AIR BLOG
'Yup'ik Speakers To Receive Language Assistance In Bethel Election'
THE BUFFALO POST - Missoulian Montana's Native News Blog about Native People And The World We Live In.
'Distressing Federal Report On Indian Country Gang Crime'
Check Out NATIVE PRIDE- It's a great site!
FOR ANNIE'S NATIVE CELEBRITY NEWS - go to www.nativecelebs.com
CATCH COLORADAN PETER JONES AT:
SUPPORTING NATIVE AMERICAN/FIRST PEOPLE - ARTISTS, FILM MAKERS, ENTERTAINERS, ETC. http://www.krystynmedia.blogspot.com.