'Navajo Preference' Does Not Apply At Peabody Coal - SMSC's 'Playworks' Celebrates 15 Years
By Kathy Helms
WINDOW ROCK – Within the next 90 days the Navajo Nation Council will hold a work session to review all leases since 1960 pertaining to Peabody Western Coal Co., and possibly hold public hearings before presenting oral and written reports during spring session.
Council tabled a resolution Dec. 22 calling for approval of a “reopener” amendment which would have given the tribe 12.5 percent coal royalties until 2017 – the minimum set by Congress in 1977 – a signing bonus of $1.55 million for both leases, an annual bonus of $3.5 million a year for 10 years, and a total of $250,000 in scholarship funding.
The tabling motion requested by Shonto Delegate Jonathan Nez passed 53-7 after Black Mesa residents brought up issues ranging from coal dust to traditional teachings, and a Peabody worker alleged racial discrimination. Representatives from Peabody listened carefully but did not address Council after the presentation.
“The only reason why they're sitting over there as senior managers is because of two reasons: They're white, and also because their fathers are also second-, third- and fourth-generation employees. I'm sitting over here because my dad is not a Peabody employee, and also, I am not white,” said Eugene Bedonie.
“There is nepotism well and alive on our own land, and I am really opposed to it. Peabody, their own attorneys, they tell us in our meetings – and I have the statements written down – that Navajo preference does not apply at Peabody Coal Co. Why not guys? Why not?” he asked.
Many of his colleagues – Navajo supervisors – did not attend the Council session, he said, because Peabody is the only job they have. “They are not as educated as I am. I have bachelor's degree. I also have my master's degree, and I can put up my credentials against any one of those three individuals up there, and I'm more qualified than any one of them.”
Navajo preference should be complied with, but it's not happening, he said, adding that he works third shift with a young Navajo man who also has a master's degree, and they are “hitting the glass ceiling,” an invisible barrier that keeps them from advancing.
“Peabody needs to be made to comply with the hiring policy or they can go home. As far as I'm concerned, I have workers that are qualified to run the mine. You don't need their 12-1/2 percent royalty rate. That's a poultry crumb. You should be able to run the mine with your own people and get 100 percent of the benefits from it. We don't need Peabody.”
Bedonie applied for a senior position but didn't get the job, he said because he was told he didn't have budgeting experience. “I worked with the budget down here at KTNN, Kayenta Unified School District, Kayenta Township. ... They lied to me. Three years later I found out that the white guy they had hired didn't even have a college degree. Why did they do that?
“Then I started studying and I found out that more than half of the senior management people that are white did not even have a high school education. That hurts guys. That really hurts.”
He encouraged Council not to approve the reopener. “We can run our own mine. I think the Navajo Nation is ready. We're ready to take over that mine and run it and get the 100 percent benefit,” he said to rousing applause.
Marie Gladue of Black Mountain area, which is located within the Navajo-Hopi Partitioned Land, said her father, who is now deceased, has a homesite in the mine area.
“I was thinking that in the white man's way I should have some kind of inheritance for all the money that's being dug up from there. But the Kentucky Fried Chicken dinner yesterday,” provided by Peabody during Monday's work session, “was the first thing I probably ever got from Peabody directly. But on the other hand, I think it's we that paid for it.”
Gladue said it appears that the Navajo leaders just look at the revenues, but they need to remember the people and the values taught them by their elders in the Navajo Creation Story. “We've been colonized only 150 years. The Holy People lived here at the beginning of this world.”
She cited the issue of global warming. “Some people are skeptical about that. It doesn't take a medicine man, it doesn't take a genius to realize we are in this climate change. Look at the drastic weather patterns. We are in trouble. The trend today is the Western world is looking at indigenous cultures to try to change where their world is going.”
U.S. Environmental Protection agency withdrew its water discharge permit for Black Mesa and the National Park Service is pushing EPA to have Navajo Generating Station install better scrubbers, placing its future in doubt, she said.
“What I propose is leave the coal in the ground. Look at the carbon capture trading that they do. Obama is going to be working with the senators to put that into action.”
Rose Yazzie of Black Mesa said the area has a lot of unmet needs that are not being addressed, such as infrastructure. Another issue is the coal dust.
“You can see it with your own eyes. A lot of the people that are living in the area are breathing those, and there are a lot burning coal and breathing the sulfur. There are people now, including my brother, that have developed asthma. We no longer want to breathe in that dirty coal dust.”
Delegate Kee Yazzie Mann said that throughout history people have come to the reservation to investigate its minerals, and the Navajo people, “because of our generosity in our heart, we helped them, not knowing that they would Westernize our cultural values.”
Mann said his parents were approached by a company to get their consent for a railroad right of way. “They were told that if they were to give their consent for a right of way that they would have water run to their place. Those railroad tracks were used for a short period of time and then removed. My parents never received their promise ... They died without receiving these basic necessities.”
Jack Colorado said he worked for Peabody for 20 years. “I support the story and presentation given by Mr. Bedonie. I think we need to address these issues for our Navajo people and our constituents out there. I think that we need to listen to our Navajo people and the pleas they present to the Council.”
Edward Jim said he would like to see a plan so he can believe Navajo is ready to manufacture coal.
Nelson Begaye took Council to task, referring to Attorney General Louis Denetsosie's report about the hiring of a special prosecutor to pursue allegations against President Joe Shirley Jr. and others.
“It's really a sad day here in Navajo. The previous report showed that the three-branch government is fighting, hiring lawyers after another. Why are we fighting each other? We should be fighting outside forces like Peabody. And they're sitting here taking it all in ... that's to their advantage.”
Kathryn Benally posed a question to her constituents. “What is preventing us as Navajo from competing against Peabody and opening up our own coal mining company, the way these folks are recommending? I'd like to recommend that that be studied immediately.”
Playworks Celebrates 15 Years Of Caring For Children
by Tessa Lehto,
Prior Lake, MN – It was January 9, 1995, when Playworks first opened their doors. Now 15 years later, Playworks is still taking excellent care of children. Playworks will celebrate this anniversary on Saturday, January 9, 2010, with a special open house event.
“Playworks provides a valuable service to our members and employees by providing quality child care in a safe, fun, and nurturing environment,” said SMSC Chairman Stanley R. Crooks.
Parents and children are invited for free Family Play on that day with each child receiving a free gift. Games, contests, prize drawings, and activities for all ages will make January 9th a very special day at Playworks. Those ordering from the PWs Grill will receive a free cupcake. A special $15 Party Pack will include a large one-topping pizza, a pitcher of pop, and 15 arcade tokens.
As an added bonus, an online coupon for a free seven inch Pixie Cheese Pizza is available simply by going to http://www.playworksfun.com/, printing the coupon and bringing it in on January 9th! Children in Playworks’ care on January 9th will also enjoy the festivities in the Atrium. PW and Pixie, the cuddly Playworks' mascots, will make an appearance and take pictures with the children.
Playworks is a one-of-a-kind, world-class facility for children, open to the general public for Before and After School Age Care, Summer Camp, birthday parties, PW’s Playtime (drop-off hourly care), Family Play, and Group Trips. Playworks features incredible variety, from interactive, age-appropriate computer games and arcade games, arts and crafts, reading, building blocks, and more. Professional teachers work with children to encourage them on their learning adventure.
Playworks has a fabulous indoor play area which contains the area's largest indoor playground. Highlighting the Atrium’s new look which was completed in 2009 is a bigger, taller, playstructure which offers children an incredible number of twists, turns, webs, bridges, climbs, slides, and imaginative and fun activities. Because the playstructure is made out of strong, yet lightweight composite mesh, parents can watch their children playing and having fun inside the playstructure. The 8’x8’ interactive floor under the playstructure gives parents and children an opportunity to play games and dance together.
As part of the renovation, the Arcade has been moved to a different area inside the Atrium. The Arcade features a variety of new, interactive movement games, along with past favorites, including ticket redemption games. Children love to redeem game tickets at PWs Redemption Counter.
The renovation also included the addition of more interactive, non-violent arcade games like Wii, Playstation 3, and X-Box 360, along with a new host stand, expanded seating and new flooring. Large screen monitors were mounted throughout the Atrium. The enclosed Toddler area, where families and young children can play together, was also relocated. Building updates to lighting, security cameras, fire alarms, and sprinklers was also completed in 2009.
"We're happy to celebrate fifteen years serving local families. The early childhood years lay the foundation for children's successes in school and later in life, and we're happy to be a part of that. Because this time is so important, we thank our children and their families for a great fifteen years," said Playworks Director Amy Donaldson.
About PlayworksPlayworks is owned and operated by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, a federally recognized Indian Tribe near the Twin Cities in Minnesota. Playworks is located 1/2 mile south of Mystic Lake Casino Hotel at 2200 Trail of Dreams, Prior Lake, Minnesota. For more information call Playworks at 952-445-PLAY (7529) or see our website at http://www.playworksfun.com/.
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