Can A Woman Lead The Navajo Nation? - Mary Kim Titla To Run For San Carlos Apache Chairman
By Kathy Helms
WINDOW ROCK – Depending on who you talk to, Lynda Lovejoy's landslide victory, coupled with a tornado in Many Farms and dams bursting in the Tsaile/Wheatfields area, either herald the end of civilization as we know it, or it is a sign that Navajos are on the right path to restoring balance to the Nation.
Lovejoy won the most votes in the August 3rd Primary and will face Ben Shelley, incumbent Nation vice-president, in the November 2nd General Election.
As results of the presidential primary election poured in Tuesday evening at the Sports Center and it became evident that Lovejoy was going to be the top vote-getter, the whispers began.
“A woman don't belong in office as a leader. The world will come to an end,” one medicine man said he was taught. He viewed the tornado sighting and days of torrential rain and flooding as a warning.
But Delegate Ralph Bennett of Crystal said Wednesday, “The leadership song gives credit to the earth, Mother Earth, a woman. She's a leader opposite to the Sky, the father. ... You have male leaders, you have female leaders, and these are songs brought by the Holy People.” You can't exclude women as leaders, he said.
One man who watched the election night results and listened to the talk at the Sports Center said there are many stories about First Man and First Woman, and their child, Changing Woman, whose sons Monster Slayer and Born for Water rid the land between the four sacred mountains of dangerous monsters.
One of those monsters was a tornado. Here is the story he shared:
Monster Slayer and Born for Water went to their dad, the Sun, and were given tools to fight off all the monsters. They were able to successfully kill most of the monsters, but one of them – the tornado – was coming from the south and they couldn't kill it using the weapons the Sun gave them, so they had to go back into the house to their mother.
They said, “Mom, we cannot kill this monster. It's too much for us. Even with the weapons that were given to us, it's not doing the job.”
Their mother said, “OK.” She didn't even look outside. She got her spindle and her tools that she was using to weave a rug and she made a bow. Next, she used her stirring sticks. There are seven of them, and she gave three to one son and three to the other and said, “I'm going to keep this one, just in case.”
The stirring sticks became arrows; her big grinding stone a shield. With those tools they were able to fight off the tornado.
“The male and the female are equal,” he said. “The male warrior is given the right to be out there to fight off the enemies and the woman will stay behind. That is the Beauty Way side of it. But that tells you that even on the Beauty Way side they have weapons. The end result is that they need each other.”
One story foretells of chaotic times when the Navajo male leaders go the wrong way and a woman has to come in and use her weapon to straighten things up. That is the time when there will be tornadoes and earthquakes, he said.
“But there's no story that says the woman continued to be the leader. So this next four years might be the time for a woman to come in and do this, and then relinquish that leadership and give it back to the male folk while she returns to the Beauty Way side again.”
Another interpretation of present events, he said, is that the Holy Ones are actually acknowledging that Navajo is moving in the right direction, saying, “Listen, we told you so. Now we're letting you know that you're going the right way.”
When Lovejoy ran for president four years ago, some said that if she really wanted to lead the way, she should get endorsement by the Diné Medicine Man Association and the Diné Hataalii Association, he said.
“Another man said that if she is going to be the leader, she should stay home here and let the vice president – who should be a male – do everything outside the four sacred mountains.
“There are different versions,” he said.
Titla: It's Time To Take A Stand!
San Carlos, AZ—Mary Kim Titla, San Carlos Apache, has announced she will run for Chairman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe.
Titla, who was born and raised on the San Carlos reservation, moved back to her hometown a few years ago and is employed there. “Numerous people encouraged me to run. They don’t like what they’ve seen in the last four years. They want change. A lot of thought and prayer went into my decision. I understand where the people are coming from. I’ve lived in similar conditions.
“The San Carlos Apache Reservation is my home. It always has been and always will be. I care deeply about the people, especially the youth, and I’ll work hard to make improvements. It's time to take a stand,” said Titla, who is of the Te’nolzhage’ (Descending into water in peaks) clan, born into the K’ainchiidn (Red Willow) clan.
Running for public office is nothing new for Titla. In 2008 she came in a strong 2nd to Ann Kirkpatrick out of four candidates in the primary race for Congressional District 1.
The former TV News Reporter has worked over the past two years as a substitute teacher and now as Communications Officer for the San Carlos Unified School District.
She also serves as Tribal Liaison for the Gila County Board of Supervisors. In addition, Titla is publisher of Native Youth Magazine online, a website focusing on the talents and lifestyles of Native youth.
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