On Jan 13, I attended the Leupp Chapter meeting on the Navajo Nation. The Leupp Chapter had a full agenda with presentations, discussions and community vote on issues about 1) the creation of Navajo nation-wide policy restricting genetic research on Navajo people, 2) the design, construction and financing of wells and piping systems to allow for better regional irrigation of crops and livestock, 3) designation of a regional land exclusion for potential economic development, and 4) a report on educational funding and student learning at the Leupp schools. It was apparent that the Chapter Officials at Leupp Chapter are very much engaged with the Navajo Nation government and regional issues.
I began my presentation by sharing that I spent 5- ½ years at Rough Rock Schools where I taught Jr. and Sr. high school science as well as night courses for elementary teachers working toward their certification. I also started the Leupp Boarding School high school for students who did not fit the Anglo method of teaching. Through Mark Sorenson, then Director, Jim Store and I created an alternative high school based on experiential learning with standard core subject matter infused. We started an agricultural program with a greenhouse where students learned traditional Navajo farming while also using microscopes and conducting science experiments to understand plant growth. I also spoke about Navajo cultural astronomy and their incredible knowledge of the sky. When Jim Store spoke in Navajo, which he is, I heard my name. Not speaking Navajo, I asked my friend Robert Chee what he was saying, and Robert responded that Jim was telling lies about me because I wasn’t as good as Jim was saying. 😊
I spoke and shared that, with their support, I would work to represent them at the County level and beyond as best possible. I first stressed that I was not there to make promises but rather to be an advocate for them in 1) cleaning up the uranium mines, 2) working for more educational funding, 3) working to develop water systems potentially with mobile or regional water purifiers as have been developed through the STAR school program and 4) continuing County road maintenance. I felt very welcome and will be returning to Leupp to learn more about their needs.
On Jan.15, I will travel to Tolani Lake Chapter meeting and then onto Birdsprings to meet with people at Little Singer School where I also worked.