Caroline Tohannie

Board of Director, Forgotten People P.O. Box 298 Tonalea (Navajo Nation), AZ 86044 Message phone: (928) 797-1740 To: Transcript of Oral Statement to Mr. James Anaya, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples FOR THE OFFICIAL RECORD April 27, 2012 Welcome. Ya’at’eeh. My name is Caroline Tohannie. I am from Black Mesa. I will talk on schools and education. Navajos are left behind in that capacity. Education is important. We had prayers made here today. The prayers are taught by elders. We are made by the Creator. Our traditional dress, our hair buns were handed down generation to generation with teachings. The land, water and air were made for all. The Navajo rugs we weave have cultural and judicious teachings connected to it. Our heritage is precious. Our Dine’ (Navajo) children have gone to the white-way of the world. Our children go to school but have gone astray. I don’t know what they learn but our leaders need to address the waywardness of our children. No one investigates nor finds a solution. Before schools were in existence there were no issues about anyone saying “This is mine!” Now people have become stingy and say “This is mine!” to one another instead of sharing and living in one accord as guided by the Holy People. There are land disputes. Our values were taught according to customary values. All aspects of teachings were about maintaining a moral and respectable life. But what has happened to the cultural teachings of Dine’ (Navajo)? Now, outsiders laugh at our rituals and doctrines. They think we dress funny, chuckle when we wear our hair in a bun and shoe our feet with moccasins. Our leaders need to respect our existence. We need our leadership’s help to turn the situation around. There is considerable fear. We cannot discipline


our young children because of laws. There are always disputes because our children feel neglected and disturbed in ways leading to suicides. Suicides are prevalent among our children. Why are our children killing themselves? What can we do to prevent further suicides? The situation grieves me and many elders. I’m asking the help of our leaders to give guidance to return to harmony with our offspring and with all our surroundings. Please hear this and ponder. Please come up with a solution. Ahe’hee’(Thank you) Translated by: Fern Benally for Caroline Tohannie (Board of Director, Forgotten People)