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updated 8/9/2006 2:54:14 PM ET 2006-08-09T18:54:14

Minister Louis Farrakhan, speaking to the Navajo Nation Council, received applause and a standing ovation as he challenged Navajos toward self-reliance based on their wisdom, talents and the wealth of their land.

''Your ancestors were not fearful,'' Farrakhan told the council during its recent summer session.
Farrakhan said the Navajo Nation has the opportunity to reveal how a true democracy works. He said when productive activities begin in earnest, criminal and gang activities will cease.

''Rise up and show the world that the Navajo Nation is on the march,'' said Farrakhan, leader of the 1995 Million Man March in Washington.

Stressing the unity of blacks and indigenous peoples, Farrakhan urged Navajos to think of themselves as one nation with other Native tribes, without divisions, pointing out that there are indigenous people in Asia, Central America and other nations.

Farrakhan said if Navajos think of themselves as only a small part of that nation, then they become a minority. The solution, he said, is to come together in unity.

He also pointed out that Christopher Columbus never asked the people what they called themselves when he arrived in this hemisphere. Recognizing Navajos as Dine', he said blacks and American Indians share common histories of oppression.

‘We are suffering from self-neglect’
But he said Navajos are surrounded by the wealth of their land. While the dollar fades, the Earth endures and takes care of the people of the Earth, he said. If people are not producers, they are consumers of what others produce. In the latter case, it is natural for producers to look down on people, he said.

''We feel that we are suffering because of government neglect. The real truth is we are suffering from self-neglect.''

Referring to Navajos' origins on this land, Farrakhan said the people were creative as they learned to survive in this harsh region. But, he added, today people are dependent on federal dollars.

He said now only 5 percent of the businesses on the Navajo Nation are owned by Navajos. Non-Navajos, he said, are taking the money away from tribal land. He said people are not respected by others if they are not productive.

Farrakhan said he did not come to address the issue of bordertown racism, but had read in the newspaper about the racism and violence in nearby Farmington, N.M.

He questioned what Navajos could do to change the situation.

''You cannot defeat racism by picketing,'' he said. ''Marching will never win the respect of the people who are looking down on us as a people.''

The way to win respect, he said, is for people to acquire knowledge and then look to the environment to see what the Creator has given them.

Both the black and the red man have fallen down, he said. But, he added, Navajos are a rich people because of their land.

After Farrakhan's address and during comments, Fort Defiance Councilman Larry Anderson told Farrakhan that Navajos are still being put down by the majority who will not let Navajos move forward.

''It is not what they will allow us, it is what we permit,'' Farrakhan said, attracting applause from those in the council chambers.

Farrakhan said the goal is to free the Navajo Nation, black people and oppressed people everywhere from thinking that ''we are less and we are inferior.''

Navajos have land and can provide their own food, rather than relying on supermarkets, he said. He added that diseases are the result of the food and water that people consume.

Stressing development, he said if the United States does not want to loan money to the Navajo Nation, there are nations outside the United States that would loan the tribe money for development.

Beyond casinos
He also urged Navajos not to depend on casinos, but rather to rely on the skills and expertise of their tribal members. He said Rex Lee Jim, councilman from Rock Point and among the Navajos he spent time with during several days on the Navajo Nation, is an example of Navajos with great education, vision and wisdom.

Urging Navajos to control their own resources, Farrakhan said the United States has taken the land where gas is coming through, while keeping indigenous people without heat and water.

''This is criminal,'' he said.

Farrakhan said he is the product of a great wife and thanked the Navajo Nation for its gifts. He also presented a pen, handmade by Wayne Mohammad, encouraging Navajos to use it to sign new treaties and documents.

Among Farrakhan's gifts to the Navajo Nation was the documentary the ''Unmasking of New Orleans,'' showing the horror of Hurricane Katrina and the response. Urging Navajos to prepare for disasters, he said the United States cannot be depended on in times of disaster.

Before his address, Farrakhan greeted the council with a remembrance of Moses, the Koran and Mohammad and the Arabic phrase that translates to ''peace be unto you.'' Then, Farrakhan expressed appreciation for the wise among indigenous who can provide unity and self-respect.

Traveling with his family and own security, Farrakhan introduced his granddaughter, Yo'NasDa LoneWolf Muhammad, national director of the Indigenous Nations Alliance of the Millions More Movement. He said her late mother was full-blood Oglala Sioux from Pine Ridge, S.D.

Farrakhan said Muhammad grew up with her mother's teaching and both always wanted to see the black and the red peoples come together. Although her mother passed away two years ago, Farrakhan said her mother was present with great joy to facilitate the effort of bringing together the black and red peoples.

Muhammad arranged the trip and contacted the Navajo Nation and President Joe Shirley Jr., who had previously reached out to him. After meeting in Phoenix with Shirley and staff members, the president invited Farrakhan to come to Navajo's sacred land, he said.

© 2013 Indian Country Today. All rights reserved.

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