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N20 Dedication: Ben Shelly Says “Work Together”

August 31
22:20 2013

August 29, 2013

A huge tent was set up at the Coppermine Chapter to shade hundreds of people gathered for the dedication of the new Highway N20 at Coppermine.  Many dignitaries were present and acknowledged; including Navajo Nation Council Delegates, Coconino County Supervisor Lena Fowler, and First Lady Martha Shelly.  Speakers represented local chapters, the Navajo Division of Transportation, ADOT (Arizona Department of Transportation), the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Federal Highway Administration.  Chairman Ben Shelly delivered the key address in Navajo and English.

Ben Shelly Speaks at N20 Dedication

Following are excerpts from Ben Shelly’s address to a large audience at the N20 dedication.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  This is not something that just happened 80 days ago.  Council delegates started this in 2004 and 2005.  This started way back then. Back in February, we heard about the Highway 89 collapse.  A lot of community were concerned about it.  People were calling on the cell phone and the elderly were saying that the earthquake happened. Why did the earthquake happen?  Why did the highway collapse?  So we had to find out because there is a traditional ceremony that could be done.  There is prayer for this.  That is the way of the tradition of the Navajo people.

So the earthquake happened and we needed to do a ceremony and prayer for it. So we looked at it — the elderly were there, some medicine people and the Vice President, a medicine man.  We looked and looked and looked.  It didn’t look like an earthquake.  That’s what we determined.  And all of the elderly agreed to that.  We also met some wonderful state people up there too.  Our finest Arizona Highway Patrol were there and our finest Navajo Police were keeping people out of there, and keeping the site safe — so thank you.  It happened certain ways.  These things happen.  God answers your prayers.  So now we focus on N20 — the bypass.

N20 Dedication at Coppermine Chapter of the Navajo Nation, Arizona

N20 Dedication at Coppermine Chapter of the Navajo Nation, Arizona

“So we figured it would take 3 years, and then it was going to be one year.  About 80 days ago, we did a ground breaking and the contractors were there and they said “We can do this quick.”  I kept telling them “Work together, work together.”  That’s the only way to get it done. So from there to now, we are going have the ribbon cutting today.  See how simple it is, people?  We worked together. Law enforcement, Navajo Police.  It works.  Work together like we did here.  That’s all it takes — helping each other and working together.

“Today is a great day for the Navajo Nation especially for the residents of this area — Coppermine Chapter.  We are all very happy for you all.  We come together to celebrate the paving construction of Navajo Route 20.

This new road is a lesson for the Navajo people and all who will travel on N20.  I went to some meetings up at Tuba City.  Look at what happened when a simple detour went through our town of Tuba City. That’s what you call economy.  That’s what you call build the future.  So along here, build something.  Be creative. Do it yourself.  We’ve proved we can do it. Be supportive of us and what we are doing here.

“For many decades we had to travel the bumpiest, sandiest and muddy roads.  We are thankful for the hard work and dedication of staff at the Arizona Department of Transportation.  Thank you for listening to our concerns; including cattle guards and fencing along the road.  I’m glad to see that.”

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