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Reporting from Native America

Wednesday
September 17, 2014
Latest post: March 20 5:07 pm

Navajo Cops highlights domestic disputes in Navajo Country

By Stacy Thacker, University of Montana

In Navajo Cops this week viewers are exposed to a major problem happening in Navajo and Indian Country that shouldn't be happening at all- domestic disputes. These disputes aren't just happening to spouses but to other family members. In many Native cultures family is the key to wealth, health and success. It is a sacred privilege that shouldn't be taken for granted.

This week's episode was special for me. I was afforded a small break from school to come home and be with my family in Navajo, N.M., and I have to admit there’s nothing like watching Navajo Cops at home, on the great Navajo Nation, knowing you are just miles from the scenes filmed and even better, that you're with your family.  

While my family and I gathered together we watched as Navajo officers headed to Klagetoh, Ariz., to break up a fight that occurred between two brothers. The officers get one brother into a police unit but the other brother becomes unruly and as he tries to fight officers they have no choice but to use a taser to force him into the vehicle. This is a sad sight as the officers reflect on how this isn't part of the Navajo culture.

In Kayenta, Ariz., the home of Monument Valley or as the narrator puts it, an area "immortalized in John Wayne westerns," an officer gets a call about a suspect who was tied up after threatening to get a gun and shoot people in the area. The incident occurred after a fight broke out between a few guys who obtained injuries. While the heat of the moment lead the suspect to get his gun it took people around him to tie him up and the police to bring him in to stop the violence.  

The show takes a break from Kayenta and heads to Tuba City, Ariz., where a sister has called the cops on her brother who is accused of being abusive to her children and she wants him out of the house. The young man is drunk and disorderly when officers arrive causing them to arrest him. The man was given a choice to leave in peace but his mouth proved to be trouble and landed him at the Tuba City station where his violent conduct caused him to be taken down by three officers and left in a cell to sleep it off. His attitude under intoxication and possibly drugs has proven to severly change his character and personality.

Soon we are back in Kayenta, Ariz., where a mother has asked for assistants from Officer Nelson to get her children back from her brother-in-law. The woman's husband was recently killed by his brother after being stabbed in the chest, the brother has recently gotten out of prison and the mother fears for the safety of her children. When Officer Nelson arrives at the house of the brother-in-law's, he is confronted by a disobedient man who refuses to give up the children and blocks their path to the door. After the man realizes that the kids want to leave he tells them that once they walk out the door they aren't welcomed back. In Navajo culture uncles play a big role in the life of a young male, they are supposed to be role models and teachers, but that wasn't the case here.

Although the show takes us through a winding road of families fighting we are shown the bonds that some families on the reservation have. Officer Toddy takes on a shift with his older brother, Erwin Toddy. While they are put in trying situations with more family quarrels and domestic disputes, they end their shift by providing humor for one another. They take their down time and use the gift of sibling bond to laugh and relieve stress.  

Being able to spend time with my family this week was a blessing that I am thankful to have had. Although domestic disputes sadly have gotten people and cops killed on the reservation it isn't something that occurs in most families. The bond and privileges that families bring are important to tradition and culture. It is the structure that keeps our way of life going even in this modern age.


Stacy Thacker (Navajo) is from Navajo, N.M.

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