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TRIBAL LOANS TO TRIBAL OFFICIALS ELICIT WRATH OF NAVAJO LEADER

SHARE TRIBAL LOANS TO TRIBAL OFFICIALS ELICIT WRATH OF NAVAJO LEADER

Several Navajo tribal officials have been given tribal loans, much to the displeasure of Navajo President Peterson Zah.

"Tribal officials should be the last people in line for these services," Zah said this week. "These programs are for the Navajo people."Among officials whose loans were approved is Fort Defiance Councilman Elmer Milford and his wife, Julie, who were approved for a $100,000 loan to provide bus service to nearby Indian gambling casinos.

Milford, who is chairman of the Natural Resources Committee on the Navajo Nation Council, said his loan from the tribe's Business and Industrial Development Fund requires $33,000 in matching funds from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which has yet to approve the package.

He declined comment beyond saying that "I don't have a loan; it's my wife's."

Harrison Ned, director of Navajo Veterans Affairs, was given a veteran's loan of $3,000 for tires and a vacation in July.

"We handle all loans identically the same," Ned said. "We don't discriminate." He said officials of the agency he heads aren't prohibited from receiving loans.

Ned also said some Navajos who sought but didn't get loans have been disqualified because they lack a cosigner or tribal jobs for payroll deductions.

Other tribal officials given loans include Leo Chischilly, assistant director of the veterans agency, who got $3,000 in April, and Veteran's Service Officer Raymond Jones, who got $2,531 in May.

Tohatchi and Coyote Canyon, N.M., Councilwoman Carole Tom and her husband Herman, a veteran, were approved for $1,700; Sheepsprings and Newcomb, N.M., Councilman John Gould for $3,000; and Shonto Chapter President Herbert Laughter for a $3,000 veteran's loan.

Councilman Young Jeff Tom of Smith Lake and Mariano Lake, N.M., was approved for $1,700 to refinance a previous veteran's loan.

Tribal records show Ned's monthly salary is $3,845, plus $1,154 from benefits, an income of $4,999 a month.

As a council delegate, Mrs. Tom received $18,000 in salary and per diem payments during the first four months of 1993, the records show.

"We have families like everybody else. I don't see why we shouldn't be allowed to borrow. We've got kids in college and kids to feed," the mother of three said.

The loan records were found this week in the minutes and resolutions of the Council's Government Services Committee. The committee gives final approval for loans to tribal officials.