Obama Gets Advice, Letters From Young Navajos

Teacher Margaret Erhart with some of her students at Eagle's Nest Intermediate School. i i

Teacher Margaret Erhart with some of her students at Eagle's Nest Intermediate School in Arizona. Daniel Kraker for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Daniel Kraker for NPR
Teacher Margaret Erhart with some of her students at Eagle's Nest Intermediate School.

Teacher Margaret Erhart with some of her students at Eagle's Nest Intermediate School in Arizona.

Daniel Kraker for NPR

Dear Mr. Obama

Hear a sampling of Navajo students reading their letters to President-elect Barack Obama:

Students in the Navajo Nation town of Tuba City, Ariz., wrote letters to President-elect Obama. i i

Students in the Navajo Nation town of Tuba City, Ariz., wrote letters to President-elect Obama on topics from Hannah Montana to classroom laptops. Daniel Kraker for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Daniel Kraker for NPR
Students in the Navajo Nation town of Tuba City, Ariz., wrote letters to President-elect Obama.

Students in the Navajo Nation town of Tuba City, Ariz., wrote letters to President-elect Obama on topics from Hannah Montana to classroom laptops.

Daniel Kraker for NPR

As he prepares to take over the Oval Office, President-elect Barack Obama is getting plenty of advice. And some of it is coming from Navajo students in Arizona. In letters to the incoming president, the youngsters describe their lives — and ask some probing questions.

The project was the idea of Margaret Erhart, who teaches creative writing at Eagle's Nest Intermediate School in the high desert of northern Arizona. The school is in Tuba City, Ariz., on the Navajo Nation reservation.

As Erhart told NPR's Renee Montagne, the letters from students in the fourth, fifth and sixth grades exude an excited curiosity about the nation's new leader. And many of them also provide a glimpse at childhoods endangered by poverty.

Below, a selection of students' letters:

Dear Mr. Obama,

My name is Bianca Yazzie. My clans are White Towering House and Mexican People clan, and the Salt People clan. I am a girl with long brown hair with blue fingernails. Here is my interesting question: Do you like Hannah Montana songs? If you do you're an awesome president for the United States of America.

Sincerely,

Bianca Yazzie

Dear Mr. Obama,

Hello, my name is Alisa Talor Yazzie. My maternal clan is Deer Springs, born for Bitter Water, and my paternal clan is Red Bottom clan, born for Towering House. I am full-blooded Navajo and I am 9 years old. At my school I voted for you, I wanted you to win. I was also a princess at my other school but I gave up my crown. There are a lot of things that are happening in my life. My uncle has kidney failure on both kidneys, but he'll be all right, won't he? I hope so. I just wanted to say hi, and I hope I will be able to see you once. When I get a new phone I will tell you my number.

Sincerely,

Alisa Yazzie

Dear Mr. Obama,

My name is Shayla and my clans are Kinyaa'aanii, Kinyaa'aanii, and my third one is Biih Bitoo'nii. This is what my house looks like. It is brown and really old and inside it looks really blank and it is 60 years old. This is what I look like. I have long brown hair and I wear boy's clothes and a little bit of girl's clothes and a yellow jacket that I got in 1st grade. My age is 9 and I'm in 4th grade. Thank you for being a president-elect. All we need is a new house, that's it, that's all we need, no money, nothing. But one more thing we need are the bills a little bit catched up or we'll have to live with our grandma.

Sincerely,

Shayla Naswood

Dear Mr. Obama,

My name is Geri Sorrell Thompson. I live in Cameron, Arizona, where they have rivers and they have washes and they even have canyons that are not very safe at all and where people get eaten by mountain lions because we live by the canyon. What I like to do in school is read and do math problems on the chalkboard. My favorite color is blue but very dark blue, and even light pink too. I am 10 years old.

Sincerely,

Your best friend Geri

Dear Mr. Obama,

My name is Christopher Tinajero. I live in a brick house. All my family needs is food. Whenever I get home and I'm hungry I cannot find anything. We can't go anywhere because we always have no gas to drive. My mama voted for you, Obama, because we are a big fan. When you won we went crazy. I would want you to take away guns so our people don't have to die.

Sincerely,

Christopher Garcia Tinajero

Dear Mr. Obama,

My name is Ian Hunter Burden. If I was president I would be panicked. But you don't look panicked. I wish there would be world pax. It means peace.

Sincerely,

Ian H. Burden

Dear Mr. Obama,

My name is Amberly Neztsosie and my clans are Mexican clan, Edgewater, Bitterwater, Red Running Into Water People clan. I live in a trailer and a hogan. I am president of my class. It seems pretty hard so good luck.

Sincerely,

Amberly

Dear Mr. Obama,

My name is Shanyah Manygoats. I am 11 years old. I have a three-year-old sister who is mean to me. Mr. Obama, thank you for running for president. You are the first black president we ever had. I live in a trailer so please Obama send me and my mom some money for clothes, bills, and a new house with running water and electric. This is what my house looks like on the inside: It only has one room. I don't have a room, I have to sleep on the floor. Outside it's purple, with a tire on top. It's torn, ruined, just out of shape. Give me a call if you would like to help us.

Sincerely,

Shanyah Manygoats

Dear Mr. Obama,

My name is ReAnna Mae Bowen. I'm 11 years old. Mr Obama, thank you for doing all this hard work to make it into the big top, and helping people in need. Mr. Obama, if I was president I would build animal shelters for the stray animals and help people in need. I would do food drives and fundraisers. Oh yeah, Mr. Obama I have one question to ask you. Are you happy to become the next president?

Sincerely,

ReAnna Bowen

Dear Mr. Obama,

Hello, my name is Clarence C. Our school is broke. Please give us money. We kids are in need of books. I would like some new computers and a gym. We all told everybody to vote for you. I think we deserve some credit.

Sincerely,

Clarence Champagne

Dear Mr. Obama,

Hello, my name is Tashina Barlow. I'm 11 years old. My self is whole Navajo and my clans are Water Edge, Coyote Pass, Big Water, Reed People clan. My house is very nice, I hope yours is too. Thank you for helping the troops to come back. I just really hate wars. If I were president I would go out more to see the world. If you were a kid again would you be happy to see a president come to your city? Well, I wish you would come to Tuba City. If you have time could you come down please? Thank you!

Sincerely,

Tashina Barlow

Dear Mr. Obama,

My name is McKinsey Alan Greymountain but people call me Kenny or Pretzels. I live in Tuba City, Arizona, No Name Street. Thank you for taking time to read this awesome letter. Do you wanna know what I would do if I was president? I would only have school on weekends and everything would be free and you could do whatever you wanted to do. And we'd have a lot of celebrations, plus have kids rule the world.

Sincerely,

McKinsey, Kenny, Pretzels

P.S. God bless you

Dear Mr. Obama,

Hello, my name is Kyra Kaya. I am Navajo. I would like to ask you how to become president. It is an ambition I would like to pursue. Would you come to Arizona, maybe to Tuba City? It is a four-hour drive from the Navajo Nation capital.

Sincerely,

Kyra Kaya

P.S. Could you send Mrs. Reinoso's 6th-grade class 26 laptops?

Dear Mr. Obama,

Hello, my name is Mykaila Black. I am 12 years old and I am Navajo. I wanted to know if you could help my family by lowering down gas prices so we don't have to spend so much money on gas. I also wanted to know if you could send me money for my father's Christmas gift. My father is a single parent and he always gives us so much and I wanted to do the same for him. I want to wish you good luck and I also voted for you.

Sincerely,

Mykaila Black

Dear Mr. Obama,

Hi, my name is Keanu McCabe. I am 11 years old and I will be 12 on December 13th. I'm a Navajo. My clans are the Mexican clan and I was born for Towering House clan. My house is a trailer that my uncle used before he moved to Flagstaff. He used it after my grandparents. I would like to thank you for stopping wars. What my family needs is some money because we are poor and my dad is healing from a heart attack. We need money to get some food because most of it goes to my dad. We are having problems because of the gas prices.

Sincerely,

Keanu McCabe

P.S. You rock

Dear Mr. Obama,

My name is Lennyshia. My clans are Sioux, Creek, African American, Jew, Black Dutch, German. Thank you for putting forth the effort to become president. I have written a poem for you:

If I was president
I would let kids rule the school
It would be backwards day for everyone
Drums wouldn't be drums
They would be pencil and paper
Music wouldn't be music
It would be poetry coming from your self
There would be poetry clubs
In every state, town or city
Kids could go, young or old
Of any age I say
But that could only be if I was president

Sincerely,

Lennyshia Clifton

Dear Mr. Obama,

My name is Shane Moran. I am 11 years old. I would like to ask you a few questions. For my first question, what will you do about gas prices? Secondly, what will you do about the second amendment? Third, what will you do about our troops in Iraq? Finally, (I know this question is silly but I'll ask it anyway) are there really aliens at Area 51?

Sincerely,

Shane Moran

Dear Mr. Obama,

Hi, my name is Saria Dawn Yellowhair. My parents voted for you. They hope you are the good president for this state. You said there is a new dog going to the White House. What's its name? What color is the dog? I think you're a great man. My dad is a great man too.

Sincerely,

Saria Dawn Yellowhair

Dear Mr. Obama,

My name is Leah Marie Grass. I am a Navajo. We have clans. I am Bitter Water. I have 3 brothers and 4 sisters. 2 of my brothers and 3 of my sisters are adopted. I was wondering if you could come to my house. Whenever would be good. You are really good at what you do. Take care.

Thank you, or as my culture says it, ahehee',

Leah Marie Grass

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