The Navajo Board of Supervisors honors the leader of the Navajo Nation Navajo County

HOLBROOK – The Navajo County government paused as a procession slowly led the body of former Navajo President Albert Hale through Holbrook on its sad journey to the windswept rooms of the Navajo Reservation.

District workers left their desks in the district complex and went out to honor the longtime state lawmaker, activist advocate, and leader of the Navajo nation who eventually went home from the valley where he died of COVID.

On Tuesday, the Navajo District Regulatory Authority again paused to commemorate the second president of the Navajo nation, including his efforts to strengthen the powers and autonomy of the 50 chapter houses on the reservation and his struggle for greater tribal sovereignty at the federal level and its key role in negotiating a landmark water deal in the San Juan Basin.

Supervisor Fern Benally shared her childhood memories of Hale.

“I remember him: when he was president, my mother, who died about three years ago, wanted to visit him. We’d wait how long it took. Finally, my mother was happy to go home. She enjoyed talking to him and joking and joking about things. Each time she said to him, “You take care of things. You make sure that you work for people. And then she would say because I voted for you. ‘”

Supervisor Alberto Peshlakai thanked the other supervisors and County Manager Glen Kephart for their respect.

“It was returned to me by the tribal leaders,” the appreciation for showing respect in this way. I just want to thank you on behalf of everyone. “

Peshlakai, who served in the Navajo tribal government and served as the county’s liaison with the tribe before becoming an overseer, said he had his own fond memories of Hale, who was a member of the paternal clan of Peshlakai.

“Whenever he arrived, he shook hands with everyone. Welcoming everyone who was there. He wouldn’t leave anyone out. Even if it was a little baby. In order to establish this relationship, it is in our Navajo culture. Every time I saw him, he greeted me as his father – through my paternal clan. So we greet each other. He is one of the main leaders of my day who established the local government of the Navajo Nation. He was a force within the nation, not only through the nation, but also in the state parliament.

“His loss was devastated when we heard about it across our nation. We continued to be there for one another to pray and reflect, ”he concluded.

Supervisor Daryl Seymore noted that Hale died of COVID after a violent battle in a hospital. The pandemic has devastated the Navajo Nation, which has suffered 29,000 infections and 1,075 deaths out of a reservation population of 173,000. A mandatory curfew remains, and President Joe Biden declared the reservation a disaster area this month to expedite delivery of supplies and low-cost loans.

However, the Navajo have done better than almost any other area in the country when it comes to vaccinations, too. By Tuesday, health workers on the reserve had administered about 74,000 vaccines – about 42% of the reserve’s population. This corresponds to about 12% of the total population so far vaccinated in Arizona. The reservation’s vaccination program administers approximately 29,000 new shots weekly, thanks in part to a $ 210 million allocation to Indian healthcare in the latest COVID relief package.

Seymore said he read about the last words Hale spoke to his wife before he was put on a ventilator.

“He was a very traditionalist person – he wanted to preserve family values. He was given enough strength before going on the ventilator to speak. She said his last words were, “I want you to tell my family, my children, all of my relatives, and all of my Navajo people that I love them and that I will continue to love them – and I love you – and we will get it together through this, ”said Seymore. “Our condolences to the Navajo Nation for losing a great leader who really led because he loved people.”

Peter Aleshire covers county government and other issues for the Independent. He is the former editor of the Payson Roundup. Reach him at [email protected]

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